Annual of Urdu Studies, v. 5, 1985 p. 117.


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FAIZ TO ALYS TO FAIZ: SOME PRISON LETTERS

[Editor s Note In March 1951 Faiz was arrested for allegedly taking part in the so-called Rawalpindi Conspiracy and kept in prison—under one excuse or another—for four years the first three months of which were spent in solitary confinement

During that incarceration Faiz wrote 135 letters in English to his wife, Alys, who carefully saved them and eventually twenty years later, persuaded him to translate them into Urdu for publication Faiz Ahmad Faiz SalTbeN Mere Dance MeN Edited by Mirza Zafarul Hasan (Karachi Pak Publishers Ltd 1971 16 208 pp ) The credit for getting the translation done and eventually published also goes to Faiz s friend Mirza Zafarul Hasan who was reported as writing a definitive biography of the poet before his recent death

Recently I contacted Alys Faiz to see if some of the original letters could be published She replied with the heart- breaking news that all the prison letters which she had so carefully saved over these year—and just those letters'—had been destroyed by termites But she very kindly allowed me to translate some of them back into English The first two translations below were seen and corrected by her

7 he characteristically modest preface that Faiz wrote in 1971 ended with the following "I see only one excuse for the publication of these letters and it is this In our society for a whole lot of people, getting sent to jail is not something out of the ordinary or unexpected rather it is a part of their fives In fact it is possible that the Sociology departments in our educational institutions might have to set up "Prison Writings" as a full-fledged subject for research In that event, these letters may possibly throw some light on a few aspects of the psychological experience of prolonged imprisonment "

Then in 1985 Alys Faiz published a selection from her own letters to Faiz written during that same time DEAR HEART TO FAIZ IN PRISON (1951-1955) (Lahore Feroz sons Ltd 1985 xxn, 150 pp ) We are grateful to Mrs Faiz and the publishers for allowing us to include some excerpts from

it]

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