‘Hum dekhenge’ remains a rallying point for the beleaguered nation’s liberal voices even after 35 years of its creation.
Some artistic creations become eternal due to their sheer brilliance. Some others remain timeless because the circumstances in which they get created continue to linger forever. If there’s one creation that can be attributed eternality to both the reasons at once, it has to be the poem ‘Hum dekhenge’ by Faiz Ahmad Faiz and its soulful rendition by Iqbal Bano.
Composed as a veiled criticism against the authoritarian rule of Zia-ul-Haq, the poem is about the yearning for a time when oppressors will be overthrown. It has a distinctly nuanced left-liberal flavour, one that emphatically makes the point without exposing the author to the danger of being labelled a communist or even worst, an atheist.
The rendition of the poem by Iqbal Bano is equally mesmerising. Performed in dramatic circumstances, the Wikipedia entry has the following to say:
In 1985, as part of Zia’s programme of forced Islamicization, the sari, part of the traditional attire for women on the subcontinent was banned. That year, Iqbal Bano, one of Pakistan’s best loved singers and artists, sang ‘Hum Dekhenge’ to an audience of 50,000 people in a Lahore stadium wearing a black sari.
Hear this soulful rendition below:
And the rough English translation is here:
We will see. It is true, we too shall see
That day which has been promised, which is written with God’s ink
We shall see when the mountains of oppression and cruelty will float like carded cotton
Under the feet of us, the oppressed, this earth will quake
And over the head of the ruler lightening will thunder
We shall see when from the K’aba on God’s Earth all the idols will be removed
We the truthful ones but out of favour will be raised to the stage
All the crowns will be thrown away, all the thrones will be turned over
Then only God’s name will remain, Who is unseen but present
We shall see. It is true we too shall see
We shall see.