TO EDHI SAHIB by Ejaz Rahim



Today is the 27th of June, 2016
A fleeting glimpse of yours
Lying stretched out on a cot
Helpless like a newborn babe
And just as innocent
Hits the moon-struck eye
Visiting ministers gaze
At your recumbent form
Utterly powerless while you
Keep your eyes closed

That was my first impression
But now I realise that
Perfect acceptance shone
On your countenance
Like the full moon of heaven
Not just resignation
But absolute contentment
Deep, ineffable and painless
A sight to remember always
Once witnessed by the eye

Legions populate our mirrored halls
In different states of consciousness
Ascending or descending
Ladders and swings
Struggling with words to hide
Pain’s volcanoes erupting within
But one will see a saint like Edhi
Only here and there
His hands engrossed in saving
Victims of our negligence
Burning in naked fires
Like raw flesh baking
In electric furnaces

Your kinetic fire-brigade existence
Brought relief from pain
Literally to millions –
Women, children and men
Chained to poverty
Caught in the vortex
Of nature’s contingencies
And man-inflicted cruelties

You had no time for words
No leisure for pathos-seeking
Or kudos-hunting sport
There were human beings waiting
To be saved
From endless conflagrations
The orphaned and ill-starred
The waifs and strays of the land
The scum of the streets
The wretched of the earth
Wasted lives, plundered souls
Thrown into the dark night
By salesmen of light
The mentally wounded
The sadly adrift
Even hurt animals, injured beasts
Whelping in pain

You had no time to pray
Sham prayers like us, the self-righteous,
Who think our parrot-like  offerings
Will quell the gluttonous flames
Engulfing human beings

You lived a dream of changing rags
To riches for the down-and-out
But for yourself you found
More and more fulfilment
In wearing coarser and cheaper rags

After all, you would protest
On being pestered,
I am not in politics but in love
With human beings

On the 8th of July
The channels kept  announcing
That Edhi Sahib had died
On hearing which
I picked up my pen again and tried
But found it could not write
A single word or line
Or verse of a poem.
It only cried.

                                                Ejaz Rahim
                                                Islamabad: July 11, 2016

(Addul Sattar Edhi was born on January 1, 1928 in Bantva, Gujarat, India
and died in Karachi, Pakistan on July 8, 2016. He was a philanthropist,
ascetic and humanitarian who founded the Edhi charities which ran hospitals,
clinics, orphanages and the biggest private ambulance service in the world.
A Socialist who crusaded for religious tolerance he was called ‘An Angel of  Mercy and The Guardian of the Poor’. He was awarded many international honours including the Lenin Peace Prize and the Gandhi Peace Prize.)