At 93, M.F. Husain turns poet

August 5th, 2008 - 4:38 pm ICT by IANS  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, Aug 5 (IANS) Maqbool Fida Husain, India’s most famous painter, has been writing poems and has built up a collection that should send Indian publishers queuing up outside his London studio. The 93-year-old painter, who has been forced to live in exile in London and Dubai, has been writing the poems in between working on his canvases.

“I might even think of publishing them one day,” Husain told IANS.

Husain, who writes in Hindi and by hand on A4 size sheets, read out one his poems recently at a dinner thrown in his honour by distinguished Indian-born doctor Lord Khalid Hameed.

In the poem, laced with gentle humour as well as scathing wit, the painter calls himself the “Rangeela Joker (colourful clown) of the Great Indian Circus” - a man who keeps changing his appearances.

Driven away from his home-country by Hindu militants angered by his depiction of nude Hindu goddesses, Husain also likened himself to a plant, saying while the plant had been uprooted, there was no reason why it could not be repotted.

Hussain had told IANS recently that he was planning on a return to India after completing his current series of paintings, which he said was on “the Indian civilisation”.

The poem - a satire on himself as well as Indian society which had his small and distinguished audience in splits - ends with a description of the painter’s life in London.

Apparently, Husain - the aged enfant terrible of Indian art - is not complaining.

“Aur paise khankhani rahi hai” (and the coins are clinking away),” the poet recited, laughing away.

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