Weaving Verses - Safinah Elahi

  • 07 Sep - 13 Sep, 2019
  • Attiya Abbass
  • Interview

Safinah sits across me, her dainty pearl drops catch the light as she cradles a cup of tea, which gets colder by the minute, as she momentarily gets adrift in our conversation. Her recently launched book, ‘Unbridled Romance of Love and Pain’, a collection of poems written by Elahi, lies on the table between us. She unconsciously reaches out towards it as we talk, revealing her measure of pride in her debut creation. “I have been writing for over 15 years,” she begins. “Initially when I began writing, I didn’t take my work so seriously. Much later I began writing articles, blogs and later got published in various magazines as well. ‘Unbridled Romance of Love and Pain’ is my first published attempt, and also my baby [laughs].” Throwing her book another glance she continues, “It comprises of short poetry, which I made sure is easy to read and which doesn’t throws off the reader into a puddle of confusion, but at the same time provokes them to ponder over the words and hidden meanings. It is the sort of poetry you can savour in your ‘me-time’, sitting in a corner of your room with a cup of tea or coffee. I also wrote a novella last year which is still in the works of being edited and you will be hearing about it soon.”

Safinah Elahi

How did a Montessori teacher and soon-to-be-lawyer fall upon this trajectory of life? “At one point of my life I did plan on being a writer, but never a poet. This trajectory found me very recently. It started when I began to collect my thoughts in sentences as opposed to paragraphs, which sometimes rhymed. Even if they didn’t rhyme, they were aligned in a manner to giveaway fragments of feeling which went into the book,” she spills. “Thankfully my hours allow me enough time to pick my kids up from school, run errands and spend time with them, and once they are home and asleep, I find the time to write,” she says. Expressing words into verses which sync with emotions is a task which demands tranquillity of the mind, and even isolation for many poets. But Elahi begs to differ admitting that ‘tranquillity’ is not a prerequisite for her to find her way through words. “It is surprising that I don’t need the ‘quiet’ and ‘tranquillity’ to write, as opposed to what other writers and poets experience,” she admits with a believe-me smile. “On days when I huddle in a corner to write in isolation, I am totally blank. It is during the hustle-bustle of the day that I draw inspiration from people, what they say and what goes about them”. For someone who can write her heart out through the cacophony of daily life, I was curious about her creative process. “Whenever a spike of inspiration hits, I make notes in my phone. It is safe to say that these poems were written in the course of a few months. There are some old pieces which I had penned years back which also became a part of this collection, but mostly these are a collection of verses are fresh from my heart, translated into words from the feelings I had tapped into of friends, family and many more,” Elahi concludes, revealing her inspirations. Apart from unselfish creativity, empathy and sensitivity are traits shared by most poets, and Elahi admits that these played a pivotal tool in her creative works. “Yes, empathy works for most poets, in my case I have been perceptive as well,” she makes it known. Divulging her personal experience in being perceptive, she shares, “If there is someone in the room going through a wave of emotions – happy, sad or both – I’d be inclined and drawn towards them. I am sensitive – I think that is a layman’s word to easily put across how I function as a poet. I have tried to express the feelings I have tapped into in the most easily decipherable set of words, so that every person who reads my poems can resonate with it and understand it.” It is unanimously agreed that poetry is not everybody’s cup of tea and too often, a person has to go over it again and again to understand the essence of it. Persistent reflection and thirst to drink to the very core of the verses undoubtedly has its own charm too, but Elahi wanted to create something minimalist, yet impactful. “I have been writing poetry for a while. I just feel like it is an extension of my personality. Minimal words, more impact,” she admits. She ensured that her poems are more approachable and accessible in a way that her readers immediately understand and cruise through the feel of it. “Living in a pulsing metropolitan like Karachi, where everyone is on their toes in their busy circle of life, there are many who don’t have the time to ponder over deeply-encrypted works of prose and poetry, they don’t find time to ponder and reflect. There are many reading circles and reading support groups overseas which help nurture the art of understanding poetry, which are unfortunately scarce in Karachi,” she cites. “I have made a conscious endeavour to keep my verses short, simple and linear. It is the sort of book where you read a page, revel in the short poetry and try to get back to them in a later time. But most likely never abandon it.”