An Chinese-Indian and a lover of Urdu

An Chinese-Indian and a lover of Urdu

Dr Yung Van Liu

Shaida Chini, as he is popularly known in the literary circles, Liu claims that Urdu nazam (couplets), ghazals (songs) and sheron-shayari (poetry) have kept him young even at his advanced age.   He knows well how to say words and in musical rhythm. His diction stuns many because of his Chinese origin. Dr Liu, who looks quite frail and infirm, becomes nostalgic while speaking about Urdu.

He misses his mushairas, which he stopped attending after an accident
restricted his movement five years back. The poet has come out with a book on Urdu poems, couplets and songs named "Lakiron ki Sada" (Voice of Lines).

He has no regrets that none of his children are carrying forward his legacy. Having the luxury of studying convent schools, his two sons Eric Liu and Warren Liu are dentists by profession, while two daughters are settled abroad. He prefaces his talk with customary adaab or salaam and words like huzur, janaab and saheb are used at frequent intervals, much to the astonishment of the visitors.  Dr Yung Van Liu spoke to Sandeep Bhaskar of Deccan Herald at his residence in Jamshedpur.

Excerpts:

You are popularly known as Shaida Chini in Urdu literary circle. How did you get the sobriquet?

(Laughs) Neither I have visited China nor I have any intention to do so. I may have some relatives there, but I have never been in touch with them. Shaida means die-hard lover and Chini means Chinese. I am described as Shaida Chini because of my regular participation in mushairas. People say I am a Chinese who is fida on Urdu. Over the years I have been decorated with the Firaq Gorakhpuri award and I also got the life membership of Bazm-e-Adab of Ranchi College. Whatever it be the fact is I am die-hard Indian, born to a Chinese couple.

You are the probably India's only Urdu poet, born to a Chinese couple. How far your Chinese origin helped you in earning the name?

You have posed your question to the wrong person. You can have a fairly good idea from those who listened to me in mushairas. Yes, I can very safely say that mujhe daad milti thi moshairon mein (I used to draw rich appreciation in mushairas). Over and above all, Urdu language has bestowed me with the thoughts and conscious which I reckon as the great gift the language has given me.

What are your views on Urdu language? How do you see the contribution of non- Muslim scholars to this language?

Urdu is a sweet language which comes out straight from the heart of the people. But it pains me much when such a sweet language is dubbed as a language of a specific community. The fact is whatever the language may be it comes into being with reference to its use among the masses. Be it Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi or any other language, they are spoken by masses dwelling in a specific region irrespective of the religion or faith of the people. Similarly, Urdu is a language of masses and its beauty lies there. Very essence of a language is bound to die, if it is dubbed the tongue of specific community or for that matter caste or creed.

Who can forget the work of Munshi Premchand and Raghupati Sahay alias Firaq Gorakhpuri? They were not Muslims. But their works in Urdu are hard to skip the minds. Even history has evidence. Urdu language played a very crucial role during the Indian National Movement as well.

How did you develop a crush for Urdu language?

During the World War II, we (my family) landed in Jamshedpur from Calcutta (now Kolkata). Because of financial problem, my parents had to send me along with my brother to an Urdu medium school. Initially, I had to brave a lot of difficulties followed by constant reprimand from the teachers while learning the Urdu alphabet. In six months, I learnt to read and write Urdu and by the time I was shifted to an English medium High school, Urdu had already become my weakness. And it was this urge that fetched sobriquet of Shaida Chini. However, only in 1958 I started writing Urdu poems regularly and began participating in mushairas.

Is it true that you also vented your anger against China through your prose and poetry in Urdu during the Indo-China war? Can you recall some of those pieces now?

Yes, those days I had written many pieces and vent my anger in mushairas. But unfortunately, neither they are in my record nor can I recall them.

Poets are believed to be lost in their own world. How supportive your family has been?
I would not have survived for such a long time, had I not got the full support from my family members to pursue my skills. By God's grace, I have already celebrated golden jubilee of my marriage life in 2000.

That means you are in the 60th year of your married life…

(Interrupts) Yes. It was in 1950 I married to Hsiao Yi Fa. Ours was an arranged marriage. She is from Hyderabad and again born to a Chinese couple. We have seven children. While both of us (wife and himself) are Buddhist by faith, all of our children have embraced Christianity. My fifth daughter, Shin Mei, is a believer in Lord Shiva, my fourth daughter Shin Win has unflinching faith in Sai (Baba). Pictures of Lord Shiva and Sai Baba adorn our house till Mei and Win were married.

Who do you think is the best,t Liu as medical practitioner or Liu as a poet?

Of course, poetry is my first love. Nazam (couplets), ghazal (songs) and shair-o-shayari (poetries) are my breathing and the reason of my very being. However, medical practice was only the means of earning my livelihood.

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