My father led a life full of optimism: Shabana Azmi

It was poet Kaifi Azmi's wish to take his last breath in a "socialist India", and though his dream didn't see the light of the day, never in his life he felt "defeated", said famous actor and the poet's daughter, Shabana Azmi, who was all praises for her father for living a life full of "optimism".

Azmi was in New Delhi on Monday for the launch of a new book titled, "Kaifi Azmi: Poems | Nazms: New & Selected Translations".

"He has been witness to different eras, but never once he lost his faith and that I think was his strength. Also, the defeat of an artist is the defeat of the society because these are the people who carry forward the hope of others," she said.

The 68-year-old also spoke highly of the "huge amount of work" done by Kaifi in empowering the weaker section of the society, giving example of the social work done by him in his hometown, Mijwan in Uttar Pradesh.

"Kaifi always used to think of himself as a worker. What he talked about in his poetry, he did that in reality too," she added.

Describing Kaifi as a "people's poet", Azmi recalled a funny incident where she, then nine years old, burst out in anger after a lady in one party requested her father to recite a poem he had written for her.

The incident she said took place during a party where a lady "with a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in other requested her father to recite 'Do nighaoon something, something'".

"After hearing that, I, the nine-year-old, screamed at the top of my voice saying that it was a plain lie as the poem was written for my mother and not her. My mother who did try to hush me then, I am sure, was very happy inside," she said laughing.

Commenting on the making of the book, which is a bilingual anthology of 50 poems, editor of the book Sudeep Sen said "working on this book for two years has been a fantastic journey".

"It is a lot of work but then the thrill you get when you get it right is a wow moment. It is like Dale Steyn bowling 150 kmph and you just touch the bat for a fine leg glance, one that even Jonty Rhodes can't catch," he said.