Profile: Laila resides in Toronto and is a graduate of the Institute of Ismaili Studies. Professionally she is a teacher of ESL (English as a Second Language). She obtained her B.A. in Sociology from York University, Toronto, and thereafter, her graduate level Certificate in Teaching ESL, from George Brown College, Toronto. Besides this, she has a graduate level Diploma in Education from University of London, U.K. and other qualifications as well.
Summary of Laila Lokhandwalla’s poetic compositions and her motivation and inspiration for composing them: I have been writing poetry in English since childhood. I started out with writing devotional poems in praise of Mawlana Hazar Imam (His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims), but I now have a collection of more than forty poems on various subjects, including politics, women’s and social issues as well as inspirational poems and poems celebrating nature. Besides poems, I have also written some geets (devotional songs set to music), in praise of Hazar Imam, in Gujarati and Urdu. I sometimes also write poetry in Gujarati and Urdu. However, most of my literary work is in the English language.
The love of religion, philosophy and social work, besides of course the pure love of language, especially the English language, have resulted in the poetry that has literally poured out of my soul. I have never really had to make an effort to write poetry. It has always automatically poured forth from my very being whenever I have been moved by anything in life. My poetry is the result of my life experiences and my feelings and thoughts on whatever I have experienced and lived.
References: A number of Laila’s poems (and well-researched articles) have been published in Ismaili community and literary magazines including Ilm, The Ismaili (India), college (university) magazines, special commemorative brochures as well as at the Golden Jubilee Exhibition Gallery in Toronto in November 2008 during the Aga Khan’s Golden Jubilee visit to Canada. She has also contributed to www.poetry.com.
Reflections on the Golden Jubilee
The sun dawned in the East and slowly but surely,
Lighted up every corner of the globe, in stages, successively,
The earth looked like a newly wedded bride in its enlightened décor,
Even as my Mawla was visiting Jamats, scattered across the globe, one after another,
Illuminating hearts and sparking minds, spreading joy and enlightenment,
Bringing prosperity and progress, breeding hope and encouragement…
This was indeed a special dawn…the dawn of a golden era,
The celebration of the Golden Jubilee of my beloved Mawla!
Excitement within, the tempo building,
Hearts in unison, merrily dancing…
Celebrating in a multitude of ways,
These unique, precious, historic days!
Canada launches several projects new,
To commemorate and celebrate this event…
And to their Imam, their vows they renew,
Pledging love and loyalty with this golden advent!
The Aga Khan Museum and for Pluralism – The Global Centre,
The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat and The Ismaili Centre,
In their wake, planning a renewal,
A renaissance: cultural, social, intellectual and spiritual!
What exciting times, the future seems bright in prospect,
How immense the bounties, the blessings of the Imamat!
Could this be real, I am moved,
May I help build this future, as I am encouraged?
For that’s not all, there’s more to come…
My Imam directs, these things must be done:
Poverty must be eliminated,
Seniors must be supported,
Education and Religious Education, quality should reflect,
And walls that divide, must be replaced with bridges that unite…
Witnessing these times, I am blessed, I am thinking…
Even as I see the sun setting,
Slowly also setting upon this golden time…
Yet, the hope, the courage, the happiness, does not seem to dim!
The impact was so strong,
The memory shall linger on…
Forever more, to fuel energies and to inspire,
As to accomplish tasks and resolutions pledged, we thus aspire.
Spiritually renewed, yet humbled by all these graces,
I fall into a prayerful ecstacy, my heart races…
“Shukran, shukran, shukran”, repeats my inner soul’s voice,
In a rhythm that is endless and continuous…
For I envisage my Mawla, you’ve opened up the doors graciously,
To ever increasing happiness and prosperity, endlessly…
Copyright: Laila Lokhandwalla. Poem may not be reproduced without the author’s written consent.