Ghazala's Weblog

a poetic thread to string my words and experiences on…

Gulon Mein Rang Bharey — July 13, 2015

Gulon Mein Rang Bharey

by Faiz Ahmad Faiz 

gulon mein rang bharey, baad-e-naubahaar chaley

chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka karobaar chaley

qafas udaas hai yaro, sabaa se kuchh to kaho

kahin to bahr-e-Khuda aaj zikr-e-yaar chaley

kabhi to subh tere kunj-e-lab se ho aaghaaz

kabhi to shab sar-e-kaakul se mushkebaar chale

badaa hai dard kaa rishtaa, ye dil gharib sahi

tumhaarey naam pe aaenge gham gusaar chaley

jo ham pe guzari so guzari magar shab-e-hijraan

hamaare ashk teri aaqabat sanwaar chaley

huzoor-e-yaar hui daftar-e-junun ki talab

girah mein leke garebaan ka taar-taar chaley

maqaam ‘Faiz’ koi raah mein jachaa hi nahin

jo ku-e-yaar se nikale to su-e-daar chaley




A few couplets of this ghazal were used in the Hindi film Haider, sung beautifully by Aritjit Sen. The original composition is that of Mehdi Hassan (see at the end of this post).

My Translation:

Adding colour to flowers, let the new spring breeze come

so that the dealings of garden could ensue, please come

The Cage is sad friends, please call out to the wind

Somewhere, for God’s sake, my beloved’s reference must come

At least one morning must begin with a fleeting touch of your lips

Scented with the musk of your hair, at least a night must come

This heart may be poor but the bond of pain is not trivial

Hearing your name, some sympathetic to me shall come

I had to, so I endured the evening of separation, but;

To embellish your inevitable future my tears have come

Before my beloved, documented proof of my passion was summoned

Clutching at the shreds of my honour I have come

No sojourn was to my liking along the way, ‘Faiz’

After I left beloved’s alley, straight to gallows I have come

Mein Kya Likhun… — March 6, 2014

Mein Kya Likhun…

 

 

Mein kya likhun ke jo mera tumhara rishta hai
wo ashiqi ki zuban me kahin bhi darj nahi
likha gaya hai bohot lutf-e-wasl-o-dard-e-firaq
magar ye kaifiyat apni raqam nahi hai kahin
ye apna ishq hum aaghosh jis mein hijr-o-wisal
ye apna dard ke hai kab se humdam maah-o-saal
is ishq-e khaas ko har ek se chhupaye huay
guzar gaya hai zamana gale lagaye huay

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

My translation

How shall I put this? This relationship that you and I share
nowhere has it been inscribed in the language of devotion.
Pleasures of meeting, ache of separation are much marked upon
but nowhere has our state found any mention.
This love of ours holds close both severance and union,
for months and years this pain has been our companion
Keeping a love so rare, concealed without a trace…
ages have passed since the last embrace…

This poem is from the last anthology Ghubar-e-Ayyam by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. See this excellent post by Dr Mirza to know more about the disposition of last poems of the great poet. Also, probably you’d find it interesting to compare my translation of this poem with one by Rukhsana Ahmed. I have been working on this translation for many months… I kept coming back to it again and again but was not satisfied with they way it sounded. Then today I decided that I cannot do better than this and to publish it. Then I looked for and read Rukhsana Ahmed’s translation. It sounds very good and I must say that I’m quite intrigued and surprised by the difference in our interpretations!

 

Of our relationship, what should I say?

In the language of love nowhere is it inscribed.

Much has been written of love’s joys and pains

But my state of mind has never been described.

This love, where absence and presence entwine,

This pain, an old friend, which since years is mine,

A love that I’ve concealed from all and so apart,

An age has gone since I pressed it to my heart.

(Translation by Rukhsana Ahmed)

Everyday… — March 5, 2014
Translating Faiz- Raat Yun Dil Mein… — August 18, 2013

Translating Faiz- Raat Yun Dil Mein…

Many have attempted to translate Faiz Ahmed, including yours truly humbly on this blog. The list of prominent Faiz translators includes many who are poets in their own right.  Most prominent among these is, arguably, Agha Shahid Ali, whose ‘A Country Without a Post Office’ I consider one of the most brilliant poetic works having their roots in contemporary South Asian realities. Others who have also tried their hand at a few Faiz poems are Khushwant Singh and Vikram Seth. Apart from writing fiction, Khushwant Singh is a prolific translator of Punjabi texts. Vikram Seth, a world renowned novelist also known for his travelogues, is a polyglot and has translated several poets from many languages such as Urdu, Chinese.

In this post I present to you several translations of a very simple and beautiful Qat’a (quartain) of Faiz.

Raat yun dil mein teri khoyi hui yaad aayi,
Jaise viraane mein chupke se bahaar aa jaye,
Jaise sehraaon mein haule se chale baad-e-naseem,
Jaise beemaar ko be-wajhe qaraar aa jaaye.

 

Khushwant Singh

At night your lost memory stole into my mind
As spring silently appears in the wilderness;
As in desert wastes morning breeze begins to blow
As in one sick beyond hope, hope begins to grow…

 

Vikram Seth

Last night your faded memory came to me
As in the wilderness spring comes quietly,
As, slowly, in the desert, moves the breeze,
As, to a sick man, without cause, comes peace.

 

Agha Shahid Ali

At night my lost memory of you returned

and I was like the empty field where springtime,
without being noticed, is bringing flowers;

I was like the desert over which
the breeze moves gently, with great care;

I was like the dying patient
who, for no reason, smiles.

 

Sarvat Rahman

Last night, your long-lost memory came back to me as though
Spring stealthily should come to a forsaken wilderness
A gentle breeze its fragrance over burning deserts blow
Or, all at once be soothed somehow the sick soul’s distress.

 

My Translation

The night brought to heart your long lost memory
And felt as though spring arrives in a desolate place
It felt like gentle morning breeze in a desert
As if without a reason the ailing receives solace.

 

I like Vikram Seth’s translation the best. It is the truest to the original literally and still manages to retain a certain ‘Faiz-like’ quality to the way it sounds. Agha Shahid’s translation is too laboured and wordy. It makes me think that probably his intended readers are western people who, he might have thought, would not get the South Asian idioms. Sarvat Hussain’s translation is a bit awkward in reading so offers little joy and Khushwant Singh’s reading of Faiz seem to me as if his focus is a little different than Faiz. When I read the qat’a, it seems to me that Faiz is describing the effect of this long lost memory presenting itself. Khushwant Singh seems to describing  the mode of arrival of the memory.

How do you like my translation?

Habib Jalib’s “Main Nahin Manta” — September 22, 2012

Habib Jalib’s “Main Nahin Manta”

Habib Jalib was one of the most loved people’s poets of Pakistan though not so well known as other Pakistani Urdu poets in the rest of the subcontinent. I came across his work while reading and researching other contemporary Urdu Pakistani poets. Jalib’s language is, like Ibn-e-insha and unlike Faiz, the plebeian language of the streets. But unlike Insha Jalib does not dabble in satire and subtleties. He is more like Paash who grabs hold of the truth about the oppressor by its neck. He is straight-forward and utterly unafraid.

I attempted a translation of his most popular poem which is also pretty representative of his work and approach.

Deep jis ka mehlaat hi mein jaley,
Chand logon ki khushiyon ko le kar chaley,
Wo jo saaye mein har maslehat ke paley,
Aisey dastoor ko,
Sub-he-be-noor ko,
Main nahein maanta,
Main nahein jaanta.

Main bhi khaaif nahein takhta-e-daar se,
Main bhi Mansoor hoon, keh do aghyaar se,
Kyun daraatey ho zindaan ki deevar se,
Zulm ki baat ko,
Jehl ki raat ko,
Main nahein maanta,
Main nahein jaanta.

“Phool shaakhon pe khilne lagey” tum kaho,
“Jaam rindon ko milne lagey” tum kaho,
“Chaak seenon kay silne lagey” tum kaho,
Iss khule jhooth ko,
Zehn ki loot ko,
Main nahein maanta,
Main nahein jaanta.

Tum nay loota hai sadyon hamaara sukoon,
Ab na hum per chalega tumhara fasoon,
Charaagar mein tumhein kis tarah se kahoon?
Tum nahein charaagar,
Koi maane magar,
Main nahein maanta,
Main nahein jaanta.

Jalib used to recite his poetry in an extremely powerful tarannum (a musical rendition) during mushairas (gathering of poets and listeners and public meetings.

My Translation

Whose lamp shines only in mansions,
Which sets out only with a few folk’s elation,
Under the shadow of self-interest which finds protection,That tradition…

That dark morning…

I shall not revere!

I shall not greet!

I too am not afraid of the powers that be!

I too am Mansoor, go and tell the enemy!

With the prison wall why do you try to scare me?

The tongue of oppression…

The night of ignorance…

I shall not defer to!

I shall not acknowledge!

“Branches are abloom with flowers” you say!

“The thirsty have got to drink” you say!

“Wounds of the heart are being sewn” you say!

This open lie…

A plunder of reason…

I shall not consent to!

I shall not recognise!

For centuries you have pillaged peace that was our

Your spell over us shall have no more power

How can I possibly call you a protector?

You are no protector!

Even though some may agree…

I shall dis-agree!

I shall not concede!

 
 
Lal- A leftist band from Pakistan has remixed Jalib’s rendition of this poem to (what I think is) good effect.
 
2011 in review — January 10, 2012
Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Feb 13, 1911- Nov 20, 1984 ) — February 13, 2011

Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Feb 13, 1911- Nov 20, 1984 )

 

‘Faiz’ is the name of not just a poet.

‘Faiz’ is a name of the aural experience that is at once full of sensuous beauty and excruciating reality. It is the name of the artifice that turns words into images. It is the name of the subtle sorcery that stirs extraordinary ardour in ordinary hearts. It is the name of the beacon of hope that inspires weary travellers to plod on.

‘Faiz’ is the name of voice of humanity’s yearning for freedom. It is the name of the voice raised by people so that they may fully determine their own destiny and truly realise their potential. It is the name of voice that pierces the darkness of oppression and illuminates minds. It is the name of the voice that provokes the weak into rebellion… the voice that startles people from their slumber.

‘Faiz’ is the name of not just a poet!

 

 

Being a woman — June 20, 2010

Being a woman

Every woman is a whore

Or a potential whore

What does it matter

what the subjective details of this instance were

When the demons of past

raise their ugly head

they ask for blood

if its not people

at least relationships

the kill is not called for by need

and the dead are not eaten

the corpses are abandoned

left to rot

and fill the deepest niches in our beings

with their morbid stench

and then

I can be accused again

of being a woman.

Translating ghazal — May 27, 2010

Translating ghazal

Another translation that I attempted a few days ago was especially interesting because the original is a ghazal, and I  tried to preserve the ghazal metre (beher) and rhyme scheme (which goes AA, BA, CA… and so on) in my translation. Would be interesting to know what you think of the result :)

Ghazal By Ishrat Aafreen

(From We Sinful Women)

Bhook ki karvahat se sard kasile honth

Khoon ugalte sookhe chatkhe pile honth

Tooti choori, thandi larki, baghi umr

Sabz badan pathrai ankhen nile honth

Soona angan tanha aurat lambi umr

Khali ankhen bhiga anchal gile honth

Kachche lafzon ka ye nila zehr

Chhoo jae to moorakh too bhi chhile honth

Zehr hi mangen amrat ras ko munh na lagaen

Baghi ziddi vehshi aur hatile honth

Aisi banjar baten aise karve bol

Aise sundar komal surkh rasile honth

Itna bologi to kya samjhenge log

Rasm yahan ki ye hai larki si le honth


My Translation

made cold by bitterness of hunger, taut lips

chapped, dry, spewing blood, yellow lips

Broken bangles, cold girl, rebellious age

raw bodies, stone eyes, blue lips

forlorn courtyard, lonely woman, stretched life

empty eyes, drenched bosom, wet lips

blue vitriol of unformed, accusing words

if they only touch, you fool, they abrase lips

they demand venom, never even tasting the elixir

rebellious, stubborn, obsessive, adamant lips

such parched exchanges, such bitter words

from such pretty, supple, red, juicy lips

what will people think if you talk so much

tradition here is that girls stitch their lips

The Ghazal in Devnagri script…

भूख की कड़वाहट से सर्द कसीले होंठ

खून उगलते, सूखे, चटखे, पीले होंठ

टूटी चूड़ी, ठंडी लड़की, बागी उम्र

सब्ज़ बदन, पथराई आँखें, नीले होंठ

सूना आँगन, तनहा औरत, लंबी उम्र

ख़ाली आँखें, भीगा आँचल, गीले होंठ

कच्चे लफ़्ज़ों का ये नीला ज़हर

छू जाए तो मूरख तो भी छीले होंठ

ज़हर ही मांगें अमृत रस को मुंह न लगाएं

बागी, जिद्दी, वेहशी और हठीले होंठ

ऐसी बंजर बातें ऐसे कड़वे बोल

ऐसे सुन्दर, कोमल, सुर्ख, रसीले होंठ

इतना बोलोगी तो क्या समझेंगे लोग

रसम यहाँ की ये है लड़की सी ले होंठ

Aaj bazaar main pa ba jolan chalo —

Aaj bazaar main pa ba jolan chalo

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Chashm-e-nam, jaan-e-shoreeda kafi nahin
Tohmat-e-ishq-posheeda kafi nahin
aaj bazaar main pa-bajolan chalo
Dast afshan chalo, mast-o-raqsan chalo
Khak bar sar chalo, khoon badaman chalo
Rah takta hai sub shehr-e-janaan chalo
Hakim-e-shehr bhi, majma-e-aam bhi
Teer-e-ilzam bhi, sang-e-dushnam bhi
Subh-e-nashaad bhi, roz-e-naakaam bhi
Unka dum-saaz apnay siwa kaun hai
Shehr-e-janaan main ab baa-sifa kaun hai
Dast-e-qatil kay shayan raha kaun hai
Rakht-e-dil bandh lo, dil figaro chalo
Phir hameen qatl ho aain yaro chalo

My Translation

Teary eyes and stormy life are not enough

Even the accusation of a secret love is not enough

Come, walk today in public wearing your shackles

Hands thus adorned, walk in trance- dance

Walk with dust over head and blood on attire

Come, walk to the beloved city, everyone is waiting-

the town ruler and the common spectators;

the arrow and the stone of accusation too

along with the sorrowful morning and the day of failure.

Who will be their ally, if not us?

In the beloved city who remains unsullied?

No one worthy of the hand of executioner remains.

Behold your heartbeats, come even the broken hearted

Friends, come lets us go and be slain

I have been listening to Nayyara Noor singing this nazm for quite some time now but I realized that I had not really understood its true essence till I actually sat down to translate it late last night. It is not as if Faiz is exhorting people to react and speak up because the situation is oppressive (as in case of his nazm Bol). It is also not as if he is talking of change that will be ushered in by people when they arise (as in case of Hum Dekhenge). In Aaj bazaar mein pa ba jolan chalo things have reached such a pass that just exhorting and hoping will not do. It is not enough that we cry for the underdog, It is not enough that we are being accused of siding with the oppressed. To be aware that even though we do not come out in open, we do wear the shackles in our private-day to day lives. We have to come out to walk in public knowing fully well what our fate will then be. Even though our hearts are broken it is we who will have to do it because no one else is left to do it for us.

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