Ghazala's Weblog

a poetic thread to string my words and experiences on…

Aaj bazaar main pa ba jolan chalo — May 27, 2010

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.

a quartain — February 11, 2010

a quartain

Fazaaye dil pe udaasi bikharti jaati hai
Fasurdagi hai ke jaan tak utarti jaati hai
Fareb-e-zeest se qudrat ka muddaa maaloom
Ye hosh hai ke jawaani guzarti jaati hai

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

The climate of heart gets smeared with gloom
Desolation climbs deep into my being
Illusion of life explains nature’s concerns
I’m conscious of youth passing by

My Translation

Life really does long for itself… — February 7, 2010

Life really does long for itself…

 

Life is changing your password

from freespirit to funspirit

it is being settled like sludge

of dying wishes

that shallows each passing day

Life can be exciting little kicks

from within your belly that fail to affirm you

 

life is being woken up one Sunday morning

by kisses of a child

and missing your own mother

 

life is what happens

when a finicky friend

lets you order at the restaurant

to make you feel better

Life arrives  at some unremarkable instant

and leaves you weeping

as you climb the stairs home.

 

Life is the art of wondering

without really caring…

Where is it that successful people reach

when they succeed?

 

Life is making a little ritual speech

addressed to yourself, every now and then

and going on.

 

 

 

Twilight at dawn… — August 29, 2009

Twilight at dawn…

नए मोड़

दिल में कुछ खद्शे

नए रिश्ते और नई-पुरानी बातें

चौराहे, बंद गलियाँ

नए तेवर, वही बहाने

खोए लफ्ज़…नए गाने

भीड़… हाथ थामे

कोई साथ

कई जी चुराते

मुश्किल लोग उलझी आँखें

नादाँ मन…

नादाँ मन…

Shakespeare’s sister… — August 2, 2009

Shakespeare’s sister…

A big house

with a study and lawn

A little money

to call my own

Would then my poems be more profound?

and new ideas

my essays expound?

Sylvia Plath…?

crazed by her craft?

Virginia Woolf with stones in her pockets

To remain grounded

and let my dreams defer?

With tradition shall my poems concur?

Write haikus

and of love borrowed

Or like Hughes, let it exlode?

Poem without a title — July 29, 2009

Poem without a title

Am I myself?

Or extension to an idea?

You ask

me to draw my limitations

tighter… more clearly

or else I’m asked

to stretch and stretch

I won’t do either

I’d leave my bounds amorphous

and draw out the argument a little further

Statistical poem! — April 21, 2009

Statistical poem!

Second post in a day… thats rare for this blog 🙂

I just wanted to share a poem by Wislawa Szymborska which I was reminded of while publishing the earlier post. Here goes…

A Contribution to Statistics

Out of a hundred people
those who always know better
-fifty-two

doubting every step
-nearly all the rest,

glad to lend a hand
if it doesn’t take too long
-as high as forty-nine,

always good
because they can’t be otherwise
-four, well maybe five,

able to admire without envy
-eighteen,

suffering illusions
induced by fleeting youth
-sixty, give or take a few,

not to be taken lightly
-forty and four,

living in constant fear
of someone or something
-seventy-seven,

capable of happiness
-twenty-something tops,

harmless singly, savage in crowds
-half at least,

cruel
when forced by circumstances
-better not to know
even ballpark figures,

wise after the fact
-just a couple more
than wise before it,

taking only things from life
-thirty
(I wish I were wrong),

hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark
-eighty-three
sooner or later,

righteous
-thirty-five, which is a lot,

righteous
and understanding
-three,

worthy of compassion
-ninety-nine,

mortal
-a hundred out of a hundred.
thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

The poet Vikram Seth —

The poet Vikram Seth

Another discovery! Vikram Seth– the poet… sensitive, witty, employing new metaphors, weaving poetry in cultures still unknown to me… enchanting! Really! I read his “A Suitable Boy” as a first year undergrad student. I read it through… in one sitting and marveled at how he was equally well versed with the nuances of all the different cultures and backgrounds that his characters dwelt in. Most of Seth’s poetry, though,  still belongs to realm of personal (like initial-formative work of Faiz?). There is another ‘Faiz-resemblance’ in employing traditional rhyme and meter schemes to conjure up novel imagery. So, am I hoping for too much if I am hoping for Vikram Seth to widen his concerns and turn his gaze deeper into matters beyond ‘the personal’? I think not.  Sample this poem from his collection “A Humble Administrator’s Garden“.

Research in Jiangsu Province

From off this plastic strip the noise
Of buzzing stops. A human voice
Asks its set questions, pauses, then
Waits for responses to begin.

The questions bore in. How much is
The cost and area of this house?
I see you have two sons. Would you
Prefer to have had a daughter too?

And do your private plots provide
Substantial income on the side?
Do you rear silkworms? goslings? pigs?
How much per year is spent on eggs?

How much on oil and soya sauce
And salt and vinegar? asks the voice.
The answering phantom states a figure
Then reconsiders, makes it bigger.

Children and contraceptives, soap
And schooling rise like dreams of hope
To rise with radios and bikes
Round pensions, tea and alarm clocks.

‘Forty square metres. Sixteen cents.
To save us from the elements.
Miscarriage. Pickle with rice gruel
Three times a week. Rice-straw for fuel.

Chicken and fruit trees.’ In Jiangning
Green spurts the psychedelic Spring
And blossoming plum confounds the smell
Of pig-shit plastered on the soil.

Life and production, drought and flood
Merge with the fertile river mud
And maids come forth sprig-muslin drest
And mandarin ducks return to nest.

The Yangtse flows on like brown tape.
The research forms take final shape,
Each figure like a laden boat
With white or madder sails afloat.

Float on, float on, O facts and facts,
Distilled compendia of past acts,
Reveal the grand design to me,
Flotilla of my PhD.

On the obnoxious dreary pillage
Of privacy, imperfect knowledge
Will sprout like lodged rice, rank with grain
In whose submerging ears obtain

Statistics where none grew before
And housing estimates galore,
Diet and wealth and income data,
Age structures and a price inflator.

Birth and fertility projections,
Plans based on need and predilections,
O needful numbers, and half true,
Without you what would nations do?

I switch the tape off. This to me
Encapsulates reality,
Although the beckoning plum-trees splayed
Against the sky, the fragrant shade,

Have something tellable, it seems,
Of evanescence, light and dreams,
And the cloud-busy, far-blue air
Forms a continuous questionnaire

And Mrs Gao herself whose voice
Is captive on my tape may choose
Some time when tapes and forms are far
To talk about the Japanese War,

May mention how her family fled,
And starved, and bartered her for bread,
And stroke her grandson’s head and say
Such things could not occur today.

The poem appeals to the researcher in me, grappling to understand social realities that must not be itemized and counted because they simply cannot be.  I also liked Seth’s poems The They and Homeless from the same collection because these poems have concerns that do not draw only from the angst arising out of relationships and love. They also sort of appeal to my sense of what I consider ‘beautiful poetry’. But I also love a deeply personal Unclaimed. Then again, I think it speaks to my feminist concerns of sex, love and the accompanying emotional sticky-gooey mess.

Unclaimed

To make love with a stranger is the best.
There is no riddle and there is no test. —

To lie and love, not aching to make sense
Of this night in the mesh of reference.

To touch, unclaimed by fear of imminent day,
And understand, as only strangers may.

To feel the beat of foreign heart to heart
Preferring neither to prolong nor part.

To rest within the unknown arms and know
That this is all there is; that this is so.

Third Brilliante Weblog Award — April 7, 2009
Friends — March 12, 2009

Friends

Extremely ordinary footwear
a bag that has everything
needed for an overnight stay

No TV in the house

A rack full of books
fiction, politics, travel
a little humanistic poetry

Some soulful music

Ever observant eyes
analytical mind
large accommodating heart
providing to the soul

An adopted child

Clear, respecting relationships
open to questions, reason
encouraging independence

An alternative school
a telescope

An open house
a stream of friends