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

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.

The poet Vikram Seth — April 21, 2009

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.


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.

To the memory of that defiant rickshaw ride- summer of 1998 — August 28, 2008

To the memory of that defiant rickshaw ride- summer of 1998


This ghazal I present today is an all time favourite of mine. I had picked up an audio cassette, during a college trip to Jabalpur, called Meri Pasand by Pakistani popular singer Nahid Akhtar. I liked this ghazal so much because it was the first time that I had heard a love poem in the voice of a woman. And she was being an active lover- passionate, persuasive and hasty. It was such a refreshing gust of air- I was completely blown over. I was an independent girl and I was in love too! And I couldn’t find a poem which expressed quite how I felt. All the love poetry I found till then was full of patriarchal metaphors and imagery and the feminist poetry I had encountered till then was dark, angry, ominous and about women being at the receiving end of unjust treatment.

So when I found it, it kind of validated what I felt being in love. I was the one who wanted to throw all the restraint to air, being afraid of no one. But Nasir was cautious, hesitant… Sighting couples in love together was not rare in Jamia, but shuttling between our departments everyday in attempts to spend as much time together I would be too tired with all the walking for much else! Nasir wouldn’t share a cycle rickshaw ride on campus with me. That would be like publicly defying some unwritten code of on-campus conduct! But one day I made him do it and did we get stares?!! I loved it!!

So I present my friends this ghazal to you, dedicated to the memory of what was probably the first rickshaw ride of a girlfriend-boyfriend together in the Jamia’s history. To love’s abandon and defiance. I can’t remember who had written the ghazal may be some reader can help… ?

Agli hi gali mein rehta hai
Aur milne tak nahin aata hai
Kehta hai takalluf kya karma
Hum tum mein to pyar ka nata hai

Kehta hai ziyada milne se
waadon ki khalish badh jaaegi
kuchh baatein waqt pe bhi chhodo
dekho who kya dikhlata hai

khud usse kaha ghar aaney ko
aur uske bina mar jaaney ko
aur ab jo who kuchh aamada hua
dil reh reh kar ghabrata hai

kehta hai tumhara dosh na tha
kuchh hamko bhi apna hosh na tha
phir hansta hai, phir rota hai
phir chup ho kar reh jata hai

heres my quick translation of the ghazal.

right in the next street he lives
but doesn’t even come to see me
whats the use of being formal, he says
when we share the connection of love

he says, meeting too often
lends promises more insistent
leave a few things to time
and see what it has to show

I asked him myself to come home,
or else I’ll die, I told him.
And now when he’s inclined himself
my heart is anxious over and over.

He says it wasn’t your fault
I ,too, had lost my wits
He then laughs, and then he cries
after that he goes quiet