Ghazala's Weblog

a poetic thread to string my words and experiences on…

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)

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?

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

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

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.