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)

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 mehllaat 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 dardmandon ke bantey ho kyun?
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

Why do you pretend to be a healer of those lamenting in grief?

You are no healer!

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.
 
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

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…

Slum‘dog’: On Uncouth Language and Subversion — March 10, 2009

Slum‘dog’: On Uncouth Language and Subversion


Every blog worth its name (number of hits) has had something to say about Slumdog Millionaire. I think I should also make the most of this opportunity 🙂 I really have nothing to say about the film that hasn’t already been said but the controversy about its title (slum’dog’) gives me a chance to say my two bits about the language of subversion.

Hip-hop music and culture in USA has a ‘slanguage’ of its own in which the word ‘dog’ has a special place because of the frequency and flexibility with which it is used. Among other things it is used as a common noun for ‘person’, especially a friend or a term of endearment. It would be a bit off the mark to say that the word has lost all the derogatory connotations but the usage in hip-hop/rap is a bit complex.

Let me draw a parallel with the feminine of the word ‘dog’- ‘bitch’. ‘Bitch’ has a long history of being used as a derogatory word for women. The connotations are those of ‘lewd’, ‘on heat’, ‘sexually promiscuous’. Also associated is the verb ‘bitch’- when one is ‘bitching’ she (he?)  is ‘gossiping’ or ‘back-biting’. Today a ‘sexually promiscuous’ woman is plainly called a ‘slut’ or a ‘whore’ (‘hoe’ in hip-hop). A ‘bitch’ is a woman who is straying away from the feminine conventions; she makes no effort to be obedient and pleasant. In hip-hop its cool to be a ‘bitch’. Many female rappers call themselves and girl friends ‘bitch’ just as African-American rappers also frequently call themselves and others ‘nigga’ and ‘dog’.

There is a derogatory subtext but it is full of subversion.

So, why so much hue and cry over the film title? Let me try an explanation using again the ‘bitch’ example. While it may be cool when a close girlfriend calls me a ‘bitch’, I would definitely take it as an insult if someone not close were to throw the word at me. Two African-American rappers may call each other ‘nigga’ but a white person using the n-word would be inflicting a racial slur. Is the title ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ derogatory, then?

The slum‘dog’ controversy reminded me of Faiz Ahmed Faiz‘s Kuttey (Dogs). I wonder what people may have to say of it…

Yeh galiyon key aavaara bekaar kuttey
Ke bakhsha gaya jin ko zoq-e-gadaai
Zamaney ki phitkaar sarmaaya un ka
Jahaan bhar ki dhutkaar in ki kamaai

Na aaram shab ko, na rahat saveyrey
Ghalaazat mein ghar, naaliyon main baseyrey
Jo bigrein to ik doosray say lara do
Zara ek roti ka tukra dikha do
Yeh har ek ki thokerain khaney waley
Yeh faaqon say uktaa kay mar janey waley

Yeh mazloom makhlooq gar sar uthaey
To insaan sab sarkashi bhool jaey
Yeh chaahain to duniya ko apna bana lein
Yeh aaqaaon ki haddiyaan tak chaba lein

Koi in to ehsaas-e-zillat dila dey
Koi in ki soee hui dum hila dey

My rough translation…

these vagrant, aimless streets dogs
the flair for beggary has been conferred upon them
their net asset is being scorned by their times
rebukes of the entire world their earnings

No rest in the evening nor reprieve at dawn
housed in filth, dwellings in drains
if they agitate, pit one against the other
show them a piece of roti
putting up with getting kicked by all
they tire of being starved and die

If this oppressed species were to arise
humans would forget all domineering
they can own the world if they’d only wish
they can chew up even the bones of the masters

Somebody stir them to feel their mortification
somebody move their sleeping tail

To me it looks like that using what is considered, foul/uncouth language for one self (or others who share the oppressed identity) is a way of arousing an oppressed people to feel their mortification, humiliation, and thereby, a subversive act. Young people tend to use slang more than any other age group because they find in this a convenient and cool way to display their irreverence towards what is established, traditional and the norm. Language full of slang, coarse and swear words is an act of defiance against authority- a way of expressing hostility and pent-up aggression, safely. In this way, it becomes one of the most used ‘weapons of the weak’.

“Dayar-e-shauq Mera” Tarana-e-Jamia — September 24, 2008

“Dayar-e-shauq Mera” Tarana-e-Jamia

Another post, to set the context for some words used in the last post. It just occurred to me that the Tarana-e-Jamia or Jamia’s anthem has very interesting lyrics. It uses a delightful mix of Islamic imagery with themes popular in Urdu (but not Islamic)- of wine and taverns etc and talks of Jamia’s formation in answer to nationalist call, passion for quest of knowledge and freedom.

Here is the original text transcribed in English

Dayar-e-shauq mera, Dayar-e-shauq mera
Shehr-e-aarzoo mera, Shehr-e-aarzoo mera

Hue the aake yahin khemazan woh deewaney
Uthhe the sun ke jo aawaz-e-rehbaraan-e-watan
Yaheen se shauq ki be rabtiyon ko rabt mila
Isi ne hosh ko bakhsha junoon ka pairahan
Yahin se lala-e-sehra ko ye suraagh mila
Ke dil ke daagh ko kis tarha rakhte hein roshan

Dayar-e-shauq mera, Shehr-e-aarzoo mera

Ye ehle shauq ki basti, ye sarphiron ka dayar
Yahan ki subha nirali, yahan ki shaam nayi
Yahan ki rasm-o-rah hai kashi juda sab se
Yahan ke jam naye tarha, raqs rasm-e-jam nayi
Yahan pe tashna labi maikashi ka haasil hai
Ye bazm-e-dil hai yahan ki sala-e-aam nai

Dayar-e-shauq mera, Shehr-e-aarzoo mera

Yahan pe shamma-e-hidayat hai sirf apna zamir
Yahan pe qibla-e-iman kaba-e-dil hai
Safar hai deen yahan kufr hai qayaam yahan
Yahan pe raah rooi khud husul-e-manzil hai
Shanaawari ka taqaza hai nau-ba-nau toofaan
Kinar-e-mauj mein aasoodgi-e-saahil hai


Translation by Prof. M. Zakir

This is the land of my hopes
This is the land of my dreams

This is where men with zeal stayed
Men who answered the leaders’ call
It is here that torn-off love
Found the cohesive chords
It is here that wayward passions
Formed into frenzied love
It is here that the wild tulip learnt
How to make the scar of heart aglow

This is the land of my hopes
This is the land of my dreams

This is the place of men of vision
And of those with a challenging thought
Every morning here is new
And every evening newer still
Different is this tavern
And different are its norms
Different are the dancing cups
And different is their dance
Here drinking begets thirst anew
And different is this tavern’s call

This is the land of my hopes
This is the land of my dreams

Here, conscience is the beacon light
And conscience is the guide
Here is the Mecca of heart resides the guiding faith
Ceaseless movement is our faith
And blasphemy it is to stay still
Here, the destined goal is the march on and on
Here, the swimming urge seeks
Newer and newer storms
Restless wave itself is our resurrected shore

 

Listen to the Tarana being performed by the Jamia School choir. Shaky video but okay sound.

Poetry, sedition and Old promise… — August 5, 2008

Poetry, sedition and Old promise…

In an earlier post, I had promised to bring some translations of work by Ibn-e-Insha. I begin that task today… heres my translation of his ghazal- “Khamosh raho” 

This is not a time to say anything, don’t say anything- stay quiet

O! people stay quiet, O! people stay quiet

 

Truth is good, but in its roots lies a bowl of poison too

Are you mad?! Don’t be a Socrates for nothing, stay quiet!

 

Truth is good but better if someone else dies for it

Are you mansoor that you’ll go to the gallows? Stay quiet!

 

They say that the sun revolves round the earth

We agree, let the sun revolve, stay quiet!

 

Fear lurks in the gathering and the chains pierce

Think again! Yes, think again!  Yes, think again! Stay quiet!

 

Warm tears and cold sighs, the seasons felt in this heart!

Don’t open the secrets of this garden, take a walk, stay quiet!

 

Sit on the side having closed my eyes and keep closed the doors of my heart

Insha ji take this thread and stitch your lips, stay quiet!

I had contributed the original ghazal, along with another couple of poems for a campaign demanding release of an independent film maker Ajay TG who has been arrested in Chhattisgarh on charges of sedition under Sec 124 A of the IPC and the Chattisgarh Special Public Security Act. CSPSA assumes guilt by association and criminalises even political belief. Under this act ‘any contact’ with a banned organisation becomes a criminal offence. Ajay has been arrested because allegedly he wrote a letter to Maoistsin Chhattisgarh requesting them to return his camera which they had snatched from him while Ajay was accompanying a team of PUCL in Bastar in 2004!

To know more about Ajay and the campaign to release him click here  

Following is my English translation of Jo kuchh dekha-suna, samjha, likh liya- by Nirmala Putul a santhali poet (from Hindi translation by Ashok Sinha).

You have words, arguments, intelligence
Entire system is at your disposal
You can falsify truth by retelling it again and again
You can write me off completely in just one pronouncement

 

What eyes have seen
You can prove wrong
I realise…

 

But don’t forget
those who call truth-“truth”
And falsehood-  

“false” with all their might

haven’t been totally wiped out.

More on Insha later… promise!

 

 

 

 

Poets About Poetry — June 16, 2008

Poets About Poetry

 

The poetry I like best is the kind that happens when theres a synthesis of smells and tastes of life (or lives) with a realistic, close look at life (or lives, again!) topped with beautiful crafting of words. Empty craft sounds just that- empty. I also like to understand the process behind creation- creation of art, learning… Its interesting when poets write about poetry- their own or other poets’. In this act they also create what we may call “meta-poetry’. Such poems give us an opportunity for a deeper look into the poet him/herself. They serve many other purposes too. For example through these, poets may claim lineage with poets of another time. Like Ibn-e-Insha who prays for a house in heaven for Mir- every word uttered by whom, Insha claims is his own!

Allah karey Mir ka jannat mein makan ho,
Marhoom ne har baat hamari hi bayan ki.

Muktibodh discredits a lot of poetry and tells us about his version of credible thought process in his poem “vichar aatey hein” (“Thoughts arrive”- which incidentally is one of his very few short poems)

vichar aatey hein-
likhte samay nahin
Bojha dhotey waqt peeth par
sir par utthatey samay bhaar
parishram kartey samay
chaand ugta hai va
paani mein jhalmalaney lagta hai
hriday ke paani mein.

vichar aatey hein
likhte samay nahin,
…patthar dhotey waqt
peeth par utthate waqt bojh
saanp martey samay pichhwarey
bachchey ki nekar phacheette waqt!!
patthar pahad ban jate hein
naqshe bante hein bhogolik
peeth kachhap ban jate hein
samay prithvi ban jata hai…

(My translation of “vichar aatey hein“)

thoughts arrive
not while writing
while carrying load on back
while hauling weight over head
while toiling
moon rises and
shimmers on water
water of the heart

thoughts arrive
not while writing
…while carrying stone
while hauling load over back
while killing snake in the backyard
while washing a child’s knickers
stones become mountains
maps turn physical
backs turn into turtles
time becomes the earth…

Nazim Hikmet calls his poetry his “pot of honey” in his poem About My Poetry. Using the honey metaphor for his poetry that is at once not like material riches but still priceless.

I have no silver saddled horse to ride,
no inheritence to live on,
neither riches no real estate…
a pot of honey is all i own.
A pot of honey
red as fire!

My honey is my everything.
I guard my riches and my real estate
… my honey pot, I mean…
from pests of every species,
Brother, just wait…
As long as I’ve got
honey in my pot,
bees will come to it
from Timbuktu…

(Translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing)
Ernest Hemingway, in his poem The Age Demand talks of relationship of time-age with poetry and poets

The age demanded that we sing
And cut away our tongue.

The age demanded that we flow
And hammered in the bung.

The age demanded that we dance
And jammed us into iron pants.

And in the end the age was handed
The sort of shit that it demanded.
Pablo Neruda in his poem simply titled Poetry talks of the illusive-to-define source and nature of poetry.

And it was at that age… Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

And my favourite Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Lauh-o-Qalam contains his need to express himself no matter what.

hum parvarish-e-lauh-o-qalam karte rahain ge
jo dil pe guzarati hai raqam karte rahain ge
asbaab-e-gham-e-ishq baham karte rahain ge
virani-e-dauraan pe karam karte rahain ge
haan talkhi-e-ayaam abhi aur barhe gi
haan ehal-e-sitam mashq-e-sitam karte rahain ge
manzoor ye talkhi ye sitam hum ko gavara
dam hai to madavaa-e-alam karte raheain ge
maikhana salamat hai to hum surkhi-e-mai se
tazeen-e-dar-o-baam-e-haram karte rahain ge
baaqi hai lahu dil main tou har ashk se paida
rang-e-lab-o-rukhsaar-e-sanam karte rahain ge
ek tarz-e-tagaaful hai so vo un ko mubaarak
ek arz-e-tamana hai so hum karte rahain ge

 

Forever will I nurture pen and paper,
forever express in words whatever my heart undergoes,
forever proffer ingredients of the sorrows of love
and quicken into life the wasteland of time.
Yes, the bitterness of time will keep on spawning,
just as the tyrants will persist in their cruelty.
Cheerfully I’ll give in to bitterness, this tyranny too I’ll endure
so long as there’s breath, I’ll seek ever new cures for torments.
If the tavern still remains, I shall embellish every door
and balcony of the haram with the redness of wine.
If the heart is not drained of all the blood, I’ll colour every tear
with the redness of the beloved’s lips and cheeks
This posture of indifference, let it be her prerogative-
For me it will always be my desire’s entreaty.

(translated by Shiv K. Kumar)

We Sinful Women — April 8, 2008

We Sinful Women

It is we sinful women
who are not awed by the grandeur of those who wear gowns

who don’t sell our lives
who don’t bow our heads
who don’t fold our hands together.

It is we sinful women
while those who sell the harvests of our bodies
become exalted
become distinguished
become the just princes of the material world.

It is we sinful women
who come out raising the banner of truth
up against barricades of lies on the highways
who find stories of persecution piled on each threshold
who find that tongues which could speak have been severed.

It is we sinful women.
Now, even if the night gives chase
these eyes shall not be put out.
For the wall which has been razed
don’t insist now on raising it again.

It is we sinful women
who are not awed by the grandeur of those who wear gowns

who don’t sell our bodies
who don’t bow our heads
who don’t fold our hands together.

The grass is really like me

The grass is also like me
it has to unfurl underfoot to fulfil itself
but what does its wetness manifest:
a scorching sense of shame
or the heat of emotion?

The grass is also like me
As soon as it can raise its head
the lawnmower
obsessed with flattening it into velvet,
mows it down again.
How you strive and endeavour
to level woman down too!
But neither the earth’s nor woman’s
desire to manifest life dies.
Take my advice: the idea of making a footpath was a good one.

Those who cannot bear the scorching defeat of their courage
are grafted on to the earth.
That`s how they make way for the mighty
but they are merely straw not grass
-the grass is really like me.

By Kishwar Naheed (Pakistan, 1940) translated from Urdu to English by Rukhsana Ahmed

 

Kishwar Naheed is the first poet I read in whose poetry I saw a reflection of my life experiences as a young woman. Her poetry was my first real introduction to the ideas of feminism as well as the kind of poetry that goes beyond Aestheticism. I can very clearly mark the beginning of my interest in subversive poetry with my reading of the collection of Pakistani feminist poets translated by Rukhsana Ahmed, among whom Kishwar was my clear favourite. The book had the original poems in Urdu script along with the English translation and read it for weeks over and over again.

 

Then years passed and I understood feminism a little better and appreciated poetry a bit more… I happened to hear Kishwar Naheed at an Indo-Pak mushaira organised by the Jamia Millia Islamia on 01.9.2007. She sat just two rows further down the aisle in the auditorium but I couldn’t muster enough courage to go upto her… what would I say? Would she patiently hear out what her poetry means to me? If she was curt or rude it might spoil the whole heady/romantic thing I have got going with mixing her poetry, urdu, feminism and subversive poetry of people around the world… no… it was too huge a risk and in hindsight I feel good about not taking it, though at the time I felt tortured as I’ve never felt before. After all individual artists are not just the art they have created but more (or less?). Engaging with the artist and engaging with her art may not necessarily be similar experiences.

 

Heres a few lines of the original “we sinful women” (hum gunahgaar auratein hein)

 

Ye hum gunahgaar auratein hein

Jo ahl-e jabba ki tamkinat se

Na rob khaayein

Na jaan bechein

Na sar jhukaayein

Na haath jodein

Ye hum gunahgaar auratein hein

Ke jin ke jismon ki fasl bechein jo log

Voh sarfaraaz thahrein

Nayaabat-e imtiyaaz thahrein

Voh daavar-e ahl-e saaz thahrein

Ye hum gunahgaar auratein hein

Ke sach ka parcham utha ke niklein

To jhoot se shaah-raahein ati mile hein

Har ek dahleez pe sazaaon ki daastaanein rakhi mile hein

Jo bol sakti theen voh zubaanein kati mile hein

 

From the same collection I was struck by these lines by Ishrat Afreen (my rough translations)…

 

Mera qad

Mere baap se ooncha nikla

Aur meri ma jeet gayi

 

My height

Surpassed that of my father

And, my mother won

 

 

And …

 

Mere dil ke nihan-khane mein

Ek tasveer hai meri

Khuda jaane use kisne banaayaa

Kab banaayaa tha

wo poshida hai mujh se

Aur mere doston se bhi

Kabhi bhooley se lekin

Mein use gar dekh leti hoon

Usey khud se milaaoon

Toh mera dil kaanp jaata hai

 

In the deepest chamber of my heart

There is a picture of me

Only God knows who made it

and when

it is hidden from me

and my friends

if I ever see it  even by mistake

and compare it with myself

my heart gives a shudder.