Widowed Souls


There is a piece of land between the railway tracks and the main road which takes me home. Its unkempt, stark and strewn with weeds. Although a pathway runs below the tracks leading to the other side of the road, the barrenness of this no man’s land, meant that it was not used by pedestrians. This week I noticed the widowed and utterly ignored space been adopted by vegetables vendors, adding vibrancy and attracting those heading home just like me.

It led to me think how uninhabited spaces get adopted into ghettos, slums, bazaars and markets, that we eventually forget how cold and unwanted that place was in the first place.

In the colorful montage of life as it surrounds us today, the white veil of widowed spaces and souls surrounds us, paradoxically wrapped in the most vibrant colors. Look past the garb and her eyes tell you of the story of betrayal. The tale of her first love, made companion, who no longer is the person she loved when she was 19, yet married to him now, the father of her child.

The hurt of abandonment emerges and lays bare the pain caused sometimes by a trusted parent or loyal friend now a stranger or a sibling now estranged.

The late Leonard Cohen who through his music soothingly embraced all of humanity’s corruption, in one of his songs says that a crack in everything is how the light gets in.

paige
Paige O’hara Sculpture

But if not all humanity is created equally (in terms of mental strength at least), then what is the price we pay for the cracks we endure?

No matter how much we take hurdles in our stride, cracks show up and create a shadow of souls widowed, and tugs at my heart to see it unable to trust too quickly, love unabashedly or give another chance to friendships that beckon.

We are never the same at the other bank of the river. Fighting the river that we thought would carry us ashore but unexpectedly tried to drown us leaves gasping with disbelief.

But Oh widowed soul
Do you know that love pleads for another chance?
Do you not feel the strings of intimacy playing your tune?
Does the beating drum not fire your loins with passion?

Why not let the wind shatter the wall of disillusionment
Give the chimes of hope a chance to dance in the rain
Allow chirping giggles to overcome the deafening silence you endure
Or simply try giving your widowed soul a chance to bloom again…

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There is an amazing illustration by Zen Pencils on Love….sharing it here:2013-02-12-lewis.jpg

This week’s poem by Parveen Shakir named Barish hui to phoolon ke tan chak ho gaye.

Transliteration

Barish hui to phoolon ke tan chak ho gaye
mausam ke hath bhig ke saffak ho gaye

baadal ko kya khabar ki barish ke chah mein
kitne buland-o-bala shajar khak ho gaye

Juganu ko din ke vaqt pakadne ki zid karen
bache hamare ahad ke chalak ho gaye

jab bhi garib-e-shahar se kuch guftagu hui
lahaje hava-e-sham ke namnaak ho gaye

lahara rahi hai barf ke chadar hata ke ghas
suraj ke shah pe tinake bhi bebak ho gaye

sahil pe jitne aab-gazeeda the sab ke sab
dariya ke rukh badalate hi tairak ho gaye

Translation

As it rained the flowers had holes in their bodies made
The weather now drenched became a tyrant

How would the clouds know that while waiting for rain
So many tall and mighty trees had turned to ashes

They insist on testing the firefly in the daylight
Children of today have become so bright

Whenever a conversation with those away from home rose
The evening breeze with their words grew moist

Unveiling the cover of snow, the grass now sways
Egged by the sun the straws are now fearless

All those who would out of fear the water shunned
Became swimmers as the river changed its course.

Ending with Mr. Cohen and his amazing voice.

 

Kaifi


Many years before I knew anything about poets or Urdu shayari, there was a song I loved and watched over and over whenever it played on Chitrahaar.

Tum inta joh muskura rahe ho….was simply haunting, clinging on to you even after it ended. In the voice of the iconic ghazal singer Jagjit Singh, the song was part of a movie far ahead of its time, Arth. It featured Shabana Azmi, daughter of the grand duke of Urdu Shaayari, Kaifi Azmi.

shab-kaifi

Over the last 4 years there have been many evenings spent scrolling through his collection of ghazals and poems. Whenever I wanted to write about powerful emotions, I knew there was a poem waiting for me in his works. Whether it was calling upon women to rise up in Aurat, or  citizens called upon to rebel in Jagaava, the depths of Kaifi Azmi’s voice brimming with fire took centre stage.

Unlike Gulzar and Javed Akhtar, his poetry is not simple often laden with those rich ancient urdu words that aren’t commonly used. He was a man from a different era, born on this day in 1919. Never thought as a poet by his family, he struggled to prove his mettle, even after becoming part of the Bollywood fraternity. His belief system deeply rooted in communism, seeped into his life and his works.

His poems pull at your strings, make you question your beliefs and demand that you take action. These passionate poems are alternated by deeply romantic renditions too. He describes love is so many forms, his love for the ocean or samandar immediately takes you the shoreline in Mumbai, as does Savere Savere to those early morning sunrises that paint the sky in magnificent hues. He often spoke of death too, like in these lines,

Maut lehrati thi sau shakloon main
Maine ghabra ke har shakal ko khuda maan liya

leaving-the-land

I have been fortunate to listen, see and observe poets such as Javed Akhtar and Gulzar I  person. I never had the same fortune with Kaifi Azmi, which has left so much to imagination. The life and times he operated in are so different from where I stand today. His struggles and accomplishments happened in the 5o’s, a time I always want to teleport myself to, simply to experience the upheavals, struggles as well as the immense creativity that existed in those times.

But a man who knew him closely  and celebrated him is Javed Akhtar and we can try and get to know this icon a little more through this poem, written by him for Kaifi Azumi… Ajeeb Aadmi Tha Woh. 

Transliteration

Ajeeb Aadmi Tha Woh
mohabbaton ka geet thaa,
bagavaton ka raag thaa,
kabhi woh sirf phool thaa,
kabhi woh sirf aag thaa…

ajeeb aadmi tha woh…
woh muflison se kahta thaa ke din badal bhi sakte hain,
woh jaaberon se kahta thaa tumhaare sar pe sone ke jo taaj hain, kabhi pighal bhi sakte hain,
woh bandishon se kahta thaa main tumko tod sakta hun,
Sahulaton se kahta thaa main tumko chhodh sakta hun,
hawaon se woh kahta thaa main tumko mod sakta hun,
woh khwaab se yeh kahta thaa, ki tujhko sach karunga main,
woh aarzoo se kahta thaa, main tera humsafar hun, tere saath hi chalunga main,
tu chaahe jitni door bhi banaa le apni manzilein, kabhi nahin thakunga main.

woh zindagi se kahta thaa ke tujhko main sajaoongaa,
tu mujhse chaand maang le, main chaand le ke aaungaa!!

woh aadmi se kahta thaa ke aadmi se pyar kar,
ujad rahi hai yeh zameen, kuch iska ab singhaar  kar

ajeeb aadmi tha woh…

woh zindagi ke saare gham, tamaam dukh, har ek sitam se kehta tha
main tum se jeet jaaunga,
ki tumko toh mitaa hi dega ek roz aadmi,
bhula hi dega yeh jahan.
meri alag hai daastaan
woh aankhein jin mein khwaab hain,
woh dil hain, jinmein aarzu hain,
woh baazoo jinmein hai sakat!
woh hont jin pe harf hain,

rahunga inke darmayan,
ke jab main beet jaaunga …

ajeeb aadmi tha woh…

Translation
Again, I didnt find translation by any translator online or within the books I possess. So here is my translation of this amazing poem.

Strange man he was
He was the song of love
He was the melody of rebellion
At times he was just a flower
At times just fire.

Strange man he was
To the downtrodden he would assure that times change,
To the tyrants he reminded that crowns they wear, can one day simply melt,
To restrictions he would let know that they can be broken
To comforts he said that he can give them up also,
He would apprise the winds that he can change their course,
He would tell his dreams that he would make them come true,
He would comfort desires, that he was their companion, with them each step of the way,
That no matter how far the destination, he would never tire.

To life itself he promised to celebrate it,
You ask for the moon and I will bring it to you!!

He asked mankind to love mankind
The earth is going barren he said, he asked man to adorn it.
Strange man he was

To every grief, every distress, every suffering he said
I will overcome you
And that one day mankind will annihilate you,
Forget that you even existed.
Those eyes where dreams reside,
The heart that has desires,
Those arms that bear strength
Those lips on which words sit

I will stay in between them
When I have departed.

Strange man he was!

Now we know where to find Kaifi Azmi…….

Here is the song….

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