Tag Archives: death

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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Vacuums


On a day filled with warm chai and hearty laughter, a day which extends its arms into the night right past midnight and into the wee hours of the next; you find yourself happy and exhausted with all the smiles, hugs, pranks and secrets shared.

Why then does it creep up on you like a dark cloud?

It would fit right on a lonely, event less, cold rainy day, with nobody around to swap stories with or share that samosa with.

Why at the end of a boisterous day like this you ask?

Some part of the mind has unexpectedly wandered off, thinking of those who might have been here right now, sipping that lal chai sold behind the railway station under the lamppost in the wee hours of the night.  Driving aimlessly in silence, listening to rain fall on the roof of the car on a deserted highway, they would have breathed in that moment with you.

Why imagine this when surrounded by loud music, bright lights and cheerful laughter?

Some who have moved away,
Some you have pushed away,
Some who are unaware how much they are missed &
Some who can’t, even if they want to.
Many reasons, same vacuum.

This week’s poem encompassing the emotion of longing and vacuums, is an ode from Gulzar to his friend Pancham. R D Burman the composer and Gulzar the writer.

The emotions in his lines written for his beloved friend swept me away. How simple the words, how haunting the imagery and how deep the hurt at the loss of a soulmate.

Capturing the hurt and loss of a friend, a vacantness that is never going to be filled, are his words in this poem called: Pancham.

Transliteration

Pancham

Yaad hai baarishon ka din Pancham,
Jab pahadi ke neeche waadi mein
dhundh se jhaank kar nikalti hui
rail ki patriyaan guzarti thi.

dhundh mein aise lag rahe the hum ,
jaise do paudhe saath baithe ho
hum bahut der tak wahan baithe
us musaafir ka zikr karte rahe
jisko aana tha pichle shab lekin ,
jiske aumad ka waqt talta raha.

der tak patriyon par baithe hue
Train ka intezaar karte rahe
Train aayi na uska waqt hua ,
aur tum yun hi do kadam chalkar
dhundh par paanv rakh ke chal bhi diye

Main akela hoon dhundh mein pancham……

Translation
by Pavan Verma

Pancham, you remember
those monsoon days,
when in the valley below the mountains,
rail tracks made their way
emerging out of the mist…

And in the mist we appeared
like two saplings planted together
We sat there for eternity
Talking about the traveler
Who was to have traveled the night before,
But never did.

For long we sat on the tracks
Waiting for the train to come
The train arrived though it wasn’t its time
But you simply walked a few steps, into the mist, and melted away.

I remain here alone in that mist, Pancham.