Tag Archives: urdu

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.

 

That moment


Life in the city demands from us long rides, sitting ideally as we wait for the traffic to move, or holding the clutch ever so slightly, ready to accelerate as soon as we see any movement ahead of us.

(Image Source)

On days that I find myself looking ahead for far too long at the endless line of cars, I simply turn right or sometimes left in the hope that I might catch a moment in passing. These moments last simply for a few brief seconds before I am on the move again.

Sharing some of these moments on this post:  a mixture of happy, awkward and funny.

-The sun has just set on a busy Saturday afternoon. I look up and see the facade of a popular restaurant that is going to be bustling with activity in a few hours. Within the glass windows sit 15-20 men, all dressed in uniform, some hustling together, others enjoying chai as they laugh aloud, sharing a moment of companionship before the crowds take over. A moment of release before they are going to be on their feet again, not allowed to converse freely with each other or show any sign of familiarity on the dinner floor.

-A young girl walks with her parents into the Far East Asian restaurant where everyone is trying to eat with chopsticks. After endless chatter over the difference between dim-sums and sui-mai, the food finally arrives. As I wait for friends to arrive I look up from my screen and unfortunately catch a movement of fingers. Her mother had dropped the bright red chili sauce on her Saree and had reached with her fingers into the glass of water to soak the spot, so that the stain wouldn’t stick. In that moment the daughter eyes and mine meet across that glass. I look away as she aghast at her mother, starts a tirade of complains on how inappropriate it was for that restaurant.

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-At the junction where 4 roads meet, I turn the corner and on the opposite side of the road passes a ‘rickshaw’ lit up like a Christmas tree ; which meant every inch of its insides had sparkling ‘disco’ lights and music that could be heard from 20 yards away. And inside this carnival sat the most traditionally dressed man with a white skull cap,  all white kurta and a solemn looking beard, holding on for dear life. Our eyes meet for a brief second, and he gives me the brightest smile.

Ahmed Faraz talks of so many such moments in this poem and asks, “who is going to see them……., “Dekhay Ga Kon?”.

Transliteration and Translation

Ab Ke Rut Badli To Khushbu Ka Safar Dekhay Ga Kon ?
Zakham Phoolon Ki Tarah Mehkain Gain par Dekhay Ga Kon ?

This time, when the seasons change, who will witness the arrival of spring?
Wounds like flowers will bloom, but who is going to see them?

Dekhna Sab Raqs-e-Bismil Mein Magan Ho Jayein Ge
Jis Taraf Se Teer Aaye Ga Udher Dekhay Ga Kon ?

You’ll see everyone in a trance watching the wounds of an injured man,
The direction from where the arrow arrives, who will see that?

Zakham Jitnay Bhi Thay Sab Mansoob Qaatil Se Hue
Teray Haathon Ke Nishaan Ay Chaarahgar Dekhay Ga Kon ?

All the wounds will be attributed to the murderer,
The fingerprints of Your work, O messiah, who will see that?

Meri awaazon ke saaye mere baam-o-dar pe hai
Mere lavzaon main utarkar mera ghar Dekhay Ga kon?

The echoes of my voice heard on my doorstep-on my ceiling
Who will come within my house through my words and who will see my feelings?

Ham Chirag-e-shab hi jab tehre toh phir kya sochna
Raat thi kiska muqaddar aur seher Dekhay Ga kon?

If we are merely the candle that burns up the night, then why think further,
Whose fate was the night and who will see the morning?

Aa faseel-e-sheher se dekhe Ghameen-e-sheher ko
Sheher jalta ho toh tujh ko baam par Dekhay Ga kon?

Come, from the boundary wall of the city, lets look at the city’s enemies,
When the city burns, who is going to watch you atop your terrace?

Har Koi Apni Hawaa Mein Mast Phirta Hai “Faraz”
Sheher-e-Na-Pursaan Mein Teri Chashm-e-Tar Dekhay Ga Kon ?

Everybody in a trance, enjoying the breeze, O’Faraz,
The heartless city where no one cares, who is going to see your wet eyes?

(Note:This version of the poem and its translation is by Kuldip Salil, a translator and poet himself, who has translated numerous Urdu poems. This version is also slightly longer, with 14 lines, while most of them I read online have a slight variation and are just 10 lines long. I have chosen to go with Salil’s translation found in his book, “Treasury of Urdu Poetry“.)