Friday, November 16, 2012

Interpreting My Poem - I

I have been writing for many years now, mostly for my own consumption. One of the reasons why I haven’t shared much of my poetry with others is that I find myself terribly inadequate in explaining or translating my own poems for others. Of course, I can provide the meanings of the difficult words, but explaining the meaning behind them does not come easily to me. Moreover, I feel that poetry needs to be interpreted by the reader. The poet’s intent is nice to know, but finally it is up to the readers to extract the meaning from it. And if I explain everything myself, the fun is lost.

I do realize that this makes my poems quite inaccessible to people. I had no solution to this problem, till Archana Gupta, a facebook friend, volunteered to translate and interpret some of my ghazals. I thought this was a reasonable solution. While it does not completely overcome the problem of experiencing poetry through someone else’s eyes, it is better than hearing it from the poet himself because it is another reader’s interpretation.

So here I present Archana’s interpretation of one of my ghazals. Hope you enjoy it.

The most interesting thing about good poetry is its innate ability to lend itself to multiple interpretations, to have enough depth to allow for the exploration of under the surface meaning and imagery.   A few ash'aar (couplets)of this ghazal also fit that mould rather well.  In some cases below, its the interpretation of "कोई ", that leads to multiple layers.
ये क्या जो लाला-ओ-गुल से तवस्सुल कोई करता है
ख़राश-ए-ख़ार का लेकिन तजाहुल कोई करता है

(तवस्सुल = association; ख़राश-ए-ख़ार = injury caused by a thorn; तजाहुल = ignorance)
When interpreted generally with "कोई" as people, it seems to be a comment, even a complaint about the human tendency to associate with things that are outwardly beautiful and completely ignore that beautiful things do have faults underneath and can cause one pain -  sort of a warning that good in life comes with the bad. 
One could also view the "कोई " as poet himself stating his philosophy or positive approach to life.  Then the meaning becomes "I desire the flowers from the garden (of life) and am willing to purposefully ignore the raze of the thorns (troubles) that come along, rather bear the troubles that come along".   Though the meanings appear the same when viewed casually, the intent is different.  In the second case, the "purposefully turning a blind eye" is then an intent to pay the debts of life to get what one wants.

मुकर्रर है जहाँ में हर ख़ता से मग़फ़िरत का दिन
क़रार-ओ-ताब दिल में रख तहम्मुल कोई करता है

(मुकर्रर = pre-determined; ख़ता = mistake, sin; मग़फ़िरत = absolution, forgiveness; क़रार-ओ-ताब = patience; तहम्मुल = endurance)
Someone is (I am) tolerating (the travails of life) with repose and patience with the belief that the day of salvation is pre-decided and will come regardless.

शिकस्ताहाल रहते हैं ये महव-ए-बुतपरस्ती में
न क्यूँ उश्शाक़ पर नज़र-ए-तफ़ज़्ज़ुल कोई करता है

(शिकस्ताहाल = broken down; महव-ए-बुतपरस्ती = absorbed in worshipping an idol/obeject of desire; उश्शाक़ = lovers; नज़र-ए-तफ़ज़्ज़ुल = look of kindness/benevolence)
Here if one views "कोई " as the lord himself, the sher appears to be a complaint to the Almighty.  "Your followers (lovers/उश्शाक़) are so deeply devoted to you that they forget everything else, yet you don't listen and improve their circumstances". Alternately, it could be viewed as a similar complaint to one's object of desire (but), so now "कोई " is the lover -  in either case, the one worshipped.

Yet another interpretation of the play of words comes about when "कोई" is considered to be the worshipper    -  (When troubled in life) people (कोई) absorb themselves in idol-worship or appeals to the (unseen and unknown entity called)  God  (in hope of finding salvation from their sorrows).  Why do they not seek (and in process provide) solace from (to) their lover or partner in life (when the sorrows are actually shared)?  So here, the change in "कोई" changes, rather offers a completely different interpretation. 

न रूदाद-ए-सितम कोई बयाँ करता असीरी में
बहें अश्क-ए-फ़ुग़ाँ क्यूँकर त-अम्मुल कोई करता है

(रूदाद-ए-सितम = tale of tyranny; असीरी = captivity; अश्क-ए-फ़ुग़ाँ = tears of complaint; त-अम्मुल  = hesitation)
Now this sher is a little different.  Here the "कोई " is the same and is rather unimportant to the meaning.  Its considering the placement of the word "क्यूँकर", that offers the difference in interpretation.

If one considers "क्यूँकर त-अम्मुल कोई करता है" to be one phrase, the meaning appears to be "Why is the captive hesitating in narrating the travails of captivity; he/she should let the tears of complaint show."

However, if one considers "क्यूँकर" to be part of the leading words and "त-अम्मुल कोई करता है"  as the independent phrase, the meaning becomes - "She/He does not describe her problem, nor complains of torture in this relationship.  I am left reflecting (with bewilderment) why does she/he cry and lament then (what is troubling her/him)?"  Here we interpret the captivity to be the relationship with one involved party wondering this about the other one that appears to be quietly unhappy.

है क़िस्मत का सितारा औज पर लेकिन रहेगा डर
ज़मीं पर अर्श से आख़िर तनज़्ज़ुल कोई करता है

(औज = zenith; अर्श = sky; तनज़्ज़ुल = descent, fall)
While my stars are on the zenith (fate is smiling upon me), I remain apprehensive, as its inevitable that those flying high in the seventh heaven would fall to the ground one day.  Here the interpretation considers the poet to be the "कोई"
Those ("कोई") who are enjoying the benevolence of the powers that be, should remain mindful of the fact that times and circumstances change – it’s the law of nature that what goes up must come down
The difference in the two is only in the tone of the she’r...

जो होता है यहाँ दहशतनुमा अक्स-ए-हक़ीक़त भी
है लाज़िम ये कि वा बाब-ए-तख़य्युल कोई करता है

(दहशतनुमा = scary; अक्स-ए-हक़ीक़त = image of reality; लाज़िम = necessary; वा = open; बाब-ए-तख़य्युल = door of imagination)
The realities of life are so frightening (there is so much trouble in reality)  that its reasonable that someone (I) turn to the world of my imagination (to make this life bearable).   Could it be that this is the poet's justification to immerse himself in the world of poetry?  World's reason for indulging in various art forms -  music, drama, films, painting -  all creative arts?