Sunday, January 20, 2013

Interpreting My Poem - VIII

Moving on to the next installment. Another early Ghazal of mine with simple thoughts. And, of course, made simpler for people not very familiar with Urdu by Archana Gupta’s precise translations.


है क्या ख़िज़ाँ में मुमकिन सहरा में बाग़ निकले

ज़ुल्मत को जो मिटाए ऐसा चिराग़ निकले
Can a garden, in  autumn, in a desert bloom

Can a mere beacon purge this dark, this gloom?

ख़िज़ाँ =  autumn or winter, a season when plants don't take root and flowers don't bloom,  सहरा = desert or jungle, non-fertile land,  ज़ुल्मत = darkness

"Is it possible for a garden to take root in non-fertile land and that too in the wrong season?"  This line seems to suggest that stage is being set for an impossible task.  The second line, however, is very tame and simply translates to "Is it possible to find a lamp that is capable of illuminating this darkness".  Implication seems to be that the darkness is too widespread for any lamp to overcome.

To be fair, the she’r does have universal applicability -  could be a reference to deep or seemingly unending personal sorrow / situation that seems irreparable or could be a social comment on say deep rooted corruption and such.


शोर-ए-सफ़ीर-ए-बुलबुल से गूँजता था कल तक

क्यूँ आज मेरे घर में रोने को ज़ाग़ निकले
It was replete with the echoes of the sweet songs of nightingale
Today, in my house why do I hear crows lament and wail?

शोर-ए-सफ़ीर-ए-बुलबुल = noise of sound of bulbul,  ज़ाग़ = crow

This house was full of sounds of happiness till yesterday -  the happy sounds are compared to the song of a pleasant sounding songbird.  Why then I hear the cries of the crows today?  Basically, a straightforward she’r claiming that the happiness of yesterday has turned to extreme sorrow today for no apparent reason.


दाग़-ए-क़मर से आख़िर जब आशना हुआ मैं

जितने रक़ीब पाये उन में न दाग़ निकले
Now that I can see through my lover's treachery and duplicity
no longer do I blame my competetors for her infidelity

दाग़-ए-क़मर = blemish of the moon,  रक़ीब  =  rival most commonly a rival vying for one's lover's affections

This is a lil more interesting.  Here the comparison is age-old cliché, the lover is being referred to as moon (personally, I always find this comparison very trite and actually rather insulting to the lover as moon has no "glow" of its own, but that is beside the point and anyway, it’s such a favorite of poets since time immemorial...).  Anyway, generally speaking the tendency is to place the blame for a lover's infidelity or lack of interest on the other competing parties and say they must have misled her but here the poet states that once I saw through the flaws in my lover, I could find no fault in the competitors and holds her responsible for her actions - nice breaking of the stereotype (within the confines of another).


डरता था मैं न आये वक़्त-ए-फ़िराक़ मुझ पर

कुछ वस्ल से तेरे अब हौल-ए-दिमाग़ निकले
I live in constant fear of possibility of separation
May my union with you ease my angst and trepidation

वक़्त-ए-फ़िराक़ = time of separation,  vasl = meeting, union (usually with a lover),  हौल-ए-दिमाग़ = fear in the mind

This one could possible be interpreted in two ways:

  • First is the wishful thinking, I was/am afraid of impending rather inevitable time of separation -  a time that he knows is coming, dreads but wants to wish away and the second line is then the wish -  I wish for a meeting/union with you that would ease some of my fear or apprehension, basically, lack of actually meeting her has increased his anxiety.
  • The second way is to view it as event past, the tone alone changes now to a relief of sorts -  I was apprehensive that a time of separation may come but now that we have united, I feel a little more reassured in my mind, more sure of our love. 

Again, no material difference to meaning, just a subtle shift in tone.  I favor the first one a bit more...


हो जुस्तजू में जिस की है वो मज़ार कैसी

क्या अपनी क़ब्र का तुम लेने सुराग़ निकले
What is the shape and form of your quest in reality
Are you off looking for your final destiny

जुस्तजू =  search,  मज़ार = grave usually that of a famous or holy person,   सुराग़ = sign

This one stumped me and took me a while to get my arms around it.  As I read it, this one seemed all about the quest of the impossible.  After all, who can locate their own grave or tombstone while they are still alive?  But then, there are examples of kings/emperors who built their own future mausoleums in their own lifetime.  So I was fairly uncertain about this one.

The way Aditya explained his vision of it was a quite different.  To him "kabr" was the "final outcome of life" and the desire for it to be viewed as a "mazaar" translated to a desire to be revered after the lifetime is over here.  So then the meaning that this she’r takes on is more like "What are you looking for?  Perhaps a means of achieving so much greatness that in the final analysis, the world shall remember you with reverence"?   And come to think of it, isn't that and hasn't that always been the ultimate aim of so many who strive to achieve great feats, be it those who wanted to conquer the world with the might of the sword (kings and politicians) or those who tried it as actors, singers, painters, artists of any kind, sportspersons, and so on?  In a way, it is a quest of all human beings -  just varies in scale...  Certainly a more beautiful explanation than what I initially read into the she’r -  one instance where the poet's view should carry more weight Winking smile 


मैं थक चुका हूँ लोगो तरग़ीब-ए-ज़िन्दगी से

चाहूँ उफ़क़ से आख़िर रोज़-ए-फ़राग़ निकले
People, I am exausted from a life of active commotion
Oh how I long for a period of repose and recreation

तरग़ीब-ए-ज़िन्दगी= extremely active life,   उफ़क़ = horizon,  रोज़-ए-फ़राग़  = day or rest/vacation

To me this seems to express simple weariness.  May even have been penned after a particularly strenuous project at work or a period of extreme social activity or both :-)  Simple translation is that I am tired of this extremely active life and really wish for a day of rest, a break from the hustle and bustle -  a do nothing day to sleep in and laze.
There is a more profound but darker side to this she’r though and it could be interpreted as a death-wish of sorts.  The claim then is that I am tired of this hassle of living and am now ready for and even wish for the day of permanent rest.  I don't particularly associate such dark thoughts with this poet's attitude to life but this she’r carries a darker shade.

All in all a collection of more straightforward, less profound ash'aar that should be relatively simple for anyone to understand...