Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Interpreting My Poem - XI

This ghazal has a history. Much before I knew about the importance of meter (behr) in the ghazal form, I had written a ghazal (or at least I thought it was one) of six couplets. After learning about the concept of behr, I realized that what I had written was technically totally wrong. While it adhered to the rules of rhyme (qaafiya) and refrain (radeef), there was no consistent meter running through the couplets. There was no way I could fit my chosen rhyming words within the same meter. Not willing to discard some couplets completely, I decided to compose two separate ghazals in different meter. The first one can be read here.

Like always, the English translation and interpretations are by Archana Gupta.

वो कू-ए-यार को जाते हैं बेनियाज़ नहीं

हैं सन्गदिल ही वहाँ कोई दिलनवाज़ नहीं
His visit to the lover's lane is not aimless or fortuitous
But little does he know, folks there are not bounteous, just gratuitous

कू-ए-यार = lane of the lover; बेनियाज़ = not dependent or needy; सन्गदिल = hard-hearted or merciless; दिलनवाज़ = generous, one who soothes the heart

He goes to the lane of the lover in hope of being satisfied - may be just by seeing her or maybe by getting a favor but there is certainly an aim/need/expectation behind the action, its not purposeless.  What he does not realize is that the lover (and perhaps others in that lane) is merciless, not the kind and generous one and is quite unlikely to comply or grant any favors. On the surface, this seems to be a straightforward expression of knowledge that expectations from one's lover are likely to remain unrealized, but could be extended if one chooses to interpret "lover" differently.   For example, people go to and keep going to government offices in the hope of getting a job done but who is there to listen?  Same for judiciary - who gets timely justice, etc.

है मुख़्तसर सा ही क़िस्सा हयात का लोगो

किसी के हिस्से की तो उम्र कुछ दराज़ नहीं
O people, the story of a life is really pithy

After all, it’s just a lifetime, not an eternity

मुख़्तसर = brief, short, in essence; हयात =  life; दराज़  =  long, extended

Literally, this one translates to "The story of my life is quite short, just like everyone else.  Its not like anyone gets to live extraordinarily long!!"  This one has me a little stumped - is the poet complaining about shortness of life, or is this a comment in an attempt to self-console and prevent oneself from getting discouraged with life? 

So one way to look at it is that it’s a taunt on oneself -  People always complain that there is no time to do the things they want to do, but hey that is true for everyone - even others have approximately the same amount of time, yet they are able to achieve what they want.

Second way to look at this one is that maybe the poet's circumstances are so dire that he takes comfort in the thought that after all a lifetime is short enough (no one's life is extended) and can be somehow endured.

दिखाये राह मगर कैसा आफ़ताब है वो

हो जिसको मशरिक़-ओ-मग़रिब में इम्तियाज़ नहीं
How can I this Sun's direction trust

Who himself can't tell East from West

आफ़ताब = Sun; मशरिक़ = East or Orient; मग़रिब = West or Occident; इम्तियाज़ =  distinction, differentiation

This could easily be a remark on political leadership or a boss or a teacher or any other supposed "leader" in any walk of life.  It’s a simple comment that states that the leader has the right to lead but how can he, who himself can't differentiate between right and wrong predictably, show (me) the right path.  Literal translation of course is "What kind of Sun is it who can't differentiate between east and west and how can he be used to decide directions?"

बुरी नहीं है ख़ुदआराई पर ये ठीक नहीं

कि समझो ख़ुद सा जहाँ में है सरफ़राज़ नहीं
A little vanity, a little confidence and a little pride is no sin
But arrogance, egotism and superiority is never in

ख़ुदआराई = To beautify or groom oneself; सरफ़राज़ = exalted, eminent, distinguished, honored

This again seems to be a straightforward she’r that is a comment on an individual's tendency to be self-centered rather have a superiority complex. The poet seems to be cautioning against excessive vanity, not necessarily in one's appearance though he refers to grooming self.  What I gather is that the poet is stating that there is nothing wrong in taking care of one's needs or working to improve one's body or mind or intellect as long as one does not become so self-absorbed that he/she starts considering themselves most exalted or distinguished.

ये आबशार से मग़्मूम चश्म से जो गिरे

क्या कर भी पायेंगे पत्थर का दिल गुदाज़ नहीं
From these woeful eyes, tears flow excessively and often
Alas, may lover's heart is such a stone even they can't soften

आबशार = Waterfall; मग़्मूम = melancholy, sorrowful, woeful; चश्म = eye; गुदाज़ = one that is capable of melting

In this she’r the lover is compared to or called stone-hearted and the poet claims that even these abundant tears that are like a waterfall flowing out of woeful eyes are not enough to move the lover or melt her/his stone-like heart.

करेंगे सज्दा जहाँ पर दिखे तेरा पैकर

है बुतपरस्ती को दरकार-ए-जानमाज़ नहीं
I shall bow my head wherever I see your form or reflection
Availability of a prayer mat is no compulsion for my idolization

सज्दा  = bow in prayer; बुतपरस्ती  =  idol-worship; दरकार-ए-जानमाज़ = need for a prayer mat

On the surface it appears to be an extremely romantic sher :-) Now if true, that would be a first in this poet's repertoire, I haven't seen any other truly "Diwana" sher in the ghazals I have examined so far and frankly would be quite surprised.  Simply read, this couplet indicates that the poet is quiet enamored by the lover and is promising to bow in prayer wherever he sees her form.  The claim is that his "worship" of her is not dependent on availability of a prayer mat -  basically, he does not need to have a perfect surroundings to express his love / reverence.

OK, the translator found her bearings, while the basic meaning remains the same, I believe the "lover" is actually "God" or rather the practical manifestation of "God" - the essential goodness in human beings.  The poet promises to bow/rever/follow the goodness and godliness in the humans no matter where (in whom) he finds it and claims that this reverence is not dependent on any rituals or regard for protocol.

Another interpretation of this "lover" could be anything that one desires to achieve in life -  an ambition, a creative pursuit and the form (paikar) is the Urge to achieve it.  Then the meaning takes the form of "If you have the strong urge to achieve something in life, you can start anywhere. There is no need for all resources to be available upfront".

ग़ुरूब-ओ-शर्क़ हैं तक़दीर-ए-ख़ुर मगर मुझ को

नशेब ही नज़र आता है अब फ़राज़ नहीं
To rise and set and then rise again is the Sun's inevitable cycle
But in this bleakness, I see only nadir after nadir and no pinnacle

ग़ुरूब = setting of sun; शर्क़ = rising of sun; ख़ुर = sun; नशेब = low point (sorrow); फ़राज़ =  high point (joy)

Though rising and setting is the destiny of Sun, an unchangeable cycle, I only see the setting/low point and can't locate the rising/high point at all.  Obvious reference is that though the poet knows life is inevitably an unending cycle of highs and lows, joys and sorrows, he is so depressed and dejected at this time that he can only see bleakness, the lows, the sorrows and sees none of the highs, no brightness even in distant horizon.  It seems to be an expression of extreme hopelessness.