Saturday, 28 April 2007

Faiz - bahut milaa na milaa zindagi se

A rather sweet and short one by Faiz, with two or three absolute gems! It is also notable because it was the last Ghazal Faiz wrote - in 1984, shortly before his death.

bahut milaa na milaa zindagii se gham kyaa hai
mataa-e-dard baham hai to besh-o-kam kyaa hai

बहुत मिला ना मिला ज़िंदगी से गम क्या है
मता-ए-दर्द बहम है तो बेश-ओ-कम क्या है

"whether (one) received a lot or not, what grudge is there against life?
when the 'treasures of pain' are gathered, what is 'more' or 'less'?"

A beautiful choice of words, with the 'baham' and 'kam' symphony in the second line being particularly easy on the tongue.

'Mataa-e-dard' or 'valuables/treasures/assets of pain' is all that one can accumulate from life, in any case... so why hold any grudges whether life gives generously of them, or doesn't!

ham ek umr se vaaqif hai.n ab na samjhaao
ke lutf kyaa hai mere meherbaan sitam kyaa hai

हम एक उम्र से वाकिफ हैं अब ना समझाओ
के लुत्फ़ क्या है मेरे मेहरबान सितम क्या है

"I've known it for ages, don't now (try to) explain
what is pleasure, my saviour, (and) what is pain(oppression)"

This one drips with delightful sarcasm! For ages, the Lover has been suffering at the hands of the Beloved, and now she has the effrontry to explain that what she is inflicting is not pain but pleasure?!! The 'my saviour' is probably the sweetest cut!

kare na jag mei.n alaav to sher kis maksad
kare na shahar mei.n jal-thal to chashm-e-nam kyaa hai

करे ना जग मे अलाव तो शेर किस मकसद
करे ना शहर मे जल-थल तो चश्म-ए-नम क्या है

"if it doesn't create a blaze in the world, what's the point of a sher?
if it doesn't create a flood in the town, what's a wet eye?"

A good sher should warm, perhaps even burn down (alaav is literally something like 'bonfire') the world. And tears are true only when copious enough to overwhelm the drainage system! Typical ghazal hyperbole, but sweetly said nonetheless!

ajal ke haath koii aa rahaa hai parvaana
na jaane aaj ki fehrist mei.n raqam kyaa hai

अजल के हाथ कोई आ रहा है परवाना
ना जाने आज की फेहरिस्त मे रकम क्या है

"another moth is coming (falling) in the hands of death
who knows what the takings in today's account are"


Right through the night, every night, the poor moths helplessly fall prey to the attractions of the candle (the classic shamaa-paravaanaa stylisation), immolating themselves, one after the other, in their fatal devotion. And the heartless shamaa is seen to be ghoulishly maintaining a count of the number of her victims over the night!

with शमा = Beloved, and परवाने = her admirers (including the poet), the biting bitterness of the second line really hits you!

sajaao bazm ghazal gaao jaam taaza karo
bahut sahii gham-e-getii sharaab kam kyaa hai

सजाओ बज़्म ग़ज़ल गाओ जाम ताज़ा करो
बहुत सही गम-ए-गेती शराब कम क्या है

"organise a soiree, sing a ghazal, refill the glasses
the sorrows of the world may be manifold, (but) the wine isn't in short supply (either)!"

A prize-winner, this one!!

No matter how numerous the world's sorrows (गम-ए-गेती) may be, there's little cause for worry as long as there's enough wine flowing!!

'Bahut' and 'kam' are also used metaphorically to mean 'powerful' and 'weak' - which gives a different nuance to the second line - 'the sorrows of life may be oppressive indeed, but is wine any less powerful (as a means to bear them)?!'

lihaaz mei.n koii kuchh duur saath chaltaa hai
varnaa dahar mei.n ab khijr ka bharam kyaa hai

लिहाज़ मे कोई कुछ दूर साथ चलता है
वरना दहर मे अब खिज्र का भरम क्या है

"(Only) out of courtesy does someone accompany (one) for some distance
otherwise, in the world today, what illusion is there of Khizr ?"

This is a nice sher, but one needs to be familiar with the Koranic episode of 'Moses and Khizr' to follow it.

The legendary Khizr is supposed to have been a wandering saint, blessed with immortality and infinite wisdom. From the little i know of the story, Allah once tells Moses that he will find a travel-companion even wiser than himself (i.e. wiser than Moses) who would impart him wisdom. Hence Moses seeks out and finds Khizr, and then the two take a journey together, during which Khizr gives Moses some 'lessons' by carrying out a series of seemingly irrational/immoral/cruel actions, and then explaining to the puzzled Moses the reasons behind these actions...

With that in mind, the above sher points out, in a disillusioned manner, that in today's world, nobody has any illusions (or any wish) of finding a Khizr for their spiritual guidance. Hence if someone accompanies you for a while, it is purely out of courtesy - not because they hope to learn from your company, or because they have any great regard for you!

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