Thursday, 3 May 2007

Momin - Asar usko zaraa nahin hotaa

Ok, Momin next! This is one of his most famous ones, probably justly so.

Momin is supposed to have been a 'metrically perfect' poet, i.e.,
all his ghazals are supposed to conform to the strict metrical prescriptions of the classical ghazal form. Even without a great degree of understanding of complicated Beh'r rules, one can feel the exceptional lyricism that a ghazal like, say, 'wo jo ham mein tum mein karaar thaa' sports. However, from a purely semantic point of view, I honestly haven't found too many of his poems remarkable - probably just the limitations of my appreciation!

particular one isn't half bad, though!! :)

असर उसको ज़रा नहीं होता
रंज राहत-फज़ा नहीं होता

There isn't the slightest effect on her
Distress/anger is not comfort-increasing (like this)

I'm not ENTIRELY sure about this... but i think he is making the Lover give a self-delusional 'positive spin' to the obvious lack of effect his ardour has on the Beloved - by telling himself that if she were really distressed/angry with him, she couldn't have been so comfortably/peacefully indifferent!

Or he could just be bemoaning the fact that distress, which is all he is capable of, isn't something that, by itself, can bring any comfort to him.

बे-वफ़ा कहने की शिकायत है
तो भी वादा-वफ़ा नहीं होता

(she) resents (my) calling (her) unfaithful
(but she) still doesn't turn true to (her) promises

Fair enough... she can't have it both ways, can she...?!

ज़िक्र-ऐ-अग्यार से हुआ मालूम
हर्फ़-ऐ-नासेह बुरा नहीं होता

from the mention/recounting of Rivals, (I) realised
(that) the counsellor's reproaches are not (always) bad (incorrect)

The 'naaseh' or solicitous advisers who counsel the Lover against his infatuation for the unfaithful Beloved are rarely taken seriously by him... until he is confronted with an account of the many Rivals on whom the Beloved has showered her philandering favours...

तुम हमारे किसी तरह ना हुए
वरना दुनिया में क्या नहीं होता
There was no way to make you mine
else what might not have happened in the world

This one's pretty straight-forward. But nice nonetheless... it leaves open such a world of unsaid possibilities...

who was it who said, '
For all the sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: "It might have been!"'?

उस ने क्या जाने क्या किया ले कर
दिल किसी काम का नहीं होता

Who knows what she did (with it, after) having taken it
a heart is of no use (to anyone)

Oho, very nice!

इम्तिहान कीजिये मेरा जब तक
शौक़ ज़ोर-आज़मा नहीं होता

Go ahead and test me until
love doesn't (acquire a taste for) tests of strength

A slightly ominous warning to the Beloved...'careful, my love will let itself be subjected to these ordeals only so far... beyond a point, it may well seek to square off against its torturers...!"

एक दुश्मन कि चर्ख है, ना रहे
तुझ से ये ऐ दुआ नहीं होता

There's (only) one enemy - the circle of fate; (but that) it may not remain -
this much, o benediction, you can't achieve!

'duaa' means, of course, 'good wishes' or 'blessings'. The Poet, however, feels that such pious benedictions are of no use to him if they can't help him vanquish the one adversary ranged against him - namely, the hand of fortune! ['charkh' literally means a 'wheel', and the usage here would translate very conveniently to something like 'wheels of fortune']

आह तूल-ऐ-अमल है रोज़ अफ्जूं
गरचे एक मुददा नहीं होता

a sigh prolongs the extent of expectations everyday
although there's not (even) a single objective

'muddaa' is an extremely multivalent word, which can mean anything from 'issue' to 'meaning' to something 'claimed, searched or desired for'... 'afzoon' translates to 'increasing, augmenting...', while 'tool-e-amal' would be read as the 'length of hope'. The entire sher encapsulates a nice sense of the futility and confusion of love...the scope and intensity of desire and determinations sweetly with a complete lack of concretely achievable targets to strive for...!

नारसाई से दम रुके तो रुके
मैं किसी से ख़फा नहीं होता

If lack of access kills me, let it
I don't (ever) take offence at anyone

Once again, simple in meaning... but it has a nicely fatalistic air to it... "fine, let me die trying to reach her; i am beyond caring or resenting!"

तुम मेरे पास होते हो गोया
जब कोई दूसरा नहीं होता

It is as if you are with me
when(ever) someone else is not

The highlight of the ghazal!

I mentioned this earlier,
but - Ghalib is supposed to have offered his entire deewaan in exchange for this one sher!! And who can blame him? How can anyone sum up the ESSENCE of love any better than this?? "whenever i am alone, i am with you". Period!!

हाल-ए-दिल यार को लिखूं क्यूँ-कर
हाथ दिल से जुदा नहीं होता

How to write the state-of-(my)-heart to the sweetheart?
(My) hand refuses to move from my heart

Droll! So intense is the pain in his heart that the Lover can't stop clutching at it... and consequently can't pick up the pen to describe his suffering to the Beloved!

रहम कर, खस्म-ऐ-जान-ऐ-गैर ना हो
सब का दिल एक सा नहीं होता

Be merciful; don't be the enemy of the Rival's life
not everyone's heart is (made of) the same (stuff)!

Ha ha! Very nice! The Poet taunts the Beloved with mock solicitude for the Rival's welfare... "don't subject him to the same tortures as me - his heart is unlikely to be able to suffer your caprices with the same fortitude as mine!"

दामन उसका जो है दराज़ तो हो
दस्त-ए-आशिक रसा नहीं होता

If her dress is long, let it be
the hand of a lover does not reach out

Hmm....nice too! दामन is almost entirely untranslatable, although you are probably familiar with its many connotations. In is used mostly for the Beloved's garment, usually a flowing/trailing part of it, that can be caught ('catching of the daaman' being a frequently used metaphor for 'winning' the Beloved) or used (again metaphorically) to shelter oneself, etc...

Here the poet seems to be saying that even if the Beloved's daaman is long and flowing (and consequently 'reachable'), it is inconceivable for a Lover's hand to commit the effrontery of actually reaching for it!

किसको है ज़ौक-ए-तल्ख़-कलामी लैक
जंग बिन कुछ मज़ा नहीं होता

Who has a taste for the bitter word; but
there's no fun without battle!

Ha! This one's sharp! The 'conversational/rhetorical' style in which the sher is said adds greatly to its merit. 'Kisko hai zauq-e-talkh-kalaamii'?, or 'it's true that nobody enjoys (exchanging) bitter words'... but then, is life any fun without occasionally descending into the battlefield?!!

चारा-ए-दिल सिवाय सब्र नहीं
सो तुम्हारे सिवा नहीं होता

There is no cure for (my) heart without peace
and that doesn't happen (come) without you

A nice paradox... any possible 'cure' for the lover's agitated heart requires it to first come out of its feverishly restless state ... but in the absence of the Beloved, there's little chance of that happening! And if the Beloved was there, there would be no need for any cure!

क्यूँ सुने अर्ज़-ए-मुज़्तरिब मोमिन
सनम आख़िर खुदा नहीं होता

why should (she) listen to the pleas of the restless, Momin?
the Beloved/idol isn't
the Allmighty, after all

Sweetly bitter! The barb is directed not at the Beloved, as it seems to be, but actually at the Almighty - who is ALSO obviously refusing to heed the pleas of the restless! Such divine sarcasm!!

There is also some nice word-play here. The literal meaning of 'sanam' is 'idol', although the word, like 'but', is commonly used in the Ghazal world to describe the Beloved... In this sher, however, if one takes 'sanam' in its literal sense, the entire couplet becomes the 'standard' Islamic injunction against idolatory [i.e., 'how can an idol answer the pleas of the helpless? It isn't really God!']. Once again, the implied sarcasm would be against the true God... who is content to sit watching the helpless appealing to his idol!

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