Sunday, 17 February 2008

Faiz - Kabhii Kabhii Yaad mein ubharte hain

Madame Musiq, I know this has been a long promised one... finally got around to it. A truly magical ghazal from Dast-e-sabaa, one of the two volumes Faiz penned in prison.

kabhii kabhii yaad mei.n ubharte hai.n naqsh-e-maazii miTe miTe se
vo aazmaaish dil-o-nazar kii, vo qurbate.n sii, vo faasle se

कभी कभी याद में उभरते हैं नक्श-ऐ-माज़ी मिटे मिटे से

वो आज़माइश दिल-ओ-नज़र की, वो कुर्बतें सी, वो फासले से


At times, (they) rise forth in memory...(those) evanescent images of the past
those trials of heart and sight, those almost-intimacies, those almost-separations

Actually, part of what's been holding me back from translating this ghazal so far is the difficulty of doing justice to the exact nuance captured in the radif structure of this ghazal. The Radif ends with a 'se' which is, of course, the oblique form of 'saa', which literally translates to 'like' or 'similar to'.

However, urdu grammar allows one to say - with complete naturalness and elegance - something like 'vo faasle se' (as in the sher above), the sense which is almost impossible to translate into English, even if one resorts to a clumsy phrase like 'those things like distances...'. If one says just 'those distances', it does sound more acceptable as an English phrase, but falls very short of the magically approximate sense captured in the Urdu original - 'that thing like distance, but not quite distance'. See?

The via-media I've chosen above leaves me far from satisfied. But it was either that, or just leaving the ghazal aside as 'too beautiful to translate'.

With that said, isn't this matlaa just impossibly lovely? The 'evanescent' nature of the memories...barely remembered...is what makes them such a 'test' of the heart and (the mind's) eye. And that is why the distances are not quite definitely distances, and closenesses not quite definitely closenesses...!

kabhii kabhii aarzuu ke sehraa mei.n aa ke rukte hai.n kaafile se
vo saarii baate.n lagaao kii sii, vo saare unwaan visaal ke se

कभी कभी आरज़ू के सेहरा में आ के रुकते हैं क़ाफिले से

वो सारी बातें लगाओ की सी, वो सारे उनवान विसाल के से


At times (they) come and halt in the desert of desire, like caravans
all those things said, as in affection; all those signs, as of union

The defining characteristic of caravans being, of course, that they don't make permanent stops... just halts for the night, to leave the next day, leaving the 'desert of longing' just as desolate as before... but still, memories of the words uttered in love, the faintly remembered signs of meetings with the Beloved, can temporarily slake desire...


nigaah-o-dil ko qaraar kaisaa, nishaat-o-gham mei.n kamii kahaa.n kii
vo jab mile.n hai.n to un se har baar kii hai ulfat nae sire se

निगाह-ओ-दिल को करार कैसा, निशात-ओ-ग़म में कमी कहाँ की?

वो जब मिले हैं तो उन से हर बार की है उल्फत नए सिरे से


What relief (can there be) for the sight and heart; what lowering of joy and pain?

Every time (I have) met her, (I have) fallen in love with her anew!

Isn't that just haunting? Indeed, what slackening of suffering can there ever be, even over time, if the whole stomach-wrenching process of falling in love is to be undergone afresh, all over again, every time the Beloved is sighted? But then again, what exquisite agony it would be, to live like that...!


bahut giraa.n hai ye pesh-e-tanhaa, kahii.n subuktar, kahii.n gawaraa
vo dard-e-pinha.n ke saari duniyaa rafiiq thii jis ke vaaste se

बहुत गिरां है ये ऐश-ऐ-तनहा; कहीं सुबुकतर, कहीं गवारा

वो दर्द-ऐ-पिन्हाँ के सारी दुनिया रफीक़ थी जिस के वास्ते से



(It is) very burdensome, this enjoyment of solitude; (it was) much lighter, much more acceptable,
that hidden pain, because of which the whole world was (my) companion


gawaaraa is literally 'digestible', but used in the sense of something 'acceptable' or 'pleasant'. 'Disengagement' from passion might bring the sort of peace only solitude can, but who can put up with such weighty repose, once used to the tumult of longing...?

The 'kahiin' used in the first line is to be read not in its common sense of 'somewhere' but in the comparative sense... i.e. as a verbal device to stress that the 'hidden pain' is 'so much more light, so much more pleasurable'...


tum hii kaho rind-o-muhtasib mei.n hai aaj shab kaun farq aisaa
ye aa ke baiThe.n hai.n maikade mei.n, vo uTh ke aaye.n hai.n maikade se

तुम ही कहो रिंद-ओ-मुह्तसिब में है आज शब कौन फर्क ऐसा

ये आ के बैठे हैं मयकदे में, वो उठ के आए हैं
मयकदे से

Go on, you tell me - what (great) difference is there between the blackguard and the policeman this evening?
This one has come and taken a seat in the tavern; that one has come having arisen from the tavern!

Lovely... dusts out the oft-repeated theme whereby the censor (a mohtasib is specifically a law-enforcer who polices unlawful gaming, drinking etc.- a sort of 'moral police') is snidely insulted as being hypocritical and incapable of following his own diktats... but does it in such magical language that one just can't help smiling afresh at it!

4 comments:

Shweta said...

Kya baat hai!! Too much! For cadence, intensity and sheer beauty – Faiz!
The first three shers are so lovely.

deewaan said...

Yes, it IS an exceptionally beautiful one, isn't it? Even by Faiz's lofty standards.

Have just noticed - and corrected - a couple of idiotic typos in the translation, though! Should teach me not to stay up blogging until the wee hours!

musiq said...

another fave of mine- thanks deewaan ji :)

'vo faasle se' is the kind of phrase one can almost feel palpably, isnt it?

Dr. Ravinder S. Mann said...

Faiz always go deep inside