Sunday, 2 March 2008

Faiz - aa ke vaabastaa hain

The most remarkable thing about Faiz was, undoubtedly, the eerie way he was able to use the traditional imagery of urdu love shaayarii in poems that veered away from romance, and into themes of social/political relevance. However, in my view, he was often very 'modern' in other ways too, investing much of the classical stylistics he borrowed from tradition with the aesthetic sensibilities that one usually associates with Western poetics.

Consider the first three-fourths of this beautiful piece from
Naqsh-e-fariyaadii, for instance. In the nazm, which appeared under the title 'Raqeeb ko', (translating as 'to the rival') the stylised Rival is addressed by the poet not in the bitter and accusatory tones that classical shaayarii inevitably reserves for him, but with a curiously touching fellow-feeling. These lines attribute a special kindred-ness to the Rival, simply because he alone, because of his own love for the Beloved, can truly understand the Poet's pining for her! There is even an implied desire to 'vicariously' sample, through the Rival's eyes, the intimacies that have been denied to the Poet himself. That's very 'modern', isn't it?

And then, of course, the final part of the poem throws in a breath-taking 'spin' to the whole thing, making one revisit the earlier haunting lines, to ask
who this Beloved is...the feminine ideal or a 'social' one...?!! [Well, this is Faiz...!!]

aa ke vaabastaa hai.n us husn kii yaade.n tujh se
jis ne dil ko parii-khaana banaa rakhaa thaa
jis kii ulfat mei.n bhulaa rakhii thii duniyaa ham ne
dahar ko dahar kaa afsaanaa banaa rakhaa thaa
aashnaa.n hai.n tere qadmo.n se vo raahe.n jin par
us kii madhosh jawanii ne inaayat kii hai
kaarwaa.n guzre hai.n jin se usii raanaaii ke
jis kii in aankho.n ne be suud ibaadat kii hai
tujh se khelii hai.n vo mahbuub hawaae.n jin mei.n
uske malbuus kii afsurdaa mahak baaqii hai
tuu ne dekhii hai vo peshaanii, vo rukhsaar, vo honTh
zindagii jinke tasavvur mei.n luTaa dii ham ne
tujh pe uThii hai.n vo khoii huii saahir aankhe.n
tujh ko maaluum hai kyo.n umr ga.nwaa dii ham ne
ham pe muskaraate hai.n ehsaan gham-e-ulfat ke
itne ehsaan ki ginwaauu.n to ginwaa na sakuu.n
ham ne is ishq mei.n kyaa khoyaa hai, kyaa siikhaa hai
juz tere aur ko samjhaauu.n to samjhaa na sakuu.n

aajizii siikhii, gariibo.n kii himaayat siikhii
yaas-o-hirmaan ke, dukh-dard ke manii siikhe
zer-dasto.n ke masaa'ib ko samajhnaa siikhaa
sard aaho.n ke, rukh-e-zard ke maanii siikhe

jab kahii.n baiTh ke rote hai.n vo be-kas jinke
ashq aankho.n mei.n bilakhte hue so jaate hai.n
na-tawaano.n ke niwaalo.n pe jhapaTte hai.n ukaab
baazuu tole hue, ma.ndraate hue aate hai.n
jab kabhii biktaa hai baazaar mei.n majduur kaa gosht
shahraaho.n pe gariibo.n kaa lahuu bahtaa hai

aag sii siine mei.n rah rah ke ubaltii hai, naa puuchh
apne dil par mujhe kaabuu hii nahi.n rahta hai!

के वाबस्ता हैं उस हुस्न की यादें तुझ से
जिस ने दिल को परी-खाना बना रखा था
जिसकी उल्फत में भुला रखी थी दुनिया हम ने
दहर को दहर का अफ़साना बना रखा था
आशनां हैं तेरे क़दमों से वो राहें जिन पर
उसकी मदहोश जवानी ने इनायत की है
कारवाँ गुज़रे हैं जिन से उसी रानाई के
जिस की इन आंखों ने बे-सूद इबादत की है
तुझ से खेली हैं वो महबूब हवाएं जिन में
उसके मलबूस की अफ्सुर्दा महक बाकी है
तुझ पे भी बरसा है उस बाम से महताब का नूर
जिस में बीती हुई रातों की कसक बाकी है
तू ने देखी है वो पेशानी, वो रुखसार, वो होंट
ज़िंदगी जिनके तसव्वुर में लुटा दी हम ने
तुझ पे उठी हैं वो खोई हुई साहिर आँखें
तुझ को मालूम है क्यों उम्र गंवा दी हम ने
हम पे मुस्कराते हैं एहसान गम-ए-उल्फत के
इतने एहसान की गिनवाऊं तो गिनवा न सकूं
हम ने इस इश्क में क्या खोया है, क्या सीखा है
जुज़ तेरे और को समझाऊँ तो समझा न सकूँ

आजिज़ी सीखी, गरीबों की हिमायत सीखी
यास-ओ-हिर्मान के, दुख-दर्द के मानी सीखे
ज़ेर-दस्तों के मसाइब को समझना सीखा
सर्द आहों के, रुख-ए-ज़र्द के मानी सीखे

जब कहीं बैठ के रोते हैं वो बे-कस जिनके
अश्क आंखों में बिलखते हुए सो जाते हैं
न-तावानों के निवालों पे झपटते हैं उकाब
बाज़ू तोले हुए, मंडराते हुए आते हैं
जब कभी बिकता है बाज़ार में मजदूर का गोश्त
शाहराहों पे गरीबों का लहू बहता है

आग सी सीने में रह रह के उबलती है, ना पूछ!
अपने दिल पर मुझे काबू ही नहीं रहता है !!

Come, for associated with you are the memories of that loveliness,
which had made (my) heart the abode of fairies;
in adoration of which, I had (chosen to) forget the world
(and) make (my) lifetime, a tale of the age!

Familiar with your steps are those pathways, on which
her intoxicated youth has bestowed its bounties;
on which have passed caravans of that gracefulness,
which these eyes worshipped in vain!

With you have played those adored zephyrs, in which
still linger the faint fragrances of her cast-off garments;
On you too has moonlight showered down from that roof,
in which linger the aches of spent nights.

You've seen that forehead, those cheeks, those lips,
in imagination of which, I squandered away (my) life;
On you have risen those pensive, magical eyes,
you understand why I (bet and) lost an (entire) lifespan...

On (both of) us smile the indulgences of love's suffering,
so many indulgences that if I were to have (them) counted, I couldn't get them counted;
What I have lost in this love,...(and) what I have learnt,
But for you, if I were to explain to another, I couldn't (possibly) explain!

(I) learnt (of) exasperation, learnt to champion the (causes of the) indigent,
(I) learnt the meanings of despair and denial, of sorrow and pain.
Learnt to understand the misfortunes of the subjugated,
learnt the significance of cold sighs, of pallid faces.

(And now) whenever sit weeping those forlorn ones, whose,
tears sob themselves to sleep in (their) eyes;
(and when) hawks swoop down on the morsels of the powerless,
(when) with wings outspread, hovering, they come;
Whenever a labourer's meat is sold in the market,
(or) the blood of the poor flows down the King's road;

Something like a fire wells up again and again in my breast; oh don't ask (about it)...!
(for) I am left (at such times) with no control over my heart!!

Kyaa baat hai! Waah! Isn't it just absolutely magical how he manages to audaciously turn that entire, sublimely beautiful, first part of the poem, touching in its lack of bitterness, into such a powerful explanation of his bitterness at the state of the world...?

OK, let's look at some notable word-choices:

First off, that impossible-to-translate fourth line 'dahr ko dahr kaa afsaanaa banaa rakhaa thaa'. Afsaanaa means a story, a fable, a tale; a word which, like in English, can stress the fictional aspect of what is being said, or alternatively be used to mean a chronicle of something that has actually happened. Dahr is also maddeningly multivalent - it can mean anything from a long period of time (an 'age', or even 'eternity') to fortune or fate (adverse or otherwise) and is also used in more value-neutral sense to mean something like habit or custom. With so many possible meanings, the dual-use of the word allows us to interpret the line in a variety of sense-permutations... the poet could be saying that he had 'devoted his lifetime to constructing a story of our times' or 'a story (lament) of his misfortunes', or had chosen to see 'time' itself as a story of his lifetime...etc.

The sixth line goes 'uskii mad-hosh jawaanii ne inaayat kii hai'. Jawaanii is one of the most recurrent words in urdu poetry, of course - but it, interestingly, has no exact English equivalent. [In French, there is an exact equivalent - in jeunesse.] One usually translates jawaanii as 'youth'... but the exact period of life captured in the word is the one that lies between adolescence and old-age, namely the period of sexual maturing and activity. Which is why the word is used so often as a proxy for the Beloved's sensual charms, of course...and why a word like madhosh goes so well in association with it. The 'pathways' to which the Beloved's jawaanii has been kind (which is how this line would literally translate) are presumably those on which the budding nymphet has passed by with her swaying, sexually alluring gait...the next line makes this explicit by talking about caravans of her raanaaii, which means something like a 'graceful gait'.

Malboos is literally clothes, but specifically a piece of clothing that has been worn, or has been taken off after wearing... which gives sense to the invoking of 'fading fragrances'.

In the line 'jis me biitii hui raaton kii kasak baaqii hai', the word kasak means something like a faint but racking pain... a spasm or pang. To see these pangs as somehow reified in the roof of the Lover's bedchamber, is the sort of poetic magic that this line somehow pulls off!

I absolutely love the two lines that go 'tujh pe uthii hain vo khoii hui saahir aankhen; tujhko maaloom hai kyon umr ganwaa dii ham ne'. The sense being captured is something like the potently colloquial "Come on - You have been looked at by those haunting eyes!! Even if nobody else does, surely you understand why I couldn't help wasting my life away awaiting the same moment!'

Aajizii is the noun form of 'aajiz' which we had looked at in an earlier Faiz poem - the word denotes a strong sense of exasperation, the kind that comes from repeated frustration of effort! While yaas means despair or hopelessness, hirmaan has a slightly different nuance of being denied or refused something.

zer-dast combines the Farsi preposition for 'under' with 'hand', and, naturally, means 'being under the hand' of someone, i.e. being in a subjugated or subordinate position.

Masaa'ib is (in arabic) the plural of the much more common word musiibat, which we are familiar with in everyday speech.

Zard is literally 'yellow' - hence, rukh-e-zard describes wan, pale, bloodless faces.

Naa-tawaan describes someone weak, powerless or impotent.

A Shaah-raah is literally 'a royal road' and describes a principal or main avenue, usually the road leading to the ruler's palace (think of the Rajpath in Delhi, which leads to President's House). The word figures often in Faiz's poetry, because of its obviously political connotations...


Dr. Ravinder Mann said...

wonderful!! Wow. Beautiful job done. I have no words to pa my regards to you.
This 'Nazam' is written by Gaiz sahab towards his Rakeeb.And from conceptual point of view he is showing his positve attitude towards his Rakeeb as oppose to all the other Urdu Shyars. Faiz sahab has logical reason for this particular behaviour towards his Rakeeb(which make Faiz sahab unique and very Realistic) .Hope you will point that too at some later point.
Thank you very much for this masterpiece work.

deewaan said...

Thanks very much for the kind words, Dr. Mann! Your encouragement is much appreciated! Do keep visiting...