Sunday, 14 March 2010

Faiz - na ganwaao naawak-e-niimkash

This one's a short, sweet masterpiece by Faiz, very likable for its conversational simplicity and its almost musical lyricism. There is also an admirable unity of approach in the entire Ghazal, with Faiz remaining true to the 'voice from behind the grave' theme in every sher.

Incidentally, after jumping through some hoops, I have managed a half-baked solution to reproducing nasta'liq on Blogger! It takes some tedious steps, and I doubt if I shall have the energy to persist with it in the longer poems, but you would agree that the poetry looks so much more
authentic when written out this way...

na ga.nwaao naawak-e-niimkash, dil-e-rezaa-rezaa ga.nwaa diyaa
jo bache hai.n sang sameT lo, tan-e-dagh-dagh luTaa diyaa

गंवाओ नावक--नीमकश, दिल--रेज़ा रेज़ा गंवा दिया
जो बचे हैं संग समेट लो, तन--दाग़ दाग़ लुटा दिया

Don't waste (your) half-drawn arrows, (for I have) squandered (my) heart away, piece by piece
Gather up the stones that remain, (for I have) let (my) body be pillaged, wound by wound

A simple sher, that archly advises the poet's detracters against wasting their energies in demolishing him, since he has done the job himself! The words could be addressed to the baleful Beloved, to zaalim zamaanaa or to a perverse Celestial being - they work well in any of these senses.

The second line, that begins with an ironically solicitous 'save your stones!' has a particularly delicious ring to it.
There is such an air of perverse triumph in having thwarted the assailants - It seems to evoke an image of someone expecting to be robbed, and taking 'preventive measures' by scattering all his money among swarming mendicants!

The verb
luTaanaa is used in several nuanced ways, all conveying a sense of deliberately frittering away some possession. Rezaa is derived from the Farsi verb Rekhtan (which means 'to scatter') and is used mainly in compounded noun forms like in the first line of this sher. Interestingly, Rekhtan is also the root of the adjective Rekhta, which means 'scattered', or 'mixed up', and was an alternative name given to the Urdu language in times of yore - the tongue was seen to be a mix of native Indian dialects and classical Farsi. Niim-kash, as I think we've seen before, describes a bow that is loosely strung, or one that is lightly pulled while shooting the arrow, so as to release the projectile at a lower velocity (and thus cause it to lodge in the victim's body rather than pass through it). Naawak is a small sized arrow.

mere chaaragar ko nawed ho, saf-e-dushmana ko khabar karo
jo vo karz rakhte the jaan par, vo hisaab aaj chukaa diyaa

मेरे चारागर को नवेद हो, सफ़-ए-दुश्मना को खबर करो
जो वो क़र्ज़ रखते थे जान पर, वो हिसाब आज चुका दिया

Convey the glad tidings to my healer, let the ranks of enemies be informed
That debt they held on (my) life - (well), the accounts have been squared today

This one's sublime too, isn't it? The soft irony, the classy metaphorical touch... I love the way both the healer and the detractors are seen as creditors holding IOU's on the poet's existence. And there is such lofty grandeur in the announcement that the debts have been discharged honourably!

Nawed (or Nawiid) is Farsi for 'good news', and is also used for a 'wedding-invitation'. Saff is a rank of soldiers, arranged in military formation - a phalanx. [Saf-aaraaii is the military art of making battle-arrays, of marshalling one's men on the battlefield].

karo kaj jabii.n pe sar-e-kafan, mere qaatilo.n ko gumaa.n na ho
ki guroor-e-ishq ka baa.nkpan, pas-e-marg hamne bhulaa diyaa

करो कज जबीं पर सर-ए-कफ़न, मेरे कातिलों को गुमां न हो
की गुरूर-ए-इश्क़ का बांकपन, पस-ए-मर्ग हम ने भुला दिया

tilt the shroud on (my) forehead (jauntily), let not my killers delude themselves
that, after death, I have forgotten the foppishness of love's pride

Cutely brilliant! The Poet is loathe to shed his persona of a cockily confident Corinthian even after death, imploring that his shroud should be placed fashionably askew on his head, lest his detractors think he has become unmindful of 'style' because of mere death!

A baankaa is a man given to sartorial indulgences - a dandy, a coxcomb. Pas is Farsi for 'after' or 'behind'. [The compound pas o pesh, which is literally 'behind and before', describes a state of nervous indecision]. Kaj or Kajh means 'crooked' or 'bent'.

udhar ek harf ki kushtanii, yahaa.n lakh uzr tha guftanii
jo kahaa to sun ke uDaa diyaa, jo likhaa to paDh ke miTaa diyaa

उधर एक हर्फ़ कि कुश्तनी, यहाँ लाख उज़्र था गुफ्तनी
जो कहा तो सुन के उड़ा दिया, जो लिखा तो पढ़ के मिटा दिया

Over there, a single word was worthy of slaughter, (while) here, a million excuses were fit to be said
whatever (I) said, (she) heard and ignored, whatever (I) wrote, (she) read and wiped off

Nice - an amusing delineation of the helplessness of the lover, the perversity of the Beloved, the asymmetry of their power equation.

Note that the 'uDaa' and 'miTaa' of the second line could indicate not just the treatment that the Beloved reserves for the poet's words (whether spoken or written) but also for himself - to indicate that his apologetic words - whether spoken or written - are enough to anger her into 'blowing him away' or 'wiping him out'.

Kushtanii is an adjective used to denote someone who deserves to be killed, or an animal destined for slaughter. Guftanii is something fit to be said, or told. Uzr is Arabic for an 'excuse', a 'pretext' or an 'apology'.

jo ruke to koh-e-garaa.n the ham, jo chale to jaa.n se guzar gaye
rah-e-yaar hamne kadam-kadam tujhe yaadgaar banaa diyaa

जो रुके तो कोह-ए-गरां थे हम, जो चले तो जां से गुज़र गए
रह-ए-यार हम ने क़दम क़दम, तुझे यादगार बना दिया

When we paused, we were the heaviest of mountains; when we moved, we left life (itself) behind
On every step, O Beloved's lane, we rendered you memorable

Just Lovely! The first line is an all-time classic, and was much used, immediately after Faiz's death, as a preamble to his obituaries. Just for the grandness of its announcement, for the balance of its cadences, for the way it sums up a lifetime, it ranks as one of my favourites.

Giraa.n or Garaa.n means, in Farsi, something 'heavy' or 'great & important' or 'burdensome & difficult'. Koh is a mountain or a hill.


musiq said...


This one could lend itself, among other interpretations, to being about the act of writing itself. About being a poet and transfering oneself, blood, tears and all to paper, the possibilty of stones and taunts, the danger of negation of self due to rejection or neglect. The Beloved is the much desired reader...

musiq said...

i dont know why some comments are getting posted to the wrong poem? some glitch.

Hey-the use of the urdu script makes it look beautiful too