“Emotions! What right had anyone to meddle with emotions? Words were invented to conceal emotions. It was the dreadfulness of raw emotion that had made language a basic necessity.” ~Isaac Asimov
I have been writing for long, mostly for folios and handmade journals dispatched to friends or the cold bosoms of wooden drawers. Sometimes, my scribblings have had appearances in the odd journal or newspaper, now relegated to the labyrinths of the past. My writing prowess has ebbed and surged, raged or petered out to a trickle, drawing on my joys and sorrows, or on peaks or troughs. My disposition has undergone a sea-change, and with that has my pen, which transmogrified into a keyboard in the last decade of the century gone-by.
Somehow, I have never felt more helpless than when trying to translate emotions from one tongue to another. I have long intended to translate some poems and stories of Hindi, and some ghazals that wring me each time I have read or heard them sung. One of my favourite ghazals from my protracted student life (read unemployed marathon into meaning of existence) has been a ghazal by Sudarshan Faakir, “Kisi ranjish ko hawa do.” (Fan up some old grudge…). Here I go then:
That I Live Still
Fan up some old grudge from cinders, that I live still,
Get me a sense that lingers, that I live still.
The thread of breath will cease when I come to a halt,
Stretch the intervals of miles, that I live still.
As of ritual I have kept sipping venom, O, People,
Fetch me another medicine, that I live still.
I have slipped into a nap on the turnpike, Faakir,
Send away the milling crowd, that I live still.
The original (in Hindi):
किसी रंजिश को हवा दो कि मैं ज़िंदा हूँ अभी
मुझ को एहसास दिला दो कि मैं ज़िंदा हूँ अभी
मेरे रुकने से मेरी साँसे भी रुक जायेंगी
फ़ासले और बढ़ा दो कि मैं ज़िंदा हूँ अभी
ज़हर पीने की तो आदत थी ज़माने वालों
अब कोई और दवा दो कि मैं ज़िंदा हूँ अभी
चलती राहों में यूँ ही आँख लगी है ‘फ़ाकिर’
भीड़ लोगों की हटा दो कि मैं ज़िंदा हूँ अभी