This weekend my phone was abuzz with messages from every whattsapp group and friends possible. And surprisingly all of them sent in lines from Gulzar’s poetry. As though, it was the most ‘in’ thing now, to send a few of his couplets. The fact that Gulzar has written poems on every emotion and circumstance possible in human life and penned the most memorable songs in the history of Indian cinema, was used quite conveniently by my friends, to depict their moods, or the weather, or what they were hoping for. The man is a genius. Not only has he mastered a subtle way of depicting life through his poetry, he has written plays, scripted films and directed some too.
His poems make me thank my Hindi teachers at school, for letting me learn and understand, one of the several languages that he writes in to reach the masses. There is a rich regional literature treasure in India, each state has its own language and often writers have used regional languages to communicate. However, Hindi and English are spoken throughout the country and taught at schools, in addition to the local state language in some states. Although there are some good translations of regional literature into Hindi and English medium, much of these remain unknown and unread in other parts of the country. Personally, I am not fond of translated literature, since I always feel that the original author’s perspectives are lost or dulled by the translator.
But I am grateful to those who take time in researching, understanding and translating, otherwise, we would never have known about the epics from all over the world, Coelho would sadly be absent from our lives, Love in the Times of Cholera would not have reached the girl growing up in Southern India and Tagore would have not won his Nobel in literature.
Here are a few of Gulzar’s couplets that I have attempted to translate. Hope that these convey his thoughts as closely as possible (courtesy: Rekhta)
- From ‘The Melting snow’
When the snow will melt on the mountain
And fog will lift its veil from the valley
The seeds would stretch their limbs
And open their sleepy lazy eyes
And even though,
the new young grass, will begin to green the mountain slopes
Notice carefully, the new spring
Would still have memories of the past season
For even now there would be remnants of tears of yesteryears,
In the melancholy eyes of the new buds that sprout.
My short understanding from the above- Dang! The memories….they never fade. Although we transform from one year to another, one goal to the other, who can forget the past? For as human, we carry our past into our present (maybe that’s a gift?).
- From ‘Books’
The books steal glances from within their unopened book case
Sometimes with a lonely, longing gaze
For we haven’t met in months
The evenings that were once spent in each other’s company
Are now used up viewing the computer screen
The books have begin to get restless
For they have now learnt to sleep walk
The books look on with a lonely, longing gaze
The values that they once narrated
With their endless passion
Those values don’t live in my house anymore
The relationships they had once proposed
They seem unstitched, undone, incomplete to me now
When I turn their pages, I begin to sigh
For many of their words have lost their meaning
For many of their words remain unused now
Terminologies forgotten, meaningless
The crystal utensils have made the earthen pots obsolete
For once a turn of a page would vet my appetite
And now at a click of a finger and in an instance
So many pages, pages within pages open by themselves
The bond with books has been forgotten
For sometimes they would rest on my heart as I lay,
Or sometimes carried possessively on my lap
Sometimes I would face them on my book stand of knees
Sometimes I would read them like a holy book
And touch them to my forehead in a prayer
Perhaps their contents are still accessible
But those dried flowers hidden within pages,
Those fragrant messages from companions
Those relationships forged by an excuse of lifting a fallen book for another…
What would happen to those?
Would those be now forgotten as well?
My two bits- Although we now depend on e books and audiobooks, how can we forget the emotions of reading a thriller….. page by page, so many of those nights in our younger years, of being unable to sleep till we could finish a book?
Books were more than paper pages, they were ways to disappear into an imaginary land, of forging new relationships and being inspired….
Ahh! Gulzar….you made my weekend!