I saw a mad man walking on the road

with tattered cloths, and an aggressive mode

uncombed hair, rather uncouth beard
glow in the eyes, but it all looked weird

certainly not a charming man to see
but maybe he thought the same of me

as he stopped and stared in my eyes
it dawned on me he was quite wise

he asked a question in a soft tone
then walked to a crowd, all alone

i pondered a bit, but couldn’t reply
whatever i could say, would be a lie

he had asked me to judge who is better
a man of soul, or the world of matter

for he is happy while the world, unsatisfied
he is just mad, but the world may have died

he sleeps well and long, putting worries aside
the world just longs for angst and apartheid

he left with a sly, artful smile on his face
pure, honest and sincere was his case

he seemed to have gone on a distant stride
but gave me a bit to reflect, or maybe abide

And so it begins…

And so it begins
Another new year
Amidst songs, smiles and a heartfelt tear
Welcoming, stylish displays, far and near
But what really is new?
I would like to hear
The same old aspirations, the same old fear
Older still, the draconian cheer
The optimistic resolves, the pessimistic smear
Taking rounds and rounds, with little to steer
Nothing too vague
None too clear
So what really is new? I would like to hear
Distancing waves or surrounding sneer
Never ending circles
No wear no tear
Like growing old, but little to tell
And nothing to jeer
An absolute stillness, the feeling sheer
So what really is new?
I would like to hear
Days and nights, lingering lights
Walking in sideways, no excuse, no swear
All too fine, but none too dear
Raving endlessly, with a useless veer
So what really is new?
I would like to hear

it’s 12:00 noon… and the world is flat

it’s 12 noon, again
the unaccounted hour of a half lost day
the second cup of cold coffee
deliberately cold
but not intensely cold
like an odd anomaly
brewed to rescue the remaining light
till the evening nears
and the stillness steers
for when its time for a chilled stroll
thousands of words fly away
within the silent evening breeze
and when its gets easier
to sense the incomprehensible
like listening to the invisible
or watching the unheard of
hearing a cat jump the buildings
but it’s still 12:00 noon
and the world is flat today

Translating Faiz (part 4)

My attempt at translating another classic (and beautiful) Urdu poem from Faiz. Dasht-e-Tanhai.

As it’s my own translation, it’s a bit wayward, and not too literal, i.e. just the way I like it!

The translation:

In the wilderness of solitude
As I see it, flickering
Drowning shadow of your voice
Vanishing mirage of your lips

In the wilderness of solitude
As I see it, blooming
Flowering oasis of your sight
Beneath the sand and dust of longing

Somewhere nearby
As I see it, rising
Blazing fire of your presence
Consuming in its own fragrance
Silently, secretly

Somewhere far away
As I see it, glittering
Falling, bit by bit, the dew of your presence

As if your long gone presence
Makes me realize again
In the midst of a vacant dawn
That the day has just ended
And the night has just begun

In the wilderness of solitude

Translating Faiz (Part 3)

Note: Translating Faiz is even more fun when it’s 2:00 am and you are waiting for a long flight at the airport lounge!

The Urdu version:
woh log bohat khush kismat thay
jo ishq ko kaam samajhtay thay
ya kaam se aashqui kartay thay
ham jitay ji masroof rahay
kuchh ishq kiya, kuchh kaam kiya
kaam ishq ke aa’re aata raha
aur ishq se kaam ulajhta raha
phir aakhir tang aakar ham ne
dono ko adhoora chhor diya

My Translation:
Those were the lucky ones
who considered love their foremost work
or just loved none, but work
and here we are, the busiest of souls
loved but a little, worked but not enough
work kept us away from love
and love kept hampering the work
and then, maddened, frustrated,
we left them both incomplete; unfinished

Translating Faiz

Translating Faiz in English is a hugely difficult task. Here’s my attempt.


The origional Urdu version:


Bahar aai to jaise yak baar

Lout aaye hain phir adam se

Wo khwaab saarey, shabaab saare

Jo tere honton pe mar mite the

Jo mit ke har baar phir jiye the

Nnikhar gaye hain gulaab saare

Jo tere yaadon se mushk-bu hain

Jo tere ushshaaq kaa lahu hain

Ubal paRe hain azaab saare

Malaal-e-ahwaal-e-dostaan bhe

Khumaar-e-aaghosh-e-mahwashaan bhe

Gubaar-e-Khaatir ke baab saare

Tere hamaare sawal saare, jawaab saare

Bahaar aai to khul gaye hain

Naye sire se hisaab saare

Bahar aai





Here it is again; the spring

And with it, comes back from the void

those unresolved visions, aspirations

the ones that ended at your sight

and then began where they ended

just like sprouting of these colors

reminiscent of yet another life

of dying in vain, but in love

or like rising of these torments

of longing, yet knowing

and relishing in all its familiarity

the forgotten tales

and unanswered questions

with the answers, unquestioned

so here comes the spring

Unraveling yet again

those unresolved persuasions

Here comes the spring again

A fresh morning breeze

Around a fading lamp

With shades leaving the shelves

With a lingering light

A bit of consciousness

A bit of straying strings

On the way to the ways

A narrowing walkway

A rising sun

In wide open spaces

As the world falls away

An idea

A curiosity

A persuasion

The things that matter

the things frivolous

the things distracting