If you have enjoyed that brilliant Maya Angelou poem ,” Still I Rise”, you might remember the lines..
‘ Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t take it awful hard….
You may shoot me with your words
You may cut me with your words
You may kill me with your hatefulness
But still, like air, I’ll rise…”
I got a pleasant surprise when I encountered that same spirit, in an old book of translated Urdu poetry.
Ahmad Faraz, as Faiz Ahmad Faiz writes in the foreword, employs a classical poetic idiom, laden with symbols, peculiar to eastern feudal tradition, with multi layered meanings of apparently simple words.
In his poem , ” Main Zinda Hu”/ I am alive, he writes..( as translated by M.H.K.Qureshi)
” I am still alive
You threw stones at me
Yet, like truth
I am alive, eternal…
I, the meteor of the night
Fell shattered and scattered..
Yet, I go on dancing, shining…
My power and strength was the Word.
From Word, the heavenly fountain
I drank the elixir of life.
Word- the beginning of truth,
The flame of intuition
The God of all…”
What a joy, I muse, to discover the same blazing human spirit, unconquerable, across the globe. All other differences in nationality, colour of skin, gender obliterated in that single moment. The Power of the Word!
My eyes fall on another classic Faraz poem..it is called Vapasy/ Return.
Ahad nibhane ki khatir mat aana
ahad nibhane wale aksar
Majboory ya mahajury ki dhakkan se lauta karte hain
I sit stunned at that percipience. Now, translated, it reads..
Do not come back merely to keep your Word.
Such people oft return
As they are tired of
Helplessness and Loneliness
Frankly, if I had not read it in this book of Faraz’s poetry, I would have sworn that it was written by a woman!
The Power of the Word, indeed.
One day, I tell myself, I will read Urdu in the original.
The script looks like a painter’s dream. I take out a crayon…