The Word, Across The World

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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

Entombed me

Crucified me

Poisoned me

Burned 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.

Usne kaha

Sun

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..

‘Listen

she said,

Do not come back merely to keep your Word.

Such people oft return

As they are tired of

Helplessness and Loneliness

In separation…’

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…

***********

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