Friday, February 21, 2014

Some letters of Indian soldiers at World War One

'Only the broken limbed can go back,'
'no man can return to the Punjab whole,'
- there are things in the soldier's pack

that, once you open, there's no going back,
'I am like a soap bubble and have no hope of life,'
each letter knew only the broken limbed go back,

the trenches were death and the nights were black,
even 'lice...they bite terribly...worse than a rifle bullet,'
there're things - if you'd hear - in the soldier's pack

that say: it is soldiers who die when men attack,
' one hour 10,000 are killed. What more can I 
write?' And when the broken limbed go back,

what stories would they tell, which crack
would they cover, for 'this is the time for brave men,' 
no matter that the things in the soldier's pack

know that bravery is the oldest lie on the rack,
pulled out in bloody times. 'Star of my eyes,' listen, 
if I am not among the broken limbed who go back,
read the things, will you, left in my soldier's pack.

(thanks to Daljit Nagra)


'I love you.'
    -- The shuttle's served,
'I love you too,'
    -- it's a clear shot back.
    -- the arm swings to whack it,
'yeah, though...'
    -- it misses the racket.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

इतनी सी - अनन्या दासगुप्ता

tr. of Anannya Dasgupta's poem 'By a fraction'

इतनी अज़ीज़,
इतनी पास जितनी
दो धड़कनें दूर होती हैं

फिर भी
इतना दिल,
और इतनी सी धड़कन,
कि कपकपाती, मजबूर होतीं है

(with much help from Anannya Dasgupta)

न्यू मेक्सिको - अनन्या दासगुप्ता

tr. of Anannya Dasgupta's poem 'New Mexico'

आजकल न्यू मेक्सिको फिर से मेरे सपनो में आ रहा है।
हल्की रातें, ज़र्द हवाएं और बुझे-बुझे तारों के शामियाने 
टाउस से ले कर एल्बाकर्की तक। चिकनी मिटटी के सूरज
अस्त हो चुके थे। फिरोज़ी रास्ते भी कजला चुके थे। तुम 
और मैं भूतिया कस्बों से होते हुए और हमारी कार कि 
हेड-लाइट इतनी बर्फ में कुछ हड़बड़ाईं हुईं। उस रात ने 
ऐसा सपना दिखाया जो इस सुबह तक मुझे धरे हुए है।

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Akshardham Temple, Delhi

Muslim - check
Dalit - check
Christian - check
File under 'Things to erase'

Hindu - check
Brahman - check
Moral high ground - check
File under 'Things we will praise'

Cell-phones - check
Hand-bags - check
Common-sense - check
File under 'Things visitors must leave outside'

Food-court - check
Souvenir-shop - check
Brain-washing - check
File under 'Things visitors do beside...'

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Years later, when we met

'How are you doing?' Tim asked,
'Oh, crest of the wave,' I said,
and told him this, that and this,
everything, save that there're days
when it is tough. After the crest,
I could have said to him, comes
the trough. So he too sticking to
the surface, said, 'Life certainly
treats you fine.' 'Nothing as such,'
I thought, 'Tim, nothing as such,
after you left, life and I go dutch.'

(Dorothy Parker & Arnaud D'Usseau in italics)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

करें न करें

वो इश्क़ बार-बार करें न करें
वो दिल ज़ार-ज़ार करें न करें

हम तीर निशाने कर बैठे
वो आर या पार करें न करें

हम तो मौका लेके गवा बैठे
वो दूसरी बार करें न करें

बस नदी किनारे बैठे रहो
वो नईया पार करें न करें

हम इश्क़ में गिनती भुला बैठे
वो दो दूनी चार करें न करें

अमा जियो अखिल तुम जैसे भी
वो तुमसे प्यार करें न करें