Tuesday, April 29, 2014

लखनऊ मेल

"गाज़ियाबाद आ गया,"
अरे अभी तो लम्बा सफ़र है
"बरेली पहुँच गयें"
अरे अभी तो आधा कटा है
"संडीला के लड्डू?"
तनिक पहुंचने कि आस है
"मलिहाबाद के आम?"
बस अब लखनऊ पास है
"लो, चारबाग़ पर आ रहें हैं"
कौन से प्लेटफार्म पर लगा रहें हैं?

Monday, April 28, 2014

I will meet you again - Amrita Pritam

tr. from Amrita Pritam's Punjabi poem 'Main tenu phir milangi'

 I will meet you again
 Where? How? I do not know -
 maybe as a bit in your imagination
 I will come to your canvas
 or like a cryptic line you draw,
 silently, keep gazing
 at you.

 Or like the ray of the sun
 I will mix in your colours,
 and sitting in their arms, become
 that which you draw.
 I do not know how or where
 but I will meet you

 Maybe I will be a spring
 and like water, fly to the wind -
 those droplets of water, I will
 rub on your body, and
 like a coolness, I will
 lie on your chest.
 I don't know much
 but this I know,
 in time, when I go,
 all I have done will go

 and when this body goes
 everything goes,
 but the threads of memories
 are like the atoms in the universe,
 I will cherry-pick those atoms,
 weave those threads
 and I will meet you again.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

And again the heart has brought me back

tr. from Sayeed Quadri's song 'Phir le aaya dil'

And again the heart has brought me back
        what can you do,
I could not remain away from you
        what can you do.
The heart says, go and finish
that thing which still remains,
memory, which still remains.

There, today I admit
        what can you do,
the fault, then, was mine
        what can you do.
The heart says, go bring it back
that desire which still remains,
the glimmer, which still remains.

Fate has it this way
        what can you do,
we will keep meeting
        what can you do.
The heart says, go continue
that road which still remains
the wish, which still remains.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

When I die

and all of you meet to
say good-bye, then,
for god's sake, try
and not be sparing
in your praise, don't
be terse, there's little - 
you could do verse.

Why I like my Hindutva boys

The other day I waited for a
friend at the bus-stop, 30 min,
40 minutes, one hour, till I
ended up quite a sulker, I
cursed she should land up
with a man like Golwalkar;
this be my curse - she will
take a shine to this guy,
who second in line in RSS,
said in 1939, of Hitler - no
less! - that he was "a good
lesson for us in Hindustan
to learn and profit by," see
this is why I like my local
Hindutva boys, they make
my curses easy, my abuses
come breezy to me, like the
other day, this guy was late
for our date, grrrrr, but I did
not have to go far to channel
my hate, Hedgewar, the man
who founded the RSS in 1925,
who looked like a dumb goose
said "Hindustan is for Hindus,"
a man like this I cursed he'd be
with, so see, my lovely friends,
if next you're the one late, no
matter how much then you are
sweet and toady, I will wish you
in bed with Mr. Modi.

In J.N.U.

late evening, the library
is yellow rectangles seen
from afar, the babul trees
reluctantly make our way,
three girls jog past us
and the night descends
so softly on the horizon
that she and I do not
notice that years have
passed since we have
known each other, years
where each came with
its reckoning, till, she stops,
we turn in among the babul
trees, and walking over the
silver rocks, she says, 'This
is the highest natural spot in
Delhi,' 'I didn't know this,'
I tell her as we move up, and
under us, hurting, the Aravallis
- the first memory of this city -
begin their dry march to the desert.

(for Vebhuti Duggal)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

सुईसाइड नोट

नदी के
इस शांत, शीतल
चेहरे ने कहा -

मुझे चुमों।

(tr. from Langston Hughes' 'Suicide Note')

Sunday, April 20, 2014

At night, I woke up

suddenly, the ground
shook a little for, say,
2 or 3 seconds. In the
morning the newspapers
reported no earthquake.
My landlady said "Oh that,
if you notice closely, that
happens every few minutes
if you were to keep time,
it's between Jangpura 'nd
Lajpat, the Violet Line."

Friday, April 18, 2014

The most beautiful man I ever saw

was a man in a book.
Mauricio Babilonia
remains in my eyes,
long after the words
that made him, fade,
he is still there with
his yellow butterflies,
as light as tears that
formed his fate, that
burning like embers
ran down his cheek,
'nd like words held
him in iron fetters -
Mauricio Babilonia
of the unopened letters.

(thanks to Gabriel Garcia Marquez)  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

On one side, Friendicoes, the dog shelter

on another, a railway line,
on the 3rd side a mad market,
on the fourth, a Sufi shrine.
You've got to say and mean it
- Jangpura Extension's PHINE!

One day, when he was

about ten or twelve,
he asked his mother,
"What is my caste?
Some boys in the
school were asking,
I didn't know what
to say." The mother,
got up in the middle
of her supper, "Beta,
if you don't know it by
now, it must be upper."

(thanks to Gautam Bhan)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I hope it comes, this poem,

and takes away all despair,
takes away the day that it
promises with rhymes, takes
away the promises the sun
has littered in its wake, hope
it takes away the waiting,
takes away the silk-cotton
tree, once all this, even the
eclipses go, then what is left
to me, that'll be the poem, right?
The one which I want to write.

Monday, April 14, 2014

"The Peace has returned to the valley."


'22-hour gunfight in Kashmir capital

ends, two killed.' 'Thousands join 

militants' funeral.' 'Massive searches 

in Kashmir village for Lashkar commander.'

'Pakistan woman who set herself ablaze 

in Kashmir dies.' 'JKLF rally foiled in Anantnag.'

'Human skeleton found in Pulwom forest.' 

'Police in a fix as two Kashmir villages demand 

militants' bodies.' 'Baisakhi celebrated in Kashmir.'

Sunday, April 13, 2014

And if I, like Jaromir Hladik,

the writer in Borges' story
was given one more year
to live - but completely still,
no breath or body moving -
and the firing squad waiting
to kill, I would fall in love
with one of the men in the
squad, and throughout that
year read the lines on his
forehead, the creases on his
sleeve, the skin of his hands,
and find, from the colour of
his face, whether he is kind
or cruel, and by the time I
could be in love fully, a year
would pass, the bullet from
his gun would come at last.

(thanks to Jorge Luis Borges)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

जंगपुरा एक्सटेंशन के 'पैरिस' सलून में

आजकल केजरीवाल को कितनी सीटें
मिलेंगी, इसकी बात चलती है.

शहनाज़ हुसैन क्रीम के फेशियल
के दौरान, किसी तरह आँख खोल कर
जब मैं देखना चाहता हूँ की

ये मेरा 'आप' का साथी समर्थक कौन है,
जो की अब तक भा-जा-पा और कांग्रेस
के चंगुल से बचा हुआ है,

तो पहले तो 'हाथ' के चुनाव चिन्ह
से गढ़ी एक भगवा और हरी घड़ी दिखती है,
नाइ की दूकान की दीवार पर टंगी हुई,

उसमें से कोई कांग्रेसी महोदय बड़ी ही
बेगुनाही से जनता की ओर देखते हुए और उन्हें
सम्बोधित करने की दशा में फोटो खिचवाते
हुए, और उनके साथ में सोनिआ माई

मैं पूछता हूँ नाइ से, की 'भाई, ये घड़ी
कहाँ से आई? और इसमें ये सोनिआ गांधी
इतना क्यों मुस्कुरा रही है,'

तो वो बोला 'पिछली बार
कांग्रेस वालों ने दी थी, अब उन्हीं का
बुरा समय दिखा रही है.'  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Two years ad-hoccing in DU

Khalsa was a tricky game,
the students fun, the admin
lame, then Stephen's came
as a shock, the principal
made us balk by his sexist,
moral tripe, every circular
he sent fit as an ass-wipe,
but the students kept me
going, till I found myself
flowing to Ramjas, which
was on the whole the best
of the three, meanwhile the
DU VC made every day a
fright, till I gave up the fight,
and joined another university.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

At the risk of sounding trite

why does the heart
take a little scene
from years back
and make it seem
that if somehow
that hadn't been,
all would be right.

Last night,

the earthquake folded the 
ground into waves and 
every minute was a tremor
under our skin. Each neighbor 
who came out to the street, 
told me of little things they 
were doing, just then, before
they ran out. I wanted to say
these days the ground runs 
from beneath my feet - when
all else fails, I had thought, 
the same earth will be there 
under you and me - but see, 
these days break like water 
feel like stone, and as the 
ground moves, things which 
should have been things now
become matters, and every
day feels a task, but only,
love, if you were to ask.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

At the Lodhi Crematorium

(October, 2013)

It was the first winter rain,
the auto stopped
at every red light.

When I told him
my friend had passed away,
he had asked - "Was she married?"

At the Lodhi crematorium,
as the fire took her - outside
it was still raining - our hugs then
were longer,

"No one knows the ways of time,"
the auto-guy had said, and
I had thought that there is repose
today even
in this.

Betu, I had read about her
before I met her - 'Sangini support meetings
are held every Saturday afternoon, from 3 to 6,'
the brown poster had read. In the dusty first-floor
Santa Cruz library, I took notes for my dissertation.
'These meetings are open only for lesbians, bisexuals,'
the solid font said, 'and women exploring their
sexual orientation.' Betu, who I met 3 or 4 times,
who I still knew best as that paragraph in my thesis,
and of whom someone said that evening, "I had no friend
like her" - leaving that page, leaving her -
now Betu is gone.

The priest only told us, "It takes less
than half an hour for the whole body to burn."

On the way back
on the Ring Road, as the auto-guy
refilled the CNG tank,
I sat on a concrete bench outside,
taking out a book, but
it is still raining.

Monday, April 7, 2014

First night at SNU campus, April '14

The evening sun is so much
bigger and closer here than
in Delhi. The night comes with
sports lights, with bell hooks
in hand, and with a claim on
us as deep as grass; they must
not see the sheerness of this
night - those who live here -
but we who come from Delhi
for a day or two, know what
a field, dressed in night, can do.

Meanwhile, the farmer in Palla
gaanv says, there're too many
cars on the village road these days.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Come on

take the pain when it pours,
there is no need to can it.
There're bigger tragedies
than yours - Pluto was a planet.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

It was Bhagat Singh

who, for the first time,
had turned Punjab from
savagery, muscle and ignorance
to a kind of intellectualism.
The day he was hung,
they found a book of Lenin in his cell
with one of its pages dog-eared.
It is through his last day
and with this same dog-eared page
that Punjab has to go on,
will go on.

tr. from Paash's poem 'Bhagat Singh ne pehli baar'

Thursday, April 3, 2014

अल्लाह जी

अल्लाह जी, अल्लाह जी, अल्लाह जी
भगतन मैं त्वाड्डी अल्लाह जी 

मेरा हाल ते वेक्खो 
जिवें नाव बिन पानी 
मैं ते करदी रेंदी सी 
अपणी मनमानी,
हुने ठोकर जे खायी 
मैं ते बणी सयानी 
तेरी शरण विच आयी 
मैं ते करां तेरी वाणी 

अल्लाह जी, अल्लाह जी, अल्लाह जी
हूँ भगतन मैं त्वाड्डी अल्लाह जी 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The most dangerous is the dying of our dreams

tr. from Paash's poem 'सबसे खतरनाक होता है, हमारे सपनों का मर जाना'

The most dangerous is the dying of our dreams.
The robbery of our labour is not
the most dangerous,
the thrashing by the police
is not the most dangerous.
To find betrayal or greed is not the
most dangerous
Of course it is bad
to be caught in one's sleep,
like it is bad to be in the grip
of a nervous silence but
it is not the most dangerous.
The most dangerous is
to be a corpse, full of peace,
for there to be no yearning,
to bear everything,
to get out of the house for work
and after work, to bring
yourself back.
The most dangerous is the dying of our dreams.
The most dangerous is the watch
on the wrist which has been still for years.
The most dangerous
are those eyes which despite seeing everything
are almost stone, those eyes
which have forgotten how to look at the world
with love, those eyes
which are lost in the fog
of the world of things,
which have forgotten the common meanings
of the things we see, and are lost
in a pointless game.
The most dangerous is the moon,
which rises after every murder
- in the lonely courtyard -
which doesn't even, like red chili,
pierce the eyes.
The most dangerous is the song
which like a mournful lament
falls on our ears,
and repeats the knock of the evil men
on the doors of those who're afraid.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

There is one thing

I absolutely hate, when
things occur to me too late,
and I am always wooing -
what I could have should have -
and never doing. Just before
the taxi started, I could have,
just before the headlight darted,
I should have, just before you
turned, and the pavement
burned with your little steps,
I could have, should have run -
if only you could have been mine,
love, what would I not have done.

(thanks to Momin Khan Momin and Agha Shahid Ali)