क़लम

June 5th, 2015 by sepia

Original: Pencil by Marianne Boruch

 

Translation:

 

मेरी कला-अध्यापिका ने कहा: ‘देखो, सोचो, निशान लगाओ।’

देखो, मैंने खुद से कहा।

और इंतज़ार में रहा निशान के।

 

बादल सफ़ेद हों लेकिन कजला जाते हैं

बारिश में। बच्चा भी उन्हें धुंधला देता है

ज्यों टीले पे हों गुदड़ियाँ, छोटी

बे-पैर ढेरियां। देखो, मेरी अध्यापिका

ज़रूर कहेगी, बिलकुल नहीं है

 

वो वैसे। वैसा’ जैसे: झूठ। वैसी’ जैसे: कविता।

वो बोली: सूरत के सबसे भारी पहलू

को पहले सूझो। घने होने में

रूप है। जबकि मैं सुनता रहता हूँ होनी’

 

ये तो सिफ़त का ठप्पा नहीं। जैसे सवाब’

शोरगुल में बदल गया सराब’ में, मेरे कानों पे

किसी का जोशीला बयां। फिर सबब’ फिसला।

सर-आब’, ‘सर-आब’, सुनता रहा उस मशहूर कवि को,

मरोड़ते हुए माइक्रोफोन में, अपने शऊर।

 

जिसकी सूरत बनानी है -

उम्र में मुझसे आधी भी नहीं। उसने अपना पूरा

चेहरा उड़ेल दिया है बुत जैसे खड़े होकर एक घंटे तक।

देखो।’ अच्छा। लेकिन छोटा

 

सा ख्वाब है वहां, उस सोच’ में

जो कि अगला कदम है। मेरे हाथ की क़लम, जिसका मर्म

है कोयला, लकड़ी जल चुकी है, दे चुकी है

क़ुरबानी।

Buda & Pest

June 4th, 2015 by sepia

Blue funk contagions
gash through Pest air
into human pores
to clog hope
that no rain washes
away.
Away sits home.
Here I lie.
Take me away.

Meanwhile,
Buda is all pine:
A tree, evergreen.
Sentiment, unclean,
leaves of which
fly across the river
to fall piecemeal
into Pest’s lap.

Drunk artists climb
up fire-escapes
to view Buda
lit by night;
lights that are
cameras of tourists
on Buda hill, flashing,
as they capture Pest.

Exhibits

June 3rd, 2015 by sepia

Mid-way through our stroll in Albertina,

I am overcome.

 

I want to know, nah, solve her..

just like Alex tries when he

draws her.. over & over.

She is like the moisture

that slips out just as

color dries on the sheets.

Are those her notations

or her footprints on the

margins of his linoleum?

She must have other chores.

(When she is not his model, she runs

past windows and stops rarely

for a side-glance.. in my head.)

 

I imagine one afternoon

when he outlined

her face on paper

as a monody

to estrangement,

his flat-brush flirting

with her tuning-fork

as he filtered flat lines

of her turbid face.

Or does he sketch from/ of memory;

Worse! Does he have to look away

from his favorite subject to paint?

 

I wonder if he practices portraits

of people in the subway

only to return to Ada,

like a warlock rehearsing a new

sleight on the streets for free.

Or is she his home-work,

so the world may seep

into his canvas

better?

(So many people drop

pennies on the street,

we keep stepping on luck.)

 

Or.. is he

turning himself inside out

like we do an old hand-bag

looking for a favorite, lost, pen -

for he can paint rain in motion,

make each transient falling drop

of water freeze to life

and it makes me mad

that he gives her sunglasses

sometimes

because her eyes are where I see him.

(Before shaking out the insides of that bag,

our fingers forage through forgotten felt

while the grousing pen hides in a crevice.)

 

I have run out of exhibits

and I still have no proof

that love is repetition

- summer after summer

you & I

will spend afternoons

in museums

keeping ourselves

at hand -

its provenance is our every day.

ear-mark #14

August 29th, 2014 by sepia

Love Jihad

If you put two nouns together,
without wedging in a hyphen,
are not they a dash too intimate
for comprehension’s sake?

Love, adjectivally,
as in false adverts,
attaches to Jihad
on billboards, violently
blocking our vision
of an endogamously
saffron sunset.

What is the return-policy on this?
How did the unilinguists coin it?
May I have one in XL please?
Did they put a full-stop after Jihad?
Can I pay by American Express?

If Love be a noun, &
“myself” a *insert religion here* *insert gender here*,
I would self-describe
my Jihad as none
of your business.

If Love was a verb,
it would “itself” Jihad (a brown bearded object);
passionately, daily,
but also, more so,
consensually.

Love Jihad
is, in fact,
proverbial.
Toils of love
chafe those
who get
neither Love
nor Jihad.

स्वराज

May 16th, 2014 by sepia

Original – Democracy, by Langston Hughes  (translation and title mine)

“2002″

स्वराज नहीं मिलेगा,
आज, इस बरस,
कभी भी
डर के सुलह करने से।

मेरा भी हक़ है,
तुम्हारी तरह,
इस ज़मीन पर
जमे रहेंगे
मेरे पैर।

थक गयी हूँ सुन सुन कर
जीवन का रुख़ बदलेगा
इक नया सूरज निकलेगा
अब ये मरणोपरांत आज़ादी नहीं चलेगी
रोटी कल मिलेगी, तो गाड़ी कैसे चलेगी

आज़ादी
मूल है एक,
जो बोओगे
सो पाओगे।

मैं भी यहीं हूँ,
आज़ाद,
तुम्हारी तरह।

lolita, translated

March 15th, 2014 by sepia

याद नहीं तुम्हें मैंने कहाँ
सबसे पहले देखा था।
मुमकिन है उस गली में
एक अकेली दोपहर को, जब एक परिंदा
मेरे बाएं कान के बहुत करीब से गुज़रा था।
या सिर्फ सुना था तुम्हारे गीले मोज़ों के बारे में
जो किसी और के गंदे जूतों में
सड़ रहे थे बैंगनी फ़ूलों की तरह।

बात बहुत पुरानी हो चली है।

याद है लेकिन कैसे पहली बार तुम
मेरे ज़ेहन में उभरे थे, मानो एक बच्चा
किसी बीमार माँ की कोख़ में हो।
तुमने मेरा नाम पूछा और मैंने इशारा किया
खेत में गढ़े हव्वे कि तरफ़।
कहकहे के साथ तुम उसके पास जा खड़े हुए
एक बेबाक बन्दर के जैसे।
अचानक सूरज फ़ीका पड़ गया।
मैंने हर उस रंग की धुन तुम्हें सुनाई
जिसका कोई नाम नहीं होता।
और शायद मनमर्ज़ी से नाम बनाये
जो तुम्हारे जादू ने
मुझे भुला दिए, हमेशा के लिए।
हमने कितने ही करतब खेले
उन पुरानी किताबों के पन्नों से
जिनसे दुनिया कतराती है।
लेकिन हमारा ख़ून मुलायम था
और आँखें नरम, जो एक दूसरे को
अपने ही सैलाब में थाम लेती थीं.
जब तुमने मुझसे पूछा, क्या गलत है, खुद को
शीशे में नंगा होकर देखना
जैसे किसी और को दिखता हो।
मैंने हामी भर दी क्योंकि मुझे नहीं बर्दाश्त
के तुम्हारी छाया भी हमारे बीच आये।

अपनी ही क़ब्र में ज़िंदा रहने के जैसा था
तुमसे प्यार करना।

 

Lolita

 

I don’t remember when I saw

You the first time.

It was possibly that street

In a lonely afternoon when a bird

Flew very close past my left ear.

Or perhaps I had only read of your wet socks

Getting rotten like violet flowers in the dirty

Shoes of someone’s prose.

 

It’s too far back to recollect.

 

But I remember how you had first

Stirred inside my head like a child

In a sick mother’s womb.

You asked my name and I pointed

To the scarecrow in the field.

You laughed and posed alongside it

Like an audacious monkey.

The sun grew suddenly dark.

I fed you the tunes of all

Those colours without names.

Or maybe I invented the names

Which you skillfully made us

Forget and do not remember again.

We played those games from

Very old books which the saints

Would blush to try.

But our blood was tender and

Eyes warm as we sheltered each

Other inside our own storm.

Once you asked me if it was wrong to

Stand naked before the mirror and

See yourself as another.

I said yes because I couldn’t stand

Your shadow between us.

 

To love you was like staying alive

Inside my grave.

ear-mark #13

November 14th, 2013 by sepia

You were the guy that got away
Till we met yet again
In the after-tremor of youth
Riding the mechanical bull
Of art & accomplishment

You had lost and lived
I had loved and lost
Before we time-traveled
Hoping we were younger lovers
With grit & glam

You are my cost of living
Chariness, Questions
Of the when & how
Are all irrelevant
To you & me

ear-mark #12

October 27th, 2013 by sepia

On that floor we lay then, where now
deciduous
light, like leaves,
drops
mentions, makes murals
on that floor we lay then. Where now?

तिहाड़ जेल में चाय-पान

February 21st, 2013 by sepia

Ramzy Baroud’s poem, written with Rafiq Kathwari: Teatime in Tihar Jail

He sipped
then walked slowly
head held high
greeting the hangman
with a gentle nod
eyes sunk to heart
beard grew defiant
remembering the judge
asking to repeat
alphabets of servitude
Instead he roared names
of forefathers who too died
standing tall like the Himalayas
And on that last stroll
he remembered his
mother’s tender touch
his son Ghalib named
after the poet he loved
friends long gone
his silly dreams
heaven above
this playground
where unruly children
refuse to learn
the etiquette of captivity
in rooms with no windows
only high grey walls
where they pumped
petrol into his anus
to break Afzal Guru
countless others of
same skin and soul
His face the color
of parched earth
lips never ceased
reciting one last poem
the hangman swore
for God’s unruly children
to live forever Free

I’ve attempted a translation into Hindi, originally posted here on Kagaaz, run by Tyler Williams.

तिहाड़ जेल में चाय-पान

चुस्कियाँ लीं
फिर हौले से चला
सर उठा के
हलके इशारे से करता
सलाम जल्लाद को
आँखें जी में गड़ती थीं
दाढ़ी शोख़-बेबाक
उस क़ाज़ी को याद कर
जो मुकर्रर करवाता रहा
कालेपानी के काग़ज़ात ।
बजाय उसके, वो ग़ुर्राया नाम
उन गुज़रे पुरखों के जो उस जैसे
हिमालय से चौड़े खड़े रहे ।
और उस आख़िरी सैर के दौरान
याद आया उसे
माँ का ममता-भरा हाथ
अपना बेटा ग़ालिब, जिसका नाम
अपने पसंदीदा शायर पे रखा था उसने
छूटे हुए यार-दोस्त
भोले-बचकाने ख़्वाब
आसमानी जन्नत
ये मैदान
जहाँ शैतान बच्चे
नहीं सीखते
क़ैद होने की तमीज़
ऊँची-भूरी दीवारों वाले
बंद कमरे में
डाला गया जबरन
पेट्रोल गुदा में
अफ़ज़ल गुरु को चूर करने को
उसकी शक्ल-ओ रूह वाले
कितने ही औरों को भी ।
रंगत उसकी शक्ल की
झुलसी हुई ख़ाक सी
लब थमे नहीं
ज़िक्र करते रहे
वो आख़िरी नज़्म
जल्लाद का बयान था
ख़ुदा के ये शैतान बच्चे
जियें हरदम आज़ाद

ear-mark #11

February 13th, 2013 by sepia

(this, the last two paragraphs: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130213/as-india-kashmir/)

 

i’ll watch my dead

through the peelings

of her night,

as she blankets mine

 

i’ll sit in attendance

as i miss her

& mark my presence

on her tombstone

 

i’ll exonerate her cinders

and the scrapings

of her life

that flecked mine

 

i’ll string her stories

into a starry sky

where not cloud nor dust

dare bring me tears

 

when the bayonet comes

to dig out her memory

the moss of my sorrow

will fight, if i fall

 

the granite will speak

not a set of words

you’ve turned her to,

but of my epic ardor

 

i’ll watch my dead

and learn,

till you learn

that i remember

and i still live

and she breathes in me

 

you will no longer take her away from me