Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Urdu poetry

I am SHE. OK, when exactly did my fascination for Urdu start? I think it started from my high school days, with the poetry written for Hindi films songs by the likes of Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badayuni and Shailendra. (Note: Hindi and Urdu are interchangeably used.) However I did nothing to give credit to this fascination. I picked up a few words from the movie songs and from ghazals and just sat up tight . I also wrote some childish poems in my school days and I remember winning a (class-level and not any bigger) prize in my 7th standard for a silly poem. I wrote more bad poems during my Engineering and had the audacity to read it aloud to my friends. I believe no one (including me) had any inclination for poetry and hence I escaped unscathed, without any one remembering anything about those poems and I’m glad that when we meet, many more unpleasant things may be brought up for the innocent purpose of laughter but not the poems.

OK, coming back to Urdu, the most attractive part of Urdu for me is the phonetics. It’s very sweet to the ears. I can speak five languages (of which two languages have no script) and follow 3 or 4 more. So, I think you can take my word for it. Even if someone does a research on the sweetest languages, you can be sure that Udru will figure in the list. Another attractive part for me is that the pronunciations in Urdu will always allude me, no matter how much I try. Tell me, how many of you have a personal tutor to get the pronunciations of your mother tongue right? Many Muslim families, who speak Urdu at home, get a personal tutor for their children to help them get the right pronunciations of the difficult to pronounce Urdu syllables. (For example, ka in qayamat or kismat or taqdeer. Kha, Ga, pha are relatively simpler)

I read my first Hindi novel about six years back. I would have liked to say I have come a long way from there but no. Recently I read Ismat Chugtai’s novel which had at least ten unknown Urdu words on each page and the publisher was kind enough to give meanings of these words on the footer of each page. This helped me read the book but I don’t really know how many of them I remember now.

Five years after first listening to Abida Parveen’s recitation of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, considered one of the greatest Urdu poets of our times, I got curious to find out what is the meaning of the poem. There was another favourite Faiz’s poem ‘ Gulon me rang bhare’ sung by the great Ghazal artist Mehdi Hassan. We knew this was a poem about revolution and had a vague idea of what it means but again, not giving any leeway to my fascination, I left it there. I cannot rule out a certain thrill when there was an unknown word in the poem that sounded good and was open to any interpretation, limited only by one’s imagination.

Last week I read a random poem by Faiz and looked up online Urdu dictionary and this led me to try my hand at translating it. This rekindled my interest in poetry and new interest in translation. I also found that translation is a sure way of remembering the difficult words that, otherwise, get wiped out of memory in no time. Just like any other fascination of mine, this will also die very soon but as long as it lasts, I want to contribute to this blog of my dearest friend who has kindly given me unrestricted permissions for a hundred years. But if he does a re-org, I will have to remind him again.


manju said...

I tried my hand at poetry (in Kannada) when I was in High School. External factors drove me to become a poet. I and one more guy from our High school were selected to represent our school in a Taluk level poetry contest. The selection was based on the fact that we both stood first in our respective classes.

I wrote a poem in a traditional meter. My Kannada teacher read it and said 'prasa balu trasa'(rhyming is tiring). I also gave him my leftist poem. He modified it a bit and I read that poem in the competition(I don't remember it now).

In the end, I became acutely aware that I'm critically minded and not made up for either to follow or write poems. My companion realized his potential in poetry as he won the first prize in the competition.

SHE said...

I remember your padya/gadya conversation with your teacher. Please bear with my translations till it lasts. I was hoping that you would give me access to your other blog, where you write light matters. I'm still open to move to that. My topics and your well researched and thought over articles may not mix well.

manju said...

My topics and your (well researched and thought over) articles may not mix well.

Doesn't make any difference :-). In fact your contribution helps to maintain the non-essentialism of this blog.

Yes, you are correct to think that I wanted to use non-essentialism somewhere but still it doesn't matter.

Dmitrii said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dmitrii said...

Dear SHE,
The following is an answer to your question about my interest in Urdu ghazals. I guess, it would be better given in this topic, if you don't mind. Frankly speaking, I think Urdu ghazals are of great interest for many people, but just my interest to Urdu ghazal is a phenomenon of almost no interest for anybody except me. But, if asked, I can tell. Well, I am Russian, and in fact I know nearly nothing about Urdu ghazal, and do not know Urdu at all. But, as an amateur, I have an old interest in Arab, Persian and Indian cultures in general. I read a bit of corresponding poetry in Russian translations here and there, I like it, and I have been always interested to know better its original meanings, sounds and looks. On the other hand, I am very interested in the classical and semiclassical music of this part of world. Recently I have discovered for myself the Urdu ghazal as a musical genre, become deeply impressed by it and, naturally, would like to understand the meaning of the words. That is the story in brief. And... please excuse so much words about myself.

SHE said...

Hello Dmitrii,

It's really nice to know about your interest ghazals and in South Asian and Mid-East cultures and languages.

You said -
>> would like to understand the meaning of the words.

I have two Urdu-English-Hindi dictionaries as it is easy to procure it here. However, I also refer to this online dictionary - http://www.learningurdu.com/ and I found it to be quite good compared to many others on the web.

Sheharyar Sajid said...

Very nice love poetry.
I am sharing some of my favorite love poetry here.

Nazar jab us se milti thi
Men khud ko bhool jata tha.
Bas ik dharrkan dharrakti thi
Men DIL ko bhool jata tha.
Ussay milney se pehley men boht sajta sanwrta tha.
Magar jab wo sanwarti thi.
Men khud ko bhool jata tha.
Men aksar kitabon pr
Usi ka nam likhta tha.
Magar kuch wo jo likhti thi.
Men likhna bhol jata tha.
Men aksar hi ye kehta tha.
Men tum se pyar krta hon.
Mgr jab wo ye kehti thi.
Me dunya bhol jata tha…!