गा, बंजारन गाना गा अपने वजूद को नज़राना पेश कर उन कानों को तेरी मौजूदगी का एहसास दिला.
आँखें और गले उस धुंए से जलते हैं जिसे राक्षस आसमान में चक्कर काटते हुए छोड़ते हैं चीख़ो, अगर चीख़ सको, इस दहशत भरी रात के ख़िलाफ़. हर राक्षस का राज़-ए-हयात बोतल के अंदर एक लाल रंग की मछली के पेट में सरबस्ता है जो ऐसे समंदर में तैरती है जिस तक तुम्हारी पहुँच नहीं.
हर कन्या की गोद में एक राक्षस का सर है जैसे कि चांदी में रची हो चूल्हे की लकड़ी. जूनून-ए-ग़बन में राक्षसों ने हसीनों के होटों के याक़ूत और गालों के रेशम नोच लिए हैं.
पैर पटख़ा, बंजारन, पैर पटख़ा अपनी आज़ादी के वास्ते, पैर पटख़ा. जवाब हासिल करने के लिए उनकी थाप से अपना संदेसा भेज. तेरे वजूद का मक़सद तो होगा कुछ. इन पत्थरों से चिंगारी पैदा करने के लिए पैर पटख़ा.
ये सदियां, क़दीम और वज़नी, उन्होंने अपना भार तुम्हारे तन पर लाद दिया है. उनके आग़ोश से अपने आप को छुड़ा ले, बंजारन वर्ना रह जाएगी तू एक जीवाश्म पे निशान.
बंजारन, ज़िंदा रहना है तो, तुझे ख़ामोशी का क़त्ल करना है. मेरा मतलब, अपने वजूद के लिए, तुझे गाना है.
अनुवाद: आयशा क़िदवाई
Sing, Gypsy, sing. In homage to being you must sing. Let ears register your presence.
Eyes and throats burn from the smoke that trails the monsters as they soar in the sky. Scream if you can of the terrors of this night. Every monster has the secret of his life hidden in a bottle in the stomach of a red fish swimming in waters you cannot reach.
In her lap every maid holds a monster’s head like a piece of firewood set in silver. In their frenzy to plunder, the monsters have plundered the beautiful maidens of the silk and rubies of their lips and cheeks.
Gypsy, stamp your feet. For your freedom stamp your feet. To get an answer, send a message with their beat. To your existence there must be a purpose under heaven. To draw a spark from these stones, stamp your feet.
Ages dark and ancient have pressed their weight against your body. Break out of their embrace, lest you stay a mere trace in a fossil.
Gypsy, to stay alive, you must slay silence. I mean, to pay homage to being, you must sing
जब ऊँचे दरख़्त गिरते हैं दूर पहाड़ियों पर पत्थर थरथर्राते हैं शेर लम्बी-लम्बी घासों का आश्रय लेते हैं यहाँ तक हाथी भी धम-धमाते हुए मेहफ़ूज़ जगह खोजते हैं.
जब ऊँचे दरख़्त गिरते हैं घने जंगलों में छोटे जीव साकित हो जाते हैं उनके सारे होश उड़ जाते हैं, ख़ौफ़ के सिवाय.
जब महान आत्माएं गुज़र जाती हैं हमारे इर्द-गिर्द जो हवा है हलकी, असाधारण, स्वच्छ हो जाती है. हम सांस लेते हैं, कुछ पल के लिए. हमारी आखें, कुछ पल के लिए, एक तकलीफ़देह-सी वज़ाहत से देख पाती हैं. हमारी याद्दाश्त, अचानक से तेज़, उन ना-कहे करुणा भरे शब्दों के बारे में, उन टूटे संग टहलने के वादों के बारे में, विचार करती है, उन्हें बार बार टटोलती है.
अज़ीम हस्तियां अलविदा कह देती हैं और हमारी हक़ीक़त, जो उनसे जुड़ी है, हम से जुदा हो जाती है. हमारी रूहें, उनकी परवरिश की आदी, मुरझाई हुई, अब सिकुड़ जाती हैं. हमारे ज़हन, जो उनकी रौशनी में बने और पनपे, तहस नहस हो जाते हैं. ठीक पागलपन का आलम नहीं, पर एक बेज़ुबान जिहालत जो अँधेरी सर्द गुफ़ाओं में रहती है, हम पे छा जाती है.
और जब महान हस्तियां गुज़र जाती हैं कुछ अरसे बाद, एक चैन भी आता है, होले-होले, अनियमित्ता से. हर स्थान में एक सुखदायक-सी बर्क़ी थरथराहट महसूस होती है. हमारे होश, लौटे हुए पर हमेशा के लिए तब्दील, हमसे सरगोशी करते हैं: वो थे. वो थे. हम हो सकते है. हो सकते हैं और बेहतर हो सकते हैं. क्यूंकि वो थे.
যখন মস্ত গাছেরা পড়ে, জঙ্গলে, ছোট প্রাণীরা নীরব হয়ে যায়, ভয়ে, তাদের দমবন্ধ হয়ে আসে।
যখন মহত প্রাণেরা চলে যায়, আমাদের আশেপাশের বাতাস হয়ে ওঠে হাল্কা, অগভীর, বন্ধ্যা। আমরা শ্বাস নিই, ক্ষণেকের তরে। আমাদের চোখ, ক্ষণেকের তরে | বেদনার্ত স্বচ্ছতায় দেখতে পায়। আমাদের স্মৃতিগুলি, সহসা তীব্রভাবে হাতড়ায়, আঁকড়ে ধরতে চায়, না-বলা সদয় শব্দ-সমূহ না-চলা পথের নিশানা।
মহত প্রাণেরা চলে যায়, তাঁদের সঙ্গে বাঁধা আমাদের জীবনের টুকরো গুলিও আমাদের ছেড়ে যায়। তাঁদের যত্নে লালিত আমাদের স্বত্বা শুষ্ক, কুঞ্চিত হয়ে যায়। তাঁদের দীপ্ত প্রসন্নতায় উদ্ভাসিত আমাদের মনন ক্লান্তিতে ঝরে যায়। শোকে আমরা উন্মাদ হই না, বরঞ্চ, অব্যক্ত, অচৈতন্য এক শীতল কৃষ্ণগহ্বর আমাদের গ্রাস করে।
আর যখন মহত প্রাণেরা চলে যায়, কিছুকাল পরে শান্তির ফুল ফোটে, ধীরে, অনিয়মিত নিত্যতায়। শূন্যতা ভরাট হয়ে ওঠে, কোমল, প্রশান্ত, স্পন্দনে। আমাদের ইন্দ্রিয়গুলি, পুনর্জীবিত, ফিসফিস করে জেগে ওঠে। বলে, তাঁরা ছিলেন। তাঁরা ছিলেন। আমরাও থাকবো। থাকবো, আরও প্রাণিত হব। কারণ তাঁরা ছিলেন।
When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder, lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber after safety.
When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence, their senses eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die, the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile. We breathe, briefly. Our eyes, briefly, see with a hurtful clarity. Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws on kind words unsaid, promised walks never taken.
Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us. Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened. Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away. We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of dark, cold caves.
And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.
On 23 September, Sholeh Wolpé, the acclaimed Iranian-American poet and translator, shared on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/reel/Ci3Zuv5DA2u/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=) her translation of the poem ‘I will write’ by Angel Guinda (1948-2022). The Hindi translation below is based on a transcript of this performance. Wolpè dedicated her performance to the people of Iran and Mahsa Amini.
अगर वो मुझ से मेरे अल्फ़ाज़ ले लें मैं उस घोर ख़ामोशी से लिखूंगी.
अगर वो मुझ से मेरी रौशनी ले लें मैं उस अँधेरे की कसाफ़त से लिखूंगी.
अगर मैं अपनी याद्दाश्त खो दूंगी मैं एक और फ़रहमोशी का ईजाद कर लुंगी.
अगर वो इस आफ़ताब को, इस आसमान को, गिरफ़्तार कर लें मुझसे छीन भी लें ये सियारा मैं अपनी ही मदार की परिक्रमा काटूंगी.
अगर वो बंद कर दें सारी मौसिक़ी मैं बिन आवाज़ राग अलापुंगी.
आग लगा दें वो काग़ज़ को, भांप बना दें स्याही, उड़ा दें कंप्यूटर की स्क्रीन और ढाह दें हर दीवार, मैं अपनी छाती पर लिखूंगी.
अगर वो बुझा दें वो आग जो मुझे निखारती है मैं उसके धुंए पर लिखूंगी.
और जब वो धुआं भी हो जाएगा ग़ायब में अपनी नाबीना आखों के सपनों पर लिखूंगी.
अगर वो मुझ से छीन लें मेरी ज़िंदगी मैं अपनी मौत से अपनी बात लिखूंगी.
अनुवाद: आयेशा क़िदवाई
If they take away my words I will write with the silence
If they take away my light I will write with a density of darkness
If I lose my memory I will invent another form of oblivion.
If they seize the sun the clouds, snatch away the planet, I will spin in my orbit.
If they shut away the music, I will chant without a voice.
If they torch the paper, evaporate the ink, detonate the computer screen and smash all walls, I will write on my breast.
If they extinguish the fire that brightens me, I will write on the smoke.
And when the smoke is gone, I will write on visions born without my eyes.
If they take away my life, I will write with my death.
To Pandit Nehru and Qaid-e-Azam Jinnah,
I trust that until now, neither of you would have received a letter from a prostitute. In fact, I have full confidence that neither of you would have ever set sight on me or any other woman of a similar persuasion until today. I know too the extent of impropriety that lies in my writing a letter to you, and that too an open letter. But what else can I do? The circumstances are such, and these past days--the demands these girls make are so pressing--that I cannot stay without composing this letter.
Why are Bela and Batool making me write this letter? Who are these two girls and why are their claims so insistent? Before I explain why, I would like to tell you a bit about myself.
Do not be concerned! I am not about to narrate to you the details of my despicable history. I will also not reveal when and how I came to be a prostitute. I do not come to you to elicit your false compassion, using the pretext of some aspiration to respectability. Recognising your compassionate heart, I do not wish to spin you some yarn about a failed romance as a justification. My intention in writing this letter is also not to acquaint you with the covert arts and ruses of courtesanship. I have no wish to explain myself. I merely wish to tell you a few of those aspects of my life that I believe will, going forward, have an effect on Bela and Batool's life.
Both of you must have visited Bombay several times; Jinnah sahib has of course seen much of it. But neither of you would have ever had any earthly reason to see our bazar, the bazar I live in, which is called Farris Road. Farris Road is located between Grant Road and Madanpura. On the other side of Grant Road lie the areas of Lamington Road, Opera House, Chowpatty, Marine Drive and the Fort, where the gentlefolk of Bombay live. On this side of Madanpura, the poor live in their settlements. Farris Road is in the middle of the two, so that both the rich and the poor can equally profit from it. Though, in truth, Farris Road is closer to Madanpura, because the distance between indigence and prostitution can never be too great.
It is not a pretty bazar by any means. Its buildings are not beautiful either. Night and day, it is filled with the sounds of trams rattling through the middle of it. All the world’s stray dogs, ruffians, creatures of cruelty, cripples, consumptives, reprobates, lechers, voyeurs, balding syphilitic and clap-ridden wastrels, cokeheads and pickpockets, lacking an eye or a limb, strut around it, their chests thrust out. Filthy hotels, mounds of rubbish piled high on dank and grimy pavements upon which lakhs of flies buzz constantly, misery-laden heaps of wood and coal, professional pimps and purveyors of wilted garlands, vendors of rotten pulpy books about the cinema, shopkeepers vending sex manuals and naked pictures, Chinese barbers, Islamic barbers, and strongmen who gird their loincloths tight as they mouth off a string of abuses—on Farris Road, could be found all the refuse of man’s social existence.
Obviously, you could never have visited this place. No respectable person ever strays in this direction, because all the decent people there are, live over on the other side of Grant Road; and those who are even more so, make their residence on Malabar Hill. I had once passed by Jinnah Sahib’s mansion there, and I paused to bow down in salaam. Batool was with me too—I can never quite express the reverence that that girl has for you (Jinnah sahib). If there is anyone that she loves in this world second to God and his Prophet, then it’s you. She has a picture of you that she wears in a locket, close to her heart. But not with any bad intentions, Batool is only eleven years old, she is only a little girl. Yet, already these people in Farris Road have hideous designs on her…I’ll tell you about them another time.
This is Farris Road, where I live. On its western end, at the corner of a dark alley from where the Chinese barber has his shop, is my shop. Others would not call what I have a shop of course, but you are men of wisdom, so why should I dissemble to you. So I will say that this is where my shop is, and that it is the place where I ply my trade, just as a grocer, vegetable vendor, fruit seller, hotel owner, mechanic, cinema owner, clothes store owner, or any other shopkeeper carries out his business. Just as he looks to the satisfied customer as well as his own profit in each transaction, so do I. My business is just like theirs; the sole difference is only that I do not deal in the black market. In all other respects, there is nothing that distinguishes these other vendors from me.
My shop is not well situated. Let alone the night, visitors can only stumble around it even in the day. The men that come here only depart this dark alley with their pockets emptied, drunk out of their senses, spewing the worst abuses in the world. The most trifling event can result in a knifing. Every two or three days, a murder is sure to take place. In other words, not a day passes without one's life being at risk.
And then I am not some high quality prostitute who can move to Pawanpul, or set up residence in Worli, in a nice house on the seashore. I am a prostitute of an extremely ordinary rank. Once I may well have seen all of Hindustan and drunk water from every one of its rivers and spent time with people from every rank and walk of life, but since the past ten years, I have just been here, in this city of Bombay, in this very shop on Farris Road.
Though, as I say, it is not a nice place. It smells, and there is slush and sludge everywhere, and mangy dogs rear up from up from every corner to bite the frightened customers. But nevertheless I make up to six thousand rupees a month.
My shop is a single storied house, with two rooms. I use the front room as my sitting room. In it, I sing and I dance, and I seduce the customers. The room at the back serves as the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. At one end of the room, there is a water tap. On one side is an earthenware vessel. Opposite it, is a large bed, underneath which there is a smaller bed; underneath both are the trunks in which I keep my clothes. The outside room has an electric light, but the inner one is completely dark. The landlord has not had the walls of the house painted for years, and nor is he ever going to do so. Who has that amount of time to spare.
My entire night in spent in singing and dancing for the customers in the sitting room. In the daytime, I just lay my head on the bolster and fall off to sleep right there. The back room is occupied by Bela and Batool. Often, when the customers go into the back room to wash their faces, Bela and Batool stare at them with their wide-open eyes. The things their gazes speak of, this letter of mine says them too.
If these two had not been with me, this sinful woman would never have dared to be so presumptuous. I know the world will spit on me, shun me. It could very well be that you will never see this letter. But I am determined to write it anyhow, as Bela and Batool will it to be so.
Perhaps, your guess is that Bela and Batool are my daughters. No, it is not so. I have no daughters. I bought these two girls in the bazar, in the days when the Hindu-Muslim riots were at their height, and human blood was being let like water on Grant Road, Farris Road and Madanpura. Then, I bought Bela from a Muslim procurer for three hundred rupees. This Muslim procurer had brought her to Bombay from Delhi, to which she had been brought by another Muslim procurer from Rawalpindi.
Bela's parents had lived in a lane opposite Poonch House in the Raja Bazar in Rawalpindi. The family was middle class, the concern for respectability and simplicity was the tonic of their existence. Bela was her parents' only child. When Rawalpindi's Muslims started to cut down its Hindus with their swords, she was studying in grade four.
The date of the incident was the 12th of July. Bela returned home from school to see a huge mob swarming outside her and other Hindu homes. The mob was armed and it was setting fire to the houses, dragging the people, their children, their women, out of their homes and murdering them on the street. As they did so, they chanted the slogan of 'Allah-o-Akbar' all the while. Bela saw her father being done to the death before her eyes. And then she saw her mother breathe her last before her eyes. The savage Muslims had cut off her breasts and thrown them away. Those breasts with which a mother, any mother, a Hindu mother or a Muslim mother, a Christian mother or a Jewish mother, suckles her child and ushers in a new chapter of creation in the world of humans and the universe's multitudes. Those milk-laden breasts were hacked away to the sound of slogans of Allah-o-Akbar. Some had thought up such creative brutality. A cruel darkness had inked their souls with blackness. I have read the Quran and I know that what was done to Bella's parents in Rawalpindi was not Islam. It was not human. It was not even enmity. Nor was it revenge. It was a brutality, a callousness, a cowardice, and a satanism that burst darkly in the breast, which stains even the last glimmer of light.
Bela is now with me. Before me, she was with the bearded Muslim procurer, and before that she was with the Muslim procurer from Delhi. Bela was no more than twelve years old, when she studied in the fourth grade. If Bela had been at home, she would now be moving up to the fifth grade. Then, when she would be grown, her parents would arrange for her a marriage to a young man of modest means from a respectable family. She would make her own little world, with her husband, her little children, content in the small happinesses of her domestic life.
Today, this tender little bud has been subjected to an early autumn. Now Bela no longer looks as if she is twelve. Her years are young, but her life is very old. The fear in her eyes, the bitterness in her humanity, the blood of her despair, her thirst for death; if you could see it, Qaid-e-Azam Sahib, you may be able to understand. Perhaps you could divine what lies behind the bleakness of those eyes. You are a respectable man. You must have seen the innocent girls from respectable families. Hindu girls, Muslim girls. Perhaps you would see that innocence has no religion, that it is something that all humanity holds in trust. It is a bequest to the whole world. The man who destroys it can never be forgiven by any god of any religion.
Batool and Bela live together as sisters in my house. But they are not sisters. Batool is a Muslim girl. Bela was born in a Hindu household. Today both of them live together in a whore's house on Farris Road.
If Bela came from Rawalpindi, Batool came from Jalandhar. She is the daughter of a Pathan from a small village named Khem Karan. Batul's father had seven daughters --three were married, four were unwed. Batool's father was an ordinary small farmer in Khem Karan. A poor Pathan, but a proud Pathan; who had been settled in Khem Karan for centuries. Only three or four households were Pathans in the village of Jats.
Panditji, you may appreciate the patience and peace with which these Pathans lived, when you consider that despite the fact that they were Muslims, they were not given them permission to construct a mosque in the village. The Pathans read the namaaz in their homes without protest; for centuries, ever since Maharaja Ranjit Singh ascended the throne, the muezzin's call to prayer has never been heard in this village. Their hearts were suffused with spirituality and mysticism, but the worldly constraints were so immediate. Moreover, concerns for liberality and acceptance were so prevalent that they could not dare to utter a word.
Batool was the most beloved of her father's daughters. The youngest of the seven, she was the sweetest, the prettiest. Batool is so beautiful that her skin flushes if you even touch her. Panditji, you are yourself Kashmiri by origin, and being an artist, you know what such beauty can be. Today this loveliness lies in disarray in my piles of filth, so much so that finding a decent man who will appreciate it will prove difficult. All one ever sees is rotten, dissolute Marwaris, contractors sporting bushy moustaches, and black marketeers with lascivious stares.
Batool is completely illiterate. She had only heard the name of Jinnah sahib. Thinking Pakistan to be a fun spectacle, she had joined in the slogans for it; just as three-four year old children run about the house shouting 'Inquilab Zindabad'. She was only eleven years old after all.
Little, unlettered Batool. It's only been a few days since she has come to me. A Hindu procurer brought her to me. I bought her for five hundred rupees. This Hindu procurer had brought her from Ludhiana, from a Jat one. Where she was before this, I cannot say. Yes, the lady doctor has said many things to me, but if you were to hear them, you would perhaps go mad. Batool is half mad herself. The Jats killed her father with such mercilessness that the past six thousand years of Hindu culture was stripped of its skin, and human barbarity in its savage, naked form has been laid bare for all to see.
First, the Jats gouged out his eyes. Then they pissed into his mouth. Then they slit him from the throat down and disembowelled him. Then they forced themselves on his married daughters and sowed their own humiliation. Right in front of their father's corpse. Rehana, Guldarakshan, Marjana, Sausan, Begum... one by one, barbaric man defiled each one of the idols in his temple. The ones that gave him life, who sang him to sleep with a lullaby, the ones that had bowed their heads to him, in shame, in subjection, in chastity. With all these sisters, these daughters in law, these mothers, they engaged in fornication.
The Hindu religion lost its honour, it destroyed its tolerance, it erased its own greatness. Every mantra of the Rg Veda was silent today, every couplet in the Granth Sahab was ashamed, every verse of the Gita was wounded. Who is it that would dare speak to me of the artists of Ajanta? Narrate to me the texts of Aśoka's inscriptions? Sing praises to me of the idol makers of Ellora? In Batool's forlorn, tightly bitten lips, in her arms marked with the teeth of the feral beasts, and the instability of her leaden legs is the death of your Ajanta, the hearse of your Ellora, the funereal shroud of your culture. Come, come, let me show you the beauty that once was Batool; come let me show you the stinking corpse that Batool is now.
I realise that, overcome with emotion, I have said too much. Perhaps, I should not have said all this. Perhaps, it will cause you embarrassment. Perhaps, no one has ever uttered, or reported, such impertinent words to you before this. Perhaps, you yourself feel all this, but can do nothing. As far as I can see, both of you, Panditji and Jinnah sahib, you cannot do all of what needs to be done; in fact, it does not seem that you can do even a little bit. But even then, freedom has come, to India and to Pakistan both, and perhaps even a prostitute certainly has the right to ask her representatives: What now will come of Bela and Batool?
Bela and Batool are two girls, two communities, two cultures, two cultures, two mosques and temples. These days, Bela and Batool live with a prostitute, who runs her business in a shop close the Chinese barber's on Farris Road. Bela and Batool do not like this trade. I have purchased these two girls; if I want, I could get the work done by them too. But I think that I will not do that which Rawalpindi and Jalandhar have done to them. So far, I have been able to keep them away from the world of Farris Road. Even then, when my customers go to the back room to wash their hands and faces, Bela and Batool's gaze begin to speak to me. I cannot bring to you the heat of their gaze. I cannot also adequately convey their message to you. Why don't you read the ciphers in their gaze yourselves?
Panditji, what I want is that you make Batool your daughter. Jinnah Sahib, I wish for you to consider Bela your 'daughter of the auspicious stars'. Just for once, extricate them from the clutches of Farris Road, keep them in your homes. Pay heed to the laments of the lakhs of souls, that dirge that resounds all the way from Noakhali to Rawalpindi, from Bharatpur to Bombay. Is it only in the Government House that it cannot be heard? Will you attend to this voice?
Your sincere friend
A prostitute from Farris Road
एक शख़्स आख़िर कितने अरसे तक ज़िंदा रहता है? हज़ारों दिन, या सिर्फ एक? एक हफ़्ते के लिए, या कुछ सदियों तक? कितना वख़्त बिताता है वो जीने या मरने में? और क्या होता है हमारा मतलब, जब हम कहते हैं ‘हमेशा के लिए गया’?
इन सब परवाहों में मशग़ूल, बे राह, हम ख़ुलासा खोजते हैं. हम फ़लसफ़ों के पास जा सकते हैं, पर वो हमारे सवालों से ऊब जायेंगे. हम पादरियों और रबियों के पास जा सकते हैं, पर वो अपने प्रबंधों में मसरूफ हो सकतें हैं. आख़िर, एक शख़्स की ज़िन्दगी कितनी लम्बी होती है? और कितना जीता है वो जब ज़िंदा रहता है? हम घबराते है, सैकड़ो सवाल करते हैं– पर जब हल मिलता है हमें– इतना सरल सा है असली जवाब.
एक शख़्स उतने अरसे के लिए ही जीता है, जितने दिन हम उसे अपने अंदर सँभालते हैं, जितने दिन हम उसके ख़्वाबों की फ़सल अपने साथ रखते हैं, जितने दिन हम ख़ुद जीवित रहते हैं, साझी यादें बरक़रार रखते हुए, वो शख़्स जीता रहता है.
उसकी मेहबूबा के संग उसकी खुशबु, उसका स्पर्श रहेगा, उसके बच्चों के पास उसकी मोहब्बत का वज़न. एक दोस्त उसकी दलीलों को साथ ले लेगा, एक और उसके पसंदीदा धुनें गुनगुनायेगा, एक और उसकी वहशतों में अभी भी होगा शरीक.
और दिन, हैरान चेहरे लिए, बीतते जायेंगे, और फिर हफ़्ते, और उसके बाद महीनें. फिर एक दिन ऐसा आएगा, जब कोई भी सवाल पूछने के लिए नहीं रहेंगे, और पेट में ग़म की गुत्थियां सुलझने लगेंगी, और सूजे हुए चेहरों पर छायेगा सुकून. और उस दिन, वो समाप्त नहीं होगा, बल्कि उस से हमारी जुदाई की समाप्ति होगी.
एक शख़्स आख़िर कितने अरसे तक ज़िंदा रहता है? एक आदमी की ज़िन्दगी कितने मुख़्तिफ़ मीआदों में बटी होती है.
अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवाई
How long does a man live after all? A thousand days or only one? One week or a few centuries? How long does a man spend living or dying and what do we mean when we say gone forever?
Adrift in such preoccupations, we seek clarification. We can go to the philosophers but they will weary of our questions. We can go to the priests and rabbis but they might be busy with administrations.
So, how long does a man live after all? And how much does he live while he lives? We fret and ask so many questions – then when it comes to us the answer is so simple after all.
A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us, for as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams, for as long as we ourselves live, holding memories in common, a man lives.
His lover will carry his man’s scent, his touch: his children will carry the weight of his love. One friend will carry his arguments, another will hum his favourite tunes, another will still share his terrors.
And the days will pass with baffled faces, then the weeks, then the months, then there will be a day when no question is asked, and the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach and the puffed faces will calm. And on that day he will not have ceased but will have ceased to be separated by death.
How long does a man live after all? A man lives so many different lengths of time.
कुछ अविष्कार ऐसे होते हैं जो मुमकिन ही नहीं होते बुढ़ापा उन में से एक है.
जो लोग ‘उस पार’ जाते हैं बचपन को अपने साथ ले जाते हैं, उसकी नन्ही मुन्नी उँगलियाँ अपने हाथ में थामे हुए, उसे अपने क़िस्से सुनाते ए. अपने संग ले जातें हैं वो, उनकी फज़ूल आदतें, उनके पाबंदियों से बचने के उपाए, उनक शातिर, सयानी नज़रें, उनके दोस्त पे इलज़ाम लगाने का तरीक़ा, पिछली कांफेरस या आनेवाले चुनाव के बारे में उनके विचार. (मैं ने अनेक ऐसों को उनके मरणसेज पे देखा है.) वो चाहते हैं कि हम उनके साथ खेलें एक क़िस्म के शत्रु से भिड़ रहे हैं वो, लोगों और ख़यालात पर शुभा रहती है उन्हें.
उनके हाथ, किसी दुलारे शख़्स का नाम सुनते ही, ख़ुशी-ख़ुशी फ़ोन पे झप्पटा मारते हैं, या फिर हवा में इशारे से आंकते हैं “कह दो कि मैं सो रहा हूँ.” वो बदस्तूर हुकुम देते रहते हैं, मेहमान से सिगरेट चुराकर तकिया के नीचे छुपा लेते हैं, तुम से अपने मुस्तक़बिल के मंसूबों पर चचा करते हैं, तुम्हें ग़लत समझ लेते हैं, बहस करते रहते हैं जब तक, तुम्हें कमरे से बाहर न किया जाए.
जाते-जाते, वो अपने संग ले जाते हैं, अपने ‘र’ बोलने का ख़ास तरीक़ा, उनकी खुद की प्रशंसा करने की इच्छा, उनका तुम्हारी बात को बीच में टोकने का अंदाज़. वो अपने साथ ले जाते हैं अपने चपल, अपने अज़ीज़, अपने अस्तुरे, अपने मेक-उप का सामान, वो सब चीज़ें जिनकी उन्हें अब इस आख़री सफर में कोई ज़रूरत नहीं.
हम, जो उन्हें प्यार करते हैं, हम,जो जनम से ही सोचते आए हैं कि ज़िन्दगी उनसे उतनी ही बनी है, जैसे कि उस में है आब, हवा, अन्न और माटी, हम, जो ऐन वख़्त पर, उनके साथ लग जाना चाहते हैं, जैसे कि हम कभी उनके साथ मेले गए थे, इस बार पीछे छोड़ दए जाते हैं. क्यूंकि वो, कोमलता से, चतुराई से, और कुछ और वजाहों से, जिनसे सिर्फ वो ही वाक़िफ़ हैं, हमें अपने साथ लेकर जाने से इंकार कर देते हैं.
अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवाई
There are some inventions that do not exist. Old age is one of them. Those who go ‘there’ take childhood with them, hold its dimpled little fingers in their hands, tell it their stories. They take with them their silly little habits, their tricks to get around restrictions, their sly, meaningful glances, the way they blame a friend, the way they complain, their impressions of the last conference or of the coming elections. (I have seen many of them on their deathbeds). They want us to play with them, they fight against an enemy of a sort, they doubt ideas and people. Their hands, when they hear the name of a cherished person, joyfully snatch the telephone or, with lazy, cinematic gestures, draw their instructions in the air: “Say I am asleep.” They issue their familiar orders, they steal a cigarette from their visitors and hide it under the pillow, they discuss with you their future plans, they misunderstand you, keep arguing until you are dismissed from the room. They take with them the way they pronounce their Rs, their desire to be admired, their style of interrupting your sentences. They take with them their slippers, their loved ones, their razors, their make-up, and all the things they don’t need on their last journey. Even we who love them, we, who, since birth have thought life was made up of them, just as it is of water, air, fire and earth, we, who at that particular moment, want to accompany them, just as we once did to the funfair, are left behind. For they, gently, cleverly, and for reasons only they know, refuse to take us with them.