The lame tramp who longed just to stand and stare.

Here is a poem by William Henry Davies which we were required in our school to learn by heart and recite. Though it was a chore at that time, I am grateful now for the framers of the syllabus for having stolen some of our childhood leisure.

LEISURE

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Restless and roving soul that he was, he uncharacteristically rues, in this poem that life provided him with no time to stand and stare. But ironically indeed, life did, provide him time to stand, (but only on one of his natural legs) and stare not only at the world at large but his own inner self, after he lost one of his legs in an accident.,

Another such poem that I like is, ‘Woh kagazh ki kashtee woh barish ka paani”, penned by Sudarshan Fakir, and sung memorably, by Jagjit Singh and Chitra, his wife.
This song greatly rendered by Jagjit singh and Chitra has been a favourite of mine. It strikes a chord of nostalgia in the minds of who ever listens to it. it. But, I, for one, always felt, it could have been a lot more adorable, had it been rendered in a more wistful manner rather than a melancholic one

I will try to translate the poem into English,

” Those paper-boats floating away in the rain water

ye daulat bhii le lo, ye shoharat bhii le lo
bhale chheen lo mujhase meree jawaaanee
magar mujhako lautaa do bachapan kaa saavan
vo kaagaz kii kashtee, vo baarish kaa paanee.

Take away My Lord, my entire wealth, and all my glory included,
Do tear away from me, if you will,
Even this tender season of youth of mine,
But pray, My Lord, do grant me back,
The festive season of monsoon, the paper boats
And the puddles of rain-water, of my cherubic childhood,

muhalle kii sabase nishaanee puraanee
vo budhiyaa jise bachche kahate the naanee
vo naanee kii baaton mein pariyon kaa deraa
vo chahare ki jhuriryon mein sadiyon kaa pheraa
bhulaae nahee bhuul sakataa hai koi
vo chhoteesi raaten vo lambee kahaanee

The oldest relic of the neighborhood,,
In whose words did pervade a procession of lovely fairies,
That old lady whom the kids used to call , Granny,
Replete in the furrows of her brow, were aeons of folk-lore.
I still remember them, can anyone forget at all,
Those fleeting nights and the stories that went on and on.

kadee dhuup mein apane ghar se nikalanaa
vo chidiyaa vo bulabul vo titalee pakadnaa
vo gudiyaa kii shaadee mein ladanaa jhagadanaa
vo jhuulon se giranaa vo gir ke sambhalanaa
vo piital ke chhalion ke pyaare se tohafe
vo tuutee hui chuudiyon ki nishaanee

The stealing out from home in blistering heat,
The birds, the warblers, the catching of the butterflies,
The fights and the squabbles at the wedding of the dolls,
The falling off from the swing and recovering from the stagger,
The lovely tinsel gifts of brass,
And the gash marks of broken bangles.

kabhee ret ke unche teelon pe jaanaa
gharaunde banaanaa banaake mitaanaa
vo maasuum chahat ki tasviir apanee
vo khwaabon khilaunon ki jaageer apanee
na duniyaa kaa gam thaa na rishton ke bandhan
badii khuubasuurat thee vo zindagaanee.

The roaming around over dunes of sand,
Building castles on them over and yet over,
And trampling over them again and yet again.
We were pictures perfect, of innocent desire,
No cares of the world, no shackles of creed,
Life indeed, was glorious and beautiful.

Take away My Lord, my entire wealth, all my glory included,
Do tear away from me, if you will,
Even this tender season of youth of mine,
But pray, My Lord, do grant me back,
The festive season of monsoon, the paper boats
And the puddles of rain-water, of my childhood,”

P.s : (Another of the albums of the duo, I like most is the cassette album , “Hope”, released soon after their son, Vivek’s death in a car accident in 1990.Chitra stopped singing after that, but Jagjit found solace in continuing to keep busy, singing. I understand, they were estranged after this loss.I cherish Jagjit’s album, “Sajda”, he sang along with the legendary, Lata Mangeshwar soon after the tragedy. Chitra unfortunately suffered yet another tragedy, when her daughter suffering from depression, chose to leave the world in 2009.Another blow to her indeed was the demise last year of Jagjit, himself. Puddles of water and Boats of paper, and respite enough to stand and stare as long as sheep or cows are treasures enough to cherish in preference to floundering in the rat race)

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About versa kay

Agile, keen, versatile,considerate,patient
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