Poets stand apart from other prosaic people. Lot of them are compulsive tramps or vagabonds. Many are eccentric and quill esoteric verses, often replete with layers upon layers of turbid allusions their reader struggle hard to analyse or decipher and sometimes succeed in finding beautiful meanings which were not originally intended.
Some great writers even grappled with insanity besides the rules of rhyme and well, reason. I use the simple present tense here in reference to this special class of humans on a pedestal, (shades of Nietscze, eh!) in general across all universe and time.No wonders some religious edicts or perhaps their narrow interpretations beyond the immediate contexts of time and place in which they were pronounced, consider poets as vermin, to be exterminated. In my last post I have written of two great writers who struggled hard to retain their sanity, despite the maddening tribulations they had to grapple with.
The subjects of insanity and dissoluteness figure prominently in Urdu poetry. Words like Awara, Deewana, Pagal etc.,occur frequently in Ghazals.One celebrated Urdu lyric, “Awaargee”, which I like, deals at length with its author’s confessed wayward ways and how his way of life was beginning to look alluring to him.
The verse is in the form of the author’s communion with his own embodied vagrancy.
This lyric is by the great Urdu poet Mohsin Naqvi, believed to have lost his life in targetted sectarian violence in Jan,1996.
The lyric is rendered mostly feistly and occassionally poignantly, in the Raga Sindhu Bhairavi,(Sind, you see, is hallowed to us in India still), by the famous Ghazal singer, Ghulam Ali, admired across the Indian subcontinent, for his mellifluous voice and his inimitable chatty style of singing.
I reproduce the lyric, here, along with my flimsy attempt at its translation into English.
Ye dil, ye pagal dil mera. Kyon bujh gaya, Aawargi ?
Is dasht mein ik shahar tha. Woh kya hua, Aawargi ?
Kal shab mujhe be-shakl ki aawaaz ne chaunka diya.
Main ne kaha, “Tu kaun hai?” Usne kahaa “Aawargi”
Yeh dard ki tanhhaiyan, Yeh dasht ka veeran safar.
Hum log to uqtaa gaye, Apni suna Aawargi
Ik ajnabi jhonke ne jab pucha mere gam ka sabab,
sahara ki bheegi rait par main ne likha “Aawargi”
Kal raat tanha chand ko dekha tha main ne khwaab main
Mohsin, mujhay raas aye gi shayad sada, aawargi.
My mind, this insane mind of mine, why has it turned cold. Vagrancy!
There used to be a bustling city, here in this dreary desert,
What happened to it? Vagrancy!
Last night a ghostly voice startled me,
“Who are you?”, ask I. It replies, ,”Vagrancy”..
I enquire “The painful loneliness The barren plodding in the desert.
I am fed up with it…Forget it , Do tell me now, something about your own, vagrancy.” .
A strange wind murmurs at me, ” You look so glum, but why?”. I scratch on the wet sands of the desert, ‘ Vagrancy’,
i had a dream, last night. The moon was forlorn, lonely. I wonder what it portends.
Mohsin, perhaps, I may find it eternally alluring, this, my cherished vagrancy,
n.b.The reference to the dreary desert could be to his current state and the allusion to the extinct bustling city, may refer to his older busy and flourishing state of life.
Mohsin is the nom-de-plume of the writer, Mohsin Naqvi.