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Monday, May 31, 2010

mid october post midnight walk

it's 3:20 am and i want to go out for a walk
i live in a safe area of town and walking at this
hour is not dangerous, suspicious perhaps if mrs. schmidtt
is up and reports a dark shadow leaving our front door but
i could be discreet and leave through the back door not visible
to the schmidtt's, on the other side kiran had fasted, feasted
and now was fast asleep as yesterday was karva-chauth
hindu men are lucky, even their women have it not so bad
they get to do this only once a year unlike our
thirty fasts each year and sati is not practiced anymore
so i ran a mental list - i will don a t-shirt and change
into joggers, grab a wind breaker and put on sneakers
reminding myself not to forget the house keys this time
what else would i need? shall i take the lighter? if I do so
then i'll have to take the pouch and the pipe - ah, the pleasures
of smoking at this undisturbed hour under the clear skies


immersed in such peaceful thoughts cheered me up more and i
told myself to take the baseball cap, it could be windy but
first i had to ease my way out of her embrace without
disturbing her — easier written than done - oh the travails
buoyed by the idea of polluting the fresh air
i must have made some noises probing my way in the dark
'why are you so restless and talking in sleep,' said the fair one
and as the embrace tightened, 'go to sleep, you've work to do
in the morning' - as all shackled men have learned it is not
advisable to argue with the tigers in their cages
no sir, not at 3.20 a.m. so i said meekly
'go to sleep dear, am just attending a call of nature'
and dreamt of other cherished dreams folded and ensconced

Sunday, May 30, 2010

be gentle

daily i face gentle folks with
subterranean rages
stages of perceived hurt
seething and barely controlled
and as i brush and floss
i think of cyber grenades
that might come my way this day

from von-SIF when i will chide
surely as i must and will
'bout being delusional

from a host of friends
the one we attach an 'x'
before their names and IDs
for perceived injustices
hurled their way inadvertently

from earnest supporters
of poly-syllable causes
with which and also with whom
i would not break bread

from drivers claiming
hereditary right of way

but this kindness invoking prayer
is aimed only at a certain mistress
of my heart and body, for this morning
while pursuing bhagwan-knows-only-what
in the t-star while listening to radio
i forgot 'bout the kettle on the stove
and messed up her stove top--yet again
which she will discover upon waking
and'll get to hear 'bout when i return home

will you be gentle dear - once again?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

of pearls and swine

--no i won't

---child smiles
---mother smiles

(fast forward)
(p - a - u - s - e)
i was saying
--i was saying
spontaneous smiles erupt

there was an abundance of moonlight blanketing the earth unhampered by
clouds and the weather was snuggle-chilly with a light breeze and no
mechanical sounds invading the senses only natural sounds and
if you strained hard enough there was so much love and peace oozing out of
everywhere it was impossible to evade romance...and euphoric smiles

(amidst heated exchanges, in homes on many continents at the same time)
she's a bitch!
--he's a bastard!
no smiles
follow the diatribes

(in another scene reminiscent of above but with changed protagonists)
you're late
this report was due last friday
--i quit
no, you're fired!
'swine' - both mutter

wisdom, abandoned yet again between pearls and swine, wonders about
its relevance and utility, then dons a jacket and leaves to play
bridge with rhetoric, ignoring the rush hour jams in the clouds

Friday, May 28, 2010

The toast is in the toaster


inside, it was dark
the clouds bore moist affection
sighs thundered
in the ultra sound range
and rayless lightening
struck intermittently

the lovers slept entwined
and dreamt of each other
in the morning she eased out of his embrace laid the breakfast on the table and returned to the warm embrace whispering 'the toast is in the toaster'


'the toast is in the toaster'
she whispered snuggling closer
he opened his eyes and
as cognition filtered in
he smiled, thankful to be alive

in the shower he hummed
the toast is in the toaster
the heart is in the chest
the ink is in the pen
the rider on the horse
stars in the sky
driver in the car
children on the bus
politician on the hustle
tea in the kettle

and as he drove
marveled at the banality
of familiar objects
people and places
that evokes certitude
and smiles

Thursday, May 27, 2010

first love - pehli muhabbat

the first eye contact, that feeling
from the pits to every pore
hypersensitive walk on air
bright smile on every face
no hurdle insurmountable
(yeah that am-god feeling*)

pehli mohabbat ki kya baat hay
pehli mohabbat ki kya shaan hay

then the volcanoes erupt
and earth splits open
waves of water and lava
submerges hope, sinks dreams
of all morrows dreamt

and a few moments later
that effervescent smile
that to-die-for-smile
flashes and all the gloom
whirls and withers away

the sun is shining
the sun is smiling
____________for she is smiling

pehli mohabbat ki kya baat hay
pehli mohabbat ki kya shaan hay

(for my son-mar 16, 2003)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

your heart, my murmur

a few words
from within

your heart
my murmur

add a tremor
and a quiver

two smiles
a soft sigh

and a poem
comes to light

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

cobwebbed cognizance

memories trickle
to emerge from
gray graves of
cobwebbed cognizance

in smiles and

in the heat of the june noon
driving on a lonely patch of road
fata morgana*** an accomplice
i think of pink floyd's wall
and wordsworth's daffodils
as memories sidle
from catacombs


* an�am�ne�sis
n. pl. an�am�ne�ses (-sz)
1. Psychology. A recalling to memory; recollection.
Medicine. The complete history recalled and recounted by a patient.

** ki�ne�sics(k-nsks, -zks, k-)
n. (used with a sing. verb)
The study of nonlinguistic bodily movements, such as gestures and facial expressions, as a systematic mode of communication

*** [Italian, mirage, Morgan le Fay (from the belief that the mirage was caused by her witchcraft) : fata, fairy (from Vulgar Latin f ta, goddess of fate. See fairy) + Morgana, Morgan (probably from Old Irish Morrigain).

Monday, May 24, 2010

good riddance, dee

inspired (and inspored and inspured) by the article and responses at Co-existing With Unwanted Guests

good riddance, dee (a tongue-in-cheek heading)

some deep early sunday morning thoughts and
if you are being picky ....fine make them
early sunday afternoon musings on them
roaches, rodents, insects and creepy crawlies
and the well meaning advice that pours in
from formulae developed in shiny labs
the sprays, chemicals, powders, roach motels
to those passed bosom to bosom developed
by folks long dust and ashes, long, long gone
(while ironically, the pests survive)

[chorus - come on everyone, join me
oh what to do, oh what to do
oh what to do, oh what to do]

don't know what was i imbibing when i
suggested ghostbuster's magical wand
comes sujatha with the odorless dough
shantanu does a modi on them roaches
gentle dr politics reminds gently
of the world rat day on april 04
and i wonder if the rats were rodents
or the corporate whistle-blowers
saks and kishore join the welcome wagon
(secretly thinking if we can survive
so can you dear dee, so can you dear dee)
sami counsels playing el mariachi
while ray suggests egg shells as a cure all
as if dee hasn't spread enough of them
(wink wink - them egg shells that we walk on)

[chorus - come on everyone, join me
oh what to do, oh what to do
oh what to do, oh what to do]

hoping with earnest hope dear dee am sure
at some time you will come to peace with them
roaches, rodents, insects and creepy crawlies
but tell me what do we do, what do we do
about these word-pecking, word-blasting poets?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

circle / daira


i walked
in one direction
passed by the banyan
searched jungles, deserts
rivers, mountains
rest stops
were left behind

seasons changed
years piled and
i arrived
at the same banyan tree
older, greyer, weaker
but not wiser
and still missed her


chalta raha maiN chalta raha
ik sim't musal'sal chalta raha
rah e safar maiN darakht aa'aye
jungal, sehra, darya, aur pahaR
bastiaN aa'eeN aur woh na mila

chalta raha maiN chalta raha
ik sim't musal'sal chalta raha
jungal, sehra, darya, pahaR
sub ko oo'boor karta gaya maiN

chalta raha maiN chalta raha
aur itni musafat karli te'h
kay woh darakht phir nazar aa'aye
aur daira hu'a mukammil
laikin haath kuch aaya nahiN
oos ko kahiN paya nahiN

Saturday, May 22, 2010

eyes - aankhaiN


in the deep blue
of my eyes
can you gaze
into my soul
she wondered

did not drown
in that sea
submerged as i was
in beloved's embrace


poocha oos nay ankhiOn say
is neelgooN samandar maiN
rooh me'ri dekh sakhtay hO?

oos gehri neelgooN jheel maiN
doobay kaun kyuN kay
ghota zun jO youN thay hum
kisi ki bund ankhiON maiN

Ghazal 49

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ghazal 35

Thursday, May 20, 2010

bird with broken wing

bird with broken wing
am tired
too tired to fly
or play along
lay me to rest
where love dwells
for a day or two
or for ever
today i don't
care, am hurting

bird with clipped wings
it is sought

mang'l sut'r
is but a chain
around the neck
that suffocates
till death does part

Ghazal 111, Verse 16

Ghazal 111, Verse 16

yuu;N hii gar rotaa rahaa ;Gaalib to ay ahl-e jahaa;N
dekhnaa in bastiyo;N ko tum kih viiraa;N ho ga))ii;N

یوں ہی گر روتا رہا غالب تو اے اہلِ جہاں
دیکھنا ان بستیوں کو تم کہ ویراں ہو گئیں

यूं ही गर रोता रहा ग़ालिब तो अय अहल-ए जहां
देखना इन बसतियों को तुम कि वीरां हो गईं

1) if Ghalib would keep on weeping {like this / for no reason}, then, oh people of the world
2) you just look at these towns-- that they've become desolate

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

a drop of Truth: you and me

such kya hay
samundar ya qatra
tum ya hum?

sea or droplet
million or one
timeless tale

sun splashing on sea
cloud, a lazy float
paints peak white

sun mount-cavorting
synergetic drops
sojourn to coalesce

you a drop---i, another
landless, nationless, clueless
seeking symbiosis
in drop-seas

Ghazal 111, Verse 15

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

as the shadow parts

as the shadow parts
o ephemeral illusion, o shadow mine
inseparable and indistinguishable
were we since dawn, sharing every joy and sadness
the moment of truth is about to descend
where goes the vows of eternal allegiance

rukhsat e saaya
aye wahimay, aye meray humwajood
kay sada say raha hay saath t'ra
shareek e runj o khushi bay misaal
ab tO waq't e a'sal ki aamud hay
saath choRna kaisi rasm e wafa hay

Ghazal 111, Verse 14

Ghazal 111, Verse 14

ham muva;h;hid hai;N hamaaraa kesh hai tark-e rusuum
millate;N jab mi;T ga))ii;N ajzaa-e iimaa;N ho ga))ii;N

ہم موحّد ہیں ہمارا کیش ہے ترکِ رسوم
ملّتیں جب مٹ گئیں اجزاۓ ایماں ہو گئیں

हम मुवहहिद हैं हमारा केश है तरक-ए रुसूम
मिललतें जब मिट गईं अजज़ा-ए ईमां हो गईं

1) we are {a monotheist / monotheists}, our faith/practice is the renunciation of customs/laws
2) when religions/groups were erased, they became parts of belief/faith/integrity

Monday, May 17, 2010

VI Mahajirzadeh:Inventions

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction
II Mahajirzadeh:Manjhli and BaRi
III Mahajirzadeh:Choti and the Siami Begum
IV Mahajirzadeh:The Great Hand Car Wash
V Mahajirzadeh:Laws of Ventilation and Other Quotes

Mahajirzadeh operated on his own version of s--t--r--e--t--c--h t i m e. He never owned a wrist watch. It appeared as if he was allergic to time. Missed weddings, funerals, and meetings because of his unique concept of time. He used to shrug off saying, "It is my time." More than anyone we have known, he has evaded giving in to Mother Time. And when he did, as he must have, he gave the impression he was doing her a favour. But Mother Time being what she is extracts her dues inevitably.

We will credit Mahajirzadeh with OilFree Pakoras. Mix the ingredients for the pakoras the way you like. Instead of dropping them in the pan of boiling oil, he would spread them out on his waffle iron. In a few minutes you will enjoy pakoras, albeit shaped like waffle! In this age of calorie counting, this is akin to having your cake and eating it too.

He also invented KhatnaMachine. Made of surgical steel, it was the marriage of toe-nail scissors with the nail cutter. Dipped in anti-septic it would do the job in a flourish! Sadly, it did not take off, because of a slight oversight. 'Shurafaa', he told us wistfully, 'do not like to take things in their hands.'
He flew a lot. He invented the SpillFreeLota. Two plastic bags filled with water, saddling over the user's shoulder, with a long tube attached to the bottom of the bag. When properly unfurled and unblocked, the water will flow unabashedly to cleanse the user. He told us it was inspired by a visit to the intensive care ward, where he saw someone drip fed. (For the reader who cannot grasp the intricacy of this invention please ask a first generation desi to decipher it for you. Or check the toilets of PIA or Air India half an hour into the flight.)

His other great 'invention' was PantWarKameez. On an earlier visit to Karachi, as we were departing he presented us a package with a twinkle in his eyes. When we opened the package later we found a locally stitched suit of shalwar kameez. Further examination revealed Mahajirzadeh's unique touch. The shalwar was a pant at the top, complete with a zip and the bottom was a traditional baggy shalwar. PantWarKameez was also coined by him. We immediately put him on the same pedestal as the late Maharajah of Jodhpur. We had visions of patenting his invention. But the nation was preoccupied elsewhere.

In our last brief visit home, we specially sought him out. He showed interest in migrating to our barafzaar ---land of ice--- but he was reluctant to be separated from the Ponti. We told him to bring along the Ponti. Perhaps on its count he maybe permitted to retire in Canada. 'But how can I abandon these occupied graves,' he wondered. I reminded him of his relative youth and, and hinted that he could with some luck, fill some more graves over there. Mahajirzadeh sighed and for the first time that we could recall quoted a couplet:

ghazal oos nay chehri mujhay saaz daina
zara umr-e-raftaa kou awaaz daina


Ghazal 111, Verse 13

Ghazal 111, Verse 13

jaa;N-fizaa hai baadah jis ke haath me;N jaam aa gayaa
sab lakiire;N haath kii goyaa rag-e jaa;N ho ga))ii;N

جاں فزا ہے بادہ جس کے ہاتھ میں جام آ گیا
سب لکیریں ہاتھ کی گویا رگِ جاں ہو گئیں

जां-फ़िज़ा है बादह जिस के हाथ में जाम आ गया
सब लकीरें हाथ की गोया रग-ए जां हो गईं

1) wine is life-{increasing/enhancing}; in whomever's hand the glass came
2) all the lines of [his] hand became, so to speak, {life-veins / major arteries}

-- next verse -- back to {111} index -- ghazal index -- Ghalib index page --

Sunday, May 16, 2010

view from the top of the cross

arrhythmic clarity
suspended haze
sporadic effluvium

parched lips, scorched earth
hunger recessed and
pain anaesthetized
gardens float in
bread and wine aflicker
lazarus will not rise
______________again, soon

memories waft
ignite tactile urges

muscles torpid
vision atop the cross
unhindered, far and wide
and far and wider
cognizant of milleniums

elusive smile on the lips
as shadows beg leave

Ghazal 111, Verse 12

Ghazal 111, Verse 12

vaa;N gayaa bhii mai;N to un kii gaaliyo;N kaa kyaa javaab
yaad thii;N jitnii du((aa))e;N .sarf-e darbaa;N ho ga))ii;N

واں گیا بھی میں تو ان کی گالیوں کا کیا جواب
یاد تھیں جتنی دعائیں صرفِ درباں ہو گئیں

वां गया भी मैं तो उन की गालियों का कया जवाब
याद थीं जितनी दु`आएं सरफ़-ए दरबां हो गईं

1) even if I would go there, then what answer [would there be] for her insults?
2) as many blessings/supplications as I remembered, became expended on the Doorkeeper

Saturday, May 15, 2010

maaN ko salaam


miss you today
more than ever

zaat ka diya
youN phoonkh phoonk ker
kaisi yeh aag
ki hay roshan
wajood maiN m'ray

tujh kO aye maaN
hazaar salaam

for M - saathi, lover, yaar, and mother

what's the harm
in loving her today
a little more
despite hallmark's
efforts to seize (the day)
here is to all Moms

Ghazal 111, Verse 11

Ghazal 111, Verse 11

baskih rokaa mai;N ne aur siine me;N ubhrii;N pai bah pai
merii aahe;N ba;xyah-e chaak-e garebaa;N ho ga))ii;N

بسکہ روکا میں نے اور سینے میں ابھریں پے بہ پے
میری آہیں بخیۂ چاکِ گریباں ہو گئیں

बसकि रोका मैं ने और सीने में उभरीं पै ब पै
मेरी आहें बख़यह-ए चाक-ए गरेबां हो गईं

1a) although I stopped them, more/others welled up one after another in the breast
1b) I stopped them to such an extent-- and they welled up one after another in the breast

2) my sighs became the stitching-up of the tearing of the collar

-- next verse -- back to {111} index -- ghazal index -- Ghalib index page --

Friday, May 14, 2010

the mime

smile pasted with dexterity
he stoically explores around
a crack, a broken brick
probes a door handle, a knob
examines the ceiling and walls
a new expression on his face
depicting each maneuver

in the on stage confinement
having done all he could to escape
face now ashen, drained, eyes wide
dismal, he looks around once more
stands still and folds to the floor

before the applause fades away
he gets up dusting and brushing
bows and casually opens
the door that had no handle
and momentarily looks back
mischievously waving farewell

Ghazal 111, Verse 10

Ghazal 111, Verse 10

vuh nigaahe;N kyuu;N hu))ii jaatii hai;N yaa rab dil ke paar
jo mirii kotaahii-e qismat se mizhgaa;N ho ga))ii;N

وہ نگاہیں کیوں ہوئی جاتی ہیں یا رب دل کے پار
جو مری کوتاہیِ قسمت سے مژگاں ہو گئیں

वह निगाहें कयूं हुई जाती हैं या रब दिल के पार
जो मिरी कोताही-ए क़िसमत से मिज़हगां हो गईं

1) why do those glances, oh Lord, keep going through/beyond the heart?
2) [those glances] which, through my shortfall of fortune, became eyelashes

Thursday, May 13, 2010

a coin in harish's pocket

through a football-field gap in the clouds
sunrays kiss the ground, a blade midfield
swings in anticipated ecstasy

birds heading home pause,

the ground parched, love-torn
void in the sky
horizon to horizon
save a lonely football-field sized cloud
lazily floating

i trace its shadow on the ground
and look for lost lovers' faces on its sides

discreetly tiptoeing away time
sublimely assures thoughts and faces
conjectured and ensconced
float away into unpredictable morrow
scattering thirsty nightmares
and smiling dreams
in its un-repenting wake

as harish fidgets

Ghazal 111, Verse 9

Ghazal 111, Verse 9

mai;N chaman me;N kyaa gayaa goyaa dabistaa;N khul gayaa
bulbule;N sun kar mire naale ;Gazal-;xvaa;N ho ga))ii;N

میں چمن میں کیا گیا گویا دبستاں کھل گیا
بلبلیں سن کر مرے نالے غزل خواں ہو گئیں

मैं चमन में कया गया गोया दबिसतां खुल गया
बुलबुलें सुन कर मिरे नाले ग़ज़ल-ख़वां हो गईं

1) I hardly went into the garden!-- [rather], so to speak, a school opened
2) the Nightingales, having heard my laments, became ghazal-{reciting/reciters}

-- next verse -- back to {111} index -- ghazal index -- Ghalib index page --

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

an evening walk with father

macluhanesque truism
emblazoned all over
the spare tire bra
of my
college Vesp
Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out

my father
i love him
love him so...

unique he is
like his progeny
no wonder then...

we see and see not
eye to eye on all
issues and matters

all he and i stand for
unwittingly we accept
and grant each other
the space to grumble

(who said anythin' about open hearts?)

such crystal is our thinking
that out on our daily walks
should we ever accost
a rifle loaded
reflexively we'd
find ourselves
at its opposing ends
but the trigger, we shan't
pull--for we love to barb
our way out of forays

often we discuss childhood
not mine or my siblings
but of his grand children
loves them, covered for them
like he did not for us
for me! as i vainly
postulate and reassure

and when other topics
doze off in exhaustion
we discuss news and books
oh well, the Book of books
and his favourite expression
accusing me of writing
chapter thirty one
or aspiring to...

at that i feel
like dropping out ...

but drop out, how can i
for cliches aside
i love you so, dad! despite...

Ghazal 111, Verse 8

Ghazal 111, Verse 8

niind us kii hai dimaa;G us kaa hai raate;N us kii hai;N
terii zulfe;N jis ke baazuu par pareshaa;N ho ga))ii;N

نیند اس کی ہے دماغ اس کا ہے راتیں اس کی ہیں
تیری زلفیں جس کے بازو پر پریشاں ہو گئیں

नीनद उस की है दिमाग़ उस का है रातें उस की हैं
तेरी ज़ुलफ़ें जिस के बाज़ू पर परेशां हो गईं

1) sleep is his, spirit/pride/'head' is his, the nights are his
2) on whose shoulder your curls became scattered/tangled

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

gathering laughter

high noon lethargy on a quiet sunday
clothes — an strewn sartorial necklace
all around the bed
timorous light cascading through the shades
a do-not-disturb smile on her face

torpor soaked in sluggish languor

with a heavy head and lumbering limbs
stealthily eased out of her embrace
to quench the thirst, dragged the clumsy feet
to the kitchen - glasses, dinner and
quarter plates, cups and cutlery
all over the counter, sink and table

thirst unabated, glasses galore
but nary a clean one, finally
in a mug quenched thirst
surreptitiously started gathering
remnants of last eve's
dormant mirth and laughter
anaesthetized by the piercing sunrays

Ghazal 111, Verse 7

Ghazal 111, Verse 7

in pariizaado;N se le;Nge ;xuld me;N ham intiqaam
qudrat-e ;haq se yihii ;huure;N agar vaa;N ho ga))ii;N

ان پریزادوں سے لینگے خلد میں ہم انتقام
قدرتِ حق سے یہی حوریں اگر واں ہو گئیں

इन परीज़ादों से लेंगे ख़ुलद में हम इनतिक़ाम
क़ुदरत-ए हक़ से यिही हूरें अगर वां हो गईं

1) we will take revenge in Paradise on these Pari-born ones
2) if through the power of Justice/right/God they would there become Houris

Monday, May 10, 2010

V Mahajirzadeh: Laws of Ventilation and Other Quotes

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction
II Mahajirzadeh:Manjhli and BaRi
III Mahajirzadeh:Choti and the Siami Begum
IV Mahajirzadeh:The Great Hand Car Wash

Mahajirzadeh had some unique and weird ideas. He used to say education should be for the educated: it should not be wasted on the uneducated.

He liked qawwalis but hated qawwals. For ganays (songs) and ganaywalis (singers) his views were diametrically opposite.

For abortion and sood (interest) he had a unique solution. Make them legal for those who believe in them and illegal for those who do not. Had he moved here we are sure he would have added halaal food to this list.

Contrary to prevailing customs, he liked his wife and other's children.

Mahaijirzadeh provided the stimulus for temporal's Third Law of Ventilation. In any room or hall, regardless of the size and position of ventilation ducts, the smoke tends to flow in the direction of the most sensitive nose. And, of course, without the help of any revelation, heavenly or earthly, you can guess temporal's Fourth Law---The rate of flow of the smoke is directly proportional to the sensitivity of the nose.

Much before the advent of VCR , we learned to appreciate the old black and white Hollywood westerns he would screen every Saturday evening. He would switch off the sound from the Bell & Howell 16 mm projector and play Sorayya, Sehgal, Aatma, and vintage Nurjehan on his Sony reel to reel. Once you get used to Gary Cooper and Aatma or John Ford and Sehgal, you would watch westerns no other way.

His religious views were oracular. He told us once, pehlay insaan, phir muslmaan: pehlay ta'aleem, phir tafheem: pehlay khuda, phir rasool. We were very young then to fully understand or appreciate him. Even now there are times when we find him paradoxical.

He used to say Pakistani Muslims were of three kinds: those who get lucky --- often, occasionally and seldom. In turn they were liberal, moderate and fundamentalist.

We never saw Mahajirzadeh emerging from the mosque. Ostensibly he never entered one either.

Conclusion: VI Mahajirzadeh:Inventions on Monday May 17

Ghazal 111, Verse 6

Ghazal 111, Verse 6

juu-e ;xuu;N aa;Nkho;N se bahne do kih hai shaam-e firaaq
mai;N yih samjhuu;Ngaa kih sham((e;N do furozaa;N ho ga))ii;N

جوۓ خوں آنکھوں سے بہنے دو کہ ہے شامِ فراق
میں یہ سمجھونگا کہ شمعیں دو فروزاں ہو گئیں

जू-ए ख़ूं आंखों से बहने दो कि है शाम-ए फ़िराक़
मैं यह समझूंगा कि शम`एं दो फ़ुरोज़ां हो गईं

1) let a stream of blood flow from the eyes, for it's the evening/night of separation
2) I will consider that two candles have become radiant/illuminated

Sunday, May 09, 2010

In the rear view mirror at the bottom of the lake

abyss--profundity and resilience
shallow--trifling and trivial

in the void
memories are the shadow

memories--a lifetime collage
preserving, prolonging, propagating

sub aagaaz o anjaam
sub sajday, mulaqaataiN
rai'gaaN, fuzool

aai, rukay, chalay
aur paya kya

fasana e zindagi maiN
nahiN mila Woh kahiN

the light fades s l o w l y
it gets cooler, aphotic

the shadows float away
smile abandoned, again

Ghazal 111, Verse 5

Ghazal 111, Verse 5

sab raqiibo;N se ho;N naa-;xvush par zanaan-e se
hai zulai;xaa ;xvush kih ma;hv-e maah-e kan((aa;N ho ga))ii;N

سب رقیبوں سے ہوں نا خوش پر زنانِ مصر سے
ہے زلیخا خوش کہ محوِ ماۂ کنعاں ہو گئیں

सब रक़ीबों से हों ना-ख़वुश पर ज़नान-ए मिसर से
है ज़ुलैख़ा ख़वुश कि महव-ए माह-ए कन`आं हो गईं

1) all [lovers] may be unhappy with Rivals, but with the women of Egypt
2) Zulaikha is happy, in that they became absorbed in the Moon of Canaan [Joseph]

Saturday, May 08, 2010

In The Court Of Desicritics: The Case of Humour vs Satire

Plaintiff: temporal, star gazer, Toronto, Ontario Defendant: Aaman Lamba, Publisher, No Fixed Address Courtroom: 498A Presiding Judge: The Hon. D. C. Hritic

All rise, all rise, the court is in session.
(shuffling feet, rustling sounds, people rise and sit)

Bailiff: In the matter of Humour Vs. Satire, case number 420-10, will the Plaintiff come forward.

t: Your Honour, the Defendant is highly unreasonable, high strung and high handed in his decision not to allow a separate main category for Humour. We will show you why his decision should be over ruled.

A: Objection.

J: Objection over ruled. Mr. t please continue.

t: Thank you Your Honour We call our first witness - Mr. Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi.

(A wry, wiry man in his late 70s, with thick lenses, shuffles across to take his seat in the witness box.)

B: Mr Yusufi place left hand on the English-Urdu dictionary, raise your right hand and repeat after me, " I Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi hereby declare that what I say here will only include words in this dictionary and nothing but." Yusufi raises his left hand, holding the dictionary in his right hand, takes the oath and sits down.

t: Mr. Yusufi will you tell the court your views on Humour?

Y: Humor is a great aide to breathing. It is not a way to make a living. Unless starvation diet is your preference. While it does not replace drugs used to alleviate blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol etc. humour is a soothing warmth that flows everywhere and is felt unseen. This fire can neither cremate nor lit a fire. It is not a reform tool. For that we have Haliburton, Ayatollah Bush, Hojjat el Islam Cheyney and the Patriot Act.

A: Objection my lord!

J: Objection sustained. Mr. t counsel your witness to stick to relevancy and keep the present administration out of it.

Y: Humour is freedom, humour is sixth sense, humour is Teflon, humour is fun, humour is humour.

J: ( looks quizzically at t)

Y: I can laugh at my miseries and afflictions anytime, and I can indulge you in it also. And then I can laugh at your robe and the open fly Sir, and then you will laugh along with me as you pull the zip up.

J: (nods gravely, smiles and nonchalantly feels his zip relieved to find it up)

A: Objection. This is hear-say observation not a defense of Humour, Your Honour.

J: (slamming the gravel) Over ruled. There was no hostility in his words. Please sit down Mr. Lamba. Continue Mr. Yusufi.

Y: Freedom of Laughter, in my opinion is a greater freedom than Freedom of Speech. It is my firm belief that if a nation can laugh freely (at itself) it can never be enslaved. In religion, alcohol and humor everything is easily soluble; all the more in Urdu literature. Or any literature.

t: Thank you Mr. Yusufi. Your witness.

A: Mr. Yusufi, you said , "But humor has its own sets of priorities and unique demands. It should be free of angst, bitterness and disillusionment. Or else the boomerang (of humor) will turn around and claim the humorist as its first victim." Is this your quote?

Y: Yes, it feels like I could have said it.

A: Then you believe satirists are victimizers and victims too?

Y: When a satirist bites it bleeds: when a humorist jabs you laugh with him.

A: You mean their bark is without a bite?

Y: I play with words, Sir. Am not a dog breeder.

A: Mr. Yusufi your wife claimed once that you bit the legs of your labrador.

Y: I never bit our dog. That would have been news. My wife? Perhaps. But if I did it would be a crime of passion and under article 498 section 4, sub-section 2, clause O it is permissible between consenting adults.

t: Objection! This is irrelevant. Please have it stricken off.

J: Sustained. Mr. Yusufi, please stay focused. This court will not tolerate bedroom humour.

A: Mr. Yusufi you have also written, "If you come across a poisonous snake and a satirist, first get rid of...."

t: Objection! Objection!

J: Objection sustained. Leading witness. Third strike and it is contempt of court Mr. Lamba. Am I clear?

A: Yes, Sir.

J: Proceed

A: At Desicritics we cater to one and all. Everyone is free to come and have their say as long as it is within decorum. We allow everyone an opportunity to express themselves. We have a zero tolerance towards personal attacks. I have written there, "If you can write lucidly and are opinionated, then you will fit right in with our 'sinister cabal'. We are looking for reviews, news, interviews, commentary and opinion. You can be as eccentric, bizarre, creative, opinionated, specific, or broad-based as you like." Being critical and satirical is encouraged.

J: (impatiently) What does that have to do with creating a category for Humour?

A: I am the Publisher

J: And I the judge! Do you have anything further to add? Can you tell the court what does what you have said has anything to do with adding a main category for Humor?

A: Yes Sir. I drew the charter for Desicritics. I decide what goes. I decided that Humour should be a sub category and not a main category. I am only answerable to Eric and Deepti.

J: Do you have anything more to say?

A: No, Sir.

J: The Court is adjourned till Monday. I will deliver my verdict on Monday at 10 a.m. sharp.

all rise

Ghazal 111, Verse 4

Ghazal 111, Verse 4

qaid me;N ya((quub ne lii go nah yuusuf kii ;xabar
lekin aa;Nkhe;N rauzan-e diivaar-e zindaa;N ho ga))ii;N

قید میں یعقوب نے لی گو نہ یوسف کی خبر
لیکن آنکھیں روزنِ دیوارِ زنداں ہو گئیں

क़ैद में य`क़ूब ने ली गो न यूसुफ़ की ख़बर
लेकिन आंखें रौज़न-ए दीवार-ए ज़िनदां हो गईं

1) although Jacob didn't get news of Joseph in prison
2) still, his eyes became crevice-work in the wall of the cell

Friday, May 07, 2010

snapped lift wire

like most men am the author
of my misfortunes and have
accumulated a vast
reservoir of near neat
excuses, explanations
and far fetched apologies
to keep love-boat's keel even
nothing new in that, you may say

was savoring her words flowing
in my veins, the blood now laced
with corpuscles of laughter
the world is mine each throbbing
from the ventricles shouted

as the laughter overwhelmed
in a dizzied euphoria
like most men (yes, again)
i promised myself to
avoid pitfalls prolonging
the laughter laced rapture
this thought further heightened
the drugless highs when the news
that the toilet trip lever
divorced the upper lift wire
damn (them) cliches, who could've guessed

Ghazal 111, Verse 3

Ghazal 111, Verse 3

thii;N banaat ul-na((sh-e garduu;N din ko parde me;N nihaa;N
shab ko un ke jii me;N kyaa aa))ii kih ((uryaa;N ho ga))ii;N

تھیں بنات ال نعشِ گردوں دن کو پردے میں نہاں
شب کو ان کے جی میں کیا آئی کہ عریاں ہو گئیں

थीं बनात उल-न`श-ए गरदूं दिन को परदे में निहां
शब को उन के जी में कया आई कि `उरयां हो गईं

1) the Daughters of the Bier of the heavens were hidden, by day, in pardah
2) at night, what came into their inner-self, that they became naked?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

a simple poem

she was drained
i said
'i love you - more'
and i was stumped
'is this sympathy
or empathy?'
'don't know jaan
just feel it
love you more'
'you men are strange'


if you love
don't you feel
their pain?
and then
don't you love
them more?
i do, i do
and admit it
is that strange?

Ghazal 111, Verse 2

Ghazal 111, Verse 2

yaad thii;N ham ko bhii rangaarang bazm-aaraa))iyaa;N
lekin ab naqsh-o-nigaar-e :taaq-e nisyaa;N ho ga))ii;N

یاد تھیں ہم کو بھی رنگارنگ بزم آرائیاں
لیکن اب نقش و نگارِ طاقِ نسیاں ہو گئیں

याद थीं हम को भी रनगारनग बज़म-आराइयां
लेकिन अब नक़श-ओ-निगार-ए ताक़-ए निसयां हो गईं

1) even/also we remembered colorful party-adornings
2) but now they have become bric-a-brac in the niche of forgetfulness

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

crown of roses and thorns

dou roti her ik ko
mil hee jatee hay

ger jo aisa na hota
tou phir na hotay aaj
millions maiN

livelihood a struggle
for many from first breath
to the last whispered sigh

aur hum
bila wajeh khush qismat
jo chaha, woh paya**

this dichotomy
a black and white cross
we're destined to carry


* nobody dies hungry/ if it were true/ we'd not be in millions

** and/without reason/we so lucky/all our wishes/fulfilled

Ghazal 111, Verse 1

Ghazal 111, Verse 1

sab kahaa;N kuchh laalah-o-gul me;N numaayaa;N ho ga))ii;N
;xaak me;N kyaa .suurate;N ho;Ngii kih pinhaa;N ho ga))ii;N

سب کہاں کچھ لالہ و گل میں نمایاں ہو گئیں
خاک میں کیا صورتیں ہونگی کہ پنہاں ہو گئیں

सब कहां कुछ लालह-ओ-गुल में नुमायां हो गईं
ख़ाक में कया सूरतें होंगी कि पिनहां हो गईं

1a) not by any means all-- some became manifest in tulip and rose
1b) where [did they] all [become manifest]? some became manifest in tulip and rose

2a) what faces/aspects there will be, that became hidden in the dust!
2b) will there be faces/aspects that became hidden in the dust?
2c) what faces/aspects will there be, that became hidden in the dust?
2d) in the dust, what faces and aspects there will be, that became hidden!
2e) in the dust, will there be faces/aspects that became hidden?
2f) in the dust, what faces/aspects will there be, that became hidden?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

smile to smile

veins in word webs (we) weave

crib to cribbing
journey short

relations and relationships
to bridge and fathom


comfort to thorn
some prick more

washed down with
aged words
stored in celestial casks

mother first
mothering last

cobwebs of copernican copulation
in terror and travesty


veins in word webs (we) weave
the new
umbilical cord
of present and past
from smile to smile

Ghazal 20, Verse 11

Ghazal 20, Verse 11

yih masaa))il-e ta.savvuf yih tiraa bayaan ;Gaalib
tujhe ham valii samajhte jo nah baadah-;xvaar hotaa

یہ مسائلِ تصوّف یہ ترا بیان غالب
تجھے ہم ولی سمجھتے جو نہ بادہ خوار ہوتا

यह मसाइल-ए तसववुफ़ यह तिरा बयान ग़ालिब
तुझे हम वली समझते जो न बादह-ख़वार होता

1a) these problems of mysticism! this discourse/exposition of yours, Ghalib!
1b) these problems of mysticism-- this [is] your discourse/exposition, Ghalib!

2) we would consider you a saint-- if you weren't a wine-drinker

Monday, May 03, 2010

IV Mahajirzadeh: The Great Hand Car Wash

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction
II Mahajirzadeh:Manjhli and BaRi
III Mahajirzadeh: Choti and the Siami Begum 

We started this qissa with childhood memories and a shiny sleek car. That was his black Pontiac. Not only the neighbours, but many others in the city were jealous of his Ponti. I am sure we have known other Mahajirzadehs. If you know some stories please regale us with them. Somebody has attributed this to Mahajirzadeh; human relationships are transitory and can look after themselves, but one has to invest in un-human relationships.

Hand car wash was perfected to a tee by Mahajirzadeh. Every Sunday morning he would stand in his balcony like a symphony conductor. The Ponti was silently rolled out of the garage into the driveway and parked beside a row of neatly arranged buckets full of water. Yes, the enmity between water and tap flourished even in those good old days. At the end of the bucket row, Haji Uncle's old family servant Bachchu Chacha's many children would form a column in order of height. Bachchu Chacha, wearing black rubber Bata slippers, the one with two eye shaped holes in the front, heels worn out of existence, stood out at the end of this column like an exclamation mark.

Mahajirzadeh would not speak during this ghus'l, ritual bath. Instead he would signal with his eyebrows. His commands would be interpreted by Bachchu Chacha, the sergeant major, and relayed by him to the troops. With communication lines thus established the youngest four were commanded to soap and wash the tires. The eldest two would soap the car from front to back and then wash it away with clean water. At the very end, the children would go back and stand in a column. Bachchu Chacha would slap the chamois on the bonnet and start shining it. When this ceremony was over, Mahajirzade

ah would come downstairs, and without glancing at the shiny clean car file past the children giving each a chawanni --a quarter. Almost like any middle order government beaureucrat entering his office without acknowledging half raised arms or bodies of clerks, chaprasis and tea boys salaaming him.
The Ponti is still there, in pristine shape. Now it has joined the rank of rare collectibles and is worth many times more than its original value. The children, alas, are grown, worn out and aged as the children of the poor are so prone to do. One or two are dead too.

next: V Mahajirzadeh:Laws of Ventilation and Other Quotes on Monday May 10

Ghazal 20, Verse 10

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Wingless Bird by the Watering Hole

taking leave
is disconcerting
i dislike leaving
laughter, smiles
unspoken words
tears ungathered

in the
wall-less home
laughter, gestures
cannot be
abandoned to
the ever lurking

Ghazal 20, Verse 9

Ghazal 20, Verse 9

hu))e mar ke ham jo rusvaa hu))e kyuu;N nah ;Garq-e daryaa
nah kabhii janaazah u;Thtaa nah kahii;N mazaar hotaa

ہوئے مر کے ہم جو رسوا ہوئے کیوں نہ غرقِ دریا
نہ کبھی جنازہ اٹھتا نہ کہیں مزار ہوتا

हुए मर के हम जो रुसवा हुए कयूं न ग़रक़-ए दरया
न कभी जनाज़ह उठता न कहीं मज़ार होता

1) when/since/if having died, we became notorious/disgraced-- why were we not drowned/immersed in the sea?
2) neither would a funeral procession ever have arisen, nor would there anywhere be a tomb

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Dr. Enver Sajjad - An Enigmatic Icon

The first ever-commissioned play to be telecast in the subcontinent in November 1964 was written by Enver Sajjad. He was bestowed with Pride of Performance in 1989 for his valuable work in literature. And he got the ECO Award of Excellence 2004 in history, literature and culture. His screenplay are so deftly written that a prolific writer like Ashfaq Ahmed once confessed that he learned to write screenplay from Enver Sajjad

I was at Riaz Rafi's studio apartment one evening. Rafi as he likes to be called is an artist with a nagging conscience. I was in the midst of doing an in-depth profile of him. (project shelved indefinitely - cannot get permission to use some quotes.)

There I met an old acquaintance, Dr. Enver Sajjad, physician, artist, katahak dancer, playwright, columnist, short story writer, novelist and essayist...the list is long for this very talented man. He vividly recalled meeting a young temporal years earlier and commented with a twinkle at my appearance.

Ghazal oos nay chehRi mujay saaz daina I mumbled to which he instantly added... tO yeh umr e rafta ki saazish hay?

'Are you still in Canada?'
'Ji haaN.'
'Do you still write?'
'Have you published a book?'
'Why not? Why do you write?'
'I write (just) for myself.'
'Every creative writer does, but you must publish and make your work available.'
'I am aware of the limited appeal of my just a small time poet, stargazer...'

Luckily at this point someone entered and the conversation momentarily drifted.

'Aap kya likh rahay haiN aaj kal?'

'Nothing much, the odd script or two. I have stopped writing my regular columns for a number of years now. There is no point. The readers do not read. People do not read, do not educate themselves, do not inquire with an open mind. It fell on deaf ears and blind eyes. So I stopped wasting my breath.'

Dr. Enver Sajad is a diminutive man, with a lean body and unassuming demeanor. He is soft spoken, almost quiet. But when he discusses current state of affairs his eyes lit up and he punctuates his conversation with animated gestures.

Rafi was showing his latest painting of a man and a woman in a kathak pose to his guru Nighat Chowdhury. The classical music was playing in the background and looking at the painting Nighat instinctively moved her feet to the music.

Pointing to Rafi, I told Enver Sajjad, 'He switched from medicine to arts after being inspired by the Art Aur Musawwir columns by Shafi Aqeel.' (The columns ran for a number of years in the Daily Jang.)

'Words and thoughts do have an effect. You must not abandon your columns,' I implored. 'How can you encourage me to publish while you have stopped writing?'

He paused to reflect, then launched into a long monologue.

'We are still reeling from the effects of Daur e Jahilya's excesses. (He was referring to Gen. Zina ul Haq's dark tyrannical reign.) He has caused an ir-repairable damage to the already fragile national psyche. He empowered the demonic forces of sectarianism, fundamentalism and increased the already wide chasm between the haves and the have-nots.'

He kept bringing Zina ul Haq's reign throughout his conversation. At one point I interrupted politely and suggested that Pakistanis cannot forever blame the excesses of the past for their failure to live in the present.

'Not so, not so! The flood gates of terror and hypocrisy he unleashed cannot be recalled. The Uni-polar world and our (Islamic) conditioned fatalism have added fuel to this dilemma. My generation has had its innings. We played a poor inning. But the new(er) generations have been even worse than ours. They do not read, do not understand, do not think. They sadly have abandoned hope. And strive.'

'In the past 56 years we have not produced a single philosopher, thinker, writer of note. Not one from a pool of 150 million! And the one we had he disowned.'

'But janab this span of years is nothing in a nation's history. It is all too brief a period to lament.'

'I do not quite agree. We have regressed. The conditioning and fatalism I spoke of earlier coupled with 9/11 has forced us to regress even farther.'

'All the more reason voices like yours should be heard more often. You should impart your thoughts and ideas and what you have learned to the new(er) generation.'

'No use, no use. It is all a waste!'

'I disagree janab. You still have passion in your voice when you speak. You still have this fire burning in your belly. If I had not felt it I would not have asked you to continue to write. This sense of frustration is perhaps only a momentary lapse...'

Some more guests arrived, some drifted. In the ensuing melee our conversation drifted.

'Have you moved to Karachi?'

'No, I am here on an assignment. I am supervising the setting up of a Script Bureau for Geo.'

Last I heard he was helping Zia Mohyeddin in the National Academy of Performing Arts in the renovated buildings of the old Hindu Gymkhana.

(September 2004)

Ghazal 20, Verse 8