Faiz Ahmad "Faiz": Vinita Agrawal

Born in Sialkot in 1911, Faiz Ahmed Faiz was a renowned Pakistani poet who wrote primarily in Urdu. His poetry has been acknowledged by critics and readers as embracing a spectrum of emotions - from patriotic fervor to social injustice to intense romantic love to gut-wrenching loneliness.  The luminous arc of his writings is a reflection of his own restless life - for Faiz was sent to jail twice because of his political leanings.

Faiz is often seen playing with complex metaphors in whatever he writes. He is a master of double entendre. Lines loaded with meanings that go far deeper than the obvious. For example, in the relatively simpler but extremely popular ghazal raaz e ulfat, he writes:

aas us dar se TuuTatii hii nahii.n
jaa ke dekhaa, na jaa ke dekh liyaa

My hopes are perpetually anchored to that threshold
Irrespective of my surrender or abstinence

One may interpret the threshold as representing the lover's door or the divine doorway leading to God, in both cases, hopes stay alive at there and simply refuse to perish.

Fascinated by the poetry of Faiz, I embarked upon translating his choicest fifty creations with the intention of  invoking his artistry for the contemporary readers, a couple of years ago. Working on Faiz's poetry was an absolute labor of love. Any translator will empathize that it is challenge to reproduce the alluring qualities in a poet's work. The nuances of a particular language often cannot be replicated in English. More so in in Faiz's lyrics—the bold lines, the taut narratives, and the carefully chosen rhetoric. Keeping this in mind, it would be more appropriate to call my work on Faiz as trans creations rather than translations.

Also, it is impossible to translate gazals because if their unique form. But that does not mean that the contemporary English reader should be denied the pleasure of enjoying Faiz's poetry.
My trans creations of Faiz's works titled Faiz Once More, will be released in 2017. Meanwhile here are two trans creations compiled especially for SETU readers.

Tum  aaye ho na shab-e-intazaar guzarii hai
talaash me.n hai sahar baar baar guzarii hai
junuu.N me.n jitanii bhii guzarii bakaar guzarii hai
agarche dil pe Kharaabii hazaar guzarii hai
huii hai hazarat-e-naaseh se guftaguu jis shab
wo shab zaruur sar-e-kuu-e-yaar guzarii hai
wo baat saare fasaane me.n jisakaa zikr na thaa
wo baat unako bahot naa-gavaar guzarii hai
na gul khile hai.n, na unase mile, na mai pii hai
ajiib rang me.n ab ke bahaar guzarii hai
chaman me.n Gaarat-e-gulachii.N se jaane kyaa guzarii
qafas se aaj sabaa beqaraar guzarii hai


Trans Creation

Neither have you arrived nor has the night of waiting ended
the morning is looking for you, it has come and gone several times

Whatever occurred in my state of utter frenzy kept me on my toes
although it did prove to be tough on my heart

Those nights that I spent talking to my well meaning advisors
were the nights that I spent in my beloved's street

That which I did not touch upon in my story at all
that omitted bit was extremely unacceptable to the listeners

Neither have flowers blossomed, nor have I met her nor have I drunk wine
spring has been colored in a strange hue this year

How ruthlessly the flower plucker pillaged the blossoms in the garden today
the breeze that touches my body seems so tortured and restless.


ye daaG daaG ujaalaa, ye shab_gaziidaa sahar
wo intazaar thaa jis kaa, ye wo sahar to nahii.n
ye wo sahar to nahii.n jis kii aarazuu lekar
chale the yaar ki mil jaayegii kahii.n na kahii.n
falak ke dasht me.n taro.n kii aaKharii ma.nzil
kahii.n to hogaa shab-e-sust mauj kaa saahil
kahii.n to jaa ke rukegaa safinaa-e-Gam-e-dil
jawaa.N lahuu kii pur-asaraar shaaharaaho.n se
chale jo yaar to daaman pe kitane haath pa.De
dayaar-e-husn kii be-sabr Khwaab-gaaho.n se
pukaratii rahii.n baahe.n, badan bulaate rahe
bahut aziiz thii lekin ruKh-e-sahar kii lagan
bahut qarii.n thaa hasiinaan-e-nuur kaa daaman
subuk subuk thii tamannaa, dabii dabii thii thakan
sunaa hai ho bhii chukaa hai firaq-e-zulmat-e-nuur
sunaa hai ho bhii chukaa hai wisaal-e-ma.nzil-o-gaam
badal chukaa hai bahut ahl-e-dard kaa dastuur
nishaat-e-wasl halaal-o-azaab-e-hijr-e-haraam
jigar kii aag, nazar kii uma.ng, dil kii jalan
kisii pe chaaraa-e-hijraa.N kaa kuchh asar hii nahii.n
kahaa.N se aaii nigaar-e-sabaa, kidhar ko gaii
abhii chiraaG-e-sar-e-rah ko kuchh Khabar hii nahii.n
abhii garaani-e-shab me.n kamii nahii.n aaii
najaat-e-diida-o-dil kii gha.Dii nahii.n aaii
chale chalo ki wo ma.nzil abhii nahii.n aaii


Trans Creation

A blemished dawn, a morning bitten by the night
This can't be the daybreak that we'd been waiting for
This can't be the dawn whose desire we cherished
and in whose search our friends set out hoping to find it someday
The ultimate destination of stars lies in the desert of the skies
These dreary waves of nights too must have their shores somewhere
Somewhere the sorrowed boat of the heart must dock
When friends set out on the mysterious highways of young fiery blood
They were pulled back by countless hands
Arms kept beckoning from thresholds of the restless bedrooms of beauty
Bodies kept calling
But the yearning to see the face of a new dawn was more intense
Even though the lissome beauties were well within reach
And buoyant was desire, slight the weariness.
I've heard that the distinction between darkness and light has been made
I've heard that destinations have been united with footsteps
And that the definition of suffering lovers has altered drastically
That delightful nights of unions have been sanctioned for slaughter
and torments of separation rendered unlawful
The passions of the mind, the excitement of glances, the fire of hearts
Have no impact on being the solutions of separation for anyone anymore.
From where did the morning breeze blow, where did it go
The lamps lining the path do not know as yet
The heaviness of the night has not lessened by any means
The moment that will liberate the eyes and the heart is not here yet
Keep walking, the destination is not in sight yet.

Bio: Author of Words Not Spoken (Brown Critique/Sampark) and The Longest Pleasure (Finishing Line Press, USA) and The Silk Of Hunger (AuthorsPress, Delhi), Vinita is a Mumbai based, award winning poet and writer. She is Senior Editor for the women based website www.thewomaninc.com. She is the recipient of the Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Award USA, 2015. Her poems have appeared in Asiancha, Constellations, The Fox Chase Review, Pea River Journal, Mithila Review, Open Road Review, Stockholm Literary Review, Poetry Pacific and other national and international journals. Her poems have been widely anthologized in Indo-Australian compilations. She was nominated for the Best of the Net Awards 2011, awarded first prize in the Wordweavers Contest 2014, commendation prize in the All India Poetry Competition 2014 and won the 2014 Hour of Writes Contest thrice.  She has read at SAARC events in Delhi and Agra at the U.S. Consulate, Hyderabad,  at Delhi for Delhi Poetree, and at Mumbai for Cappucino Readings. She can be reached at https://www.pw.org/content/vinita_agrawal or at www.vinitawords.com