Saturday, June 03, 2006

Koi Mir bhi tha

'Mir' dariya hai, sune sher zabaani uski
Allah allah re tabiyat ki ravaani uski

In this post, I’d mentioned in passing, Mir Taqi Mir’s ghazal Patta patta boota boota, and commenter Prashant asked if I could help decode it.

I have no authority whatsoever deconstructing Urdu poetry. All I have is love for the form and a few years of listening put away. There is no Urdu in my background, no cultural well to draw from, no teachers: what I have is absorbed very much from the public space. In fact, when I started off, I struggled to find anyone at all who'd help me understand some of the material I came across, a little of which I talked about in this post.

So it felt presumptuous to try translate Mir, and perhaps, interpret him. On the other hand, I thought it would be a challenge and well, fun. So with trepidation, and an awareness that this will fall short of many standards, I’m putting up a translation of sorts of Patta patta boota boota.

This is a long ghazal with, as far as I can discover, eleven shers; there may be more. Only three or four are popular with singers and I hadn’t come across a few of these before.

Patta patta, boota boota, haal hamaaraa jaane hai,
Jaane na jaane gul hi na jaane, baagh to saaraa jaane hai

Every leaf and every shrub here knows of my state
It is the flower that is unaware, but all the bower knows

Aage us mutkabbar ke ham Khuda Khuda kiya karte hain,
Kab maujud Khuda ko woh maghrur khud-aara jaane hai

We prostrated before the arrogant one, called him ‘Khuda’
In the name of God, what does that insolent one know of Him

Aashiq saa to saada koi aur na hoga duniya mein,
Ji ke zian ko ishq mein uske apna waara jaane hai.

There is no one in the world quite as naïve as a lover
The squandering of his heart he sees as ecstasy

Chaaragari beemari-e-dil ki rasm-e-shahr-e-husn nahin,
Warna dilbar naadaan bhi is dard ka chaara jaane hai

It is not their way, to heal: these denizens of the city of love
Yet even the innocent ones know the cure to a sick heart

Mehr-o-wafa-o-lutf-o-inaayat, ek se waaqif in mein nahin,
Aur to sab kuch tanz-o-kanaya, ramz-o-ishaara jaane hai

Not one here knows of kindness, loyalty, grace or generosity
Cruelty, sarcasm, mockery and taunts, of these they know

Aashiq to murda hai hamesha ji uthta hai dekhe use,
Yaar ke aa jaane ko yakaayak umr do baara jaane hai

He is but a corpse, the lover, but see! he lives again
She has come of a sudden and it is another lease on life

Kya kya fitne sar par uske laata hai maashooq apnaa
Jis bedil betaab-o-tavaan ko ishq ka maaraa jaane hai

What disasters our lover brings down on his own head,
That restless, listless soul we had given up as lost

Tashna-e-khun hai, apna kitna ‘Mir’ bhi naadaan, talkhi-kash,
Damdaar aab-e-tegh ko uske aab-e-gawara jaane hai

Parched for blood he is, and ‘Mir’ the simpleton
Thinks the sharp edge of a blade an elixir
As I see it, the play here is on the word ‘aab’ which can mean a knife’s sharp edge as well as cool waters.

There are three other shers and they are beyond me, so what I’m going to do is just supply what the words mean by themselves and leave it to someone else to tell us what Mir meant:
Yaahi shikaar-farebi par magroor hai woh sayyad bachcha
Ta'er udte hawa men saare apni ussaara jaane hai
[Yaahi = this; shikaar = prey; farebi = deceitful; magroor = arrogant; sayyad = hunter; ussara = limitless, endless]
Rakhnon se deewaar-e-chaman ke munh ko le hai chipaa ya'ani
Un suraakhon ke tuk rahne ko sou ka nazaaraa jaane hai
[rakhna = gap; deewar-e-chaman = garden wall; suraakh = hole, aperture; sou = ?; souq?]
Lagne na de bas ho to uske gohar-e-gosh ke baale tak
Usko falak chashm-e-mai-o-khor ki teetli ka taaraa jaane hai
[gohar = pearl; gosh = ear; baale = earring; falak = sky; chashm = eye; mai = wine]
Mir at his most convoluted. An earring, a pearl, a winejar and a star in the sky - there are all these elements; and whether Mir means to see a pearl hanging from an earlobe through the spout of a winejar and perceives it as a star in the sky, or the other way round, I have no idea. I may add, after reading it a sufficient number of times, I no longer care.

That's that. Often, words in Urdu have diverse interpretations and change chameleon-like in context, so if you’re still determined to decipher all this, this dictionary might help. In fact, I’ll add it to the links on the side bar. It’s organised by pronunciation and doesn’t follow a simple-search-and-throw-up but it grows on you.

Yay, that was fun.

9 comments:

aashiq aawaara said...

arey urdu university near gachibowli offers a course in urdu..postal..so if you have the time..you can sign up and hope it doesnt go the way all my postal courses seem to go.

Sheetal said...

Done that, Aashiq - signed up with Jamia Milia a few years ago, received material, just about learned to write my name and the one year allotted slipped away from me.
Maybe I should try again with Urdu Univ - thanks for letting me know.

ME said...

Sheetal and other poetry fans -

Can someone please post that 'Sarfaroshi kee tamanna ab humare dil mien hai ...' I know the first four lines but can't get the whole thing ...

It's there in Rang De Basanti ... but I could not muster the courage of jotting it down while watching the movie :)

Sheetal said...

ME: Sorry for the late response.
These links have some of the verses: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarfaroshi_ki_Tamanna
http://coolmasti.net/poetry/bismil01.htm

Stirring words, nai? Goosebumpy just reading them under my breath.

Cosmic Voices said...

"it's beyond me sometimes to translate with felicity."

Thats what you told me last time.. but i am sure that was an understatement.. as u said elsewhere that you learnt urdu all by urself... posts such as this will help my friends to escape from my nagging (asking them to explain the meanings)

I shall be happy if someday i can understand everyword of every mainstream bollywood movie (small aims u see) .... the new dictionary is better... coz it helps to get to know the meanings if the transliterations are not exact..

ME said...

hey Sheetal,

Thanks a bunch! You 're right ... absolutely stirring ... especially the way Atul Kulkarni delivers this in RDB - oozing with veer ras if you know what I mean ...

Some other versions (like AR Rehman etc) are very cheesy and tried to make a song out of what is meant to be a kavita.

My personal fav - "Waqt aanay pey bata denge tujhe aye aasman,

Hum abhi se kya batayen kya hamare dil mein hai"

was fun to show this movie in my school and explain this poem to Brits in English :)

Amateur Blogger said...

@Sheetal: I don't mean to be a critic, I loved the interpretation, but wanted to convey my interpretation of some of the couplets where it differs from yours. Apologies, in advance, for the long comment.

Chaaragari beemari-e-dil ki rasm-e-shahr-e-husn nahin
I think "city of love" would not be a fair statement, since it's a reference to the fairer sex in general, and the sentiment being conveyed is that they do not bother with petty things like love, are indifferent to evoking that emotion in someone.

Kya kya fitne sar par uske laata hai maashooq apnaa
Jis bedil betaab-o-tavaan ko ishq ka maaraa jaane hai

betaab-o-tavaan - the one with power over the restless, in all probability refers to the object of Mir's affections. The additional adjective bedil (heartless) reinforces this hypothesis.

The entire translation of this couplet would read something like:
What cruelty our lover encourages from her,
That heartless object of his abject devotion.

Lagne na de bas ho to uske gohar-e-gosh ke baale tak
Usko falak chashm-e-mai-o-khor ki teetli ka taaraa jaane hai

[gohar = pearl; gosh = ear; baale = earring; falak = sky; chashm = eye; mai = wine]

[Sheetal]:Mir means to see a pearl hanging from an earlobe through the spout of a winejar and perceives it as a star in the sky...

The first line, it seems, refers to the second for its noun, falak - heavens. The wine-jar refers to her intoxicating eyes.

An attempt at translation:
They wouldn't even let him come close to her pearl earing,
The heavens that consider him as miniscule as the waste of a butterfly intoxicated by her eyes.

I think the word is taa-raaj (waste) as opposed to taaraa (star), the j getting merged into the following jaane.

@ME: Listen to the "Sarfaroshi II" by A.R. Slightly different lyrics, which I'm not sure are by Bismil, but enough veer-ras there, especially in:
Apne Hi Lahoo Se Likhenge Hum Apni Daastaan
Zaalimon Se Cheen Lenge Yeh Zameen Yeh Aasmaan
Sar Fire Jawan Hum To Maut Se Bhi Na Darre
Aanch Aye Desh Pe Yeh Kyon Gawara Hum Kare

Sheetal said...

ME: Those were my favourite lines too. Wasn’t Atul Kulkarni brilliant in RDB? how well they etched his character.

Am. Blogger: Thanks for your considered comments.
Poetry may be anything you take out of it, of course, but I did want to make a couple of points.

You said: Chaaragari beemari-e-dil ki rasm-e-shahr-e-husn nahin
I think "city of love" would not be a fair statement, since it's a reference to the fairer sex in general, and the sentiment being conveyed is that they do not bother with petty things like love, are indifferent to evoking that emotion in someone.

Yes, of course the reference is to women but see, Mir is quite clearly walling the ‘beautiful people’ into a notional city, isolating them as a tribe with their own unique ‘rasm’. It is the overtones of this Amazon-like culture that make this sher so interesting.

I think the word is taa-raaj (waste) as opposed to taaraa (star), the j getting merged into the following jaane.

I’m afraid given the ghazal’s qaafiya, ‘taa-raaj’ would be impossible. It has been saara, gawaara, maara, ishaara and therefore taara.

Amusing as this has been, I’m afraid anytime now we may be visited by people from the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Poems...

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

bhakit said...

Patta Buta is sung beautifully by Maestro Mehdi Hassan.