*URDU TEXTS of the selected poems*


by Afzal Ahmad Syed

You live in beautiful circles
your hair is held
by a round pin
so responsibly

A costly chain
submits itself
to your neck

A watch that is never wrong
lies against your wrist

A delicate belt
embraces your waist

Your feet
are encircled by those shoe-straps
through which you walk on our earth

I will not mention those hidden circles
that might hold you
let them remain just as beautiful
as they are

I have never played on you
the game of taking off clothes
in my imagination

You live in beautiful circles
and I in difficult lines
what can I do for you
come running back to you
with the ball in my mouth
that you kicked

[tum khubsurat da'iron men rahti ho, p. 41]


by Azra Abbas

A dot might appear from somewhere
that could not be put
on any word
and the dot
off by itself
would stand there
sustained by some illusion
for a word to come
on which it could be put

It could also happen
that the dot
would wait centuries
for that word

It could also happen
that after centuries had passed
all the words would decay
and rot away
and be absorbed
and nothing would be left

only the dot
would be left


[kahin se ko'i lafzah a ja'e; p. 69]



by Sarwat Hussain

A poem can start from anywhere
from a pair of shoes
    or from a grave that sank with the rains
or from the flower that bloomed at the foot of the grave
Everyone has found a shelter
somewhere or other
the ants, under the prayer mat
    and the girls, in my voice
in a dead bullock’s skull, the squirrel has made a home
A poem surely has a home too
in some exile’s heart or in waiting eyes
There is a wheel left unfinished by its maker
a poem can complete it
An echoing sky is not enough for a poem
    but a poem can easily fit into a lunchbox
Flowers, tears and bells can be strung on it
It can be sung in the darkness
It can be dried in the sun of festival days
You can see it
    in empty pots, empty shirts, and empty cradles
You can hear it
    walking along beside handcarts and funeral processions
You can kiss it
    in the crowd by the docks
You can knead it
    in a stone trough
You can grow it
    in flowerbeds
A poem--
    cannot be darkened by any night
    cannot be cut by any sword
    cannot be confined by any wall
A poem--
    can go off and leave you anywhere
    like a cloud
    like wind
    like the road
    like a father’s hand--


[ek nazm kahin se bhi shuru' ho sakti hai, pp. 101, 103]



by Sara Shagufta

The house of empty eyes is expensive
        let me become a line of dust
God has forgotten to create
a number of people
        let the sound of footsteps linger
        in my desolate eyes

The taste of fire
is a lamp
and the taste of sleep
is man
        pull me as tight as stone
        so people won't know
        I have no tongue
With God's tongue in my mouth
sometimes I become a flower
sometimes a thorn

Give the chains freedom
for man is more of a prison
than they are

I have to die alone
these eyes
this heart
        give them to some
        empty person


[khali ankhon ka makan, p. 153]



by Zeeshan Sahil

The carpet shop
has a white carpet
and everyone wants to buy it
and everyone’s obsessed with fear--

it will get dirty
faster than other carpets
the first dropped cigarette
will scar it
muddy feet
will mark it
pet cats
will claw it
hot cups of tea
will scald it
Its beauty pleases no one
and everyone wants
to have its color changed
or to see it left forever
in the shop
with no one to buy it
or to have the carpet shop
catch fire some night

and the white carpet be


[safed qalin, p. 175]



by Tanveer Anjum

I picked up a shell from the shore
closed up my tears inside it
and threw it into the deep sea,
With a sharp knife
I carved a line of long travels
on my hand,
And bought the kind of shoes
that constantly wound my feet
when I walk.

This time I've built a house
with the kind of windows
that only mirror the inside,
and with the kind of fire
that lights itself when it's needed,
and with the kind of wind
that doesn't need the door opened for it,
and with the kind of things
that are rooted to the floor in their places.

I've stolen my seasons,
and grassy fields,
deserts, skies
I've hidden a butterfly in a book
and a dream in my eyes.
And to know about love
read a poem.
And for sound
I've sung a song.

In deep darkness
I've closed my eyes,
in the glass of my house
I've seen myself.
And I've remembered
a stranger
who went down into the deep sea
to look for the shell
in which I'd imprisoned my tears
and which I had thrown away.


[safar aur qaid men ab ki dafa'h kya hu'a, p. 209]



by Saiduddin

How many miles ants walk
on the earth--
how many ants come under our feet
and get crushed--
these are uncountable.
But when ants crawl on our bodies
we can count them,
we can form some estimate
of their travels.

How you detach a biting ant
from your body--
this an ant
or its broken limbs
can tell you.
About the homes of ants
you can never know more than this:
that they live in gaps in the doors
or cracks in the walls
or keep moving all night long.
But you cannot know
where they get together
and hold secret meetings.

But when you
like a honeypot
a sugarbowl
or a piece of meat
become a food store for them,
then they will gather in countless numbers
and divide the countless pieces of you
among themselves,
and will show you the inner parts
of the gaps in the doors
and the cracks in the walls
and even those corners
where they held
secret meetings.


[chuntiyan, p. 241]


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