Translations by Huzaifa Pandit

Two poems by Abdul Satar ‘Ranjoor’

 

The caged bird: On the treaty of Amritsar (1846)

What does a fulfilled wish cost?

I wish a wish:

A caesura, a pause

An audience for my aggrieved tale.

A remedy for me

Behind policed bars.

 

I was a golden bird

My beauty was legendary

Eyes, ears and hearts captivated

Everyone would covet me.

 

I roamed gardens

of epics, old books and brochures of proposed luxury.

Fountains, fresh water springs, blossom, bulging boughs

Ripe fruit and vast green.

One day I was out as routine

When a meadow tempted me.

I felt at peace immediately.

 

I don’t recall

When the snare crept upon me.

A stupor had overcome me

No inkling of the forfeit

Reached me.

 

A loud whisper

Like a half spat gurgle awoke me

To prison: I’d been caged.

 

My captor peddled me:

Lock, stock and barrel.

The man who bought me

too took no pity on me.

 

Puddles of dull ache

accumulate in my knees.

Ropes bind my wings

Eyes blindfolded.

In prison, I lie listless –

A shrivelled cripple.

 

Kaleem’s tongue wrenched,

Deaf, dumb, blinded.

Starved of grain and water

I’m neglected, famished.

 

A foolish wish rustles in my sore chest:

I wish I’d flutter my wings

Like in old carefree days of yore.

Faint hope still flickers

A sip once more of blue freedom

trickling from the sun.

A kiss of soft spring

in the arms of sighing meadows.

 

Squeezed inside the cage

The bars bellow

prohibition to flutter.

All paths to escape shut.

My heart is sick

What dreadful misgivings haunt me!

 

How’d I plead?

Unkempt grief snuffs my voice.

My famished children weep,

My family left with nothing

But souvenirs of tragedy.

 

I have but one quality:

Every morning, I lay a golden egg.

Alas! But for this quality

I’d not have faced tragedy.

Master bought me cheap.

A few coins for the cage, a few for me.

All profits accrue to him

He siphons the fruit of my body.

 

His heart never melts with mercy

I plead each day for liberty.

He dangles a promise,

But rescinds

Cites concerns for my safety.

Meanwhile, another bastard

Advises him against my liberty.

 

He is my arch-enemy

Who advises him to ignore me

I only pray such travesty

Be engraved in his destiny.

He shares culpability

For spilling innocent blood.

He profits nothing from

Depriving me my liberty.

I wish

Smoke billowed from earth, one last time.

The sky toppled over, one last time.

 

Ranjoor, everyday

I am tormented

By starvation and contemplation.

Patience runs short now

Either decide my destiny

Or let me die and be free.

 

Thoughts on Kashmiristan

 

I address you my fellow Kashmiri

Take particular care

That you are sound of mind and body.

Scion of its soil, let nothing foil

Your dream of a flag fluttering free

Proclaiming Kashmiristan.

I hear you will sign

the decree of partition.

Read every article carefully

Be prepared beforehand.

Never lower your sight

from the pinnacle of glory.

I swear you by your land and people

Never forget their memory:

People whose houses are painted with penury.

Enemies surround you, they close in.

Look sharp! Keep your wits about you.

Be wary of dangers ahead and behind you.

Beware! This new-fangled friendship

Might make a fool out of you.

Beware!

Don’t take the nation’s boat out

The whirlpools will drown you.

Shed your stupor, stand guard, the storm descends

Light lamps of kindness, put on valour

Roar to the demons

Like a fierce lion out of his lair.

The enemy might know the terrain

Better than you.

Ranjoor if you profess to love serving people

Dedicate yourself, your plot and phrase

to your people.

 

(Abdul Sattar Ranjoor (born 12 October 1917, dead 23 March 1990) was a Kashmiri politician, and a renowned revolutionary poet and writer. He was a veteran leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI). and the founding state secretary of the party in Jammu and Kashmir.)

 

Ghazal by Ghulam Rasul Nazki

 

Yet again today, you rake

the subject of desires of my heart:

fresh tales of salting the wounds of my heart.

 

I waxed eloquent with my tale, you heard me

out patiently. Else, who in the world

listens to lovers pouring out their heart?

 

Relic of the garden –

Flower raised in garden’s shade

In deserts too, I speak of gardens

with a breeze in my heart.

 

You sculpted my idol, I followed

your lead. Ritual of idolatry

started right, thus, from Kabba’s heart.

 

The candle burnt and wept

all night. Till dawn, all conversation

revolved around the moth’s heart.

 

(Mir Ghulam Rasool Nazki (March 16, 1910 – April 16, 1998) was a prominent scholar, poet, writer, intellectual and broadcaster from Kashmir)

huzaifa2Huzaifa Pandit is the author of the recently published ‘‘Green is the Colour of Memory’ which won the first edition of Rhythm Divine Poets Chapbook Contest 2017. Born and raised in Kashmir, his poems alternate between despair, defiance, resistance and compliance as they seek to make sense of a world where his identity is outlawed. His inspirations in poetry can be guessed from the topic of his PhD: “Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Agha Shahid Ali and Mahmoud Darwish – Poetics of Resistance” at University of Kashmir. His poems, translations, interviews, essays and papers have been published in various journals like Indian Literature, PaperCuts, Life and Legends, Jaggery Lit, JLA India, Punch and Noble/Gas qtrly.

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