Poem of the week: Week Forty Four.

And here’s the last poem from Hoshang Merchant’s poetry book Love’s Permission.

‘Sunday’ Afternoon
– Hoshang Merchant

Actually, it is Tuesday
But I’ve taken off from work
He, from school

We listen to Ifti Nasim’s ghazals
Read gay poetry from Boston
Discuss Ashok Row’s magazine piece

We have installed ourselves
in a world made by ourselves
with a little help from our friends.

I think of Hockney’s paintings
of his sleeping lovers
They sleep, he paints

My lover sleeps, I write
I shop for bread and cheese
My lover dreams

I cannot enter his dreams
Living together for him began
with a dream of friendship

In his dream a boy became a man
There is no man or woman only love

The poem is complete
The challenge of this once empty page met.

***

Poem of the week: Week Thirty Nine.

It is very difficult to choose just four poems from Amrita Pritam’s प्रतिनिधि कविताएँ. The lines, the images are so many and so removed from clichés that one can’t help but feel amazed at Amrita’s immense talent and hard work.
The last two poems of October are about a theme that fascinates me no end: cities.

शहर
– अमृता प्रीतम 

मेरा शहर –
एक लम्बी बहस की तरह है…
सड़कें – बेतुकी दलीलों-सी
और गलियां इस तरह –
जैसे एक बात को
कोई इधर घसीटे कोई उधर

एक मकान
एक मुट्ठी-सा भिंचा हुआदीवरें –
किचकिचाती-सी
और नालियाँ
ज्यों मुंह से झाग बहती है…

यह बहस जाने
सूरज से शुरू हुई थी
जो उसे देखकर
यह और गरमाती
और हर द्वार के मुंह से
फिर साइकिलों
और स्कूटेरों के पहिये
गालियों की तरह निकलते
और घण्टिया हॉर्न
एक-दूसरे पर झपटते…

जो भी बच्चा
इस शहर में जनमता
पूछता कि किस बात पर
यह बहस हो राही है
फिर उसका प्रश्न भी
एक बहस बनता
बहस में निकलता
बहस में मिलता…

शंख घण्टो के श्वास सुखे
रात आती, सिर पटकती
और चली जाती
पर नींद में भी
बहस खत्म न होती
मेरा शहर
एक लम्बी बहस की तरह है…

***

Poem of the week: Week Thirty Eight.

Time for the second poem from Amrita Pritam’s poetry collection प्रतिनिधि कविताएँ. 

कुफ्र
– अमृता प्रीतम 

आज हमने एक दुनिया बेची
और एक दीन ख़रीद लिया
हमने कुफ्र की बात की 

सपनों का एक थान बुना था
एक गज़ कपड़ा फाड़ लिया 
और उम्र की चोली सी ली 

आज हमने आसमान के घड़े से
बादल का ढकना उतारा
और एक घूँट चाँदनी पी ली

यह जो एक घड़ी हमने 
मौत से उधार ली है
गीतों से इसका दाम चुका देंगे 

***

Poem of the week: Week Thirty Seven.

This month’s poet is Amrita Pritam. Poems are from a collection of her poetry called प्रतिनिधि कविताएँ, published by Rajkamal Prakashan.
I’m really excited since this is the first ever poem in Hindi on this blog!

I picked up this one (too) from Kitab Khana. So, every time I go there, I spend some (quite a lot of) time looking at the poetry section, and I usually end up buying at least one book – depending on my budget. This time, since my card is blocked, I had left home with just 200₹ my mother had handed to me. So, a very important reason why I picked प्रतिनिधि कविताएँ  is that it is priced only at 50₹.

I don’t know if this is good or bad. I’m happy since I’m reading some amazing poems at minimal cost, but would I feel the same if my work fetched me so little? It is strange that novels, comics, or even books of photographs are priced up to 1,000₹ or more but when it comes to poetry, publishers feel it’s best to price it low. Even more so when it is regional literature. 

There is an audience for poetry in the city. What proves this is the number of poetry events that happen around here. And I’m sure many of you buy poetry books but if you don’t, please do. Visit Kitab Khana (the poetry section is just next to the staircase), go through the list of books on Writers Workshop. Support the work of poets.

Now, some classic Amrita Pritam:

इश्क
– अमृता प्रीतम 

कमीना… बेवफ़ा… बदज़ात… ज़ालिम
कम्बख्त तुम याद आते हो
तो कितने ही लफ़्ज –
मेरी छाती की आग चाटते
आग थूकते
मेरे मुँह से निकलते…
 
बदन हा मांस
जब गीली मिट्टी की तरह होता
तो सारे लफ़्ज –
मेरे सूखे हुए होंटों से झरते
और मिट्टी मे
बीजों की तरह गिरते…
 
में थकी हुई धरती की तरह
खामोश होती
तो निगोड़े
मेरे अंगों मे से उग पड़ते
निर्लज्ज
फूलों की तरह हँसते
और में –
एक काले कोस जैसी
महक महक जाती…
 
***

Poem of the week: Week One.

So, this is a little project I thought of doing: I will post a poem a week from the poetry collections I have at home round the year. I have decided on themes for each month; each week of the month will have a poem based on the theme. January gets ‘Beginnings and ends’ for obvious reasons.

The following poem is from The Little Magazine’s India in Verse anthology of Contemporary Poetry from 20 Indian Languages.

Shall I open this day?
– Kedarnath Singh

Shall I open this day
which someone has left
at my doorstep?
The colour of turmeric
fresh
like an airmail letter.

In the shimmering light,
like other missives
this wandering message
must not go unread –
I think I’ll
open it.
This golden letter which holds the day
lying silent at my doorstep
I’ll open it.

But a small, laughing question
stays my hand,
who knows what is written there?
(who knows, perhaps it is for someone else
and left at my door in the dead of the night)
It does not bear my name
or my address
ah, how could I open it?

My hand which opened
the door
the horizon
the cardinal directions,
who knows why it trembles
at the thought of opening
this mute, fresh, turmeric-hued message
stamped by a ray of sunlight.

Translated from the Hindi poem ‘Khol doon yeh aaj ka din’ by Pratik Kanjilal.

***

At times, the little hesitation at the break of day is what I get from this delightful and simple poem. I can’t help but wonder, along with the poet, about this slight indecisiveness one feels at the beginning of the day.