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Author Parvati Sharma revisited the Jaipur lit-fest after several years — and found herself in the company of Bahadur Shah Zafar’s ghazals:

The writer seems to me possessed with a more intense and morbid self-consciousness than I ever knew in any sane human being

 — John Stuart Mill on Robert Browning, quoted in Seamus Perry, ‘Against the Same-Old Same Old’, London Review of Books 38:21, 3 November 2016, https://outofcontextsite.wordpress.com

A lit-fest lament
(via the greatly more graceful melancholy of Bahadur Shah Zafar)

Naheen ishq mein is ka to ranj hamein

ke qarar o shakeb zara na raha,

Gham-e-ishq to apna rafiq raha

koi aur bala se raha na raha.

Not of JLF do I make this complaint

that peace and patience I was left without;

career anxiety kept me company, no matter

who called out ‘Hey, hi!’ — or did not.

 

Na thee haal ki jab hamein apne khabar

rahe dekhte auron ke aib o hunar,

Padi apni buraiyon par jo nazar,

to nigah mein koi bura na raha.

When I hardly knew what I liked of myself,

I watched to see who received censure, who praise,

then catching a glimpse of my own sorry self,

I declared the wide world a vainglorious blot.

 

Hamein saaghar-e-baada ke dene mein ab

kare der jo saqui to hai e ghazab,

Ke yeh ahd-e-nishat, ye daur-e-tarab

na rahega jahan mein sada na raha.

If now for the sake of a small glass of wine

a pass they demand, it’s truly a crime:

that such passing pleasures of our pleasing times

are declared not for me, as if I never was.

 

Lage yun to hazaron hi teer-e-sitam

ke tadapte rahe pade khak pa hum,

Wale naaz o karishma ki tegh-e-do-dam

lagi aisi ke tasma laga na raha.

So often my panel ambitions were crushed,

I sipped Diggi chai till the kullarh was dust,

till the two-edged blade of frail pride and sheer lust

struck me: oh it means that I mean diddly-squat!

 

Zafar aadmi us ko na janiyega,

ho wo kaisa hi sahib-e-fahm-o-zaka,

jise aiyesh mein yad-e-khuda na rahe,

jise taish mein khof-e-khuda na raha.

Paro, don’t call her a real litterateur

(her prose may be broody, her banter delightful)

who when she’s at ease, has not her game on,

who when she’s at play, claims not she’s distraught.

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To read Parvati Sharma‘s delightful satire on the Gandhis, go here: https://goo.gl/DXV0XM

 

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