khoon phir khoon hai

February 22nd, 2008

Sahir Ludhianvi wrote this nazm on the slain Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, the first prime-minister of Congo and also a staunch anti-imperialist. He was deposed from the office and murdered. A really good poet and someone who is very dear to me and has taught me a lot about Urdu Poetry, said he heard Sahir recite this nazm in a live mushaira in Chandigarh in 67-68 or 68-69 and continued that once he heard the second line of the nazm, he was so amazed at the depth of the line that he could not hear the rest of the nazm and he kept thinking about that second line “Khoon phir khoon hai, Tapkega to jam jaayega”.

Recently, a reader of this site, Mr. Satish Kumar Shukla, who dedicated his recently published book of English verses to Sahir, entitled WELTSCHMERZ posted a translation of this nazm on the site. As I had never read the original, I had to look it up after hearing about it so much and now that I have found it, here it is for all of you to enjoy along with the translation by Satish Kumar Shukla sahib as well. The poem opens in Urdu with this line:
aik maqtull lamumba, aik zindah lumuba se kahiiN ziaadah taaq’tvar hota hai (Jawaharlal Nehru) – the line is also translated below by Shukla sahib. My thanks to a few learned folks from ALUP (alt.language.urdu.poetry) to help me complete and fix the poem below.

zulm phir zulm hai, baRhta hai to miT jaataa hai
Khoon phir Khoon hai, Tapkega to jam jaayega

Khaak-e-sehra pe jame yaa kaf-e-qaatil pe jame
farq-e-insaaf pe yaa paa-e-salaasal pe jame
teGh-e-bedaad pe yaa laasha-e-bismil pe jame
Khoon phir Khoon hai Tapkega to jam jaayega

laakh baiThe koi chhup chhup ke kameeN gaahoN meiN
Khoon Khud deta hai jalaadoN ke maskan ka suraaGh
saazisheiN laaKh uRaati raheiN zulmat ka naqaab
le ke har booNd nikalti hai hatheli pe chiraaGh

zulm kii qismat-e-nakaarah-o-rusvaa se kaho
jab’r kii hikmat-e-purkaar ke eema se kaho (eema = permission)
mehmal-e-majlis-e-aqwaam kii laila se kaho
Khoon diiwana hai, daaman pe lapak sakta hai
shola-e-tuNd hai, Khirman pe lapak sakta hai

tum ne jis Khoon ko maqtal meiN dabaanaa chaaha
aaj vo kuchaa-o-bazaar meiN aa nikla hai
kahiiN shola kahiiN naarah kahiiN patthar ban ke
Khoon chalta hai to rukta nahiiN sangeeno se
sar jo uThtaa hai to dabtaa nahiiN aaeeno se

zulm ki baat hi kya, zulm ki auqaat hi kya
zulm bas zulm hai, aaGhaaz se anjaam talak
Khoon phir Khoon hai, so shakl badal sakta hai
aisi shakleiN ke miTaaoo to miTaaye na bane
aise shole k bujhaao to bujhaaye na bane
aise naare k dabaao to dabaaye na bane

Here’s a translation of the nazm by Satish Kumar Shukla Sahib. Enjoy


A slain Lumumba is by far mightier than a living Lumumba -Nehru

Repression is sill repression
Rising, it must flop
Blood is sill blood
Spilling it must clot.

Whether it clots on desert sands
Or upon assassin’s hands
On justice’s head or around shackled feet
On injustice’s sword or on the wounded corpse
Blood is still blood
Spilling, it must clot.

However much one lies in ambush
Blood betrays butcher’s hideout
Conspiracies may veil in thousand darkly mask
Each blood drop ventures out with burning lamp on its palm.

Tell oppression’s vain and blemished fate
Tell cruelty’s crafty Imam
Tell the UN Security Council
Blood is crazy
It can leap up to the cloak
It is inferno, it can flare up to burn grain-stock.

The blood you sought to suppress in abattoir
Today that blood moves out into street
Here an ember, there a slogan, there a stone
Once blood comes to flows
Bayonets are no avail
Head, once it is raised
Is not downed by law’s hail.

What is about oppression?
What is with its impression?
Oppression is, all of it, but oppression
From beginning to end
Blood is still blood
Myriad form it can assume
Forms such as are indelible
Embers such as are inextinguishable
Slogans such as are irrepressible.


Brothels (Chakley)

November 5th, 2006

Here’s another translation of a nazm that has been made famous in the movie Pyasa 1957 (Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman). The original Urdu version of the nazm was slightly modified for the song that appeared in the feature film. I thought I’d start by posting the translation by K.C. Kanda first. The translation appeared in “Masterpieces of Urdu Nazm”, Sterling Paperbacks, published by Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi. ISBN 81 207 1952 2, Reprint 1998, 2000.

Soon, I’ll be posting the original Urdu version (post edit: Click here to read the original version in Roman Urdu) and the modified film song version (post edit: Click here to read the filmized version) as well. The links, once again, will be published in this post, but if you are an avid reader of this blog, then you will be sure not to miss it. :-)

These lanes, these marts of rich delights,
Precious lives, undone, defiled;
Where are the defenders of virtuous pride?
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

These sinuous streets, these doors ajar,
The clinking coins, the moving masks,
Deals of honour, hagglings fast,
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

These dimly-lighted, stinking streets,
These yellowing buds, crushed and ceased,
These hollow charms, for sale and lease;
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

The jingling trinklets at casement bright,
Tambourins athrob’ mid gasping life;
Cheerless rooms with cough alive;
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

Boisterous laughs on public paths,
Crowds at windows, thick and fast,
Vulgar words, obscene remarks;
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

The betel spittal, the floral wreaths,
Audacious looks and filthy speech,
Flaccid figures, looks diseased;
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

Lecherous eyes in beauty’s quest,
Extended hands chasing breasts,
Springing feet on stairs pressed;
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

This is the haven of young and old.
Aging sires and youngsters bold,
Wife, mother and sister — she plays a triple role.
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

Help, O Help, this daughter of Eve!
Radha’s child, Yashoda’s breed;
The prophet’s race, Zuleikha’s seed;
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

Call, O call the leaders wise
Let them see these streets, these sights,
Where are the champs of eastern pride?
Where are they who praise, the pious eastern ways?

Taj Mahal

November 1st, 2006

Here’s a translation of one of Sahir’s most famous work, ‘Taj Mahal’. I will be posting this nazm in Roman Urdu as well very soon and the link will be provided in this post (Post Edit: Click here for Urdu version). In the mean time, please enjoy an english translation of this nazm. Translation by K.C. Kanda, appeared in “Masterpieces of Urdu Nazm”, Sterling Paperbacks, published by Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi. ISBN 81 207 1952 2, Reprint 1998, 2000.

Taj Mahal

The Taj, mayhap, to you may seem, a mark of love supreme
You may hold this beauteous vale in great esteem;
Yet, my love, meet me hence at some other place!

How odd for the poor folk to frequent royal resorts;
‘Tis strange that the amorous souls should tread the regal paths
Trodden once by mighty kings and their proud consorts.
Behind the facade of love my dear, you had better seen,
The marks of imperial might that herein lie screen’d
You who take delight in tombs of kings deceased,
Should have seen the hutments dark where you and I did wean.
Countless men in this world must have loved and gone,
Who would say their loves weren’t truthful or strong?
But in the name of their loves, no memorial is raised
For they too, like you and me, belonged to the common throng.

These structures and sepulchres, these ramparts and forts,
These relics of the mighty dead are, in fact, no more
Than the cancerous tumours on the face of earth,
Fattened on our ancestor’s very blood and bones.
They too must have loved, my love, whose hands had made,
This marble monument, nicely chiselled and shaped
But their dear ones lived and died, unhonoured, unknown,
None burnt even a taper on their lowly graves.

This bank of Jamuna, this edifice, these groves and lawns,
These carved walls and doors, arches and alcoves,
An emperor on the strength of wealth, Has played with us a cruel joke.
Meet me hence, my love, at some other place.

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