Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Ali Sardar Jafri

Listen (to Jafri read)

Download www.aligarians.com/audio/neend - Ali Sardar Jafri.rbs

raat Khuubsurat hai niind kyuN nahiiN aatii

din kii Khashmagi nazrein kho gayii siyaahii meN
aahnii kaRoN kaa shor, beRioN kii jhankaareN
qaidioN kii saaNsoN kii tund-tez aavaazeN
jailaroN kii badkaari, gaalioN ki bauchhaareN
bebasii kii Khaamoshii, Khaamoshi kii faryaadeN, tahnashiin andhere meN

shab ki shoKh doshiizaa Khaardaar taaron ko
aahniiN hisaaroN ko paar kar ke aayii hai
bhar ke apne daaman meN jangaloN kii Khush-buueN
ThandakeN pahaaRoN kii mere paas laayii hai

raat Khuubsurat hai niind kyuN nahiiN aatii

neelguuN jawaaN seena, neelguuN jawaaN baaheN
kahkashaaN kii peshaanii, neem chaaNd ka juuRaa
maKhmalii andhere kaa, pairahan laraztaa hai
waqt ki siyaah zulfeN Khaamoshi ke shaanoN per
Kham-ba-Kham mahaktii haiN aur zamiiN ke hontoN per
narm shabnamii bosay, motioN ke daantoN se KhilKhilaa ke haNste haiN

raat Khuubsurat hai niind kyuN nahiiN aatii

raat peing letii hai, chaaNdnii ke jhuule meN
aasmaan par taare nanhe-nanhe haathoN se
bun rahe hain jaaduu saa
jhingaron ki aavaazeN, kah rahi hain afsaana
duur jail ke baahar baj rahii hai shehnaaii
rail apne pahioN se loriaaN sunaatii hai

raat Khuubsurat hai niind kyuN nahiiN aatii

roz raat ko yuNhii niind meri aankhon se
bewafaaii kartii hai
mujhko chhoR kar tanhaa jail se nikaltii hai
Bambayii kii bastii meN mere ghar ka darvaaza jaa kar KhatKhataati hai
ek nanhe bacche kii ankhRioN ke bachpan meN
miithe miithe KhwaboN ka shahed Ghol detii hai
ik hansiiN parii ban kar paalnaa hilaati hai loriaaN sunaatii hai

To think Jafri wrote this from a dingy prison cell to his son, as a gift for his first birthday. Jafri was deeply involved in the Indian freedom movement and was in prison, quiet a few times, as a result.

How does one write to one's infant child? When trapped in a prison cell, so far away.

He starts off by making a quick casual mention of his present setting - a dingy prison, rude jailors, the loneliness, the repression and quickly moves on to more beautiful, happy things - which are in fact, so far away.

Describing the beauty and joy of a sunset, flowers, the deep dark woods makes great poetry. But to be able to find beauty in the most common, everyday things, especially so when even they are inaccessible, is simply a class apart. To be in a prison and be reminded of lullabies when you hear a train, far far away, thumping on its tracks ...

The recording is from here. The Aligarians have a large online collection of some very fine Urdu poetry. A treat for anyone interested in poetry, Urdu and of course, Urdu poetry.


Blogger Ludwig said...

Really nice, BM. Its great to have the poet's own voice at hand, perhaps we get a little bit closer to what (s)he is trying to say, when we hear it in their own voices. And thanks for the pointer to the Aligarians....

3/14/2006 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger The Black Mamba said...

you are welcome. glad you agree. hearing Jafri read the poem made it so much more personal and memorable for me.

the aligarians are awesome, will probly sneak in a couple of more posts from them :)

3/14/2006 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger Falstaff said...

BM: Lovely. Have you read Hikmet, btw? He's the quintessential jail poet (though, of course, there's always Faiz as well).

Hikmet Links:

The Academy of American Poets write-up:


Chandrahas's post on him a while back:


3/15/2006 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger The Black Mamba said...

Falstaff: Thank you, for the links!

Each time I look up one of the poets I like, there is always a Hikmet reference - I suppose it has something to do with the fact that, I seem to love Marxist poets, who have done some prison time :)

3/15/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Mohib said...

TBM: You are welcome to cross-post from Aligarians.com. I hope to keep on adding to the collection.


3/18/2006 02:29:00 AM  
Blogger The Black Mamba said...

Aligarians is a wonderful website - for its content and also its presentation.

Thanks for letting us cross-post!

3/18/2006 10:12:00 AM  

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