Languid Shadows

Translation of a ghazal by Adil Mansuri.

Languid shadows have sprawled across the city
Where else can they escape, entrapped in thoughts?

From east, my path takes me towards west
Her journey is from south to north.

Whether it’s distasteful narrative, or harsh news
She’ll understand if explained using rosy metaphors.

The parents sit quietly and don’t say a thing,
The children are spoilt with too much care.

Look at the colors reflect on the floor of the room,
Look how the glass shield parries the attack of rays.

There is no signs of tears in the eyes.
Now with her handkerchief, clean the shoes.

Her downcast face and distressed curls.
Now only God can save her enemies from coming ruin.

Again the waters reflect the shadows of silver bells,
Again the night sparkles on the silver plate.

Notes: Day 30 of NaPoWriMo 2016.  Today’s prompt was to try translating a poem from another language.  I picked an Urdu poem by Adil Mansuri, a fellow Gujarati, who also wrote in Gujarati.  I wonder if he wrote in English as well – as I do in three languages.  This was third year in last four that I have attempted 30 poems in 30 days.  First time, I got to 30 in 30 days.  Feels good!

Here’s the original poem in Devanagari:

फैले हुए हैं शहर में साए निढाल से
जाएँ कहाँ निकल के ख़यालों के जाल से

मशरिक़ से मेरा रास्ता मग़रिब की सम्त था
उस का सफ़र जुनूब की जानिब शुमाल से

कैसा भी तल्ख़ ज़िक्र हो कैसी भी तुर्श बात
उन की समझ में आएगी गुल की मिसाल से

चुप-चाप बैठे रहते हैं कुछ बोलते नहीं
बच्चे बिगड़ गए हैं बहुत देख-भाल से

रंगों को बहते देखिए कमरे के फ़र्श पर
किरनों के वार रोकिए शीशे की ढाल से

आँखों में आँसुओ का कहीं नाम तक नहीं
अब जूते साफ़ कीजिए उन के रुमाल से

चेहरा बुझा बुझा सा परेशान ज़ुल्फ़ ज़ुल्फ़
अल्लाह दुश्मनों को बचाए वबाल से

फिर पानियों में नूक्रई साए उतर गए
फिर रात जगमगा उठी चांदी के थाल से




I remember sleeping on terraces on a hot summer day
I remember regaling cousins and siblings with made up stories –
stories of parees, apsaras, rakhasas and devas
And of interpid adventurers visiting Shangri La or the Spice Isles through the Malacca straits
I remember as the night progressed, summer breeze finally blowing to provide relief from unrelenting summer heat
I remember drifting off to sleep and waking up to birds chirping and the rising sun
I remember thinking did I pee waking up. Only to realize it was dew drops damping the cottons mattress and the blanket.
I remember in January for two days, flying kites from the terrace, filling up the sky with colors of the rainbow
And when your own kite stash was gone, running the drifting kites so you can have them catch the winter draft again
I remember as the night fell, hanging a lantern to the kite and whole sky lit up with fireflies.

Notes: Day 29 of NaPoWriMo 2016.  Prompt was to write a poem with “I remember” as an anaphora.  With watching Blazers win in 1st round against the Clippers, not much time other than to do this quick work.  This prompt definitely deserves another look and more time.

Back on a date

She took the rose, took a whiff, and smiled.
Coffee shop was still fairly empty. He gave her a red stem rose.
She saw him and got goosebumps. In the middle of summer.
She got ready and went to the coffee shop.
Evening came.
She smiled and blushed.
She thought about her date, in the evening. With him.
Swish, swish, swoosh. Her broom made rhythmic sounds.
She squatted and started sweeping the floor again.
She got back up and switched the fan off.
The ceiling fan was on.
She squatted to sweep the dusty floor.

Notes: Day 28 of NaPoWriMo 2016. Today’s prompt was to write a poem that tells a story, but with a twist – “the story should be told backwards.”

In the night

“You are the dove-soft train whistle in the night,”
That echoes and slow erodes sand castles in the night.

You listened carefree, every pun and double entendres
And my humorous telling made you chortle in the night

On the living room sofa, reminiscing the years gone by,
In the kitchen, tea boiling in the kettle into the night.

Dancing in dance halls, gnoshing at happy hours,
feeling alive in the city’s hustle and bustle of the night.

The giggles start small, then they come fast and furious,
Then nonstop: effects of empty wine bottle in the night.

Notes: Day 27 of NaPoWriMo 2016. Off-prompt today. Using a line from Billy Collins’ Canada for this ghazal.

And that’s all I have to say about that

You can fool many people some time
You can fool fools all the time
And that’s all I have to say about that
Hate you can, but you can’t hurry love
And that’s all I have to say about that

My baby can start a fight in an empty house
My baby can raise hell and stuck a chunk under it
And that’s all I have to say about that
My baby’s in a horn-tossing mood
My baby’s so contrary she’s floating up-stream
And that’s all I have to say about that
My baby’s got some snap in her garters
My baby’s rope got no slack
And that’s all I have to say about that
If my baby crows, the sun’s up
And that’s all I have to say about that
This ain’t my baby’s first rodeo
And that’s all I have to say about that
My baby speaks ten words a second, with gusts to fifty
My baby’s jumping like hot water on a skillet
And that’s all I have to say about that

Cut your own firewood, it’ll warm you twice
And that’s all I have to say about that
Don’t squat on your spurs
And that’s all I have to say about that
He’s confused as a goat on AstroTurf
And that’s all I have to say about that

Notes: Day 26 of NaPoWriMo 2016.  Today’s prompt was to write a poem that is “an interactive exchange between one main speaker and an audience.”  I remember Forrest Gump’s refrain “that’s all I got to say about that” and mashed it up with some Texan sayings (and couple of other ones) into a found poem.

The Process

“Before it flutters into my mouth”
It first needs to be daydreamed,
Then spend some time in germination
Followed by out loud incantation.

It first needs to be daydreamed –
Lyrical verses that unpack emotions
Followed by soft, precise incantation,
Rehearsed, so it helps shape the story.

Lyrical verses that unpack emotions
Of courtship, of love, and of betrayal
Rehearsed so it helps tell the fiction
Borrowed from others and made plausible.

Story of love, and of betrayal
Before it flutters into my mouth,
Carefully crafted without logical holes and
Followed by flawless incantation.

Note: Day 25 of NaPoWriMo 2016.  Today’s prompt is “to write a poem that begins with a line from a another poem (not necessarily the first one), but then goes elsewhere with it.  I have been doing this exercise prior to the start of the month and I even have few poems written up.  But, to post those would be bit of a cheating.  So instead, I found a line that I liked from Billy Collins’ The First Line of a Poem (happens to be the first line), and wrote this pantoum.

Goan Sonnet

By what fate are we intertwined together?
Roaming the streets in search of espresso
Taking refuge in a bookstore in foul weather
Frozen in time, under beach palm’s shadow.

The cool arabian breeze in evening
The ghazal singer and the cold feni
Walks on soft sand and the shell collecting
and the soft fragrance of naag frangipani.

Day tripping to world heritage basilica
Evenings watching Hindi romances
Vendors scam us in buying fake pashmina
Waltzing the night, in embrace and deep glances.

“Eu te amo porque não sei outra maneira”
Kismet has weaved us together on terra firma.

Note: Day 24 of NaPoWriMo.  Off-prompt today to continue experimenting with the Shakespearean sonnet. This one is for my Muse on her birthday.  The Portuguese line is because Goa was a Portuguese colony and we vacationed there.  The line is from Pablo Neruda, which I used google to translate from English ( “I love you because I know no other way”).