One of the best-loved poets in Urdu. This contemporary Left-wing poet was also noted for his contributions to the Hindi film lyric as well as dialogue and screenplay writing
Life is the name given to a few moments
and from them perhaps that one moment
in which two eloquent eyes
rise above the cup of tea
and sink straight into the heart
Do not utter a word today
I too will be silent
Just sit here by my side
with this gift of pain
this warmth of feelings
Who knows this very moment
somewhere on a faraway mountain-top
The snow may actually start melting.
Darkness seems to be seeping in every pore of me
The spark in the eyes will vanish
I will feel no more and nor will I think
Centuries have scorched this body of mine
Before my daughter’s soft hands give
A cool caress to my hot face
Before my son’s strong body lends strength
To this weak and crippled frame
Before my wife’s lips drink
The heat of my lips
The body flaming for long will turn to ashes
And then the ashes will scatter themselves.
The boat here is made of sand, forth goes into making the boatman
The train is fashioned out of wood, the elephant mother of pearl
These heavy machines those light ones are made of plastic
The wheels are moulded from wax, they can neither stop nor move.
Ashes make up this earth here and dust goes into making fields
Clothes are stitched of steam and the houses built with smoke.
Magic goes into the making the canal, prayers make up the bridge
Such are the toys that make music of those few plans.
Translated from Urdu by Nirupama Dutt