Matter of ‘moments’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Sep 2017 09:47:14


 

By Vijay Phanshikar,

Lamhe urte hain kabhi ya to titlion ke tarah
Ya kabhi khushbuon ki manind cheekh uthte hain
Simat’te-phailte sanche mein waqt ke dhal kar
Ajeeb shakl ke ban kar ‘Zamana’ rakhte hain na’m
Zamana?
Lamhe - boorhe, ghareeb, f’aqajadah
Lamhe ma’zi jo ki mar na sak’e
Zamana!
Jaise f’aqujadah giroh gid’dhon ka
Bekafun um’meedon pe pahra deta hai
- Zamana,
A poem by Meena Kumari.

(Moments flutter like butterflies at times
Or on occasion scream like fragrances
Cast in the plastic mould of “Time”.
Time?
Moments - old, indignant,
emaciated
Moments of the past that
never died
Moments of the past that couldn’t survive
Time!
Like a band of starved vultures
Keeping vigil over unshrouded hopes.)

- Translated By Noorul Hasan,
‘Meena Kumari The Poet
-A life Beyond Cinema’,
Roli Books,
Paperback.

THE temptation to return to Meena Kumari the poet is irresistible. She has the capacity to draw the reader into her world of emotions, into the sanctum of moments -- past and present. Her ‘Time’ -- Zamana -- is made up of moments -- Lamhe -- like it is of anybody. Woven by moments. Split by moments. Shaped by moments. Torn by moments.


Lamhe!
What makes this small poem special is the manner in which Meena Kumari looks at moments. For her, her moments flutter like butterflies -- in gay abandon. Or they also scream!!! But here, she takes imagination to an altogether different level --


... Ya kabhi khushbuon ki manind cheekh uthte hain !
Very rarely would anybody describe
fragrances as screaming. Do they? -- one
wonders. But then, a little deeper pondering takes one to a realisation that rather shocks. For, don’t fragrances linger on -- like a scream embeds into memory, shrill and screeching and scratching, leaving behind a wound apparently small but actually deep! --
khushbuon ki manind cheekh.. !
As one reads on, one realises the critical role moments play in life. And together -- their panoply constitutes ‘Time’ -- Zamana.


Each time, one does not have to delve back to the poet’s life to decipher the metaphor in poetry. Yet, here in Meena Kumari’s case, one tends to delve a little into her life -- ‘... Beyond Cinema’ (as Noorul Hasan sub-titles his anthology of translations). Just at the young age of 39 years, Meena Kumari travelled beyond Time, having lived an intense life full of moments that danced and pranced and pounced upon and pounded her. Despite the fabulous fame and public
adulation, her personal life had its own moments that enriched her and even impoverished her. And through all that heave and weave of life, she lived moments upon which Zamana is a reflection.


Lamhe! -- Ajeeb shakl ke ...!
‘... Moments - old, indignant, emaciated
Moments of the past that never died
Moments of the past that couldn’t survive...’!

What a powerful expression, this! There are moments of the past that endured. And then there are some that could not. Every such moment leaves behind a mark that may appear as a scar. At times, it may leave behind a sense of scare -- of a dark idea --
Jaise f’aqujadah giroh gid’dhon ka
Bekafun um’meedon pe pahra deta hai ...!

Many such moments act like starved,
emaciated vultures, all eager to bite into the inner being, tear its harmony apart. The poem Zamana stresses this very powerfully.


But then, despite this stark and dark imagery, Meena Kumari gives a faint hint of hope. But then, the throngs of starved vultures are waiting to take their pound of flesh.
This scare! It endures! -- in the form of Lamhe!
Zamana, thus, has that quality to linger in the mind. For, it establishes a quick kinship between the poet and the reader.