Said the lover to the beloved, who was consumed by fear of stagnating, of not fulfilling her potential, of wasting her precious time in life:
Two poems: Museum and courtyard, unedited
These pieces were written while and after visiting the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada. The first, Museum, is a reflection on history, civilizations, art and interpretation. The second piece, courtyard, unedited, was penned while sitting in the Museum’s inner courtyard, and has intentionally been left unedited in order to maintain for the reader, the flow of inspiration as originally felt. It contains English as well as another Hindi-Urdu mixed language that sometimes spills onto the page. Please excuse my rough transliteration attempt as neither of these is my first language.
What will the people from days to come decide to make of us,
what will they preserve in their halls?
Those gone by have become to us what remains of them,
after all tribulation and epiphany fell away into dust.
They have become what we can still understand of them.
There is too much left to know about knowing; not enough left to see.
We fear we are penning lines already penned by those greater than us,
a people that truly saw the truth unfold.
Nothing can be said now that has not been said before;
our efforts, mere echoes of a greater, grander voice.
What inspired these carvers, and what were they trying to say –
can we be certain that we have preserved ourselves against misunderstanding?
Did they create these shapes because those are what they saw,
or were they too, seeking to lose themselves in detailed but repetitive abstraction?
Do these patterns transcend a name?
~ ~ ~
is jahaan mein hum upna sub kuch kho sakte hain,
sub kuch seekh bhi saktehain
aisa husn ko bananekiliye, aisi roshni, is roshni, ki zaroorat hai
this light is something like the light of the heavens and the earth;
this light has an unnameable quality to it,
a way for all to see all
bathed in it my hand resting on the table becomes something from another world,
translucent, light diffusing outward in the place of rosy flesh
your eyes are from another time here, where patterns repeat themselves to liberate beyond eye’s capacity, where voices rise to a crescendo and we take in,
light, light light,
upon our hands, our face, and every
one is so beautiful here today
yahaan aake kuch bhi likhdijiye,
sub kuch shahiri banjayegi
yahaan aake kuch khaaneki zaroorat nahin mehsoos hoti,
in hawaaon, saa(n)son, is jahaan ka rooh hi kaafi hai
yahaan rehekar kuch chaate hai hum,
kuch khona bhi chaate hain
kuch cheez samaj na chaate hain hum,
kuch cheez humko yaad aatihai
kuch cheez hamaari thi, hamaari hai,
hamaare dil me se nikalke,
humhi ke aage jhoom uthi
agar aapke dil mein koi baat phool ki tarha khilrahihain,
to usse khilne do;
agar aapke ander koi baat hai, to aap dil ki zubaan se usse pehsh karo,
chaahe koi samje ya na samje
agar koi lafz kaafi nahin lagte,
to khudh ke lafaazon banaalo
khudh ki zubaan banaalo,
koi samje, ya na samje
A rough translation of courtyard, unedited:
in this place/world we can lose/forget everything of/about ourselves;
we can also learn everything
to make this kind of beauty, this type of light, this light, is needed
come here and write anything at all,
it will become poetry / anything written here becomes poetry
here, there is no need felt for eating,
these winds, breaths, the soul of this place/world is enough
staying/being here, we desire something;
also, something we wish to lose
some things we understand,
and some things, we remember
some things were ours, are ours;
some things come out from our own hearts
and have come alive/to dance in front of us
if something blossoms like a flower in your heart,
then allow it to blossom,
if there is something in you that wants to be said, then use the language of your heart to convey it,
whether anyone understands or not
if no words seem enough,
then make up your own words
make up your own language,
whether anyone understands, or not
a power enters our vessel this night
we stand, electrified
as a force from elsewhere courses through
for months we have opened this door and that
looking for the place we once stumbled upon
looking for the feeling which could not be stored
now here, under crescent moon and darkened sky
where soft waves keep consistent rhythm
here, is a glistening sign
what has taken hold of us this time?
the sky as though unlidded;
ourselves, similarly so
what stirs the trees to move as they do?
what force leaves its mark in the sand?
this power both beckons and warns
once again we are on the verge of sleeplessness,
once more, on the edge of your cliff
the time of our rose has passed us,
and we become more bitter by the day
reach out your hand and pluck us, love;
remove us from the misery of these days
this is not our season;
this place is not our stage
linger though we might,
we are so much less dazzling
though we recall how beautiful
we’ve once been
the blossom that grew us
from the seed of our names
robed us in a quality,
have we been asleep,
or have we been afraid
to let go, to move on,
come what may?
there is no telling
what we will be
the moment after the one
where we are
what fruit may we bear,
if we trust in ourselves,
if we let ourselves be,
who we are?
our bitterness weighs
on the very branch that nurtured us,
and we wilt and we droop in our pain
our poison spreads
we see it,
but we don’t stop it,
and that makes us very afraid.
what will happen?
how will it happen?
… we do not know
do we know!
time after time and again,
you put me in my place
each seeping stain left by the sly foe, doubt,
you sponge from my heart with utmost tenderness
in a word, in a flash,
i know you again