Protest of a poet

Mohammed Wajihuddin
Mohammed Wajihuddin

Eminent poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar who won the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award 2020 for his critical thinking, holding religious dogma up to scrutiny, advancing human progress and humanist values has penned a powerful poem on the plight of migrant workers in the pandemic-induced lockdown. Apart from describing the travails of the hungry, barefoot travelers on the hot, burning roads, the poem also slams the misuse of religion by zealots and politicians. It is a commentary on the class war, the divide between the poor and the rich, the elites who believe they own the earth and the underprivileged who survive on the margins.

I feel privileged to translate Javed Sahab’s immensely topical and lyrical nazm (poem) from Urdu. Enjoy.

Jadu’s new nazm 29th May 2020

Dono jalti tapti sadak par
Suraj ki garmi se pighalte
kandhon par gathriyan uthaye
Nange paanv
Bade nagar se
Apne chote gaanv ko
Apne chote gharon ko laut rahe hain
Wo ghar
Jo pairon ki taaqat
Dil ki himmat se bhi aage
Bahut hi aage
Jaane kitni doori par hain

Sookhe hont hain
Paanv meiN chhale par chalte rehne ke siva rasta bhi kya hai

Factory ke darwaze
Jab donoN ke mooNh par bund huye thay
Thhekedaar ne jab tha inhein ik aaddhi bani building se nikaala
Kaun thha inka poochne waala
Koi bhi ummeed kisi raste mein nahin thhi
Sab nagri sunsaan padi thhi
Har building anjaan khadi thhi
Saare makaan aur saari dukanein
Apni aankhein bund kiye thhay
Usi nagar mein ab ye donoN thhay pardesi
Jahan ye barson jiye marey thhay
Saare khudaon ke bhi gharon par laga tha taala
Kis se maangta maangnewala
Koi nahin thha
ChaaroN taraf bas ik sannata goonj raha thha

Wo loudspeaker bhi ab chup thhay
Kal jo donoN ko thhay batate
Kaun ho tum aur kya hai
Poori aur sachchi pehchaan tumhari
Suno aur samjho baat hamari
Wo haiN Babar ki aulad
Aur tum ho Maharana ke bete
Donon ka itihas alag hai
Donon ke sanskar alag hain
Donon ka vishwas alag hai
Wo loudspeaker bhi ab chup thhay
Jo thhay batate
Wo hain buton ko poojne wale
Aur tum ho Ghazni ke sipahi
Sachchi raah ke sachche raahi
Donon ka imaan alag hai
Donon ka armaan alag hai
Donon ki manzil hi alag ,
raste hi alag haiN
Aisa gyan aur ilm baant tey
Saare loudspeaker chup hain
Aur donoN ye dekh rahe hain
Donon ka ik hi rasta hai
Donon jalti tapti sadak par
Suraj ki garmi se pighalte
Nange paanv
Apne thhake kandhon par
Apni bhookh aur pyas ki gatthri lekar
Jaane kitni sadiyon se yun hi chalte hain
Zulm ki aag mein donon hi zinda jalte hain

Ab donon ne hai ye hai jaana
Ek ameeri ek gareebi
Duniya mein do hi zaatein hain
Baaqi sab jhooti baatein hain


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Jadu’s new poem
May 29, 2020
Both on the hot burning road
Melting in the scorching sun
Carrying luggage on their shoulders
Walking barefoot
From the big cities
To their tiny village
Returning to their small house
That house
Which is far away from the strength of the feet
Ahead of the courage of the soul
Far ahead
Don’t know how far it is

The lips are parched
The eyes are vacant
The feet have developed sore but have to keep walking
As, what option is there than this
When the factory’s doors were shut on their faces
When the contractor drove them
Out of a half-built building
Who was there to look after them?
There was no hope anywhere on the way
The entire city looked deserted
All the buildings there stood strange
All the houses and the shops
Had shut their eyes
In the same city these two were now
Where they had lived and died together
All the houses of gods were locked too
Whom would the seekers seek help from?
There was none
All around the sound of silence could be heard
That loudspeaker too was quiet now
The one that would tell the duo
Who are you?

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And what is your complete and real identity
Listen to us and understand my words
He is a son of Babar
And you are the son of Maharana
Both have different history
Both have different sacraments
Both follow different beliefs
That loudspeaker too was quiet now
The one who would yell
He worships the idols
And you are a soldier of Ghaznavi
The true traveler on the true path
Both have different faiths
Both have different aspirations
Both have different goals
Their paths are different
They would give such gyaan and education
All those loudspeakers are quiet now
And both are seeing it
Both on the hot burning road
Melting in the scorching sun

On their tired shoulders
Carrying their luggage of hunger and thirst
Don’t know for how many centuries
They have been walking like this
Both have been burning in the fire of oppression
Now both have realized
One is prosperity, the other poverty
There are the real two religions
Others are false propaganda


Translated by Mohammed Wajihuddin

Mohammed Wajihuddin, a senior journalist, is associated with The Times of India, Mumbai. This piece has been picked up from his blog.

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