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Ali Sardar Jafri

My Journey

'Like the grass, I have sprouted a hundred times.' (Rumi)

The day will come
When the eye-lamps will fade
The hand-lotuses wilt
And the butterfly of speech forever flies
The flower of tongue.

All faces blossoming like buds,
Laughing like flowers,
Will one day, disappear
To the shadowy depths of the sea.
All pulsing blood, all beating hearts,
All melodies will be hushed.

On the velvet of blue sky
This shining gem,
This heaven, this earth of mine,
Without knowing, understanding,
Will weep tears of dew.
On the handful of dust that is man.

From the temples of memories
Every single thing will have gone.
Then no one will ask : Where is Sardar ?

But I'll come here again,
Speak through children's voices,
Sing in the calls of birds.
When seeds smile under the earth
And seedlings, with nimble fingers
Caress the layers of soil
I'll open my eyes
Through every bud, each blade of grass.
On my green palm
I'll balance the droplets of dew.
I'll become the glow of cheeks,
The beat of melodies.

Like the blush of the modest bride,
I'll sparkle through every veil.
When the wintry winds blow
And autumn leaves fall
Under the lively feet of travelers
My laughter will sound
In the crunching of dry leaves.

All golden streams of the earth,
All blue lakes of the sky
Will be filled with my being.
And the world will see
That every tale is my tale,
Every lover Sardar here,
And every love Sultana.
I am a fleeting moment
From the magic house of time.

I am a restless droplet
Busy travelling
From the flask of the past
To the cup of the future.
I sleep and awaken
And fall asleep again.
I am a play, centuries old,
Death makes me live forever.

Translated by Baidar Bakht and Kathleen Grant Jaegar

Robe of Flame

Who is that
standing in a robe of flame ?
Body broken, blood spilling
from his brains.

Farhad and Quais passed away
some time ago; who then is he
whom people stone to death ?

There is no beautiful Shireen here,
no Leila of spring seasons.
In whose name, then, this scarlet bed
of wounds is flowering ?

It is some madman
stubbornly upholding Truth,
unbending to the winds of lies and cunning.

It is clear, his punishment must be
Death by stoning !

* Translator's Note : Quais (Majnoon) and Leila, Farhad (Kohkun) and Shireen
symbolize enduring love in Urdu poetry, love of a kind that is shocking and
disgraceful in the eyes of the orthodox.

Translated by Mahmood Jamal


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