Friday, April 22, 2011

breathingspaces: Ik Samvad: Qatre Aur Samuundar Ka

breathingspaces: Ik Samvad: Qatre Aur Samuundar Ka

Ik Samvad: Qatre Aur Samuundar Ka

(i) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Tu hi bata, teri aukaat kya hai
Mere samane teri bisaat kya hai ?
Mujhme doob jane ke ilawa
Tera aur paschataap kya hai ?  

Qatra kahe samundar se
Mein jaanta hoon, apni haqiqat
Mere hone ka nahi hai koi matlab
Tere adbhut, apaar felav ke samane   
Mein jaanta hoon, meri nahi koi bisaat   

(ii) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Agar tu apni aukat jaanta hai
Aur apni jaat bhi pehchanta hai
To kyon nahi mujh tak aa jaata
Aur mujh mein hi samaa jaata 

Qatra kahe samundar se
Tujh mein samaane se darta hoon
Apni aukat ho na ho,  
Tujh mein samaa kar
Khud ko khone se darta hoon

(iii) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Khud ko khona teri tadbir nahi
Khud ko khona teri taqdir hai
Tera hona ya na hona to bus ik haadsa hai
Na hai fitrat yeh teri, na koi majboori hai 

Qatra kahe samundar se
Log kahte hein, tuh itna vishal hai
Kyon machata toon phir dhamal hai
Mujh se hi tun kyon mukhatib hai
Teri yeh kya majboori hai ? 

(iv) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Mein to tere liye hi kahta hoon
Qatra ban ban is duniya meiin bhata hoon
Tujhmein ansh dekhoon koi apna sa
Lage aise, koi dhoomil sapna sa

Qatra kahe samundar se
Agar baat hai bus itni si
To kyon toon saaf nahi kahata 
Mujh mein to itni taakat hi nahi
Kyon mujh mein hi aa nahi bahta

(v) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Tera mun abhi to khali hai
Tera tun bhi abhi to khali hai
Mein is khalipan ka kya karoon
Mein is khalipan mein nahi bahta

Qatra kahe samundar se 
Gar toon mujhe itna kahta hai
Gar toon mujhe itna chata  hai
Mera khalipan toon hi bhar de  
Mere tun or mun ko naya wajood de de

(vi) Samundar ne kaha qatre se 
Yeh khalipan yoonhi nahi bharta
Isko bharne ki koshish tumhari hai
Mein to bus bahta rahta hoon
Jo bhi chahe, mujh mein samaata hai

Qatra kahe samundar se
Tujhse mil kar kya karoonga mein
Jiwan apna doobhar karoonga mein
Tujhme mil kar kho jaoonga mein
Hamesha ke liye so jaaoonga mein

(vii) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Mujh mein samana teri fitrat hai  
Tera khona hi teri haqiqat hai
Mujh mein doobkar hi to
Toon apne aap ko payega

Qatra kahe samundar se 
Apne aap ko pana tha gar mujhe
To kyon yeh khel racchaya tha
Yeh khone aur pane kaa
Kyon tunhe dhong racchaya tha  

(viii) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Mein bhi to kaam karte karte
Kabhi kabhi thak jaata hoon
Aur gar samajh na aaye aur koi
To bus yehi khel raccchata hoon

Qarta kahe samundar se
Tere liye mera hona ya naa hona
Bus khel hai mun lagane kaa ?
Yeh khona au paana koi haqiqat nahi
Bus sapna hai aane au jaane kaa ? 

(ix) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Yeh baat hai to chorh de yeh sapna tu  
Tere liye mein nahi bahta
Tera mera milan koi sacchai nahi
Bikhri hui ik kahani hai  

Qatra kahe samundar se
Is bikhri kahani ko jor de tu
Mere bikhre swaroop ko jor de tu
Tere bin yeh kahani adhoori hai
Tere bin har manzil adhoori hai

(x) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Mujhse juda bhi tera koi wajood nahi
Mujhse behtar tera koi rakkib nahi
Mujhse bicchar kar tu hi bata
Tu kahan au kidhar jaayega   

Qatra kahe samundar se
Mera hona ya na hona
Bus teri mehrbani hai
Meri apni koi kahani nahi
Bus teri bicchri hui ravani hai

(xi) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Utar ke dekh gharai mein meri tu
Yahan har ik boond moti banti hai
Boond ka moti bananan hi to
Samundar ka kartab kahlata hai

Qatra kahe samundar se
Boond boond moti kahalaye
Har ik boond ki yeh kismet nahi
Kucch ko baihna boond boond hota hai
Kucch ko saihna hota bara samundar hai

(xii) Samundar ne kaha qatre se
Mera seena chotta nahi hai, suun le   
Yoon hi vishal hridaya nahi kahata hoon
Chir ke dekh tu bhi ek bar isko
Tera chhipa hua roop dikhlaata hoon  

Iske baad, kahte hain
Qatra chup ho gaya
Yaa phir woh
Kahin kho gaya
Kon jaanta hai, shayyad
Woh samundar ho gaya

Ab kabhi kabhi, waqat ki lehron par
Badale huye mausam ke rango par
Ya phir hawa ki urhti hui soch par
Kahte hain, yeh bhi sunayi deta hai…. 

Ik qatra hoon 
samundar ho jaoonga
naa gila hai koi qatra hone ka 
naa samundar se milne ki koi arzoo 
samay ke dwar pe baitha
bas lehrein gina karta hoon......

Iske saath saath, kabhi kabhi
Ik aur awaaz bhi sunayi deti hai,
Koi nahi jaanta, yeh kiski hai,
Qatre ki, ya samundar ki.  

Is qatre ki himakat to dekho 
Yeh bhi dum bharta hai hone ka 
Sapna bunta hai to samundar hone ka 
Hona ya na hona to ik alag baat hai 
Ehsas hai yeh apne ko khone ka 
Ya phir paa kar pooran hone ka
Hona na hona to ik ehsas hai 
Ankh ka dhoka hai ya phir 
Hawa ki silwaton par 
Badale huye rango ka asar hai

By Rana Nayar 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Random Thoughts

When do institutions begin to die?
Institutions live so long as individuals working in them work for them, not for themselves.
Institutions live so long as individuals follow the principle of collective wisdom and collective responsibility.
Institutions live so long as individuals 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Punjabi literature & Ray-Ban Glasses

During a literary meet I once attended, someone popped up this rather uneasy question in an equally unexpected manner: What is it that ails the Punjabi literature? All kinds of plausible and implausible answers were put forth, ranging from the lack of government support to the apathy of readers. If someone spoke passionately about the need to promote our literary culture through a network of libraries, others felt it necessary to promote, albeit aggressively, Punjabi language in states other than Punjab.
Almost everyone agreed that the problem lay with the external, motivating factors. Not even a single speaker thought it worthwhile to look inwards and suggest how far our personal and cultural attitudes were responsible for whatever was found wanting.  
Though the literary discussion ended inconclusively, as most of these discussions often do, I came back wondering if it wasn’t necessary for us to do some introspection and see how and in what different ways we were responsible for whatever had presumably gone wrong.
This is what prompted me to look through the haze of forgotten memories, and as I did so, a series of incidents came leaping back. Somehow I felt, that the answers lay hidden somewhere in these personal anecdotes. Once I had a chance encounter with a bright-looking young man from the department of Punjabi, who presented me with a strange request. He was looking for a portrait of Shakespeare and wanted my help in procuring one. I asked him, ‘Whatever do you want Shakespeare’s portrait for?’ He said, ‘Sir, I believe he was the greatest dramatist we have ever had. I admire him a great deal. I want to get his picture framed and put it up in my room.’ Now this had me completely flummoxed. After years of teaching Shakespeare, I felt I had finally come across a genuine Shakespeare lover. I said, ‘This is interesting. So you must have read most of his plays?’ Without so much as a blink, he shot back, ‘No Sir, I haven’t read any. But I have heard a great deal about him.’
Despite my familiarity with this oft-orchestrated Indian habit of icon-making and idolization, I somehow felt rather uneasy about the excessiveness of this Punjabi response. I wondered if this was the way we Punjabis often formed our impression(s) about authors, our own or those of the other languages and cultures? Merely on the basis of what we hear rather than what we read or discover?
What disturbed me the most was that despite being a student of Punjabi literature he wasn’t interested much in idolizing one of his own, but someone as remote and distant as Shakespeare, someone he hadn’t read, only heard of.
This would have continued to mystify me, had I not met one of my colleagues, a few days later. After meeting him I began to understand that idolization of a young fellow was not an aberration or an exception, but rather a product of a peculiar mind-set, an outcome of a certain way in which we continue to perceive ourselves in relation to the Europeans in general and the British in particular, their literature, history and culture. In course of an absolutely innocuous conversation, this colleague of mine, who incidentally teaches Punjabi, nearly had me zapped when he said, ‘Oh! Your situation is different. After all, you teach English literature (emphasis not mine).’  
More than the mixture of awe and envy in his words, it was this ideological mask of self-inferiorization that unnerved me a great deal. It took me quite some time to recover from the shock and gather my wits. Finally when I had, I said, ‘Why do you say that? You should be proud that you teach your own language/literature. I feel like a condemned soul who is forever enslaved to teach someone else’s.’ No doubt, the conversation ended on this note, but the words of my colleague had continued to haunt me for a long time.
Though he had dedicated several ‘precious’ decades of his life to the teaching of Punjabi literature, ‘my friend’ hadn’t really developed genuine pride in what he did. Somewhere he still nursed a secret envy for his counterparts who taught English literature. Was it not a symptom or an expression of self-inferiorization? Was it not the outcome of an ideology that often compelled us to indulge in inferiorization of our own language(s) and culture(s) at the cost of valorizing someone else’s?
Once while attending a parent-teacher meeting, I was shocked when the teacher complained to one of the parents of a six-year-old, saying, ‘I always tell him to speak English, at least, in my class, but he doesn’t listen. He has this ‘bad habit’ of using Punjabi expressions in between. You must check him.’ Do you recall having been subjected to this or having witnessed such a scene ever? Of course, all this is real, not just a figment of some crooked imagination.
Now, had it been a matter of a few isolated individuals or their flights of fancy, one may not have really bothered much. But unfortunately, it has percolated so deep down to our institutional practices that it’s actually worrisome.
While attending a seminar on Punjabi literature, I was aghast to learn how widespread and endemic this tendency among the scholars and academics of Punjabi was to flaunt their knowledge of the critical theories, tools and procedures churned out by the Western Academy. With a genuine tinge of pride in his tone, one of the academics boasted, ‘In less than a year, every new book or theory that the West produces is made available to the Punjabi readers through translation.’
But when I asked him about the reverse trend, he wasn’t too sure. It appears that our imports from other languages/cultures in terms of the translated literature, literary conventions and critical theories far exceed our exports of own literature and literary traditions to others. (Elementary economics tells us that exports must exceed the imports, if the balance of payments is to remain favourable).
A well-known publisher of Punjabi literature once told me in strict confidence, ‘I’ve bought the rights to publish all the works of Paulo Coelho in Punjabi.’ This is admirable, but my point is different. While too many people are worrying about how the Punjabi reader is to be acquainted with the best there is in the world literature, not many seem to bother about how our best could also be made available outside the frontiers of our state.
Put simply, it’s a classic case of adverse balance of payments in purely cultural, if not economic, terms? Won’t it, then, create conditions where our own cultural depletion or impoverishment could become threateningly real?
The height of celebrating our writers is that we eulogize Shiv Batalvi as the Keats of Punjab, and Mohan Bhandari as the Chekhov of Punjabi short story.
By thus depriving our authors or their works of cultural specificities, we, willy-nilly, render them nameless or ‘identity-less.’ Of course, we continue to wear and flaunt our masks of conquest, which, whether we realize or not, are our masks of self-defeat, too.
Now finally, the clinching question. Will this mind-set, this state of affairs, this cultural self-hatred ever change?
Yes, it just might. Only if we are prepared to change three things. One, genuinely improve our reading habits. Two, develop natural pride in our language/literature and increase our export surplus. Three, stop looking at our language, literature, writers and literary traditions through the tinted Ray-Ban glasses minted elsewhere.

By Rana Nayar