Saturday, June 10, 2017


Aaj ka din bhi aish se guzraa; 
Sar se paun tak badan salaamat hai. 

-Jaun Elia.

This day too passed in pleasure,
From head to toe, the body is intact.

(translated by Siyaah)

aish: in pleasure, luxury, grandeur; the word in everyday usage also implies excessive enjoyment.
salaamat: Safe and sound; in safety and security. The everyday language in which it is used in the verse, there is an impliication that the object in question (body) was not hurt/damaged/broken, which I have captured by ‘intact’.

Jaun Elia’s choice of these two words reveals his style of saying so much with such simple, apparently everyday expressions. These two words provide intriguing contrasts:

At one level it is a commentary on the state of deprivation, uncertainty, and threats that one lives in where even such basic physical survival is equivalent to a luxury. Just having the body intact by the end of the day is considered a day of luxury and enjoyment.

But at another level, I belive what is left unsaid provides an additional hidden layer of meaning: while the body may be intact, what of the heart and soul? How shattered are those? The poet may be sarcastically celebrating the body being intact, implying that there is more which is shattered. And yet, thinking or talking of that is a luxury the poet cannot even undertake.

The couplet sounds simple yet at the same time immediately signals to the audience that there is more, keep probing for underlying meanings within the apparently direct words. That is Jaun Elia at his finest.

All these aspects make it one of my favorite Jaun Elia couplets.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

In Siyaah's voice: Marking 10 years of the blog

So it turns out this experimental blog has lasted over 10 years!

What could I do to mark this milestone? For my fellow travelers on this journey - and there have been many - who encouraged me with their comments at any point over all these years, I wanted to share a new experiment.

A casual, somewhat fun, and impromptu recital at an informal mehfil of a few couplets from the ghazal Raah-e-Siyaah that I posted here some time ago. 

I apologize for the terrible quality, but maybe it is best so that at least some anonymity is preserved here as always. My attempt over the years has been to remain "unknown" and let the translations and poetry speak...perhaps I will delete this after some time...not sure.