Saturday, June 10, 2017

Salaamat

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)


Notes:
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.

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