Vinita Agarwal

Two Poems in English and Three Translations from Urdu

Three Translations of Faiz Ahmed Faiz by Vinita Agarwal


फिर कोई आया दिल-ए-ज़ार,नहीं कोई नहीं
राहरव होगा, कहीं और चला जाएगा

ढल चुकी रात, बिखरने लगा तारों का गुबार
लड़खडाने लगे एवानों में ख्वाबीदा चिराग़
सो गई रास्ता तक तक के हर एक रहगुज़र
अजनबी ख़ाक ने धुंधला दिए कदमों के सुराग़
गुल करो शम'एं, बढ़ाओ मय-ओ-मीना-ओ-अयाग़

अपने बेख़्वाब किवाडों को मुकफ़्फ़ल कर लो
अब यहाँ कोई नहीं , कोई नहीं आएगा...

Someone's at your door again, sad heart.
No. No one.
Must be a traveller who will soon be on his way. 
The night is over
the clouds of stars are dissipating
flickering, the dying flames in the hallways.

Paths are asleep, having spent the night, waiting.
A strange dust has dimmed the clues of footprints.

Snuff out the candles, remove wine and the goblets.
Lock your dreamless doors;
there is no one here.
No one will pass by this way 
ever again.


आए कुछ अब्र कुछ शराब आए
उस के बाद आए जो अज़ाब आए

बाम-ए-मीना से माहताब उतरे
दस्त-ए-साक़ी में आफ़ताब आए

हर रग-ए-ख़ूँ में फिर चराग़ाँ हो
सामने फिर वो बेनक़ाब आए

उम्र के हर वरक़ पे दिल को नज़र
तेरी मेहेर-ओ-वफ़ा के बाब आए

कर रहा था ग़म-ए-जहाँ का हिसाब
आज तुम याद बेहिसाब आए

न गई तेरे ग़म की सरदारी
दिल में यूँ रोज़ इन्क़लाब आए

जल उठे बज़्म-ए-ग़ैर के दर-ओ-बाम
जब भी हम ख़ानाख़राब आए

इस तरह अपनी ख़ामोशी गूँजी
गोया हर सिम्त से जवाब आए

'फ़ैज़' थी राह सर बसर मंज़िल
हम जहाँ पहुँचे कामयाब आए

Let clouds gather
let the wine flow 
then bring on whatever torment
you wish to inflict on me.

Let the moon sink
into this goblet of wine
let the sun rise
from the palms of the one who serves it.

Let every drop of blood in my veins
blaze again;
let my love appear before me, 

My heart was gifted 
with scars of love
and fidelity
in every phase of life.

Today I took count
of all the pain in the world -
and thought of you 
a million times.

The sovereignty of your pain
remained unchallenged
although new rebellions stirred 
in my heart everyday.

I brought destruction
to homes of strangers
each time I, 
the omen of ruins, arrived.

Our silence echoed, 
as though answers 
from all directions.

the journey itself was the destination  
I emerged victorious
wherever I went.


आज इक हरफ़ को फिर ढूंढता फिरता है ख़्याल
मध-भरा हरफ़ कोई ज़हर-भरा हरफ़ कोई
दिलनशीं हरफ़ कोई कहर-भरा हरफ़ कोई
हरफ़े-उलफ़त कोई दिलदारे-नज़र हो जैसे
जिससे मिलती है नज़र बोसा-ए-लब की सूरत
इतना रौशन कि सरे-मौजा-ए-ज़र हो जैसे
सोहबते-यार में आग़ाज़े-तरब की सूरत
हरफ़े-नफ़रत कोई शमशीरे-ग़ज़ब हो जैसे
ता-अबद शहरे-सितम जिससे तबह हो जायें
इतना तारीक कि शमशान की शब हो जैसे
लब पे लाऊं तो मेरे होंठ सियह हो जायें

आज हर सुर से हर इक राग का नाता टूटा
ढूंढती फिरती है मुतरिब को फिर उसकी आवाज़
जोशिशे-दर्द से मजनूं के गरेबां की तरह
आज हर मौज हवा से है सवाली ख़िलकत
ला कोई नग़मा कोई सौत तेरी उम्र दराज़
नौहा-ए-ग़म ही सही शोरे-शहादत ही सही
सूरे-महशर ही सही बांगे-क्यामत ही सही

A thought is searching for a word 
a sweet intoxicating word, a poisonous word,
a word that captivates the heart,
a calamitous, ruinous word.

Gazing at a word of love
is like gazing at the beloved
as though seeing it, is kissing it.
Luminous as the shining crest of a rising wave
thrilling as the surge of emotions when making love.

Words of hate are deadly swords -
destroying forever, cities of oppression with their power
as black as an evening in a cemetery
so dark that if I were to utter them, they would turn my lips blue.
Today the connection between melody and notes is asunder
Voice hunting for the singer.
The strings of instruments are broken
like the torn collar of a seething, demented lover.

Today creation entreats the breeze for a song
rife with the blessings for a long life. 
But first there should be a song…
even if it evokes a tragic sentiment 
or brings forth the sacrifice of martyrs being slain 
even if it invokes the clarion call of resurrection
even though if it all it does, is chronicle an apocalypse.

Message to the Species

That Have Gone Extinct

You will not miss azure skies
or turquoise seas.
We don’t have them anymore.
We have an expanse of plastic instead
vying for its share of the earth
and its waters.
We also have an expanse of grey.

You must be in the realm 
of sapphires and rubies
I imagine.
In any case a place 
tidier than this.
Kinder than this.
That’s why we have Terminator 
in our vocabulary.
We are all terminators.
each one of us.

Will we be forgiven 
if we face the West
kneel and pray?
Or if we face East
and stand with folded palms?

Mankind itself is about to end.
In this orbit 
of mass extinction,
we too are going.
Think of it as payback time.
Retribution is another word we have.

Days are growing longer.
Nights wearier.
Goggle-wearing parrots 
are teaching drones 
and flying-robots how to fly
so that the earth bears a semblance 
to what it was
after the Homo sapiens have gone.

This is the Anthropocene.
If you were here today 
you’d be buried under Technofossils 
the debris of ball point pens and USB sticks.
You’d be threatened with Man flu.
You’d be gone all over again.
all nine hundred of you.

Artificial intelligence 
is about to surpass human intellect.
The regret is that 
if it had happened sooner 
you would have been saved.

I wouldn’t be writing this.
We wouldn’t be begging for forgiveness.

This Pandemic

This Pandemic 

        the winds turned me inside out
made me an ashlar floor of fallen leaves
            curling against the base of tree barks.

The more self-contained I became 
                  the more intolerant I was of sunlight 
 - giver of warmth, keeper of life
               enclosure of the burning heart.

Yesterday I closed-up completely 
 howled in solitude 
               as though the licence to be alone  
               was a license to cause floods.

Zoom, Meet, Streamyard
       aren’t enough. 
                        Do you think 
the liquid crystals of a screen 
                    afford touch?

I know well
       how many leaves inhabit 
the right angled branch of the Gulmohar 
          outside my window. 

I’ve counted them a zillion times. 

(A day bitten blue with teeth marks.)

                I chase scattered dots 
that cannot be connected again.
                      (like fallen leaves)

I turn awkward 
                       if I hug or kiss.
I’m a string without beads
                       a sky without stars.
I’m trying to preserve the look in your eyes,
this pandemic.

Vinita Agrawal is a poet, editor, curator and convenor of literary events, She is the author of four collections of poetry and the editor of an anthology on climate change Open Your Eyes (Hawakal, 2020) She was short listed for 2018 Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for her poetry collection The Silk of Hunger and awarded the prize jointly. She is on the advisory board of the Tagore Literary Prize, and editor of  Usawa Literary Review. Vinita has recently co-edited the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English (Hawakal). Her work has been published in Indian Quarterly, Mascara Review, Zingara, Fox Chase Review, Indian Periodical, Asian Cha, Voice & Verse Poetry, TallGrass Writers Guild anthology, Vayavya, Stockholm Literary Review, Constellations, Pea River Journal, Open Road Review, Bengaluru Review among others. Her poem won a special mention at the Hawker Prize and third place at the Proverse Prize. She was shortlisted for the inaugural Dipankar Khiwani Memorial prize 2021. Her poems have won first prize at Hour of Writes. She judged the RLFPA poetry contest (International Prize) in 2016 and co judged the Asian Cha’s poetry contest on The Other Side in 2015. She was featured in a documentary Deepest Uprising, on Asian women poets, produced in Taiwan.