'Love Longing Loss In Urdu Poetry' review: Better to have loved and lost

As I go through the verses of Meer, Ghalib, Momin, Dagh, Faiz and other legendary shayars tucked in this volume, it comes across as such a treat that one is overwhelmed at Saraf ’s labour of love

'Love Longing Loss In Urdu Poetry' review: Better to have loved and lost
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Humra Quraishi

Khushwant Singh would stress that to understand the beauty of Urdu Shairi and Literature, one ought to have a grasp of the Urdu language. Alas, we have been living in such turbulent dark times that even languages are not spared onslaughts by the bigoted and the blind.

Urdu, widely seen as a language of the Musalman, is not just being neglected but bypassed to such an extent that even those whose mother tongue is Urdu are today not in a position to learn, read or speak in their own mother tongue -- Urdu.

Sanjiv Saraf is the knight in shining armour who set up Rekhta Foundation out of his love for the Urdu language and poetry. He is passionate about propagation of the Urdu language, through festivals and events, publishing Urdu Literature, preserving the Urdu text. Also, bringing into focus the sheer beauty and expanse of Urdu poetry.

In fact, I am just back from the launch of Sanjiv Saraf ’s latest volume- Love, Longing Loss In Urdu Poetry in which he has translated Urdu verses dripping with romance, longing, love…and loss.

As I go through the verses of Meer, Ghalib, Momin, Dagh, Faiz and several other legendary shayars tucked in this volume, it comes across as such a treat that one is overwhelmed at Saraf ’s labour of love. It’s no easy task to translate from the Urdu language to English, but then if one is truly passionate and sincere then nothing seems impossible. Above all, if one has seen and experienced the various hues to life and everyday living then one is ripened enough to take on even the most challenging of ventures.

As Sanjiv details at the very start of this volume, in his introductory ‘A Personal Note’: “This book would not have been possible without experiencing the ups and downs,, highs and lows, the agony and ecstasy that love and only love provides. Sensitivity to poetry, a real empathetic understanding, comes only if one has undergone or, as is extremely rare, has the ability to imagine such emotions.”

One has to stand out asa romantic-being and proclaim this loud and clear, with great sensitivity and raw gentleness. To quote Sanjiv: “I too have been grist to the mill of romance. Having been through the entire gamut of highs and lows ---infatuation and rejection, marriage and separation, attachment and alienation --- I have been ground quite fine and I am somewhat attuned to the emotions and nuances of love poetry. It is this understanding which I wish to bring out in this book. Those who have experienced romance might identity with various she’rs included here. Those who have been differently fortunate can live vicariously through these she’rs.”


And on selecting she'rsfor this volume, from the hundreds and thousands, Sanjiv has this to add, “In selecting she’rs for his book I felt the same as Ghalib did –

Khultakisi pe kyon mire dil ka muamla/

She’ronkeintiKhab ne rusvakiyamujhe

(Why would matters of my heart be for all to see/

Selection of these couplets has brought me infamy).”

And then there’s more from him on this, “But it is a bit late for me to be worried about being judged by anyone. I have lived life largely on my own terms and need, I feel, make no excuses.”

With that take off, this volume is indeed a treat for the readers. Needless for me to remind readers that romantic verses provide much needed cushioning and comfort in these times.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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