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Rambling on: Translation of an Urdu poem by Parveen Shakir

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Translation of an Urdu poem by Parveen Shakir

The Wife Of Bashira
Perveen Shakir
Translated from the Urdu by Baidar Bakht and Leslie Lavigne

Oh, you pitiable thing!
The lowliest
Of mammals!
You rib-born, worn as a shoe!
When your brother
Would butterfly in the garden,
Your flower-like hands
Would carry a broomstick
Taller than you.
Holding the corner of your mother´s gown,
You learnt so many household chores:
Making cow-dung cakes,
Cutting firewood,
Mixing fodder for the cattle.
But your mother
Always kept the pat of butter
For your brother´s bread
And curry from last night.
Eating leftovers
And wearing rags,
When you came to puberty,
Your father hated you even more.
He kept a close watch
On all your movements,
As if you would elope with someone
At the first opportunity.
The day you turned sixteen,
One man unburdened his soul
To the body of another.
The sty and master changed,
Your job remained the same,
In fact, increased.
Now, your duties included
Humouring the breadwinner at night, as well;
And becoming pregnant every year;
And looking after the house
Until just before giving birth.
The husband´s job was up to bed,
The rest assigned to you.
What a job!
No wages, no days off,
No rituals of resignation.
Even beasts of burden are permitted to rest
On a burning afternoon
In the shade of a tree.
No such moment is there for you.
The bypath of your life has no such tree.
Alas! It seems your life
Is the punishment for sins
Committed in past lives.
If you sell your body,
You´re a prostitute.
You trade your soul
And are called a wife.
For how long
Will these insults be heaped upon you
At the hands of time?
For the sake of a morsel of bread,
And a cup full of water,
How long will you go on
Sacrificing yourself


Blogger Danial said...

Perveen Shakir gave special femenine touch to Urdu poetry. She has a different voice and totally different (read opposite) way of looking at things than other male poets in her times. Like when Amjad Islam Amjad and Faraz were talking about commitment, lost love and femenine beauty, she talked about betrayl, ecstasy and masculine beauty. For the first time in hostory of Urdu poetry, someone talked about dolls, little girls, ponds, waterfalls, air, cloths, perfume and husbands.

It was really good to read her in English and it was really good to read you. Keep writing...

5:02 AM  
Blogger Deevaan said...

You are most welcome to drop in anytime and read more of this stuff. I found this piece on a online literary magazine hosted in the US which has a section on translations from world literation (non English section)

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats the urdu poem called?

11:34 PM  

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