Sunday, February 15, 2015

Maraasim by Ahmed Faraaz

Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it happens with others too. In my mind, some words are inseparably associated with a sher. Probably because it was that sher that introduced to me the specific word.

One such word is ‘मरासिम [maraasim]’. It means ‘having cordial relations’ (or ‘मेल जोल [meljol]’ in Hindi).

I am sure the sher that comes to anyone’s mind when hearing this word is the following.

Note : I am giving translations to convey my interpretations, not trying to write equivalent English poetry.
पहले से मरासिम ना सही, फिर भी कभी तो
रस्म-ओ-रह-ए-दुनिया ही निभाने के लिए आ

रस्म-ओ-रह [rasm-o-rah] == custom, tradition
रस्म-ओ-रह-ए-दुनिया [rasm-o-rah-e-duniyaa] == worldly traditions

pehle se maraasim na sahi, phir bhi kabhi to
rasm-o-rah-e-duniyaa hi nibhaane ke liye aa

[We may no longer have a relationship, but once in a while
Come and meet with me, just for keeping social customs]
This is of course from from one of the most famous GHazals of all time, ‘ranjish hi sahi’. It’s written by one of my favorite poets Ahmed Faraaz, whom I consider to be the best Urdu poet of our times. The entire GHazal is full of innovative ways of pleading with his beloved to return back to him. It’s hard to pick a favourite sher in that GHazal. I love all of them, including the above.

I associate this word, not just with this sher, but also with the poet himself. I do not recollect a single good sher by any other poet, that uses this word. But I know of many ash’aar by Faraaz that employ this word. I must clarify that, I am sure other poets have used this word, it’s just that I associate Faraaz with this word.

Faraaz, first and foremost, is a poet of emotions and relations. Here is a sher to illustrate that point. The reality does not have discrete stages of relationships, like in-love or broken-up. There are many shades, many hard to define stages. The following sher beautifully captures one sad shade of the pre-break-up stage.
अब तो हमें भी, तर्क़-ए-मरासिम का दुख नहीं
पर दिल यह चाहता है, कि आग़ाज़ तू करें

तर्क़ [tarq] ==  to abandon
आग़ाज़ [aaghaaz] == beginning

ab to humeiN bhi tark-e-maraasim ka dukh nahiN
par dil yeh chaahataa hai ki aaghaaz tu kare

[Even I am not going to be saddened by the loss of relationship now.
But my heart wants you to take the first step (towards breaking it).]

[I know we are going to break up, but I don’t have the courage to actually do it. Or I don’t want to be the one who actually does it. Interpret it the way you want it.]
There is feeling of surrendering to the eventuality, but unwillingness to embrace it. I adore this kind of poetry that poets like Sahir and Faraaz were so good at. They perfectly capture the multi-dimensionality of human emotions.

Of course not all couplets are going to be great. The following is one such. Pedestrian by Faraaz’s standard.
क्या कहें, कितने मरासिम थे हमारे उस से
वह जो इक शख़्स है, मुंह फेर के जानेवाला

kya kaheiN, kitne maraasim the hamaare us se
woh jo ik shakhs hai, muNh pher ke jaane waala
People who have only a passing interest in GHazal often associate it with expressing nothing but sadness. That’s understandable. They notice and appreciate the depth of sorrow found in Urdu GHazals. But these casual listeners don’t realize how diverse the paths are to this sadness. Sometimes the poet just tries to find sadness, almost in a masochistic way. The next sher captures the typical depression centric mentality, which finds sorrow even in an improving situation.
अगर किसी से मरासिम बढ़ाने लगते है
तेरे फ़िराक़ के दुख याद आने लगते है

फ़िराक़ [firaaq] == separation

agar kisi se maraasim badhaane lagate hai
tere firaaq ke dukh yaad aane lagate hai

[Whenever I attempt to get back into a relation,
I am reminded of the pain of our separation]
The next one may feel similar, but it's very different.
देख अब क़ुर्ब का मौसम भी न सरसब्ज़ लगे
हिज्र ही हिज्र मरासिम में समोया कैसा

क़ुर्ब [qurb] == nearness
सरसब्ज़ [sarsabz] == green, fertile, successful
हिज्र [hijr] == separation

dekh ab qurb ka mausam bhi na sarsabz lage
hijr hi hijr maraasim me samoya kaisa

[See, even this closeness doesn’t feel real
Why does it seem to contain eventual separation?]
Such ash'aar are perhaps hard to appreciate, and may be that's why you will rarely hear them in GHazals that are sung. I like how they highlight the contradictions often contained within human emotions.

I will leave you with my favorite “maraasimsher.
सिलसिले तोड़ गया वो सभी जाते जाते
वर्ना इतने तो मरासिम थे, कि आते जाते

silsile toD gayaa wo sabhi jaate jaate
warna itne to maraasim the, ki aate jaate
That wordplay is so typically Faraaz! Here it is also crucial to bring out the finality of the break-up. This marvelous sher is the maqta of one of most famous and wonderful GHazals by Faraaz.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...