‘Aaj Bazaar Mein’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984)

These tear-brimmed eyes, this turbulent life
And the slanders on our love aren’t enough
We must walk these streets; bowed, confined
We must pass there in shackles and cuffs

With hands spread out; dancing in a daze
With bloodied garb and dust caked hair
Through our beloved’s city we must walk,
While everyone awaits us there

There the chieftain and the peasants,
There heavy stones of abuse are flung;
There days without resolve and sad morns await,
There arrows tipped with slurs are slung

Who but us can they count as friend?
Which one of us is still unsullied?
Who but us can endure till the end?
Who but us has the strength to bleed?

O burdened hearts, come walk with us again
Come, O friends, for we go to be slain



Chasm-e-nam, jaan-e-shoreedaan qaafi nahin
Tohmat-e-ishq poshidaa qaafi nahin
Aaj bazaar mein pa-ba joulaan chalo

Dast afhsaan chalo, mast-o-raqsaan chalo
Khaak bar sar chalo, khoon badamaan chalo
Raah taktaa hai sab sheher-e-jaanaan chalo

Hakim-e-sheher bhi, majmaa-e-aam bhi
Teer-e-ilzaam bhi, sang-e-dushnaam bhi
Subh-e-nashaad bhi, roz-e-naakaam bhi

Unkaa dum-saaz apne siwa kaun hai
Sheher-e-jaanaan mein ab ba safaa kaun hai
Dast-e-qaatil ke shayaan rahaa kaun hai

Rakht-e-dil baandh lo, dil figaaro chalo
Phir hameen qatl ho jaayein, ae yaaro chalo



This cryptic ghazal has a social theme. Faiz wrote this on the way to prison for his political views.

On first scan, this reads like a conventional ghazal with romantic love as the subject, but on closer analysis, one understands that Faiz is talking about the injustices visited upon the innocent in his society.

The poem is narrated from the viewpoint of the downtrodden – the innocent victim, for upholding his values, is pilloried and shamed by the very society he loves; finally succumbing under the relentless assault of opposition he encounters.

The last few lines are a poignant note of surrender to his situation, tinged with the hope that the sacrifice will of some use.

I think Faiz’s poetry is nothing short of miraculous, in how the words are woven into beautiful and sublime works of art. Words, phrases, metaphors, etc. connect and relate to each other like threads in a tapestry, forming a beautiful whole.

Faiz requires no introduction, because he is one of the most famous poets of Urdu.


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