‘Awaara’ By Asrar-Ul-Haq Majaz (1911-1955)

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Unhappy and feeble, I wander the city by night
Drifting the vigilant avenues as they glitter with sparkling lights
How long must I tarry in these strange, unfamiliar sites?

Oh my sad and savage heart! what is there I can do?

The mesh of stars above and the argent shade seem
Conjured by a mystic’s fancy or by a lover’s dream
Ah, but no one knows what fires burn within my being

Oh my sad and savage heart! what is there I can do?

The night, laughing, ever beckons me to the tavern floor
It invites me to call at the rose-cheeked beauty’s door
And if not this, it bids me into the wilderness roam

Oh my sad and savage heart! what is there I can do?

I crave to wring the dead moon and stars from the sky
From end to end I wish I could their moorings pry
Not a few, but all the heavens I would wrench from on high

Oh my sad and savage heart! what is there I can do?

It’s not my nature to stop and rest before journey’s end
Nor my character to turn back or to wend
And I’m not, I fear, fortunate enough for a friend

Oh my sad and savage heart! what is there I can do?

From beyond a palace the futile jaundiced moon looks
Like a mullah’s turban or a money-lender’s books
Or like youth-in-poverty or a widow’s wily hooks

Oh my sad and savage heart! what is there I can do?

I witness everywhere spectacles of misery
Whilst a multitude of tyrants prevail at every
Side, and a thousand despots thrive wherever I see

Oh my sad and savage heart! what is there I can do?

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Shahar ki raat aur main nashad-o-nakaara phiroon
(city’s night and I unhappy-useless wander)
Jagmagati jaagati sarko peh aawara phrioon
(glittering awake roads on drift-wander)
Ghair ki basti hai kab tak dar badar maraa phiroon
(strangers realm this is how long door-to-door I drift)
Ai gham-e-dil kya karoon, ai wahshat-e-dil kya karoon
(O sad-heart what to do, O restless/wild-heart what to do)

Yeh roophali chhaon yeh aakash par taaron ka jaal
(this silvery shade this sky on which a net of stars)
Jaise soofi ka tasavvur jaise aashique ka khayaal
(like a sufi’s imagining like a lovers thought)
Aah lekin kaun jaane kaun samjhe jee ka haal
(Ah, but who knows who understands minds condition)
Ai gham-e-dil kya karoon, ai wahshat-e-dil kya karoon
(O sad-heart what to do, O restless/wild-heart what to do)

Raat hans hans kar yeh kahati hai keh maikhane mein chal
(night laughing says that to the tavern walk)
Phir kisi shahnaz-e-lalarukh ke kaashane mein chal
(again some beautiful-flower-faced’s place to walk)
Yeh nahin mumkin to phir ai dost veerane mein chal
(if not possible then my friend to the wilderness walk)
Ai gham-e-dil kya karoon, ai wahshat-e-dil kya karoon
(O sad-heart what to do, O restless/wild-heart what to do)

Ji mein acta hai ye murda chaand tare noch lun
(Mind-in-comes that the dead moon stars wring I)
Is kinase notch pun air us kinaare notch lun
(This shore wring it that shore wring it)
Ek do ka zikr kya, saare ke saare noch lun
(one two of talk what, all-of-all wring them)
Ai gham-e-dil kya karoon, ai wahshat-e-dil kya karoon
(O sad-heart what to do, O restless/wild-heart what to do)

Raste mein ruk ke dam le loon meri aadat nahin
(path in stop and rest take I my habit is not)
Laut kar vaapas chala jaaoon, meri fitrat nahin
(return to go back walk go, my nature not)
Aur koi hamnawa mil jai yeh qismat nahin
(and some companion meet that luck not)
Ai gham-e-dil kya karoon, ai wahshat-e-dil kya karoon
(O sad-heart what to do, O restless/wild-heart what to do)

Ik mahal ki aarh se nikala woh peela mahtaab
(one palace from behind comes out that yellow moon)
Jaise mulla ka amama jaise baniye ki kitab
(like a mullah’s turban like a merchant’s ledger)
Jaise muflis ki jawani jaise bewah ka shabaab
(like a poor mans youth like a widows allure)
Ai gham-e-dil kya karoon, ai wahshat-e-dil kya karoon
(O sad-heart what to do, O restless/wild-heart what to do)

Muflisi aur yeh mazahir hain nazar ke samane
(poverty and these displays are in-eyes front)
Saikaron Changez-O-Naadir  hain nazar ke samane
(hundered genghis-and-Naadirs are in-eyes front)
Saikaron sultan-o-Jabir hain nazar ke samne
(hundered sultans-and-despots are in-eyes front)
Ai gham-e-dil kya karoon, ai wahshat-e-dil kya karoon
(O sad-heart what to do, O restless/wild-heart what to do)

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A beautiful nazm by Majaz. It addresses his hopelessness about the inequities and injustices that he encountered in his life.

Such is the permanence of his verse, that these sentiments are still as valid today as they were then. Majaz was a tortured and fiery genius, who burnt bright but all too brief – he died alone in a bar, depressed and disappointed with life.

Awaara means a vagabond or a drifter; someone who roams aimlessly.

This translation is not of the entire nazm, but a major portion of it.

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