Poet for the Moment

There is joy in rediscovery. One such was:

तुझको मुझको जीवन अम्रित अब इन हाथों से पीना है
इनकी धड़कन में बसना है, इनकी साँसों में जीना है
तू अपनी अदाएं बक्ष इन्हें, मैं अपनी वफ़ाएं देता हूँ
जो अपने लिए सोचीं थी कभी, वो सारी दुआएं देता हूँ

This is an extract from the song, “Main Har Ek Pal Ka Shayar Hoon” (I am the Poet of Each Moment), from the movie Kabhi Kabhi, written by Sahir and rendered in the soulful voice of Mukesh.

Amit and I have this thing going about translations, (and it has been a while since either of us translated anything) so I’ll invite his comments on this average translation of the stanza above:

You and I have to drink the nectar of life with these hands
We’ll reside in their heartbeats; live in their breath
You bestow your grace on them; I’ll pledge my faithfulness
Prayers that I had once wished for myself, I grant to them.

(The “their” and the “them” are the moments that the poet belongs to.)

A few days ago, I had posted the stanza on my Tumblr blog, and said that it was possibly one of the best expressions of commitment to life. Having played this stanza a few hundred times, since then and having marinated it long enough with the context of events in my recent past, meanings for this stanza in particular and the song in general, have evolved. It’s not about a commitment to life or the moments, it’s an expression of commitment. Period.

One theme that this stanza insists on, is that commitment is full-duplex; not simplex. Which makes sense, and overthrows a traditional belief that you commit. There is always a “commit-to”. In that sense, the full-duplex makes complete sense. It’s almost like saying, “I give my commitment”, but it’s incomplete without hearing, “I take your commitment.” Can commitment be complete if it is not accepted; acknowledged at least?

Over a period, all that you loved once gets mired with cynicism and disenchantment; the clouds float low and obstruct vision. Without getting into the obvious complications of defining love, what goes amiss is the energy and the sense of being alive, we feel when we are in love. We look at the cracked walls and we doubt the foundations. The drudgery of everyday life and continuing disappointments wear off that sense and it is replaced with zombie-like state that isn’t easy to ward off. I believe it may be so, because the zombie has neither a head nor heart nor a soul. Somehow, we manage to pay more attention to the negativity. Without warning it becomes a habit.


Along comes a song – a stanza to be precise – that you always knew but never really paid attention to; awakens you to the state that made you love something in the first place. There were words that once poured of the angst and the ecstasy of being in that state. They come back to you.

And you become what you were – a poet – a poet of the moment – a poet of each moment.


10 thoughts on “Poet for the Moment

  1. strange how one can connect thus with words, tunes, songs… this post reminds me of a Gujarati gazal that I had heard my father humming to himself..

    may be it was the time, but when i came across it recently, nothing had touched me so much in a long time as Md. Rafi’s rendition of the song..

    reading this, i am inspired to translate Gani Dahiwala’s gazal.. i have made one attempt so far, Bela Bose by Anjan Dutt.. Hear it if you can..


  2. Atul,

    I don’t think this is average at all. It’s quite good. I did try a non-literal translation, but couldn’t get anywhere satisfactory.

    As for the rest, will comment later. It’s an understatement to say that the post deserves a comment, but I’ve not found the quality time needed for a quality response.



  3. Heartening to read through this rediscovery of Sahir. My two cents: the “har ek pal ka shayar” wasn’t so much a song that stood on its own – it leaned heavily on the “pal do pal ka shayar”.

    “Poet of a moment or two” was perhaps a more lasting image of Sahir… this was perhaps him having a king of the world moment.

    Love this blog – it’s such a hop on-hop off tour into ongoing conversations. Is there more stuff on translations?


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