Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The consolations of poetry

Things hardly ever go as planned, especially big things and that's why there is poetry. Sometimes, there is much solace in words, not action. All it takes is a couch, a page with a few lines, a rhyme, a metaphor and suddenly the view changes. I discovered Urdu poetry on my trip back home this time, thanks to the man who has no name. I'm barely fluent in Hindi but I'm quite taken with Urdu's old world charms and wish I had learned Urdu in school. The men who write these poems seem to be posessed with an intelligence measured by self-deprecation and an appreciation for the absurdities of life. For instance, look at this couplet, which is among my favourite lines by Mirza Ghalib:
"Ranj se xuugar huaa insaan, toh mit jaataa hai ranj
mushkilen mujh par padi itnii, kih aasaaN ho gaiin"
This roughly translates as 'When a person becomes accustomed to grief, then grief is erased/ The difficulties that fell upon me were so many, that it became easy.'
It's a wry and useful way of looking at a series of misfortunes and it invariably makes me laugh at my troubles, varied as they may be.