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Monday, 29 October 2012

Soun Gaam (Our Village) by Rehman Rahi

A hard-hitting satirical poem, 'Soun Gaam' portrays the culture of Kashmir in all its contradictions. It was written by the eminent Kashmiri poet Rehman Rahi in 1995. 

Listen to
Soun Gaam in kashmiri original narrated by the poet himself and recorded by Vivek Raina:



Our Village

Our village is better off as a village; call it not a city
It receives sap from deen-dharma; make it not thirsty

Even a dove from round here invokes God, hark!
And Qur’an is recited by our every swift and lark

Jhelum’s water itself is pure, why shouldn’t it clean us?
Why lose minds over Vetsar Naag’s growing murkiness?

Only upon seeing a tigress does learn to run a doe
Partook it of God’s sustenance, if eats worms a hoopoe

Today also I tie votive rags at Tsrar, why not come over
Today also here from heavens descends a golden shower

Appear the billboards where, let’s look and, as instructed, love
Ooze hands poison whose, why ponder pointlessly over above

Our own children they are, counsel them and they’ll turn gold
Our own nation this is, fill the crossroads and make them roar bold

Should we be leaving Rahim Uncle standing with a gun?
Meanwhile, let our brother Makhan bask in the Delhi sun

That you didn’t let on to your wife a secret, it is your goodness
That you broke your promise to me, I take it was in duress

Verily, your mind have been scalded by envious neighbours
The ones I earned my profits from, though, were foreigners

I practiced parsimony and started increasing the nation’s prosperity
You picked pockets and acquire will new weapons the army

Qur'an I’ve heard as well, but I’ve got to place on market my daughter
Throw a recitation party too I will, if successful is my charas venture

This village of ours is free, shrewd people here inhabit
I have never lent a loan to anyone, go and endure it

I did not cast my vote, the elders of my locality were eyeing me
The haggard hag’s opinion got broadcast, didn’t it hearten thee?

This farmer friend diverts the village canal for his urgent use
This travelling trader sells woollen shawls as authentic shahtoos

Eating and drinking too only us, living and dying too we only
Playing and prancing too only us, laughing and weeping too we only

It is here I saw in a garden Shakti in embrace of Shiva held
It is here in tightly draped rooms that blue films are beheld

Tourists will be camping there, if this saw goes to the jungle
And if your eyes are irritated, it is I who is burning diesel

In the bedroom itself, on a worldwide tour the TV takes me
You cool yourself at the river bank, fetches you the news BBC

Bombs may burst in the Gulf, why should we increase the bus fare?
Let Germans launch missiles, we’ll take a boat to Nishat from here

This is the land of rishis, from every corner are expected offerings
Bedlam is unleashed when a dervish releases from his chilum smoke rings

Elderly men here and they with every breath lofty ideals uphold
Young men here and they set a price for conscience with every word

Mind alert, the cat is poised to a meal of the rat make
Pure of words, they say on oath the tongs are a snake

If we believe them, they will dub us fools from a place outlandish
If we expose them, they will our love affairs in newspapers publish

The multitude masses that never had any use for identity
The political parties that never spoke any language consistently

We nurture faith, to whatever rises like a sun we offer our prayer
As you only have a fire in the belly, you only be our leader

Our mountains are as old as time, our temperament is the oldest
Our tradition is of the rishis, our trika philosophy too is the greatest

This is a gathering place, lo! The whole village here has come
Shout a few slogans, will you, why recite a meaningless poem?

Sitting here you are in Kashmir, but you are talking American
An ancient pheran you wear on you, don’t claim to be modern!

© Translation, Sualeh Keen

About the Poet: Abdur Rehman Rahi (born March 6, 1925, Srinagar) is a Kashmiri poet, translator and critic. He was awarded the Indian Sahitya Akademi Award in 1961 for his poetry collection Nawroz-i-Saba, the Padma Shri in 2000, and India's highest literary award, and the Gyanpith Award (for the year 2004) in 2007, the first Kashmiri writer to receive that honour. He was associated with the Cultural wing of communist Party of Kashmir during his student days. As translator he did excellent translation of Baba Farid's sufi poetry to Kashmiri from Original Punjabi. Camus and Sartre are some visible effects on his poems while Dina Nath Nadim's influence on his poetry is also visible, especially in earlier works.

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