Thursday, December 6, 2012

Even Urdu sounds universal

This arrived today in my inbox from a fellow member of this group called Church Cafe. The cafe, whose membership includes historians, painters and other visual artists, writers and art world denizens, gathers on and off in the middle of the week. It's where Pastor Sunil Stephen leads discussions on a wide range of subjects, especially on Christianity and other spiritual paths, philosophies, ancient and contemporary, and their application to life, work and relationships. 

This poem is worth re-sharing in hopes of spreading it to 20++ readers who've followed this blog from its inception. Javed Akhtar's poem is immediately followed by the notes of visual artist Imelda Cajipe Endaya on how the poem also reflects literature or The Word from a time more ancient than ancient. 


Thanks to Pastor Sunil Stephen for this poem by Javed Akhtar
(Urdu Poet, mainstream Indian writer, scriptwriter for Bollywood)


What is this thing that goes on
Without pause, if 

it did not pass.
And where could it have been?
It must have been somewhere!
It has passed. So where is it now?
It must be somewhere!
Where did it come from. Where did it go?
Where did the process start?
Where will it end? What is time?

These events, incidents, conflicts,
Every grief, every joy, every torment
Every pleasure, every smile, every tear
Every song, every scent,
It may be the pain of a wound, or the magic of a tender touch.
One lonely voice that cries around.
Successes and failure are sailing in the mind.

The upheavals of care, tumult of the heart
All feelings, all emotions are
Like leaves floating on the surface of the water as they swing along
Now here, now there, and now
They disappear. Gone from sight .
But there must be something, flowing along.
What is this river? What hill has it come from?
To what sea is it going? What is time?

Sometimes I think when I see trees from a moving train,
It seems they go in the opposite way.
But in reality trees are standing still.
So can it be that all our centuries,
We go on standing still?
Can it be that time is fixed
And we alone are in motion?
Can it be that in this one moment
All moments, all centuries are hidden,
No future, no past.
What has gone by is happening now,
What will come about is happening now I think
Can it be possible that this is true that we are in motion?
We pass by and what we imagine as moving is really motionless?
Moving, not moving, whole or divided.
Is it frozen? Or is it melting?
Who knows, who can guess?
What is time? 


We listened to this in our Ashram, and compared it with Ecclesiastes 1, King James Version.

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

Javed Akhtar
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