Three poems by a leading Pakistani poet

Zehra Nigah is a prominent poet from Pakistan with a distinct style and voice. Zehra is a modernist who is also inspired by the classical traditions of Urdu poetry. She is now among the senior poets having established herself decades ago. Here are three poems translated by Yasmin Hameed found here.

Justice (for the blind girl who was sentenced under ‘Hudood’)

I am also free
in this little room;
the sun moves across
a window in the ceiling
before it sets;
rays of light,
sparingly enter;
on the path they make,
I walk home;
my father, even now,
from the city,
brings along for me,
a shawl, a comb, bangles and kohl,
and so much more;
both my brothers,
study in the mosque,
as they did;
God’s edicts
they read, memorise;
my sister puts away in a basket,
my share of bread;
feeds it to the sparrows
at dawn;
my mother is kind of crazy,
gathering stones
or talking to sparrows
as they pick the grain;
she says:
when the sparrows will fathom the truth,
in their beaks and claws
they would clutch the stones;
then would rage a storm
to ravage law-givers,
tear down the pulpits;
justice He would deliver Himself,
the Supreme Lord,
the same for one and all,
the revered, the exalted.

How should I tell my mother,
am I the Kaaba,
the House of the Lord?
 The return

Brimming with culture, the very same shops,
streets embellished with history;
with hands stretched out
or heads bowed,
in corners, the very same trees;
in the flurry of flickering lights
hums a city,
where once we lived.
I was restive, perturbed,
your mind at peace, you were content,
lost in your own company;
chained by silent commitments,
I axed through
the jungle of loneliness;
unawares, the city,
collapsed over me,
a house of cards,
crashing down at the slightest motion;
collecting myself,
from here I escaped.

Long after,
to the same city
I have returned;
in the same streets I often ramble,
laze about in the same gardens;
your habits have grown over me;
my mind at peace, I am content,
lost in my own company.

The journey of togetherness
has its price,
unlike the simple, divergent paths. 

Right here was the ocean

Right here was the ocean,
angry, petulant,
pounding its head against the rocks,
growling, crashing and roaring,
boasting of its might and power;
the reticent, modest moon
in the sky,
its friend,
kept pace with it,
the ocean yearning
to hold the moon
in its arms.

Only a few signs remain,
all else is gone;
hunched and stooping rocks,
their parched tongues sticking out,
murky water, in patches
lining a barren shore,
but the friend is loyal still;
in the shrivelling patches,
it can spot its image still.

Published on May 7, 2007 at 11:47 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Dear Sir,

    I am an author from Bangladesh. Fourteen of my works have been published so far, of which six are translated works (from and to Bangla- my language).

    I have planned to publish an Anthology of SAARC poems within a very short time. So far I have collected poems from 35 poets of Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

    My plan is to print the poems in original text and its English
    translation. I hope you will agree this is an innovative idea.

    I shall be grateful if you please help me in collecting poems in Urdu and/or Pushtu (in any font, if you add the font as attachment. I don’t like to print it in pdf form. It do not look good) and its English translation from Pakistan. Poems should not be very big (not more than 20 lines).

    I do not have any contact with Pakistani poets, therefore I request you to inform the poets, so that they send me their poems.

    Thank you for your coperation

    Yours Siddique

    Please you can visit my website:

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