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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 15, New Delhi, March 27, 2021

We are Strangers Now, After all those Encounters | 1974 Poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz

Friday 26 March 2021

’ham ke Thehre ajnabi’ Urdu Nazm / Poem written by Faiz Ahmad Faiz upon his return from Dhaka in 1974

ham ke Thehre ajnabi itni mulaaqaaton ke baad
phir baneiN ge aashna kitni madaaraaton ke baad
kab nazar mein aaye gi be daagh sabze ki bahaar
khoon ke dhabe dhuleiN ge kitni barsaaton ke baad
the bahut bedard lamhe khat’m-e-dard-e-ishq ke
thein bahut bemeh’r subheiN meh’rbaan raaton ke baad
dil to chaaha par shikast-e-dil ne moh’lat hi na di
kuchh gile shikwe bhi kar lete manaajaatoN ke baad
un se jo kehne gaye the “Faiz” jaan sadqe kiye
an kahi hi reh gayi woh baat sab baaton ke baad

(English Translation by Agha Shahid Ali)

After those many encounters, that easy intimacy, we are strangers now –
After how many meetings will we be that close again?
When will we again see a spring of unstained green?
After how many monsoons will the blood be washed from the branches?
So relentless was the end of love, so heartless –
After the nights of tenderness, the dawns were pitiless, so pitiless.
And so crushed was the heart that though it wished it found no chance –
after the entreaties, after the despair — for us to quarrel once again as old friends.
Faiz, what you’d gone to say, ready to offer everything, even your life –
those healing words remained unspoken after all else had been said.
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