Ahmed Faraz's ‘Mohasera’ Translated
By Rizwana  Rahim
Chicago, IL

 


My enemy sends me a message --

his forces now surround me

from the city's ramparts

from every dome, every minaret

his army, ready to fire.

The wave of lightning

that used to liven up the very dust

has now been extinguished,

gun powder now spread

in the water that

used to flow on to my lane.

The dissenters were physically broken

the rebels, hanged

the sufis and the worldly-wise,

the Sheikhs and the Imams

hoping for alms

are now in the unkind palaces

keepers of justice waiting to take oath

are sitting in the way

like unrelenting beggars.

You were the champion of the intelligentsia

stars of that universe are before us

and eager for a hint from palace officers

a crowd of literary beggars are before us

look at the loyalists' reason

look around, see who's with you.

The condition is this: if you want to

keep your life save, keep your

pen and paper in the gallows,

or else you are now the target,

you're alone,

with your respect, your reputation

at risk in the street.

When he saw the list of conditions,

he said to the mediator:

He doesn't know what history teaches us.

When the Night kills the Sun

the Morning brings out

a new-born Sun --

this is my reply to my enemy.

I don't need his favors,

nor am I afraid of his retaliations.

He takes great pride in the sword's power,

but has no idea of the pen's strength.

My pen doesn't represent that guardian

Who gloats over putting his city

under confinement.

My pen is not a vessel of

a vile person who

showers his praise on the thieves.

My pen is not a tool of the burglar

who claiming to love his house

cracks its own walls.

My pen is not a friend of

the midnight prowler

who invades unlit houses.

My pen is not the rosary beads of

a preacher who keeps track of

piety of everyone else.

My pen is not the scales of justice

of one whose face is hidden behind

a couple of masks.

My pen is the treasure of my people

I am entrusted with --

My Pen is my conscience's court of justice,

Which is why, I write what I write

with the passion of my life;

that's why what I write is nimble as a bow ,

its tongue, an arrow.

If I'm cut down or safe, I do believe

someone will end this oppressive prison.

I swear on the good fortune of my entire life:

What I write will not go in vain.

 


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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