Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ek Kudi Jihda Naa Mohabbat

So many of Shiv’s poems are about lost loves – about a girl called Maina who he met at a fair and who died an early death soon after, or about the girl who inspired Shikra Yaar who left him to get married and go off to America, and of other women he had known and lost. This poem, I like to think, is about the love he never found. Titled Ishtehar or Advertisement it is a search for a missing girl. The central refrain of the song is Gumm hai – this can translate as “Is lost” or it can be translated as the subtly different “Is missing”. I have bypassed both these options and chosen to translate it as “Where is she?” That makes a better song of it in English, to my mind. A recording of the song sung in Shiv’s own voice is available but I’m posting the version sung by Rabbi Shergill here. I was very taken by this song from the first time I heard it sung by Rabbi – at that time I didn’t know of Shiv Batalvi at all.


Where is that girl called Love
Where is she?
She is simple and beautiful
She is simply beautiful
Where is she?

She has the beauty of a fairy,
the virtues of a Mary,
Lissom and willowy
She walks like poetry
Petals fall from her lips
When she laughs
She is barely there
But at a glance
She can read me

We have been separated
an eternity
Yet it seems like yesterday
It seems like today
It seems like just now
That she was here with me

What is this deception?
Why this trickery?
Now she is with me
Now she isn’t?
I search for her
In every face that passes me
Where is she?

Evening descends upon the bazaar
The streets become rife with smells
At the crossroads
restlessness and exhaustion collide
with the need for pleasure
And in that thronging madness
I stand all alone
her absence gnawing
at my insides

I wait for her to call out to me
Across the crowds of people
Over the milling odours and sounds
I feel she will call any moment
I feel she will call any day
I will recognize her
She will recognize me
But no one calls out
Only the din, the crowds
And no one out there
calling for me

I sense that she is there
Somewhere in this crowded world
Somewhere on these bustling streets
She walks past me
But lost in my search for her
I am unable to see
I stand there bereft
her absence eating into me.

Tell her to come and find me
Tell her to come for my sake
Tell her to come for her own sake
Tell her to come for love’s sake
Tell her to come for God’s sake
Tell her to come if she can hear me
Tell her to come even if she's dying
Tell her to keep the faith
Tell her to come once
Before this life, these songs
desert me
Tell her to come and stem
this pain

That girl called Love
Simple, beautiful
Simply beautiful
Where is she?