We are living in strange times. The economic development of the last century has made an intrusive impact in all our lives. Everything has capital value, almost everything is monetized. This economic progress has been accompanied with rising inequalities in the society. I am not for making a proclamation that democracy has failed but I think we may find it so that the neoliberal policies of the modern democracies have rather only exacerbated the many divisions in our society. In recent years, we have also seen the rise of populist leaders in many countries with majoritarian leanings who have come out to exploit these divisions to rise to power. Oppression and repression on the basis of economic class, race, skin colour, sexual and gender identities, caste, religion, et al. haven't abated even when we are almost two decades through the 21rst century.
When anyone talks about love in this age and time with me, I can not help but remember Faiz Ahmad Faiz and the combination of romanticism with his revolutionary ideas in many of his works. Here is a translation of one of Faiz's most popular poems, "Mujh se pahli si muhabbat mire mahboob na maang" (translated by Kashmiri-American poet, Agha Shahid Ali):
Don't Ask Me for That Love Again
That which then was ours, my love,
don't ask me for that love again.
The world then was gold, burnished with light --
and only because of you. That's what I had believed.
How could one weep for sorrows other than yours?
How could one have any sorrow but the one you gave?
So what were these protests, these rumors of injustice?
A glimpse of your face was evidence of springtime.
The sky, wherever I looked, was nothing but your eyes.
If You'd fall into my arms, Fate would be helpless.
All this I'd thought, all this I'd believed.
But there were other sorrows, comforts other than love.
The rich had cast their spell on history:
dark centuries had been embroidered on brocades and silks.
Bitter threads began to unravel before me
as I went into alleys and in open markets
saw bodies plastered with ash, bathed in blood.
I saw them sold and bought, again and again.
This too deserves attention. I can't help but look back
when I return from those alleys --what should one do?
And you still are so ravishing --what should I do?
There are other sorrows in this world,
comforts other than love.
Don't ask me, my love, for that love again.
"Mujh se pahli si muhabbat mire mahboob na maang", Faiz Ahmad Faiz, tr. by Agha Shahid Ali
This is Anmol (alias HA) and I welcome you all for a wonderful week of poetics ahead at this Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. I would definitely recommend Faiz and Agha Shahid Ali to all those who haven't read them before. For The Tuesday Platform, share one link to a poem, old or new, that you would like all of us to read. Do not forget to visit the linked-up verses of others. Reading and sharing our thoughts with each other inculcates that sense of community here that we all cherish so much. I look forward to reading you all. Happy Tuesday!