The well-known Urdu poet, Ali Sikandar ‘Jigar’ Moradabadi (1890 – 1960) was an optician by trade. Jigar was his takhallus (pen name). His poetry reflects, perhaps, the initial response of Urdu poets – denial. His poetry retained the conventions of an earlier era, and he is best known for his exuberance in ghazals. Below is a ghazal with two of the most popular shers of the twentieth century: the ones that begin ‘Kya husn ne samjha hai’ and ‘Ye ishq nahi aasaan’.
Ek Lafz-e Mohabbat (One Word, Love)
Ek Lafz-e Mohabbat ka, adna sa fasaana hai,
Simte to dil-e aashiq, phaile to zamaana hai
One word – love; when it shrinks, it can fit in a lover’s heart
If it expands it is the whole and this world just a part
Ye kis ka tasavvur hai, ye kis ka fasaana hai?
Jo ashk hai aakhon mein, tasbeeh ka daana hai
Whose imagination made a fable of this story?
Each teardrop in the eye is a bead of the rosary
Hum ishq ke maaron ka itna hi fasaana hai
Rone ko nahin koi, hansne ko zamaana hai
We love-afflicted souls are cursed; the world enjoys our smile
This is our plight: if we cry, no one wants to stay awhile
Vo aur vafaa-dushman? Maanenge na maana hai
Sab dil ki sharaarat hai, aakhon ka bahaana hai
Accuse not my love of infidelity! Not a chance!
Don’t make much of mischievous eyes, and the heart’s flirty glance
Kya husn ne samjha hai, kya ishq ne jaana hai
Hum khaak-nasheenon ki thokar mein zamaana hai
What has beauty understood, and what secrets has love known?
That the world is a captive of us dust-dwellers alone
Vo husn-o-jamaal un ka ye ishq-o-shabaab apna
Jeene ki tamanna hai, marne ka zamaana hai
His beauty and grace against my love and youth collide
I want to live but truly it were better that I died
Ya vo thhe khafaa hum se, ya hum thhe khafaa un se
Kal un ka zamaana thha aaj apna zamaana hai
Was she unhappy with me, or was I upset with her?
The last time she was ascendant; this time is mine for sure
Ashkon ke tabassum mein, aahon ke tarannum mein
Maasoom mohabbat ka maasoom fasaana hai
In the smile of teary eyes and in the rhythm of sighs
An innocent saga of innocent love, here it lies
Ye ishq nahin aasaan, itnaa to samajh leeje
Ek aag kaa dariya hai, aur doob ke jaana hai
It is not that easy to love, think before you desire
Do you have the gumption to swim across a sea of fire?
Aansoo to bahut se hain, aankhon mein Jigar lekin
Bundh jaaye so moti hai, beh jaaye so daana hai
I have many tears in my eyes, what will become of them?
Either they’ll be lost or, Jigar, they’ll become pearls and gems.
Source: The Taste of Words: An Introduction to Urdu Poetry. Edited and Translated by Raza Mir
The ghazal has been sung beautifully by Abida Parveen, at the link below: