I am much beholden to Kuldip Salil for my understanding of Urdu poetry. His latest offering, Best of Meer Taqi Meer: Selected Ghazals, Nazams and Rubaiyat, with their lyrical translation in English and in Roman script, further adds to the debt of gratitude I owe him. I can do no better than quote his own words in favour of the debt we owe each other.
“Kuldip Salil specializes in translating Urdu poetry in English, and has received accolades for this. Khushwant Singh has this to say of Salil’s renderings into English, “I can say without hesitation, these renderings of Diwan-e-Ghalib by Kuldip Salil read better than I have read by scholars of Urdu, be they Indian, Pakistani or Firangi.” His English translations of Urdu poetry are Diwan-e-Ghalib: A Selection, A Treasury of Urdu Poetry, Best of Faiz and Best of Faraz. Salil retired as Reader of English from Hans Raj College, Delhi University.
“Kuldip Salil was born on 30th December, 1938 in Sialkot (Pakistan). He took postgraduate degree in English and Economics from Delhi University. He has published four collections of poetry: Bees Sal Ka Safar (1979), Havas Ke Shehar Main (1987), Jo Keh Na Sake (2000) and Awaz Ka Rishta (2004), the last three being ghazal collections. He has also published Angrezi Ke Shreshth Kavi Aur Unki Shreshth Kavitayen, an anthology of best-known English poems in Hindi verse translation. He was honoured with the Delhi Hindi Academy Award for poetry in 1987.”
Kisses are private and personal
Born of emotion and passion.
Kissing as a romantic sense of
Initiated in India during
The epic-days of yore.
It evolved from close sniffing
Which people indulged in
Centuries ago as a way of
They casually slipped
at some stage
Landed up on the alluring
And fancied it a lot better.
For most of early human history
Sense of smell was more momentous
To ascertain a person’s disposition
His well-being, his social
What’s there to do with money
Spend it when you have it
Or be bitter about it
When you haven’t got it.
It’s a very limited commodity
In which people invest
Their most extraordinary emotions.
It lets you enjoy life thoroughly
And not worry about tomorrow
It siphons off some bitterness —
The only happiness you can touch.
(Contributed by R.P. Chaddah, Chandigarh)
A Bihari was working in Mumbai and so had not met his wife for four years. His wife was in Patna. At the end of four years, he distributed sweets to his colleagues in office stating that his wife had delivered a son. His colleagues were quite shocked and they asked how this ‘happy event’ happened when he had not seen his wife for four years.
The man said that it is common in Bihar for neighbours to take care of the wife while the men are away. The colleagues asked him, “What name will you give to the son”?
The man explained, “If it is the second neighbour who has taken care then the name would be ‘Dwivedi’; if it is the third neighbour then it would be ‘Trivedi’; if it is the fourth neighbour then it would be ‘Chaturvedi’; if it is the fifth neighbour then it would be ‘Pandey.’” After listening to this, questions followed: “What if it is a mixture of neighbours?” “Then the boy would be named ‘Mishra.’” “And what if the wife is too shy to tell the name of the neighbour?” “Then it would be ‘Sharma.’”
“But who knows whether the child resulted from a rape?” “Then he will be named ‘Doshi.’”
“And if the whole country had made efforts for the happy arrival?” — “Deshpandey.”
(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, New Delhi)