Faiz – Nahi Nigaah Mein Manzil

There is this sublime ghazal of Abida (written, yet again, by Faiz) that I never get tired of. Nahi nigaah mein manzil to justju hi sahi. So, in an effort to have more people appreciate the beauty of this ghazal – here is a loose literal translation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV1cKluT-f0

*************

Nahi nigaah mein manjil, toh justju hi sahi.
Nahi visaal mayassar to aarzoo hi sahi

नहीं निगाह में मंजिल तो जुस्तजू ही सही
नहीं विसाल मयस्सर तो आरज़ू ही सही

If not a destination in my eyes, let there be the desire of thee
If we are not destined to meet, let there be the wish to see

(Justju – desire/ yearning, visaal – meet/union, mayassar – destined, aarzoo – wish)

Na tan mein khoon faraaham na ashq aankhon mein
Namaaz-e-shauq to waajib hai, be-wuzoo hi sahi

न तन में खून फराहम न अश्क आँखों में
नमाज़-ए -शौक़ तो वाजिब है, बेवुजू ही सही

So what if there is no blood in the body, nor a teardrop in the eyes,
The prayer of yearning will still be obligatory, impure as it may be

(faraaham – accumulated, bevuzu – without washing (the ablutions performed before each namaaz)

Kisi tarah to saje bazm maikade walon
Naahi jo baada-o-saagar to ha-o-hoo hi sahi

किसी तरह तो जमे  बज़्म मैकदे  वालों
नहीं जो बादा-ए-सागर तो हा-ओ-हू ही सही

The show must go on, and the tavern must rejoice,
If not with wine and clinking glass, with raccous noises and celebrations let it be

Bazm – Party/Meeting/Mehfil, Maikade – Bar/Tavern, Baada – Wine, Sagar – the wine container

Gar intezaar kathin hai to jab talak ae-dil
Kisi ke vaada-e-farda ki guftagu hi sahi

गर इंतज़ार कठिन है तो जब तलक ऐ दिल
किसी के वादा-ए-फर्दा की गुफ्तगू ही सही

If it is so difficult, then as we wait,
Lets discuss the promises of another day, the promises still to keep.

farda – kal (tomorrow/yesterday), guftagu – conversation

Dayaar-e-gair mein maharam agar nahi koi
To faiz zikr-e-vatan apne rubaruu hi sahi

दयार-ए-गैर में महरम अगर नहीं कोई
तो फैज़ ज़िक्र-ए-वतन अपने रूबरू ही सही

In this land of strangers, if you have is no friend,
Faiz, then, discuss with yourself, of things back home, and how everything would be.

Mehram-confidant, zikr – topic/discussion, rubaru – facing/ in front of.

If there are any learned urdu readers who notice any errors, please let me know.

[ADDENDUM]

As V points out in the comments, the literal/loose translation of such a ‘kalaam’ is a bad idea. So, I decided to throw in a bit more weight.

To understand Faiz, in addition to understanding the words, there are three things you must know – he was one of the foremost progressive/liberal voices of his era and a lot of his kalaams are revolutionary while being romantic. He was also living away from his wife for long durations, and several of his kalaams reflect his longing for her. And lastly, the effect of Sufiyana compositions and Diwan-e-ghalib is unmistakably present in his works.

The ghazal is again written during his self-imposed exile (I think he was in Lebanon then). So, who knows what exactly prompted this one – the longing to be with his wife, the longing for the nation, or the love of the Almighty. And I shall try to take the flavor of yearning for the beloved flavor as I re-compose the above lines. Thoughts?

Here, today, I can’t see how we’ll meet someday, but I shall always yearn for thee

Though I may not be destined to be with you, let it still be my undying wish.

The blood in my vein runs dry, and my eyes shed no tears no more,

My rituals have become incomplete, unclean. But my prayers for you shall always be pure.

The show must go on, and the gatherings must be joyful, so I am told,

If not for the wine and the song and the dance, with merriment of company and the stories untold.

How difficult it is to wait for us to meet, lest I die in this misery oh dear,

I shall try and keep my hopes alive, with those promises of tomorrow yet to bear.

In this land of strangers, with none a friend nor a confidant I see,

Oh Faiz, thou shalt converse with your own, of that yearning destiny.

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About Amit
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

14 Responses to Faiz – Nahi Nigaah Mein Manzil

  1. Pingback: Faiz – Nahi Nigaah Mein Manzil – Rantings of an Average Nobody

  2. RV Singh says:

    Thank you for this effort. More power to you. It is because of people like you that so many of us who love Urdu poetry and Gazals but do not know the language can peer into this world of wondrous treasures.

  3. Thanks Amit Bhai… Wonderful job…. well, i think the translation should be litral when the work is from a renowned poet like Faiz. There can be so many meanings in a single word, it depends on the person reading it how he translate it in his own self. Apna translation reader per thopne jaisa hai agar meaning wahee ho jo aap samjh rahe hon. Shukriya Amit Bhai

  4. Cubano says:

    Well done. Thanks for this translation. Certainly helped me understand a few words that I was having trouble with.

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  8. v says:

    sorry to say but your translation is more literal …. without a soul to it…… nobody would like this beautiful gazal after reading the translation……. the very first words . -.If not a destination in my eyes, – very badly done……. i expected something really nice 😦

    • Amit says:

      Hmm. Fair point. I was trying to do a literal one only, but your point is valid. I will make an addendum to the post 🙂

      • v says:

        tahnx for taking it positively…… one more suggestion ( we indians are experts in giving that :)) never make a ‘lose translatation’ kills the beauty the very first time when someone reads it…….

        • Amit says:

          Another attempt has been made. Any better?

        • Gumnam says:

          IMHO it is better to have a literal translation(if fuctional knowledge of urdu is there). The interpretation depends on the readers mind. he only should be left to interpret.

          Thanks Amit bhai! keep it up. loved your endeavour

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