Translating the thoughts and desires from an imaginative point of view


Stray thoughts about REFLECTIONS-the translation works of Tanveer Rauf     

‘The worth of a thing is what it will bring’ is what I really believe in. That’s what I would like to start with for an excellent literary venture-Reflections. Being a very optimistic bilingual writer & poet, I seldom discourage or reject any literary effort; be it prose or poetry. Besides, when reviewing some translation work, I never forget that I used to be a literary translator for a long time and do, still opt for the same activity, when something compels me to make it. Ms. Tanveer Rauf is a senior writer& poet, with a fine flair for poetic translation from Urdu and regional languages into English. I’m honoured to see her translations of my poetry, as well, though we were strangers to each other at that time. She had then became friends with me, through Facebook and I’m delighted to see a literati added to my friends list who is eve ready to make such painstaking jobs, just for the passion.

As first selection of poetic translation of TanveerRaufReflections is all set to be appeared in print, I’m assigned to say a few words on the quality and style of her task. To begin with, I’ve picked up one lyrical poem of well-known Urdu poet, Ibn-e-Insha with her English translation:


کچھ کہنے کا یہ وقت نہیں۔ کچھ نہ کہو، خاموش رھو
اے لوگو خاموش رھو، ھاں اے لوگو خاموش رھو
سچ اچھا پر اس کے جلو میں، زھر کا ھے اک پیالہ بھی
پاگل ھو؟ کیوں ناحق کو سقراط بنو، خاموش رھو
حق اچھا ، پر اس کے لئے کوئی اور مرے تو اور اچھا
تم بھی کوئی منصور ھو جو سولی پر چڑھو، خاموش رھو
ان کا یہ کہنا سورج ھی دھرتی کے پھیرے کرتا ھے
سر آنکھوں پر سورج ھی کو گھومنے دو، خاموش رھو
مجلس میں کچھ حبس ھے اور زنجیر کا آھن چبھتا ھے
پھر سوچو، ھاں پھر سوچو،ھاں پھر سوچو، خاموش رھو
گرم آنسو اور ٹھنڈی آھیں، من میں کیا کیا موسم ھیں
اس بگیا کے بھید نہ کھولو، سیر کرو، خاموش رھو
آنکھیں موند کنارے بیٹھو، من کے رکھو بند کواڑ
انشاءجی سے دھاگا لو، لب سی لو، خاموش رھو
(ابن انشاء)

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It’s not the time to express; stay quiet
O folk! Be quiet, be low, and be quiet
Truth is noble yet, venom’s bowl awaits
Are you silly? Don’t be Socrates; be quiet
Truth is virtue! Better if someone else dies
Are you Mansoor, to be hanged? Be quiet
Let them say; the sun revolves around earth
Let the sun spin around; better to be quiet
Suffocation in the party, satirical airs stab
Think, ponder and recollect, but stay quiet
Hot tears, cool sighs! How the heart feels?
Stroll! Don’t unveil conditions, just be quiet
Watch with eyes closed, keep self-poised
Copy Insha ji, watch, and muse! Be quiet

My humble suggestion is to improve the last Couplet;otherwise, the overall translation is fine. She has immensely tried to go deep down into the depth of this piece of poetry. In the end of this translation, she has rightly commented:

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose

Creative-mind never rests and/or stays quiet, after accomplishing just one good work. That restlessness is also a part of its being ‘abnormal’ to prove the very frequently quoted saying: Creative people are abnormal. That is the case of Tanveer Rauf who didn’t only restrict her to the translation of Urdu poetry. She went on to carry on with introducing some of the best verses of Sindhi, Punjabi and Seraiki for her maiden translation book, Reflections. Doing so, she just ignored the very fact that the second translation was never considered as worthy as the direct ones. However, she has been successful in understanding the gist and rendering a moderately acceptable, yet, fair poetic translation.

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One last comment on her painstaking translations, included in Reflections: She has also opted to render excellent poetic translations of some of the most popular verses of none other than Amir Khusro, the great poet-turn-musician of the Sub-continent and one of the most learned pioneers of old Urdu, i.e. Hindvi/Zaban-e-Hindustan. Being a researcher, I would request to add one footnote about that scholarly saint-poet that almost all the Hindvi poetry attributed to him doesn’t belong to him, in fact, as that was not the exact lingo of his age; however, the most famous lyrical poem (Ghazal) in Rekhta, i.e. the blend of Persian & Hindvi is somewhat original with a number of alterations by the later poets.

Last, but, not the least, I must say that poets like Tanveer Rauf must be encouraged, commended and respected for their untiring literary pursuit. I’m eagerly waiting not only for the publication of the under review book (Reflections), but, also an anthology of her original English poesy.

VIASohail Ahmed Siddiqui
Sohail Ahmed Siddiqui
Poet, Writer, Journalist, Broadcaster and TV Host Sohail Ahmed Siddiqui had served various organisations in different fields. He has got approximately 700 published writings (Urdu/English) and a few books to his credit. Currently, he is the Chief Editor, Live Rostrum.

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