A motley group had made an affiliation of sorts
It sprouted and mushroomed in our back lane
And there was born a poetry club with no name
Passion it was for the verses written in Urdu
That linked them beyond their social precincts.
Jagtar the sardar tailor, loved Ahmad Faraz
Akbar Khan, the mason, wrote poetry, and
Admired Ghalib, for his exceptional style
Dashmesh, the ladies lingerie shopkeeper,
Chose Sheikh Saadi as his favourite poet
And there was Nancy, the fourth angle of
This tangle, the aristocrat, with no fiefdom,
With loads of “unfinished tasks” which she
Often tried to skip, to make room for Ghalib
And Faiz, whom she read in another script.
Though not her mother tongue, Urdu made
Her experience her existence more intensely.
It must have all started, when in a moment
Of emotional piquancy, and weariness with
The world, one of them must have uttered a
Ghazal or a rubaiyat and the other might have
Responded with yet another couplet in Urdu.
The club continues to exist, even though they
Have parted ways, in more ways than one:
The old mason died leaving behind his handiwork.
Nancy shifted lock, stock out of the old locality
The aging Jagtar is fascinated as ever in poetry.
When his favourite Faraz died, Nancy gifted
Him with his collected works, bought at the
Condolence meeting held for the late Faraz.
Poetry transcended the fences and defences
Of divine and earthly, of gender and pretender
This connect continues to weave its web today
In my back yard, where Rambir a vegetable vender
Utters his dispossession by reciting dohas of Kabir
Poet’s Note –
Based on my growing up experience in a South Delhi residential colony which was pitted along an old semi rural pocket, so common in Delhi. The daily provisions were bought and repairs were done from these convenience stores….some people interested in poetry found common ground, and became friends…and the connection lasted. Nancy is my mother, who despite studying and teaching English literature is very fond of Urdu!!