Friday, October 10, 2008

Books

I came across this Hindi poem Kitabein of Gulzar (whose Hindi film songs incidentally are my eternal favorites) translated into English by Pavan Varma. I liked the way he contrasts physical touch and feel of books and rather cold computer screens. Read it yourself :

Books

(Kitabein)


They peer from the

Panes of locked cupboards,

They stare longingly

For months we do not meet

The evenings spent in their company

Are now passed at the computer screen.

They are so restless now, these books

They have taken to walking in their sleep

They stare, longingly

The values they stood for

Whose ‘cells’ never died out

Those values are no more found in homes

The relationships they spoke of

Have all come undone today

A sigh escapes as I turn a page

The meanings of many words have fallen off

They appear like shriveled, leafless stumps

Where meaning will grow no more

Many traditions lie scattered

Like the debris of earthen cups

Made obsolete by glass tumblers


Each turn of the page

Brought a new flavor on the tongue,

Now a click of the finger

Floods the screen with images, layer upon layer

That bond with books that once was, is severed now

We used to sometimes lie with them on our chest

Or hold them in our lap

Or balance them on our knees,

Bowing our heads as in prayer

Of course, the world of knowledge is still there,

But what of

The pressed flowers and scented missives

Hidden between their pages,

And the love forged on the pretext

Of borrowing, dropping and picking up books together

What of them?

That, perhaps, shall no longer be!

3 comments:

Gopinath's "Artickles" said...

Nice Poem. Hope to read the original in Hindi too!

mitr_bayarea said...

Good one, yes, the sense of reading, feel and touch of books is not what it used to be.

Mavin said...

If the translation can convey so much, how much punch would the original pack.

We have become so English-dependant that inspite of learning Hindi, our reading in that language is next to zero.

Wonder if one can get down to doing that.