Sunday, February 27, 2011

Crescendo- English Translation of the select poems of Sheikh Khalid Karrar by Abid Ahmad

Crescendo- English Translation of the select poems of Sheikh Khalid Karrar by Abid Ahmad

Sheikh Khalid Karrar’s Poetry 

            Khalid Karrar has emerged as one of the potent voices of Urdu poetry in the state. Having established himself as one of the most creative voices in the spectrum of contemporary Urdu poets, Khalid has excelled in certain respects. His verses are characterised by his unique diction, idiom and a sensibility that he has hauled from the smithy of his acutely personal experiences.
            Khalid approaches life at his own terms. He does not let it dictate. That is why, one sees both hope and resolve in the face of challenges in his poetry. After going through his poetry, one is really baffled by how he uses words in such a way that they become unconventional without breaking from the convention.This lends a uniqueness to his creative impulse.
            Another unique feature of Karrar’s poetry is that he mediates between the tradition and the modernity. He belongs to a generation that connects the accomplished with the neophyte. But how he blurs the line of demarcation between the two extremes is remarkable. He mediates the two without being partisan to any. That way he is both - tradition as well as modernity. Conversely, he is none.
            Khalid belongs to a generation which understands creativity in its contemporary sense.His sensibility, though deeply rooted in religion and tradition, supersedes the conventional understanding of the both. His words command a different meaning from the imagery that otherwise have had a very superficial meaning. He delves deeper and hauls meanings that puzzle and, in fact, torment. The title of his collection Sawa Neze Pe Sooraj itself is suggestive of how unconventionally he looks at an idiom that would conventionally be used in a very restricted sense.
            Karrar uses metaphors, idioms, expressions, images and similes that are unique to him. He uses them to convey his contemporary understanding of life and its issues as imagined in the age of postmodernity. He profusely borrows his idiom from the contemporary times. Google, extra-terrestrial life, aliens, planets, are used at par with Aladdin, wilderness, void, desert, barrenness. In fact, these are the powerful metaphors that he uses to translate the meaning of contemporary realities into his verses.
            The words that Karrar takes from science and information technology make his reading very interesting. What was earlier perceived to be beyond human ken has become much easier to comprehend. The myth of Aladdin’s genie can be very easily understood now as we have the “google genie” at our disposal these days.
            The concept of double consciousness, extra terrestrial life, aliens, the themes that are by and large untouched in our poetry as yet, have been artistically incorporated by Karrar in a way that does not affect the quality of the content. By way of using these words in his poetry, Karrar has paved the way for integrating science and art, two streamswhose traditional dichotomy has spawned two separate ways of expression of human genius. In contemporary times of super-specialisation, there is all the more need to integrate human experiences of diverse fields into an organic whole to make them more relevant and vital for the betterment of human existence.
            In fact, Karrar’s diction, terminology and understanding are cosmic. His understanding of issues is also cosmic in so far as it makes more sense when read in relation to cosmic and physical sciences. For this purpose, he borrows most of his terminology from the physical world which is more palpable, wholesome and  less abstract.
            Karrar’s choice of genres is very contemporary and is born out of his post-structuralist understanding of language. At times, he sounds a postmodernist in his own right without subscribing to its institutional existence. We see the same fragmentation, hybridity of genres, loss of a linear poetic narrative, blurring of generic distinctions which are considered to be the hallmark of the postmodernism. But Karrar, while vouching for the same in an impeccable manner, never resorts to dull and drab postmodern poeticism. He has used certain new genres in Urdu poetry. In fact he is in theavant-garde of the modern Urdu tradition for using rhymeless Gazal which is an oxymoron of sorts. Traditionally we would never imagine Gazal without metre and rhyme. Karrar has written some beautiful metreless Gazals that sound like verse libre but have a strong tinge of the lyricism of Gazal.
            Alongside living in contemporary reality, Karrar believes in age-old and tested universal human values. He is fully aware of his relation with naked wretched miserable creatures of distant deserts of Africa. He is equally aware of human bond that connects the humans world over. He sees beauty in apparent ugliness. He sees beauty in children who have never seen childhood due to their acute penury. He sees his connection to the deprived lot whose lives are nothing but indices of woes and misery. That makes him seek his awareness of human bond so that collectively they would work for the betterment of human lot. This hope pervades his poetic collections.
            Karrar uses some powerful metaphors that are loaded with infinite interpretations of meaning. Some of the metaphors he uses are water, desert, barrenness, void, blood, names of communities like Israelites, Kashmir, butterflies, wilderness, etc. He uses the symbol of water to convey the truth that meanings bubble forth even from the bare landscape of life as it has come to mean in contemporary sensibility.
            His unconventional treatment of certain conventional themes is also his mark of distinction. Love, loss, pain, nostalgia, hopelessness, infidelity are the themes he treats in his poetry but one is at times shocked to see how he can bore through their superficial meanings and arrive at a point where the reader sees its contemporary meanings.
            So far, Karrar has published one collection of short stories and three collections of his Urdu poetry. He started his career as a short story writer and first published his collection of short storiesAkhri din se pehle (1999) which was warmly welcomed in the literary circles. Later he came out with his three collections of Urdu verse Aanghan Aanghan Pat Jar (2000), Sawa Neze Pe Sooraj (2007) and Worood (2010). 
            Khalid Karrar is surely going to be a part of the “great tradition” of the Urdu poetry.
            This collection carries translation of fifty seven poems and metreless Gazals from his two latest collections Sawa Neze Pe Sooraj and Worood. I feel immensely privileged to place these translations before the English- knowing readers both within and outside the state and even beyond.
                                                                                                                                                                                 Abid Ahmad                                                                            

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