Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reaching the Crescendo

A book of translations by Abid Ahmad


Crescendo is the translation by Abid Ahmad, of the select poems of Sheikh Khalid Karrar, a promising Urdu poet from Jammu and it is good fortune of a poet if he gets an able translator. I was moved by the translation that flows effortlessly and reads refreshingly original. A great transcreation of poems representing diverse themes with a good introduction by the translator make the book as much a creation of translator as the poet.
Crescendo is a mirror of our age with its doubts, anxieties, aspirations, disillusionments, and frustrations, passions and dreams.
Beautifully and often wittily well-crafted words and images weave a magic that transports one to a different world for a time being. The poet has something to say and the translator has amply gifted imagination to help him say it with both force and poetic beauty.
Crescendo seems to be a voice managing to fight the dark night of the soul with faith. One wonders how much the poet has assimilated of life’s woes but still managed to be a Man – defiant, undaunting. Perhaps the translator has found echo of his own complex inner journey through the Purgatory of despair that modern education brings to religiously sensitive heart and mind. Crescendo is existentialist in its approach – it seeks to come to terms with the void – captured brilliantly in the poem “Void” – that seems to walk with us everywhere. “Plaintalk” is a plain talk on man’s inability to find God’s phone number to clarify the mess that life often seems to be in. The book is about Kashmir also. “Life lying in an isolation ward” speaks of day to day experiences for many victims of current trouble. In a brilliant stroke of wit the poet says that our bodies are used as laboratories. “Curfew, I and he” expresses a novel thought about now a familiar experience. The poet brilliantly weaves the tapestry of images on such otherwise hazy subjects as meaning in “Meaning.” Mysticism echoes in many poems. “Itinerary” reminds us of traditional Sufi poets in theme and dares to state its conclusion much more boldly than we usually find in Sufis. “I have become a god/unto myself.” However he is still in search of the elusive self. He is yet to arrive, if we use mystical terms. He finds no anchor, no balm anywhere and betrays his mystical intuitions that redeem him at other moments. Vacillating faith and agonizing doubt is evident in many poems including the one titled “Where am I.”  The poet appears to be neither traditional nor modern but hovering in a half way house of hazy belief and suspected doubt.  “Winter” is one of the most beautiful poems celebrating ordinary happenings, not unlike Zen mystics, whose only prayer ritual consists of drinking qehwa in silence. The poet in “December” ingeniously compares life’s unfulfilled dreams and ambitions to “thousands of shoulders, graceless/dead bodies” on which he sees himself sitting.
The poet is quite modern in his sensibility and beliefs but what prevents him from being a dry secular modernist is his mystical faith in himself and loftiness of his station. Although quite conscious that ours is an age of demythologization when medieval enchanted landscape of fairies and supernatural tales is gone forever, as in the poem “Jinnie” he knows how to enjoy newer consolations, how to see the sacred undercover of secular or material miracles like computers.
One is reminded of Camus' of The Myth of Sisyphus in such poems as “Wilderness,” “Growth” and “Void”. The poet is a postmodernist, existentialist, mystic all rolled into one. In “Computer and I” he looks at the problem of time (as memory) and explores the possibility of formatting himself – what an image to use! – but concludes that it is not possible as “He has kept the password of the set up with himself” The poem “No one is here” is a serious musing  on the drama of being and nothingness.
I congratulate the translator for discovering the poet, making an exquisite selection of poems to be translated and equally exquisite and brilliant translation.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Mecca time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 3 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST

No comments:

Post a Comment