Last night I stumbled upon this translation of Parveen Shakir’s poem (Navishta) rendered by C M Naim. This is where she addresses her only son on the perils of living with a famous mother. Parveen was extraordinary and her poems continue to cajole, haunt and address the readers.
“. . . then Zaid cursed Bakar, ‘Your mother
is more well known than your father!’ ”
this curse is your fate too.
In a fathers’ world you too, one day,
must pay a heavy price
for being known by your mother,
though your eyes’ color, your brow’s
and all the curves your lips create
come from the man
who shared with me in your birth,
yet alone gives you significance
in the eyes of the law-givers.
But the tree that nurtured you three
must claim one season as its own,
to comb the stars, turn thoughts into
make poems leapfrog your ancestors’ walls . . .
a season that Mira couldn’t send away,
nor could Sappho.
Now it must be this family’s fate
that you should frequently feel abashed
before your playmates, and that your
must grin and bear it among his friends.
The name on the doorbell means
the world knows you by one name