Shehr-i-Qatl ke log (People of this Murderous City) – a poem

Reposting this 2007 poem:

Alam kay iss jazeeray mein
Jahan sab per ujar gaye
Aur saari musafitan be-nishaan ho gayee
Teri tasveer neechay gulab mehaktay hain
Ham, teray qaatil, teray qasoorwar
Doshee thehray

Aye Rehbar-i-ba-kamaal, tasveeer-i-bemisaal
Tu ne roshnee ko ik naya ma’ani diya tha
Apnay nangay pairon ko ghaseetee
Aur apnay nangay sar ko dhanptay
Kiya kiya dishnam na saha that u ne?
Aur is shehr-i-qatl ke neem murda log
Tujh pe hairaan thay

Yeh qatl meray saray manzaron ka hai
Yeh ant meray tamam khawabon ka hua
Tu manon gulabon talay pataal ki nazr hui
Go ik lehad se mehkay ga yeh alam
Magar ham sharminda, apnay aansoo-on se lartay
Apnay khawabon ka sauda haathon mein uthaiye
Tajrubay, tajziyae aur nohay parhtay rahian ge
Is ghao se ristaay rahain ge sab rastay

Ab chand gul nahee ho ga
Jaltee rahe gi har shama-i-lahed-benazir
Aur hota rahay ga yazeed yun-hee be tauqir
Bus ik ist’ada hai tujh se
Jo yeh shehr-e yazeed na kar saka
Tu who kamal bhee kar dey
Muaaf kar de un ko
Jo tujhe ma’af na kar sakay
Aur sar-e-rahay farat tujhe dhakail kar
Aaj azurdagee ki dhund mein liptay
Apnay chaak gareebanon mein
Dilon ko dhoondtay hain

An inadequate translation that I rendered for

In this island of grief
Where all journeys stand directionless
Fragrant Roses adorn your image
And, We, your murderers, impotent accomplices,
Cast guilty shadows across this barren land

O, the gifted leader, that inimitable image
You had given a new meaning to resplendence
Dragging your worn feet
and covering your bare head
You had borne invective upon invective
And the half-dead people of this city
gaped at your strength

This was the murder of all my visions
And all my dreams cracked
as you entered hades*,
beneath the weight of roses

Though a grave shall unfold its fragrance
We the ashamed,
fighting our tears
holding the placards of our dreams
Will analyse, compose elegies

And the bleeding wound shall scar
all the paths
The moon shall keep waxing
As the illumining candles of your tomb
reveal an endlessly humiliated Yazeed**

There is just a little request
Enact another wonder
what the city of Yazeed could not do
Forgive those
Who could not forgive you
and pushed you over the edge of Euphrates***

And today,
locked in the mist of wistfulness
gripping their torn shirts
they search for their forsaken hearts

* the underworld kingdom in Greek mythology inhabited by the souls of the dead.
** Yazeed (645 – 683), the second Umayyad ruler who established monarchy and killed Husain and his family members, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad who had challenged the principle of rule without the consent of the ruled.
*** The location of the legendary battle of Karbala.

[This poem was composed on January 9, 2008, in Rawalpindi’s Liaqat Baagh, the site of Ms. Bhutto’s assassination]

  • Nasir Islam

    Very touching poem and makes me sad. The assesination of Benazir Bhutto was a great tragedy for Pakistan. But she was not a saint. She failed to do anything tangible for the women of Pakistan when she was in power. Her government ( interior Minister, Naseerullah Baber) was responsible for the rise of Taliban. The corruption charges against Zardari/ Benazir still have not been cleared. Accusations of Scores of shell companies in tax havens, amazingly pricy real estate in Dubai, France, England and New York still stand. She stood in the National Assebly of Pakistan and declared that she had no knowledge of the notorious Surrey manor house. Instead of reigning in the shady activities of her husband , she promoted him to the position of Investment Minister, thus providing him the opportunity to become Mr. 10 %.

  • Umar Saeed

    Great poem. I like the Islamic publishing area of your blog. We get answers to many questions about Islam. Thanks for sharing. Great effort.