Bringing non-Urdu readers closer to the world of Urdu sha’iri

 Bringing non-Urdu readers closer to the world of Urdu sha’iri

Team L&M

It is a journey of love through the lens of Urdu poetry based on over 1,200 best couplets of great poets that has been brought alive for non-Urdu readers in English by Sanjiv Saraf, founder of Rekhta Foundation. Love Longing Loss in Urdu Poetry offers a lyrical English trans-creation of these experiences woven in the web of an enchanting tale that includes the subtle nuances and the beauty of Urdu poetry with all its beauty.

“Urdu poetry has an infectious appeal, finding engagement from an enthusiastic audience of non-Urdu readers. A majority of the audience that is attracted by the charm of the language isn’t able to enjoy its real treasures due to limitations of vocabulary and unfamiliarity with Urdu’s poetic tradition. I felt it would be useful and enjoyable if the essence of the she’rs could, even approximately, be presented in an easy to understand manner. In my personal opinion, rhymed constructions are significantly more pleasing and instead of trying to give an explanation in prose (which possibly might have been closer to the meaning but would be longer and more tedious), I stayed with rhymed trans-creations,” says Saraf.

The conceptualisation of Love Longing Loss in Urdu Poetry happened just before the pandemic hit us in 2019 and took shape during the first wave in 2020. “I was stuck in the US for nearly six months and this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was there that the flesh and bones of the book were formed. This is clearly a child of the Covid19 era. It took around 18 months in being put together. Then another six to revise, rearrange and publish it. I have given my business 30 years and now I have stepped back to focus my energy on my love for Urdu,” Saraf shares.

Targetted at non-Urdu readers, the book is an attempt to bring them closer to the wondrous world of Urdu sha’iri. When asked if he is planning a Hindi trans-creation as well, he says, “We will soon be releasing Hazaar Daastaan-e-Ishq in Hindi and Urdu which will include the narrative essence of the book in terms of topics and she’rs but not the she’rs trans-creations.”

Saraf has us know that to the best of his knowledge, no one has attempted to weave together love she’rs in a narrative as this one. “This book is a collection of some of the famous and most evocative she’rs related to love and its many facets. The she’rs have been trans-created into English rhyme and strung together to make a sequential connection between them. You will tend to find numerous translation books for Urdu poetry but nothing that is even close to this,” he says.

Being an avid and passionate Urdu poetry lover, Saraf had read tens of thousands of she’rs over the years and collected the ones which resonated with him. While visiting his collection, Saraf felt this selection of she’rs should be presented to readers in a single volume; with a twist of storytelling in a readable and interesting narrative. “The selection criteria was that the she’rs should fit well in the narrative and should evoke either a vaah or an aah from the reader,” the founder of Rekhta Foundation puts in.

The reason why Saraf chose the theme of love is these being the largest in number and the most popular. “This book is stirred by my personal experience of ups and downs, highs and lows, the agony and ecstasy, during my journey of ishq. Through Love Longing Loss, I have tried to take the readers on a guided tour through the forest of love, so as to provide a flavour of the different shades, styles and subtleties of thought, emotion and expression,” he says.

Despite the book having a collection of over 1250 she’rs, Saraf feels he has missed out on a large number on various topics and plans to include them in the next edition. “This is my second book. The first being Nava-e-Sarosh (10 Delhi masters). Two more books are soon to be released, Golden Verses Golden Voices -101 Popular Ghazals and Andaaz-e-Bayaañ Aur – Ghalib’s 100 Selected Ghazals. There are also a couple of other books on which I am currently working on,” he shares.


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