Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Of Cracked Pots, Longing, and Impermanence

http://blog.blogadda.com/2014/06/14/spicy-saturday-beautiful-read
This post is a Spicy Saturday Pick by Blogadda, June 14, 2014.

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The other day I passed by this roadside shop which sells terracotta pots, pitchers, vases, urlis, diyas, wind-chimes and all such beautiful earthen goodies. Seeing some new stock in the shop, I was tempted for a few minutes to buy another pitcher for my kitchen, for storing and cooling the drinking water. Realizing that I already have the necessary pitchers and containers, I walked away from the shop but the beautiful feel and essence of the earthen pottery remained with me for a while. 




There is something so mystifying, real and beautiful about the terracotta pottery, as if reminding us to stay grounded, to stay close to the natural earth and yet transform ourselves into something more concrete, to become individualized yet always ready to unify and merge with the original source, to face the fire and heat and become useful for a specific purpose yet always remain vulnerable to cracks and scratches.

So much the humble pot says, if we listen.

And what of the water that is stored in an earthen pot?

Like the pot, it too speaks. Of its fluidity and its impermanence, its readiness to quench the deepest thirst and its inability to stay in one place, its readiness to transform and its ever-present essence of being the source of life itself. And when the sounds of water in an earthen pot are heard and expressed through the pen of Amrita Pritam, the result is something that comes from another realm of knowing and being.

Give it a read, decide for yourself.

This is my first attempt at translating a Punjabi poem. I have in the past done a few Hindi-to-English translations, but only smaller pieces and passages. I have just now started translating a full Hindi book. Not easy at all, especially if the book is a dense one full of deeper feelings of devotion and love for the Supreme. I have only done 2 pages so far, God only knows how much time it will take! But what is life without a good challenge?

Back to Amrita Pritam and her lovely poem, speaking of cracked pots, longing, and impermanence.

Ve mai tidke ghare da pani
Kal tak nahi rehna

I am the water, as in a cracked pitcher
Will not last till tomorrow.

Ve mai tidke....

Es pani de kann tirhaye
Treh de hothan wangu
Oh mere thande ghut dia mitra!
Keh de jo kujh kehna

Even the drops of this water are thirsty
Like the lips of the thirst itself
O my friend, you who are like a sip of chilled water
Tell me all that you want to, speak now.

Ve mai tidke.....

Aaj da pani keekan lahve
Kall di treh da karja
Na pani ne kanni bajhna
Na palle wich rehna

How will the water of today
Quench the thirst of tomorrow?
Neither this water can be strung on the side
Nor can it be stored in a sari’s pallu

Ve mai tidke....

Vekh, ke teri treh vargi
Es pani di majboori
Na es teri treh sang turna
Na es aithay behna

Look here, like your thirst
This water too has its compulsion.
Neither will it go with your thirst
Nor will it stay back here.

Ve mai tidke....

Aaj de pinde pani lishke
Treh de moti warga
Par aaj de pinde nalo kall ne
Chippar wangu lehna

Today this water shines on the body
Like the pearls of thirst itself
But tomorrow in place of this shining body,
All will remain is a clump of dry clay, dry thatch.

Ve mai tidke ghare da pani
Kall tak nahi rehna

I am the water, as in a cracked pitcher
Will not last till tomorrow.

Ve mai tidke....


A poem has to be read aloud to be felt, to be taken in. And when someone like Gulzar reads it for us, the effect is....well, I can't think of words to say what kind of effect it is. Let the listener decide for himself/herself. I simply share it below....



This video is courtesy of youtube, the poem 'Ve, mai tidke ghade da paani' is recited during the first 2.20 minutes, the second half of the video features yet another poem of Amrita Pritam recited by Gulzar. Maybe I will translate that some other time, if inspired!