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Echoes of Romantic Voices

Hansa Thapaliyal

Edited by Abhay Tiwari
Hind Pocket Books, Delhi, 2010, pp. 296, Rs. 195.00


This rendering by Abhay Tiwari of selections of Rumis verse in Hindi draws home to someone like this reviewer who reads writes thinks for the most in English buried echoes of romantic voices speaking/singing Hindustani from our childhood. The young bearded bhai with a spider kiss mark on his shoulder singing Shaharyaar; the image of a dusty Rishi Kapoor dressed in tatters kneeling in a desert storm looking to the empty sky for answers uncontainable by the small TV screen; even the moment when eyes make contact on an onscreen qawaali sending the steady tinkle of claps into a frenzy of shattering mirrors. Raqs-e-Bismil has been interpreted for us often by our popular and folk culture. The headiness of romantic love in those cultures is like an important first rung of the Sufi ladder. And many of us have willingly climbed our earliest experiences of the culture of love coming from words like deewanapan Joost-a-ju of the rakeeb of rahmat kareeb... or virah milan sajan agan...well before we read at length about the travails of love. In a lover-like gesture of striving to hear more of a literary voice he liked Abhay Tiwari having first encountered Rumi in a pleasing English translation decided to learn Persian to be able to read and translate Rumi from Rumis languagePersian into his own- Hindi. All this with the help of a tome of a Teach Yourself Persian guide brought out by the Cultural Centre of Iran. And with the help of previous commentators like Nicholson and Qazi Sajjad Hussain. The resultant translation is a selection of the selection that Abhay must have read and then made from Rumis voluminous work (We are told that the Diwan alone contains 3230 ghazals 2000 rubaiyaats...). The pieces are neatly arranged with themes. So from within Rumis most detailed work the Masnavi Maanav are chapters divided by the themes of the work. There is a selection of teaching tales of more essential philosophy of ruminations on.. love.. There are translations of the younger more lover-like ecstacies from the Diwan-e-Shams. Rumis voice speaks to me when it talks with a clear eyed wry understanding it seems to me of the dissatisfactions the restlessness the anxieties of the living. The saint who is running away fast from the laity the man who fears he might be mistaken for a donkey and caught by the kings people the lover who ...

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