Another attempt at translation – an iconic Hindustani song in English

Flush from success in translating some things from English into Urdu and vice versa, I tried to accomplish converting a song, a quite popular song of a Hindustani film of the 1960s into English but it proved quite a difficult task. Pehle to main sinf na tay kar paya… I beg your pardon, I mean that first I could not decide on the form but after considering this song was a ghazal, it was obvious that my translation had to follow the same rules…. particularly as regards the radif-qaafiya.

And then there was the marked lack of time. Though I tried to do the task mentally, it was quite hard. What you need is a pen and paper so you can write down the idea and see if it meets the requirement of meter…. and this I was not getting time or opportunity to do.

However, the first break came when shaving yesterday (Thursday, Sep 9, 2010) when I figured on the radif. This done, the urge to complete the venture grew on me and it was today (Friday, Sep 10, 2010) that I – within the first leg of a bus journey on route no 500 to Connaught Place on trail of a book – finally worked on the vexed issue of a qafiya too. I am aware it is not the best rhyme I have worked out but then I am not participating in a competition. It is possible that I may work out some more refinements to my effort – if I get the time and remember to do so. In this case I will definitely share the fruit of my labours with you. In the meantime, you may see the version I arrived at……

Accompanying life steadfastly on I went
Every concern in smoke dissipating on I went

Mourn over disasters was indeed an act futile
Instead all the disasters celebrating on I went

Whatever I obtained, I thought my destiny’s due
Whatever I lost, so easily forgetting on I went

Where ’twas no difference in happiness and sorrow
My heart to this point slowly getting on I went

Some of you might have already worked it out. For those who haven’t or wouldn’t like to, here is the original in the words of the supremely gifted Sahir Ludhianvi and performed by Mohd Rafi with his customary elan.   

Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chalaa gaya
Har fikr ko dhuen mein udhata chalaa gaya

Barbaadiyon ka sog manaana fizul tha
Barbaadiyon ka jashn manata chala gaya

Jo mil gaya usi ko muqaddar samajh liya
Jo kho gaya main usko bhulaata chala gaya

Gam aur khushi mein fark na mahsoos ho jahan
Main dil ko us maqaam pe laata chala gaya


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