Is it the voice or the verses, the pain or the grace — it’s hard to say what makes a ‘shayara’ an enigma.
She wears saris whose long pallu trails like a queen’s cape. Her deeply intoxicating voice seems to come from the very core of her heart.
But then, for Urdu poet Rashida Baqui a poem is the very distillation of ‘mehsoos’ (feeling). While she hasn’t ever really analysed her verses, she thinks her shayari (poetry) comes from dard (pain) and mayoosi (disappointment).
Chatting over filter coffee in a Connaught Place cafe, Ms Baqui admits her poetry has been greatly shaped by the events of her life. “I was married very young and within a year… it broke my heart… and yet, I couldn’t envisage….”.
Ms Baqui’s father was a journalist and her mother was a poet.
“My ammi, Shahida Baqui Nikhat, was among the first women poets to read her poetry in mushairas.”
Ms Baqui shares a ghazal with us (reproduced in translation).
You would remember the time that has gone past, dearest
Think of the world and its ways and only then meet me, dearest
If it were not for the writings of time past on my face it would have been difficult to hide your sorrow, dearest
Perchance when I passed by that way I was reminded of your company, dearest
The tale of my sorrows that I have associated with my circumstances, read it dearest
The tears that fall on you and turn into jewels, hide them from the world, dearest
The lamps of memory are lit on eyelashes as your abode is still in my moist eyes, dearest
Like fireflies in the wasteland they burn bright in the night of separation, dearest