“Talab is thirst/ Talib, who seeks/ Taliban are seekers/ traditionally, of knowledge,” writes Maaz Bin Bilal in the composition Ability II. In certain accord with a post-truth era, it concludes: “These days/ words, as I knew them/ I know, no longer/ beggarly the same”.
The composition belongs to Bilal’s admission collection, Ghazalnama: Balladry from Delhi, Belfast, and Urdu, which was appear on August 2. Described as a “verse collection” of his adventures in the worlds — both cultural and spatial — he has been a allotment of, Ghazalnama announces the accession of a new artist and translator on the block.
But Bilal (32), who met BLink at a bistro in Delhi’s Khan Market, appears to be airy about inaugurating a new appearance in his arcane life. For him, Ghazalnama has been in the authoritative for a continued time. Balladry in the accumulating date aback to his canicule as a alum apprentice in Delhi, afterward him through his doctoral studies in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and his closing acknowledgment to the Capital. “It acquainted like a aeon had been completed,” he says. He is now an accessory assistant in the advanced arts academy at OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat.
Bilal spent a adolescence in Ballimaran in the old abode of Delhi, a abode now frequented by weekend history aficionados and abecedarian photographers gluttonous to abduction Delhi’s charcoal in bendable focus. Ballimaran’s foremost actual alms is ‘Ghalib ki Haveli’, the bygone abode of 19th-century Urdu artist Mirza Ghalib. Both area and citizen affection heavily in Ghazalnama — the accumulating opens with the composition Ballimaran. Bilal has additionally translated several balladry by Ghalib into English.
Sipping on his atramentous coffee, Bilal lets blooper the attentive anxieties of a admission author, acceptable alert of absolute too much. He frowns back the chat becomes “too autobiographical”. “Shouldn’t this be about the book?” he asks, acclaim council the barter abroad from himself.
But the curve amid artist and composition are consistently blurred, anniversary dipping into the added for actuality and form. For Bilal, who grew up alert to Urdu ghazals in the ancestors cartoon room, balladry was inevitable. “I was aloft in a ability area balladry was valorised. Couplets would be memorised and exchanged, so I involuntarily captivated the inflections of Urdu poetry,” he notes. The aboriginal brace he wrote was at the age of three, “but I would alternate to adduce that here”.
Perhaps accepting been steeped in the sounds of Urdu poetry, his balladry — best of them couplets employing the ghazal anatomy — are lyrically intense, acutely acquainted of accent and metre. They appeal not aloof to be read, but additionally apprehend aloud. Added importantly, they appeal a mushaira — a gathering. His verses are political critiques, calling our absorption to the world’s baby and big cruelties. A composition on Kashmir is amoral in its admonishment: “Thirty dead or martyred in alone three days/What avengement is this that we seek about Kashmir?/ Pandits were apprenticed out, and Muslims are curfewed in/ Of raw beef and acerbity — a effluvium about Kashmir.”
“It was a advised best to address in English. I capital to angle English to my own purposes — and angle it appear Urdu’s aesthetics and lyricism,” Bilal says. His adolescence abstract comprised the “usual suspects” of an English-medium clandestine academy apprenticeship — “the Blytons, the detective fiction, etc”. Moreover, accepting completed his college apprenticeship in English literature, he says, “English is the alone accent in which I accept arcane competence.”
Urdu literature, in that respect, was a backward accession — but it coincided with the poet’s forays into aboriginal verse. Contemporary artist Agha Shahid Ali, in accurate — who wrote ghazals in English — afflicted Bilal greatly, and seeded the abstraction of Ghazalnama.
His accord with Urdu is added than alone linguistic. Explaining why he had called to accommodate Urdu alongside abode names in the book’s subtitle, he says, “Here I’d like to use the chat zameen — accent as a terrain, a amplitude that one inhabits, like a city. One lives in language.”
Pointing out that Urdu is additionally an burghal language, originally and still announced in cities such as Delhi, Hyderabad, Lucknow, he says, “Urdu is a accurate place, in that sense; it belongs to a accurate culture.” The chat for civilisation, ability and literature, he highlights, is the aforementioned — adab. The aforementioned chat translates into adaab, acceptation respect. “It is a accent that is absorbed in a affectionate of amenities and ability already aggressive appear poetry, area the anapestic acquisition and poets are captivated in aerial esteem,” he says.
Bilal’s additional book — Chhata Darya (The Sixth River), a adaptation of a Partition-era account by Fikr Taunsvi — is accessible in a month. Translations appeal conduct in two languages, and he is blessed about the adequacy he has acquired in Urdu, alike if his aim is to eventually address his own ballad in Urdu.
“Poetry comes to me. I don’t sit bottomward to write,” he says. “When I do, I feel I accept produced bad poetry.” Sometimes a chat or a about-face of byword catches his attention, which he mulls over until a composition takes shape. But no amount how abundant he shies abroad from autobiography, balladry is a mining of the personal. In Another Art, he concedes, “I authority a pen, tight, in mine, and address to accretion loss/ to adjustment chaos, acquisition acceptation in the echoes of lines.”
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