‘They have brought their bodies and plugged them in; they will go to die there - where there is life’: Gulzar

In his latest poem, Gulzar pens a hauntingly beautiful and riveting tribute to the migrant workers and the crisis that they’re going through during lockdown in India amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Gulzar pens riveting account of the migrant worker crisis in this poem.(File Photo)
Gulzar pens riveting account of the migrant worker crisis in this poem.(File Photo)
Updated on May 20, 2020 01:12 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Delhi | By

The machines ground to a halt in the cities

Only their hands and feet moved

Their lives they had planted back in the villages

Here, they have only brought their bodies and plugged them in!

They pulled out the plugs

‘Come, let’s go home’ – and they set off

They will go to die there – where there is life.

The masterful wordsmith that he is, acclaimed poet, lyricist, screenwriter and director Gulzar pens a heartfelt expression of the migrant worker’s unimaginable struggles, plight yet unbroken spirit.

In his illustrious career ranging over 5 decades, Gulzar has been an important name in the Hindi film industry. From penning dialogues, screenplays, songs and directing films, Gulzar’s writing has been one of empowering the lesser represented - from a befitting depiction of the Indian rural society, the poor and downtrodden, to the female characters in each of his films, who speak through their body language and their emotions, mellifluosly expressed through expressions and words.

In his latest poem, Gulzar pens a hauntingly beautiful and riveting tribute to the migrant workers and the crisis that they’re going through during lockdown in India amid the coronavirus outbreak. The poem, written in Hindi and Urdu, has been translated in English by author and literary historian, Rakhshanda Jalil.

Watch Gulzar sahab perform the poetry here:

 

Read the complete poem titled Migrating/Covid-19 (महामारी लगी थी) here:

घरों को भाग लिए थे सभी मज़दूर, कारीगर.

मशीनें बंद होने लग गई थीं शहर की सारी

उन्हीं से हाथ पाओं चलते रहते थे

वगर्ना ज़िन्दगी तो गाँव ही में बो के आए थे.

वो एकड़ और दो एकड़ ज़मीं, और पांच एकड़

कटाई और बुआई सब वहीं तो थी

ज्वारी, धान, मक्की, बाजरे सब.

वो बँटवारे, चचेरे और ममेरे भाइयों से

फ़साद नाले पे, परनालों पे झगड़े

लठैत अपने, कभी उनके.

वो नानी, दादी और दादू के मुक़दमे.

सगाई, शादियाँ, खलियान,

सूखा, बाढ़, हर बार आसमाँ बरसे न बरसे.

मरेंगे तो वहीं जा कर जहां पर ज़िंदगी है.

यहाँ तो जिस्म ला कर प्लग लगाए थे !

निकालें प्लग सभी ने,

‘ चलो अब घर चलें ‘ – और चल दिये सब,

मरेंगे तो वहीं जा कर जहां पर ज़िंदगी है !

– गुलज़ार

In another poem, Gulzar had thanked the frontline Covid-19 workers and thanked them by writing the following lines:

आपसे एक ज़रूरी बात कहना है, कि पुलिस-मैन एक मुहाफ़िज़ का नाम है, हिफ़ाज़त करने वाले का.. वो एक मददगार है, मदद करता है..

उस मुहाफ़िज़ की, उस मददगार की, उस पुलिस-मैन की इज़्ज़त करना, एहतराम करना, हर शहरी का फ़र्ज़ बनता है

Aapse ek zaroori baat kahna hai, ki policeman ek muhaafiz kaa naam hai, hifaazat karane waale kaa.. wo ek madad-gaar hai, madad karataa hai... Us muhaafiz ki, us madad-gaar ki, us policeman kI izzat karna, aihataraam karna, har shahari ka farz banta hai

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Saumya Sharma enjoys writing, reading and watching short and long-form content across the vast expanse of the world, in all forms - print, web, 70mm and more. A soul traveller by choice, she sometimes finds herself well-blended amongst Mango people, thinking about life as we know it. She has been in the digital content and social media marketing space for the past seven years and counting. She is fond of dogs, haikus, limericks and poetry.

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