Sunday, April 27, 2008

Do Not Question: A poem by Shāʾistah Ḥabīb

Do Not Question

Our era

Is holding our mutilated images in its hands,

The procession is passing through a huge market place.

Wave after wave,

Holding hands,

Wearing human costumes,

How satisfied are the people

With the provisions they receive

For permitting others to abuse their mothers.

Keep walking,

Great gains are expected of this, later on.

Switch off the thoughts

Arising in your minds.

Do not use too much electricity,

Save some light for the black days.

Keep walking, comrade--

Why do you, like an obstinate child,

Wish to pluck the juicy mulberry branch?

Trample -- move on,

Lest the vultures who are ahead of us

Distribute our provisions among themselves,

As there is one piece of bread

And a thousand mouths.

Anyway, keep walking,

Striking, knocking down.

Something more than bread is waiting for us.

We are the fortunate ones,

At last being awaited by someone.

Will there be a cool spring of water over there?

No no -- remain silent -- do not question

Or you'll be the loser,

Keep walking --

Who tumbled?

Don't look back.

How am I affiliated to this column of people?

I don't have to think.

Where should I seek sanctuary in this deluge?

Mad, insane.

The thesis of this search of affiliations

Is in the last show-case of the museum,

So that the future generations may go through it

And prepare notes on history.

With the scotch tape of wealth,

Connect each generation to the next.

All other clues are meaningless-- be silent--

Do not irritate others -- don't question

Or you'll be the loser.

Translated from Urdu by Yasmin Hameed.

(From: Pakistani Literature, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1995, p.505-6).

The author, Shāʾistah Ḥabīb (anglicized as Shaista Habib), died in 2004. An obituary and biography of her life can be found here.

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