Reading out poetry is a bit addictive. In fact, it feels like a discovery of sorts. Like when you go back to a city after a few years, and refresh your memory by printing how the streets turn or how the tree was a bit smaller than you thought it was.
The poem from Ardh Satya is a tough one to start with. Not to mention that Om Puri read it with his incredible voice in the movie. I don’t recall the rhythm of the poem, however – I do recall with great clarity the goosebumps I had. I was a baby when Ardh Satya (Trans. Half Truth) was released. I never saw it in a movie hall. Much later, perhaps when I was about 14 I saw the movie, and was spellbound. In Vijay Tendulkar’s stories, there is an element of dignity that is explored.
Govind Nihalani‘s Ardh Satya was to a great extent about the theme of moral impotency and the loss of one’s self-respect as a person finds himself being part of a system that he never related to. This loss is amplified when he meets a woman, who appears to have far greater courage than him. He questions his courage and self (the theme of manhood) as he comes to face with this quiet power. He ends up seeking protection from the very goon he wanted to lock up. The way he looks at it, his own system fails him. He ultimately kill the goon and surrenders. One of the outstanding scences in this movie has to be when Om Puri gets drunk and calls up Smita Patil (the female protagonist). Such anguish and such rage. This particular poem by Dilip Chitre is read by Om Puri in a scene where he picks up a book of Smita Patil’s and reads one poem out to her. In the movie, there is one more poem he reads out to her. But this gave me far more goosebumps!
Disclaimer – I am an impatient person. I just read the poem out loud once and then recorded it. This whole recording was accomplished in about 15 minutes. Yes, it can be better, and yes, it isn’t a fraction as wonderful as the original. But then I am not Om Puri.
Chakravyuh mein ghusne se pehle,
kaun tha mein aur kaisa tha,
yeh mujhe yaad hi na rahega.
Chakravyuh mein ghusne ke baad,
mere aur chakravyuh ke beech,
sirf ek jaanleva nikat’ta thi,
iska mujhe pata hi na chalega.
Chakravyuh se nikalne ke baad,
main mukt ho jaoon bhale hi,
phir bhi chakravyuh ki rachna mein
farq hi na padega.
Marun ya maarun,
maara jaoon ya jaan se maardun.
iska faisla kabhi na ho paayega.
Soya hua aadmi jab
neend se uthkar chalna shuru karta hai,
tab sapnon ka sansar use,
dobara dikh hi na paayega.
Us roshni mein jo nirnay ki roshni hai
sab kuchh s’maan hoga kya?
Ek palde mein napunsakta,
ek palde mein paurush,
aur theek taraazu ke kaante par
I haven’t been able to find a suitable translation for this piece so far. I am attempting a very literal and weak one with some liberties taken. (Time taken – 10 minutes – so please don’t get too critical.) To being with, translating the word Chakravyuh is hard enough. It refers to a certain spiral battle formation of troops in a war-maze. (trans. Chakra = Spiral/ Wheel, Vyuh = Formation) The formation by itself becomes an organism. You don’t as much fight a soldier or a warrior, as much you battle the entire formation. Battling the formation with a strategy becomes self-defeating. In this poem it perhaps symbolizes a never-ending maze of enemies.
Who was I, before I entered this maze,
Is not something that I will remember.
As I entered the war-maze,
there was only the life-threatening
closeness between the enemy and me.
Even this, I will not realize.
After getting out of the maze
Even if I earn my freedom,
The maze by itself, will not change. Unaltered.
To die or to kill,
To be killed, or to take someone’s life,
Even this will not be decided.
As a man wakes from his sleep,
and starts to walk, he can never
again, see the world of his dreams.
In this light, the light of choices,
Will all be equal?
Impotence on one side,
Manhood on the other,
And in the centre,
(tipping the scale) is the