lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

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Location: Kolkata, India

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The eyes have it

There is something in Dirk Gently's theory of fundamental interconnectedness of everything, I mused as I searched among my music. It began with my lending library. And the kind assistant who pointed out a book I might want to read. And one thing led to another.

I am indebted to Edward Luce, really. I was so irritated by his assertion that the Grand Trunk Road bisected the country north to south that I read Kim again. Kipling is an author you can read again and again, especially the Jungle Book.

That led to musing about idiom and how it gets exotic in translation. That led to Rafi and a lovely song. Call me a maudlin idiot, but I am a sucker for Rafi and love songs. But what reminded me of Rafi and his immortal songs is an interesting thing. Ever tried to free-associate reading Kipling, have you? I have.

It is a miracle how Kipling manages to capture vernacular and nuances. There is a passage, when Kim meets up with the lama again, and the old lady of Saharunpore asks of his comings and goings….


"…as much as may be without shame. How many maids, and whose wives, hang upon thy eyelashes?"

That got me thinking. Hanging upon eyelashes? It is peculiarly Indian idiom rendered into English and made exotic thereby. I will hold you in my eyes and look after you, is a promise in Telugu. Apple of the eye is well known idiom. But hang upon eyelashes? Where did I hear this before? Then I remembered where I came across that phrase. Teri ankhon ke sivaa duniya mein rakha kya hai. It is a brilliant song, sung perfectly.

I like sappy songs. Declarations of love and songs of obsession, devotion and infatuation, in Rafi's voice, acquire an extra dimension. It was in teri ankhon ke sivaa that I first heard that expression, palkon ke taley. Later I heard jalte hain jis ke liye, and there is mention of palkon ke taley there too.

As I heard the song over and over, scribbling a rough translation, I marvelled at how I came to listen to it this time. Edward Luce, Kipling and Majrooh seem so disconnected after all.

What else is in the world but your eyes?

When you raise them it dawns
Lower them and dusk falls
My life and death hang upon your eyelashes

In their sights they hold visages of
Laughter in spring times
All cities of my dreams dwell therein

Look up and it is day
Lower your eyes, it is eventide
My life and death hang upon your eyelashes

In these eyes are images of my future
In kohl of desire
Is written my destiny

Lift your eyes, it is morn
Lower them, it is twilight
My life and death hang upon your eyelashes

What else is in the world but your eyes?

Go ahead, call me a romantic fool, but I love the song.

Cheers!

9 Comments:

Anonymous Ash said...

Rough translation, you say? I see you sneaked in all versions you tried for the refrain. You did that with 'mere mehboob' too, with the word 'sahara'.

Happy Diwali, Lali.

8:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have your eyes ever been checked? No, Doctor, they have always been blue.

Worlds and events depend on those eyes, your eyes. Diwali greetings, lady.

Sincerely,
Secret admirer

9:50 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Ash- Well, I did it in half an hour, so it is rough translation. Yeah, I know. :-)

Anon- Sigh, write a sappy post, get a sappy comment.

2:00 pm  
Blogger dipali said...

Yet another wonderful translation.
Somehow, the song seems even more romantic in English:)

10:31 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

RA acting up? Happy Diwali, Auntie Em. Lovely post, btw.

11:02 pm  
Anonymous Krish Ashok said...

Romantic fool.
(simply following instructions though)

Happy Deepaavali

1:54 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Dipali-Isn't it strange that such romantic lyrics are wonderful in any language but one's mother tongue? I'd find the same sentiment overly syrupy if I read it in Telugu.
Rajesh- Stop clucking. :-)

Krish Ashok- Ouch. Serves me right. Hope you had a cracker of a time on Deepavali. :-) That was a lovely post.

12:26 pm  
Blogger Bikerdude said...

V nice blog indeed!

This one had me singing along for sure :)

11:25 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Bikerdude- Thank you. I am a rabid Rafi fan. :)

12:23 pm  

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