The Ultimate Tax

Let’s admit it: there are those of us who postpone, postpone and postpone……But, hey, a time comes when putting off can prove to be calamitous to your wellbeing and future financial prospects!

Consider that we’re now heading inexorably toward a deadline next month when – I know you’ve already guessed it! – further procrastination on your part will not sit well with a certain essential branch of government.

It was a man of literature, the great Urdu poet, Hali (1837-1914) who chose to use humor when he wrote his famous poem, “Tax”, to great effect – and to spur his wayward countrymen in South Asia to responsible action! The Roman Urdu version in italics of Hali’s timeless verses follows my own transcreation, a note on which will be found at the bottom of the page; also, you will find there the Urdu script version.

“Menfolk,” said the Prof,
“Are prone to putting off,
But the time of death
They can’t – not by a breath!”

Then spoke up a Shroff*
(Discreetly with a cough:)
“Likewise too, kind Sir,
Tax-time one can’t defer!”

1. Va‘iz ne kaha kih vaqt sab jate hain tal,
Ik vaqt se apne to nahin talti to ajal.
2. Ki ‘arz par ik seth ne uth kar kih Huzur,
Hai taiks ka vaqt bhi isi tarah atal!

ا واعِظ نے کَہا کِہ وَقت سَب جاتے هَیں ٹَلہَے
اِک وَقت سے اَپنے تو نَہیں ٹَلتی تو اَجَل
۲ کی عَرض پَر اِک سیٹه نے اُٹه کَر کِہ حُضُور
ہَے ٹَیکس کا  وَقت بهی اِسی طَرح اَٹَل

*In the East, a shroff is a banker, a money-lender, or money-changer.

Note: I find the above quatrain to be almost an epigram, and so conceived its metapoeia form as a cross between the gay, tripping measure of a shortened, modified trochaic meter rhyming in pairs, and E. C. Bentley’s humorous clerihew. The result is two stanzas of catalectic verse against Hali’s one.

Copyright © Azim Lewis Mayadas 2015


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