In the very first verse lay a clue – to me at least – what the last line should read and which could, in part, lend a title to the entire poem. The Persian word musht used by Zafar is a ‘fist’ or ‘handful’. Used with the Arabic word ghabaar for ‘dust’ one might have plumbed for the simplistic phrase ‘handful of dust’ to close the line, but since the phrase in Urdu is preceded by mein vo ek or ‘I am that one’ the feeling of solitude that it evokes in my mind – and most likely in Zafar’s – I decided to transcreate that memorable line as a ‘solitary pinch of dust’ with ‘pinch of dust’ finding echoes in the endings of the other four verses.
For the complete text you will need to go to my blog on Zafar’s Epitaph at Pinch of Dust .
Zafar also left behind (see above) an historical document entitled “Autograph of His Majesty Bahadur Shah of Delhie – 29th April 1844.” It has a forlorn tone to it as you can’t help but note that he, as the last of his illustrious line, was no longer Mughal Emperor of India. No, he was just a debilitated royal confined to his capital city of Delhi as a virtual captive with no power or authority over the rest of his vast land, until he was exiled to Rangoon in Burma by the Raj.
At least he left us his incomparable poetry that has outlived him to this very day.
Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas