‘Today, do not insist on walking away’

There is a phenomenal composition by the poet Fayyaz Hashmi that I’ve adored for much of my 20-something years of existence. I first heard it as an adolescent teen, unaware of the profundity of the words, unable to register their true magnificence. I’ve gone back to it over the years, and the verses roll over me like a soothing mist of cool air on an exceptionally hot and sticky day. The poem I am talking about is the beloved “Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo.”

Many have heard it, but most are unaware of the man who actually composed it. Calcutta-born Fayyaz Hashmi was privy to the aesthetics of life from an early age, his father, a writer, worked in theatre in India. Hashmi, who wrote his first ghazal at 13, relocated to Lahore and can be credited for being one of the greatest names in the Indo-Pak enetertainment industry. Picturised on the Pakistani actor Nadeem, and sung by the exceptional Farida Khanum, “Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo” is more than just a composition, since its first release, it has become an institution for all those nursing heartaches and headaches both. Several covers of the song now exist, with one by Asha Bhonsle that’s quite popular. I personally prefer the Khanum version, but recently stumbled across one produced by TheShrutiBox, an initiative of fusion music composed and directed by American clarinetist Shankar Tucker.

A composition like this screams out to be shared with all. Why should it simply be restricted and reserved for those who can understand the language? Here is my modest and rather simplistic English translation of the classic words of Fayyaz Hashmi:

Today, do not insist on walking away
Today, do not insist on walking away
As you are, sit by my side
Just the way you are, sit by me
Today, do not insist on walking away

Oh! I will cease to be, I will be robbed,
Do not say such words.
Today, do not insist on walking away
Today, do not insist on walking away

Give it a thought, why would I not stop you?
Life drains from me when you get up and leave
Give it a thought, why would I not stop you?
Life drains from me when you get up and leave
For your own sake, my life of life, agree to this one plea of mine:

Today, do not insist on walking away
As you are, sit by my side
Just the way you are, sit by me
Today, do not insist on walking away

In the prison of time sits life, trapped, and yet
These few remaining moments are the only ones liberated
In the prison of time sits life, trapped, and yet
These few remaining moments are the only ones liberated
After losing them, my life of life, do not eternally pine for them.

Today, do not insist on walking away
As you are, sit by my side
Just the way you are, sit by me
Today, do not insist on walking away

P.s: “Aaj jaane ki zidd na karo” would literally translate into ‘Today, don’t be so stubborn about leaving’ but I took the liberty of using the verb ‘insist’ to denote the stubbornness instead. In general, many of the Urdu words in the peom are idiosyncratic, and it’s difficult to find a fitting English substitute for them. Nonetheless, I did what sounded pure to me.

P.p.s: Here is the link to Shankar Tucker’s soulful remake and cover of Hashmi’s words –

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2 Comments

  1. Pretty well done job… having a bit of a “heartache and headache” phase myself and this is the song playing (several versions of it – asha ji, farida ji, habibwali md from the movie, tucker (of course) and a.r.rahman’s version from mtv unplugged) on a loop for the past several hours. 🙂 Across time and space the appeal of music and lyrics remains… thanks for taking on the Herculean job of translating it…

    Reply

  2. You left out the last stanza….Kitna maasom rangeen hai yeh samaa, husn aur ishk ki aaj meraz hai, kal ki kisko khabhar jaane jaan, rok lo aaj ki raat ko…

    How innocent and colourful is this environ,
    it is a wonderful journey of beauty and love,
    Who knows what would happen tomorrow, oh my love,
    Stay over for the night……

    Reply

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