the scent of our earth

ek jangal hai teri aankhon mein
main jahaan raah bhool jaata hoon 

mai tujhe bhoolne ki koshish mein
aaj kitne qareeb paata hoon

tu kisi rail se guzarti hai
mai kisi pul sa thartharaata hoon

har taraf aitraaz hota hai
mai agar raushni mein aata hoon

mai jise odhta bichhaata hoon
wo ghazal aap ko sunaata hoon 

– dushyant kumar


There is perhaps no equivalent in English for the Hindustani word ‘apnaapan’. A sense of familiarity, a feeling of being at home, a recognition that what is around is one’s own, an absence of alienation – that increasingly prevalent illness of the human spirit. Dushyant Kumar’s Hindi ghazal conveys just what ‘apnaapan’ means.

The poem lacks the sophistication and multivalence of Urdu poetry, the music lacks the subtlety of the classical musicians or the romance of the ghazal singers, but both the poetry and music evoke images that are distinctly their own. These are images of India. Ordinary, everyday India.

Walking through the narrow lanes of an ordinary locality in a small town – the bicycles passing by, the dog running about, negotiations over the price of vegetables, and from indoors, utensils striking each other in the kitchen or the television in the drawing room.

Sitting in a 3-AC compartment on a long train journey, surrounded by men and women of the middle-class, the scent of home-cooked food and snacks kept in round steel boxes, strangers becoming friends, and a conspicuous absence of the stiffness or sense of privacy of passengers on an airline.

Standing in a public bus making its way through potholed roads – somewhat shaky, crowded, punctuated by the conductor’s calling out the names of stops in a strangely rhythmic way, perhaps incomprehensible to the first-time traveller. A dull-white kurta-pyjama, a colourful salwaar kameez with floral patterns on it, an old, simple saree and a matching bindi to go with it. A beautiful, young face, preserving its dignity and innocence in the crowd, unable to afford the chauffeur-driven, air-conditioned, shock-absorbing comforts of the cars around the bus. The experience of solitude in the most crowded of places, perhaps a necessity to preserve one’s sanity in the mass of people.

The scent of the earth in our country, very different from the scent of the earth elsewhere.

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~ by tdcatss on August 4, 2015.

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