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Of course the migrant labourers will go back home, for that is where their lives are: Gulzar

Cities are not home for the migrant workers, says the poet. Read the poem and translation by Rakhshanda Jalil.

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New Delhi: Poet, writer and lyricist Gulzar has been a busy man during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. He has written and recorded lovely compositions, messages of hope, urging us to practise social distancing, to feed stray dogs and cats in our neighbourhood, and voicing his appreciation of the police force who are out there at the frontline of the battle, making sure we are safe.

Now, he has written a timely poem on the plight of migrant workers, who, as he says, will of course want to go home, where their real life is, instead of staying in a city where they are seen as just hands and feet. Read the poem and translation by Rakhshanda Jalil, and watch the video of Gulzar’s recitation of it, set to dance by Kathak performer Mrinalini.

मज़दूर, महामारी

महामारी लगी थी
घरों को भाग लिए थे सभी मज़दूर, कारीगर.
मशीनें बंद होने लग गई थीं शहर की सारी
उन्हीं से हाथ पाओं चलते रहते थे
वगर्ना ज़िन्दगी तो गाँव ही में बो के आए थे.

वो एकड़ और दो एकड़ ज़मीं, और पांच एकड़
कटाई और बुआई सब वहीं तो थी

ज्वारी, धान, मक्की, बाजरे सब.
वो बँटवारे, चचेरे और ममेरे भाइयों से
फ़साद नाले पे, परनालों पे झगड़े
लठैत अपने, कभी उनके.

वो नानी, दादी और दादू के मुक़दमे.
सगाई, शादियाँ, खलियान,
सूखा, बाढ़, हर बार आसमाँ बरसे न बरसे.
मरेंगे तो वहीं जा कर जहां पर ज़िंदगी है.
यहाँ तो जिस्म ला कर प्लग लगाए थे !

निकालें प्लग सभी ने,
‘ चलो अब घर चलें ‘ – और चल दिये सब,
मरेंगे तो वहीं जा कर जहां पर ज़िंदगी है !

– गुलज़ार

Migrating, COVID-19

The pandemic raged
The workers and labourers fled to their homes
All the machines ground to a halt in the cities
Only their hands and feet moved
Their lives they had planted back in the villages

The sowing and the harvesting was all back there
Of the jowar, wheat, corn, bajra – all of it
Those divisions with the cousins and brothers
Those fights at the canals and waterways
The strongmen, hired sometimes from their side and sometimes from this
The lawsuits dating back to grandparents and grand uncles
Engagements, marriages, fields
Drought, flood, the fear: will the skies rain or not?
They will go to die there – where there is life
Here, they have only brought their bodies and plugged them in!

They pulled out the plugs
‘Come, let’s go home’ – and they set off
They will go to die there – where there is life.


A new expression to the poem Migrating/Covid-19 via Ajay Jain

Gulzar यांनी वर पोस्ट केले रविवार, २४ मे, २०२०


Also read: Onion price, inflation, political games — Gulzar’s Murari Lal is back to voice public anger


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  1. To the editor, The print…..I am V.Radhika,short story writer in Telugu ,Today I have seen Gulzar’s poem in Print…about migrant people…It reflects the present scenario throughout the country…so I want to translate it into Telugu .I don’t know the procedure that how to take permission from you and from Mr.Gulzar..Hence I request you to provide permission

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