Gorakh Pandey’s Lines

 I am posting a poem written by Gorakh Pandey.

Gorakh Pandey

Gorakh Pandey

Pandeyji and I lived in the same hostel in Jawaharlal Nehru University. On the same floor, I remember. I too was a late riser like him. We often ran into each other while brushing at the washrooms when the entire hostel was quiet and everyone had either gone off to their classes or to the library.

Pandeyji was a pleasant person. He did not interact much with people whom he did not know well, and who were outside the Uttar Pradesh- BHU-Hindi speaking circle.

I didn’t socialize much with him. Not beyond ‘namaskar’, ‘kaise hai’ etc. He was very affectionate towards me. Language was a barrier between us. He was uncomfortable in English. And I hardly knew any Hindi those days to strike a meaningful conversation.

He looked a troubled mind; a forlorn personality.

I came to know later that he killed himself.

A friend of Pandeyji, who was also in JNU, interviewed Amitabh Bachchan about his illustrious father Haribans Rai Bachan. And as a token of gratitude for the interview, he gifted Pandeyji’s poem to Amitabh. An impressed Amitabh translated it himself and posted it in his blog. And he humbly said that he could not do justice to Pandeyji in his translation.

I want you to read Pandeyji’s original Hindi poem. If you can understand and appreciate Hindi and its idiom, you can skip the English translation.

But if you are not sure that you have understood Pandeyji’s import fully, read the English translation. But quickly go back to the Hindi original with that help from the English translation to fully appreciate Pandeyji’s lines.  

Here it is.

समझदारों का गीत  

हवा का रुख कैसा है, हम समझते हैं
हम उसे पीठ क्यों दे देते हैं, हम समझते हैं
हम समझते हैं ख़ून का मतलब
पैसे की कीमत हम समझते हैं
क्या है पक्ष में विपक्ष में क्या है, हम समझते हैं
हम इतना समझते हैं
कि समझने से डरते हैं और चुप रहते हैं.

चुप्पी का मतलब भी हम समझते हैं
बोलते हैं तो सोच-समझकर बोलते हैं
बोलने की आजादी का
मतलब समझते हैं
टुटपुंजिया नौकरी के लिए
आज़ादी बेचने का मतलब हम समझते हैं
मगर हम क्या कर सकते हैं
अगर बेरोज़गारी अन्याय से
तेज़ दर से बढ़ रही है
हम आज़ादी और बेरोज़गारी दोनों के
ख़तरे समझते हैं
हम ख़तरों से बाल-बाल बच जाते हैं
हम समझते हैं
हम क्यों बच जाते हैं, यह भी हम समझते हैं.

हम ईश्वर से दुखी रहते हैं अगर वह सिर्फ़ कल्पना नहीं है
हम सरकार से दुखी रहते हैं कि वह समझती क्यों नहीं
हम जनता से दुखी रहते हैं क्योंकि वह भेड़ियाधसान होती है.

हम सारी दुनिया के दुख से दुखी रहते हैं
हम समझते हैं
मगर हम कितना दुखी रहते हैं यह भी
हम समझते हैं
यहां विरोध ही बाजिब क़दम है
हम समझते हैं
हम क़दम-क़दम पर समझौते करते हैं
हम समझते हैं
हम समझौते के लिए तर्क गढ़ते हैं
हर तर्क गोल-मटोल भाषा में
पेश करते हैं, हम समझते हैं
हम इस गोल-मटोल भाषा का तर्क भी
समझते हैं.

वैसे हम अपने को
किसी से कम नहीं समझते हैं
हर स्याह को सफेद
और सफ़ेद को स्याह कर सकते हैं
हम चाय की प्यालियों में तूफ़ान खड़ा कर सकते हैं
करने को तो हम क्रांति भी कर सकते हैं
अगर सरकार कमज़ोर हो और जनता समझदार
लेकिन हम समझते हैं
कि हम कुछ नहीं कर सकते हैं
हम क्यों कुछ नहीं कर सकते
यह भी हम समझते हैं.


And now, here is the English Translation by Amitabh Bachchan.



What way the winds blow, I can understand

Why we show our backs to it, I can understand

I understand the meaning of blood

The value of money I understand

What is for and what is against, I can understand

I even understand this

We are scared to be able to understand, and remain silent.

I can understand the meaning of remaining quiet

When we speak we speak with thinking and understanding

The freedom to speak

Its meaning, I can understand

For a pathetic and measly employment

To sell our freedom, the meaning of that I can understand

But what can we do

When unemployment

Rises faster than the injustice

The dangers of freedom and unemployment, I understand

We narrowly escape the dangers of terror

I can understand

Why we escape and get saved, this too I can understand.

We remain disappointed and are pained by the Almighty if he does not just remain an imagination

We remain disappointed and are pained by the Government why it does not understand

We remain disappointed and pained by the common man because it succumbs to a herd mentality.

We remain pained by the pain of the entire world

I can understand

But how much we remain pained by this pain this too

I can understand

That opposition is the desired step to take

I can understand

At every step we make compromising understandings

I can understand

We make deep commitments for this understanding

Every deep commitment we present in ambiguous language

I can understand

The reason for this ambiguous language also

I understand.

Incidentally, we do not consider ourselves

Less than anyone, I can understand

Every black to white

And white to black we are capable of converting

We are capable of creating a storm in a tea cup

If we want we can start a revolution also

If the Government is weak and the common man understanding

But I can understand

That there is nothing that we can do

Why there is nothing that we can do

This too I can understand.



3 Responses to “Gorakh Pandey’s Lines”

  1. May 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    I do not remember to have ever met Mr. Gorakh Pandey on the JNU Campus. His face reminds one of a typical JNU-ite of those days (70s-80s). But then this poem of his reflects a mind deeply concerned about the general plight of folks around. It does not even reflect any caste-class bias. Because this putting up with what is going on around us, whether we like it or not, unable to do anything about it for our own reasons, one can understand . At least I can having lived in the JNU Campus for nearly 35 years. Hum samajtein hain!

    Those days, almost every one you came across on the JNU Campus, was a “Gorakh Pandey” — perhaps I can also fancy myself as one of those Gorakh Pandeys who understood and “adjusted” himself with those unpleasant things which I can never approve of, but still I understood its “why-s and what for-s”.

    Prabhakar Parakala is one of my past acquaintances — we could have easily been friends on first name terms — but we remained just that “understanding” each other. My kid brother Siva Shankar (an NSUI activist while he was a student pursuing BA (Hons) German has many fond memories of Prabhakar). We brothers whenever we get together we remember those days of plenty amidst poverty and missed opportunities. Prabhakar and his enigmatic smile is etched ever positively in our minds.

    Thank you Prabhakar for this lovely poem. I will not be lying when I say this poem has touched my inner chord!

  2. May 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    My dear Prabhakar,

    My brother Raju gave me your email address as parakala.org. However, I do not know whether that is your email address as it ends with an “org”.

    It would be such pleasure hearing from you directly. Rest assured I will get back to you via return mail. My telephone number is (0)93400 93600.

    My thoughts are getting overwhelmed by memories of our past relationship. How is life treating you? I could see that you are a successful PhD from London School of Economics. That’s great stuff. Congratulations.

    My daughter, I am sure you would be delighted to know, is a student of LSE pursuing her 2nd year UG. She has just moved into her 3rd year. My second daughter has secured her admission in LSE however she is awaiting her results from NUS and NTU of Singapore.

    How about your familly? I am so much anxious to learn everything about you. Kind hearted that you are, may the Almighty Bless you with tons of success in all your endeavour .

    With best regards,

    – Siva Sankar

  3. June 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    Some lines are touches our heart
    I don’t know it’s true or wrong
    But they are lies beyond our thinking
    When we realize them;
    We grew up again…
    World are waiting to give you sunshine
    Which you have dream someday
    Life are more generous to you
    Love it,accept it,give it…
    Success are waiting next door.

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