Heard that… (sunā hai…)

Original poem by non-other than a maestro of Urdu Poetry: Ahmed Faraz sahib

Original poem and its translation along with each other.

Trivia: This was one of the first ghazals that someone (who always stood by me, tolerated me, and pushed me to write more) requested me to translate when I began my adventure in translating Urdu poetry (A task that I still find myself too small for). I did try my hand at it at that time but immediately felt this was something way beyond my reach. I knew I won’t be able to justify a thorough attempt here much less its nuance. So I promised that I will pick it up again perhaps after some years and give it a go.
After many years now (translating around 100 Urdu poems), I have taken a leap of faith and made here a feeble attempt, I hope my sincere try here does the original piece some amount of justice.


Sunā hai log use aañkh bhar ke dekhte haiñ
so us ke shahr meñ kuchh din Thahar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard that people gawk at her with awe, to be sure.
In her city, let’s stay for a couple of days, to be sure.

sunā hai rabt hai us ko ḳharāb-hāloñ se
so apne aap ko barbād kar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, she’s empathetic to those down on their luck.
If so, let’s ruin ourselves to such a state, to be sure.

sunā hai dard kī gāhak hai chashm-e-nāz us kī
so ham bhī us kī galī se guzar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, her mellow eyes seek to comfort those in pain.
If so, why not pass through her estate, to be sure.

sunā hai us ko bhī hai sher o shā.irī se shaġhaf
so ham bhī mo.ajize apne hunar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard she has a penchant for lyrics and poems…
If that is so, I too must test my talent, to be sure.

sunā hai bole to bātoñ se phuul jhaḌte haiñ
ye baat hai to chalo baat kar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard when she speaks, words bloom like flowers.
One must then talk with her face-to-face, to be sure.

sunā hai raat use chāñd taktā rahtā hai
sitāre bām-e-falak se utar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, the whole night moon keeps staring at her.
Stars descend to watch her eminence, to be sure.

sunā hai din ko use titliyāñ satātī haiñ
sunā hai raat ko jugnū Thahar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, in the day, butterflies swing around her.
In the night, fireflies stop in their ways, to be sure.

sunā hai hashr haiñ us kī ġhazāl sī āñkheñ
sunā hai us ko hiran dasht bhar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, quite apocalyptic are those eyes of hers,
Gazelles keep hopping in the wilderness, to be sure.

sunā hai raat se baḌh kar haiñ kākuleñ us kī
sunā hai shaam ko saa.e guzar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, longer than the nights are the tresses of hers.
Heard darkness too runs wild after sunsets, to be sure.

sunā hai us kī siyah-chashmagī qayāmat hai
so us ko surma-farosh aah bhar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, her deep eyes are an invitation for extinction,
Merchants of kohl fight among themselves, to be sure.

sunā hai us ke laboñ se gulāb jalte haiñ
so ham bahār pe ilzām dhar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, from her lips burn the lanterns of rose.
Why not put the Spring through trials, to be sure.

sunā hai aa.ina timsāl hai jabīñ us kī
jo saada dil haiñ use ban-sañvar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, like a canvas of reflection, shines her countenance.
Even the simpler ones do muster up all the grace, to be sure.

sunā hai jab se hamā.il haiñ us kī gardan meñ
mizāj aur hī laal o guhar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, since few jewels have graced her porcelain neck.
Hanged pearls too carry a pride showcase, to be sure.

sunā hai chashm-e-tasavvur se dasht-e-imkāñ meñ
palañg zāviye us kī kamar ke dekhte haiñ

From the valley of imagination to the wilderness of possibility.
I heard, her bed keeps an account of curves, to be sure.

sunā hai us ke badan kī tarāsh aisī hai
ki phuul apnī qabā.eñ katar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, the silhouette of her body is akin to such,
even the lavish flowers cut the corners, to be sure.

vo sarv-qad hai magar be-gul-e-murād nahīñ
ki us shajar pe shagūfe samar ke dekhte haiñ

Though she stands tall but spreads her wings with aplomb.
One must watch her shower fruit nectarous, to be sure.

bas ik nigāh se luTtā hai qāfila dil kā
so rah-ravān-e-tamannā bhī Dar ke dekhte haiñ

Mere a glimpse of hers has people lost their minds.
Hence even adventurers become too cautious, to be sure.

sunā hai us ke shabistāñ se muttasil hai bahisht
makīñ udhar ke bhī jalve idhar ke dekhte haiñ

Heard, her courtyard is connected directly to the heavens.
Dwellers of there too often, rent here a space, to be sure.

ruke to gardisheñ us kā tavāf kartī haiñ
chale to us ko zamāne Thahar ke dekhte haiñ

When she halts, all the planets begin to revolve around her.
When she moves, the whole world holds its breath, to be sure.

kise nasīb ki be-pairahan use dekhe
kabhī kabhī dar o dīvār ghar ke dekhte haiñ

Who has such a fortune here to watch her without a veil?
Does so perhaps only walls guarding her place, to be sure.

kahāniyāñ hī sahī sab mubālġhe hī sahī
agar vo ḳhvāb hai tābīr kar ke dekhte haiñ

Stories-only here or perhaps all may be the here-say.
Even if a dream she is, should one not chase, to be sure?

ab us ke shahr meñ Thahreñ ki kuuch kar jaa.eñ
‘farāz’ aao sitāre safar ke dekhte haiñ

Should one stay in her city anymore or step out?
‘Faraz’, let us consult the constellations, to be sure.

— This translation is dedicated to Ahmed Faraz sb and all his fans like me across the world. And to that special fan who I promised once that I will translate it.

Back then, this is the rendition that was originally shared with me.

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