13 Jan

Meena Kumari had a sad life and died at a young age of 38. Her poetry is of highest standard and shows how she found her life. In one of her couplets she tells us how life has treated her. [She got a checkmate in the chess game of life every time she played: by her father, her husband and then her friends, see below *.]

Meena Kumari

ٹکڑے ٹکڑے دن بیتا دھججی دھججی رات ملی

جس کا جتنا آںچل تھا اتنی ہی سوغات ملی

جب بھی چاہا دل کو سمجھیں ہنسنے کی آواز سنی

جیسے کویؑ کہتا ہو لے پھر تجھ کو مات ملی

ماتیں کیسی گھاتیں کیا چلتے رہنا آٹھ پہر

دل سا ساتھی جب پایا بیچینی بھی ساتھ ملی

رم جھم رم جھم بوندوں مین زہر بھی ہے اور امرت بھی

آنکھیں ہنس دیں دل رویا یہ اچھی برسات ملی

Tukre tukre din beeta dhajji dhajji raat mili

Jiska jitna aaNchal tha Utni hi saughaat mili

[In pieces did I get the day and the night was all in tatters

Of the bounty, one got only as much as one could gather in one’s scarf]


Jab bhi chaha dil ko samjheiN hasne ki aawaz suni

Jaise koyee kahta ho, le phir tujh ko maat mili

[Whenever I tried to understand life, I heard someone jeering at me

As if someone is saying, lo, you got yourself checkmated again]*

MaateiN kaisi ghaateiN kya, chalte rahna aath paher

Dil sa saathi jab paya, bey chaini bhi saath mili

[It is a journey all the time, what with these checkmates or traps

When a heart is your companion, you got restlessness too]

Rimjhim rimjhim boodoN mein, zahr bhi hai aur amrit bhi

aaNkheiN hansdeeN, dil roya, yeh achhi barsat mili.

[The ringing rain- drops have both poison and elixir of life

What a rain did I get, where the eyes laugh and the heart cries]


Posted by on January 13, 2017 in adab and literature, Urdu Poetry, videos


Tags: , , , ,


  1. विजय कुमार गुप्ता

    January 13, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Meena Kumari started working in films very early and never had a childhood. Then she fell in love with Kamal saab’s “shairy” and instead married Kamal saab, who again exploited her financially and emotionally. Dharmendra and Gulzar were her “friends”, who also could not give her what she sought. She got love, alas! from the bottle that destroyed her at 38! A tragedy queen, in every sense.
    I remember her in “Dil Ek Mandir”, “Mere Apne” (probably her last film) and “Pakeeza” (every frame of this film should be preserved for ever — Kamal’s only contribution in her life!)
    Speaking of her poetry, the LP record,”I write, I recite” is again a gem which all Meena Kumari “die-hards” listen to again & again.
    I miss her very much, for like her, I too am very fond of “shairy” and James Hadley Chase’s novels.

    • shakilakhtar

      January 14, 2017 at 6:34 pm

      your mention of LP of I write I recite gives me cause to think you are indeed very old fan of hers.I came to know of this beautiful audio only recently, (4-5 years ago) thanks to you tube and it is indeed great both literature wise and her voice. Her prose is as beautiful as is her nazms.

  2. विजय कुमार गुप्ता

    January 13, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    Another “she’r” of this ghazal that I have is:

    होंठों तक आते-आते, जाने कितने रूप भरे
    जलती-बुझती आँखों में, सादा-सी जो बात मिली

    This too is a good she’r. You may like to add it to the above, of course with your remarkable translation for the benefit of
    non-Urdu walas.

    • shakilakhtar

      January 14, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you very much for your input Vijay ji. I did not know of this she’r ND IT IS A GOOD ONE TOO.

  3. shakilakhtar

    January 16, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    होंठों तक आते-आते, जाने कितने रूप भरे
    जलती-बुझती आँखों में, सादा-सी जो बात मिली
    HotoN tak aate aate jaane kitne roop bhare
    jalti bujhti aaNkhoN meiN saada si ji baat mili

    a translation will ruin the beauty of this she’r, but I have to do it under tremendous ‘request’ by Sheela, my friend.
    The simple message I notice in the eyes that are shining now, sad now,,changes (in content and in context) umpteen times by the time it manifests itself in words.

  4. विजय कुमार गुप्ता

    January 16, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you, Sir. Your translation has been beautiful as ever. But, yes, the patheos in her words are beyond translation. You have to feel it, actually, I like her poetry because I can feel the pain she felt while writing / reciting. Yes, I started following her career since 1963 or so…and when she died, my eyes were moist too.

    • shakilakhtar

      January 17, 2017 at 9:50 am

      Vijay ji your encouragement brought light to my otherwise ‘sad’ eyes 🙂 One often sees one’s own life happenings in many a shayeries but more so with Meena Kumari. I knew about Dharmendar but you said about Gulzar too among her special friends.Not so Dharmendar, but both Kamal and Gulzar SHOULD have understood her sensibilities and treated her like a queen. Their loss as well as her ruin.

  5. विजय कुमार गुप्ता

    January 18, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Gulzar came into her life at the fag end. It was he who saw her writings, suggested improvements (isslah) and brought them out in the open. The LP was the first public display of her shaiyari. She was not sexually attracted to Gulzar, but started deeply depending on him for her emotional support. Gulzar saab was very busy at that time and being not a hard drinker himself could not give her the time she wanted exclusively from him. Kamaal saab was not as good a person as his shairy was. That was a mistake Meenaji realised after marriage.
    The genuine “shairs” are like that. Remember Majaj ?

    • shakilakhtar

      January 18, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      It generally true sadly for most good shayers that they even ruin their lives by heavy drinking. Majaz though a very good shayer died of drinking. As a man though they may leave a lot to be desired when dealing with women in general, I am now after reading your above account with peace with Gulzar sahab as I think he is a gem of a man. But he too could not keep good relations with Rakhi.

  6. Sonya Kassam

    January 25, 2017 at 1:21 am

    This is such a poignant post. Thank you for all the translations and sharing this video. From the conversation in your comments I have come to learn a lot more about the beautiful Meena Kumari.

    On a side note, thank you Shakilji for sharing my work with Sheela. I am truly flattered.

    • shakilakhtar

      January 25, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      Thanks and I too learnt a lot from Vijay Kumar’s observations and he even gave a she’r of this ghazal I missed. And Sheela Nandini is a very sweet girl I admire her zeal and purity of her heart.


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