Poetry in the city.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla arranged to meet poet Iffat Zarrin at her home in Galli Hakimwalli in the city’s Old Quarter. In her 50s, Ms Zarrin occupies the office of the bursar in Mata Sundari College. She grew up in the Walled City; her father was a poet. “In the beginning he asked me to stay away from poetry,” she says. “But he quieted down after realizing my passion for it.”
Every evening Ms Zarrin’s father hosted a meeting of poets in his drawing room and she would be entrusted with the task of serving the tea. “I would hear people such as Khumar Barabankbi, Shamim Jaipuri and Sahir Hoshiyarpuri.”
Ms Zarrin’s husband is a businessman; she did not change her last name after the marriage. “Why should I adjust my identity for my husband?”
A member of Urdu Academy in Kashmere Gate, Ms Zarrin has published a book of her verses. She is left with a single copy of that book — it has been partially damaged by termites.
“I write whenever an idea occurs to me,” says Ms Zarrin. “It could happen in the kitchen, or on the way home from the college.” Ms Zarrin shares a poem with us.
Meri kaamwalli bai aur mein
Dono mein koi phark nahin
Woh bhi aurat hain
Mein bhi aurat hoon
Woh bhi ghar-ghar kaam karti hain
Main bhi naukri karti hoon
Woh doosro ki joothan khati hain
Main apno ki jhoothan khati hoon
Samaj ki zillat who bhi seheti hain
Aur main bhi bardasht karti hoon
Fark sirf status ka hain
Varna haalat dono ki ek jaisi hain
My maid and I,
There’s no difference between the two of us.
She is also a woman,
I am also a woman.
She works in several households,
I also have a job.
She eats other people’s leftovers,
I eat my people’s leftovers.
She also suffers from the society’s insults,
I too have to undergo the same.
The only difference between us is of the social status,
Otherwise we both are same.]
A poet’s world