Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Nishat Ahtesham’s Poem ‘I stare at the emptiness’, Connaught Place
Poetry in the city.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
She is a statistical officer in the ministry of labour. She is also a poet and a rapper. She writes her own songs.
This afternoon Nishat Ahtesham, 29, is in Connaught Place, which is a short distance from her office in Central Secretariat. She is talking about her relatively recent initiation into the rapping scene. “I found the raps in the movie Gully Boy really inspiring—the language, the words, the way of expressing… it was all hard-hitting but not crude. My heart was touched.”
A month ago, Ms Ahtesham, who lives with her parents in north Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh, wrote a poem in “simple urdu” over the course of several days. She would jot down occasional lines on her mobile during her commutes on the Yellow Line metro from home to work and back. “There are times when failures break us to a level that it becomes hard to rise and start again. But there’s always a hope, and that’s what prompted me to write this.”
After performing a live rap on “existential crisis” without showing a wee bit of consciousness as Connaught Place shoppers passed about her, Ms Ahtesham agrees to share the poem she wrote during her commute. She translated the lines from Urdu to English.
I stare at the emptiness
With my blurry eyes trained on the smoky roads
My weary spirit
craves for the journey’s end.
The desires all but fading
Still rummaging through the dust
I stare at the emptiness
The caravans are gone.
That probes me further.
Not a single soul around to hear me out
I wonder what I would have uttered
If I had opened my mouth.
For everyone here reads the words we mouth
I wish someday someone reads the eyes
and decipher everything.
Sometimes I see people
with their eyes wrapped
With strips of clothes
Spiralling downwards holding selfish thoughts within
I wonder why no one makes way to for others to spread wings and fly ,
I wonder why lying in dust for years and unnurtured, our minds remain presumptuous.
In the realms of my mind, I try to escape with my eyes close
And become a dream myself
In my world, I become the moonlight and I caress the moon
I steal moments from the
sands of time
And dissolving the pettiness of the world,
I turn into a golden pheasant.
While the air breezes past the my face
My eyes full of longing hopes in abundance
For a day when there will be
stirring tales of love flourishing everywhere.
And the hovering clouds will give way to a clearer dawn, abating the pain.