“Will there be singing in the dark times. Yes there will be songs of the dark times.”

In this short poem with three verses, Gulzar responds to Javed Akhtar’s heartfelt call for writers to be vocal and tells us that in every age it is the poet who speaks up and raises his voice against the tyrannies of the time.

Invoking a long tradition of Urdu poetry, he reminds us of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Mirza Ghalib who dipped their pens in their hearts’ blood and turned them into the clang of clashing swords.

For Javed Akhtar

Jadu, we have heard your call
You are not alone, we have heeded that challenge

A price was set yesterday, several thrones were up for sale
We heard an auction take place in the market yesterday 

You too have dipped your fingers in your heart’s blood
We have heard the clangour of the pen earlier too

— Translated from the Urdu by Rakhshanda Jalil


Javed Akhtar ke Naam

Jadu, bayaan tumhara, aur pukaar sunii hai
Tum “ekla” nahi, hum ne woh lalkaar sunii hai 

Boli lagi thhii kal, ke singhasan bikau thhe
Nilaam hoti kal, sar-e-bazar sunii hai

Tum ne bhi khoon-e-dil mein duboii hain ungliyan
Hum ne qalam ki pehle bhi jhankar sunii hai

Also read:

This new ghazal by Javed Akhtar is a clarion call for writers to wield their pens in dark times

Eight poems by Gulzar we need to read on Republic Day

Gulzar: As a poet, I think I write intelligently, but I’m not an intellectual