A Sufi Celebration of Life, Inspired by Urdu
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Hai Mohabbat Hayat Ki Lazzat
Varna Kuchh Lazzat-e-Hayat Nahin
— Jaun Eliya
Love is the relish/taste/joy of life
Or else this life is bland and joyless
It is such a delectable word. If I may borrow from the culinary vocabulary, just the mouthfeel of the word is addictive. And the way it rolls off your tongue and bounces off the epiglottis, it is enough of a tease to make you want to grab an early lunch.
It is a delightful, little word that can make you instantly happy and hungry.
Literally translated, it means taste or relish or joy. Its commonly used variations are more food specific — like Lazzatdar (meaning tasty or delicious) or the more preferred Lazeez (which also means delicious but is just less of a tongue-twister).
The idea of Lazeez conjures up the image of piping, hot, succulent kebabs or silky, smooth, spicy Rogan Josh or the enticing, savory Paneer Kadhai , complete with soft, buttery Naan (a kind of Indian flat bread) and pickles and vinegar soaked onions.
Oh dear, I just managed to make myself incredibly hungry!
Anyway, back to the word of the day. So while Lazeez is specific, Lazzat is expansive. The imagery it invokes is not just limited to a dish or two on the table; it is that of an entire, loaded buffet — seven courses and all that jazz coupled with perfumed ambiances and silver cutlery and silk draperies and feather soft, silk covered cushions.
Lazzat is not about specifics. Or maybe it is all about specifics, coupled with everything else. Lazzat is an experience — wholesome, holistic, complete.
Lazzat is aesthetics on crack. It is a sensory overload, an unmatched high, a sense of being alive at its most intense best.
It is no wonder that the whole idea of Lazzat is fading from our lives. For to be able to relish Lazzat, we need time and energy and undivided attention; everything that we are increasingly growing short of.
Lazzat is not about food — it is about relishing food. Lazzat is not about joy — it is about relishing the minor and major joys that the Universe inevitably throws in our way; Lazzat is not about life — it is about relishing life to the fullest.
Lazzat is the spice of life. It is the zing that we all crave for, whether we realize it or not. It is the thrill that we complain has gone missing from our romances, and from our lives.
It is also befittingly poetic that this very Lazzat, this supremely important Lazzat, draws its roots from the idea of food.
Walter Pate said “All art aspires toward the condition of music”.
And I think all joys aspire to the condition of food. For there is no finer pleasure in life, an exclusive blessing granted only to the humans. After all, no other animal, carnivore or otherwise, has been ever known to prefer their ribs well done, with white wine on the side. I think most them would rather chew the damn things off the rib cage directly.
The point is, food is one of the greatest pleasure and blessing of human life. It is also pretty exclusive. Right along with sex.
Ever heard of a horny horse, outside of a bad joke? Yeah, me neither.
Food and sex maybe essential for all living beings. But we belong to that super exclusive, humans only club that gets to enjoy food and sex, and can indulge in them, not just for business but also for pleasure.
It is a true blessing, and a reason enough for us to go down on our knees and thank our stars. Every single day.
After all, what is life without food and sex? And what are food and sex without some heady Lazzat?
But of course, it is easy and convenient, simple and comprehensible to limit the idea of Lazzat to food and sex. We get it.
What we don’t get is how indelibly Lazzat is mingled with every single aspect of our life.
There is a Lazzat in every emotion that crosses our path; every moment that occupies our day, our lives. Missing out on Lazzat because we are too busy; too preoccupied or just to taken by the idea of life’s vagaries and challenges and hardships — well, that is not just a tragedy, it is a terrible loss. Because ultimately, as I have been repeating throughout this piece, what is life without a dash of Lazzat?
Contrary to the obvious interpretation, Lazzat is not just about sunshine and rainbows and Unicorns. Lazzat is just living — and relishing whatever is at hand. Not just joys or delicacies or luxuries or success or happiness; but also pain and heartbreaks and losses and failures.
Lazzat-e-gham badha dijiye
Aap phir muskura dijiye
You can add to the relish of my sorrows
Just spare a little smile again
Ultimately, life’s joys have a meaning and relevance only when juxtaposed with life’s hardships. A success is only as relevant as the failure it succeeds. The little moments of happiness and pleasure that make our lives worth living draw their meaning from the moments when we are down and out. All life has meaning, in whatever sense you perceive it, only because death looms at the horizon. It is a cycle and the inherent symbiosis is as inevitable as it is essential.
Lazzat, for all its succulence and ecstasy, is essentially emotion neutral. It is a sensory high — an art to experience our emotions to the fullest. In that sense, it is a liberating way to live life, because once we start embracing all our emotions — both negative and positive, we automatically become better equipped to handle and manage them. Contrary to the popular, machismo infused wisdom, stifling emotions is rarely a good idea; taking Lazzat in them is. Because all routes to a better, more managed emotional state are via acceptance. Only once you accept how you feel, (especially when it is something like anger or depression or low self esteem), can you start doing something about it, including seeking help if needed.
Ek Umr Se Hun Lazzat-e-Giryaa Se Bhi Mehruum
Aye Raahat-e-Jaan Mujh Ko Rulaane Ke Liye Aa
— Ahmad Faraz
It seems like a lifetime since I have been deprived of the pathos (relish) of longing
Come my love, the respite of my heart, if only to make me weep again
Taking Lazzat in anger or depression may seem like a terribly sadomasochistic thought. But shroud of its rainbow halo, Lazzat is a lesson in embracing and soaking and accepting our emotional selves, without any guilt or apologies. It is our first step towards emotional healing and/or management.
Because even in utter darkness, Lazzat is beautiful. It is the little lamp that shows you the way towards the light at the end of your tunnel.
Morbid as it may seem, sometime the only way out of hell is through. You may drag yourself through it, kicking, screaming, cursing and making hell a lot more hell-ish. Or you can choose the path of Lazzat and fight through hell with your head held high. And while you are it, make the most of that hellfire and throw in a few barbecue parties on the side.
There is a certain thrill in surviving the hard times — a Lazzat that is unmatched by any other experience. Irrespective of how tough the times are, never forget that. Because Lazzat may not solve anything; but it will definitely help us get by while the things are solved.
Sometimes Lazzat maybe all we need to hold on and survive. It is not for nothing that Lazzat, in all its scrumptious brevity, offers us the shortest lesson in good life.
Taste. Relish. Live.
Zindagi Ko Zaḳhm Ki Lazzat Se Mat Mahrum Kar
Raste Ke Pattharon Se Khairiyat Maalum Kar
— Rahat Indori
Don’t deprive life of the relish of its wounds
You want to know about wellbeing, ask the roadblocks and stones
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