A Sufi Celebration of Life, Inspired by Urdu
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Hello All You Lovely Readers Out There!
First off, thank you so much for showering this odd, whimsical series with so much love and affection! The response has been absolutely heartwarming and humbling. I started this series on a whim, not even sure if I had it in me to hit ‘Z’. But, here we are, beaming at ‘Z’. I had thought by the time this series would be finished, I would be ready to run for the hills and not blog for months. To the contrary, now that it is time to close this series, I don’t know how to. This series, and all of you such lovely, wonderful, absolutely awesome readers have become such an integral part of my life, I really don’t know how to say Goodbye!
Then I realized, this is my series. And unlike those T.V shows they keep cancelling the moment I fall in love with them, this is actually in my hands. So (and this is the surprise I was talking about in my mailer) I have decided not to say goodbye! Not yet. So while #AtoZChallenge is over, A Sufi Celebration of Life, Inspired by Urdu continues, albeit not on a daily basis. This will now be a weekly/bi-weekly series depending on the frequency of my inspiration, and your suggestions.
Tweet me the words/shayaris/couplets (or if Twitter is not your style, you can share your ideas in the comment box below) that you would like me to cover in this series @RunjhunNoopur and I’do my best to comply. I already have a few suggestions like Seven stages of love (gangaprasad koturwar), Aarzoo (Udit Hotchandani), Guftugu (a friend) to start with, but more the merrier. Special request to MunazZia…we need all the help from your inimitable arsenal!
Lastly, if you don’t want to miss any of my articles from this series or otherwise, do not forget to subscribe for my newsletter below!
And now…onwards and upwards!
Happy Reading! :)
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Aaye Thehre Aur Ravana Ho Gaye
Zindagi Kya Hai, Safar Ki Baat Hai
— Haidar Ali Zafri
We came, we stayed, we left
What is life, but a matter of journey
26 days, 26 letters, 26 words…and what better place to arrive than Zindagi!
Literally translated, Zindagi means life. And I am not going to wax poetic about how Zindagi is phonetically more beautiful than life, or something along those lines. Because, it does not matter. As they would say in Urdu, Ye Zindagi Lafzon Ki Mohtaj Nahi (Meaning: Life is not dependent on words).
Our words, our world, our existence is defined by Zindagi. Because there is life, there are words; because there is life, there is us talking about those words. Life is what gives languages their Vajood — their very existence. It would be much too presumptuous of any language, however beautiful, to assert that it can express life better than other languages, or somehow add to the aesthetics of the idea.
Zindagi is above and beyond all languages. And words are but a humble tribute to an idea so vast, so all encompassing, so beyond all expressions, that all the languages ever known to humans put together cannot do justice to it.
This was supposed to be a concluding post, but since it is not, what better way to celebrate the closing of this phase, and the beginning of another, by celebrating the idea of Zindagi. After all, that is what this series is all about — a celebration of life, the Sufi way.
So, what is life? What is Zindagi?
That is a question which hides the existential and spiritual struggles of the entire humankind. It is a question that has fascinated the philosophers, puzzled the scientists, inspired the artists and uplifted the Sages.
It is a question that has no answer. Or maybe, it has so many answers, we spend a lifetime figuring out the ones that work for us, that are meant for us. And the answers we look for are the choices that define who we are and what we do with the time Zindagi accords us on this planet.
Zindagi Kya Hai, Jan.ne Ke Liye
Zinda Rehna Bohot Zaroori Hai
Aaj Tak Koi Bhi Raha Toh Nahi
To understand life,
You must stay alive,
Nobody has managed to, till date
The question, however, remains. What is Zindagi?
Zindagi is the pulsating, tangible life force that you feel gushing through your veins. Zindagi is the tangled mess of existence that is our years on this planet. Zindagi is the unsolvable puzzle we keep trying to solve for as long as Zindagi lets us. Zindagi is the story we think we are the protagonists of. Zindagi is the canvass we paint with our dreams and hopes and aspirations. Zindagi is the life we live and the life we dream of. Zindagi is the choices we make and the consequences that we deal with. Zindagi is the things we control and the things we can’t.
Zindagi is a movie with multiple plot points and countless climaxes. Zindagi is a Shakespearean tragedy, punctuated by out of place comic interludes. Zindagi is an outlandish Jim Carrey comedy, with a melancholic subtext, and unexpected moments of utter seriousness and tragedies.
Zindagi is a bloody war that plays out in a field full of blooming dahlias. Zindagi is a flower shop set in the midst of a battlefield.
Aish Hi Aish Hai Na Sab Gham Hai
Zindagi Ik Haseen Sangam Hai
— Ali Jawwad Zaidi
It is neither all revelry, nor all sorrows
Life is a heady, enthralling convergence of the two
Zindagi is a book we read but never understand. Zindagi is a tongue we never learnt but speak perfectly well. Zindagi is a poem we don’t remember but can write a dissertation about. Zindagi is a dissertation that we never bother to read, but can give an erudite, well informed presentation about. Zindagi is the song we don’t remember the lyrics of, but can hum its tune in our sleep.
Zindagi is a bundle of notes from our literature class that made perfect sense at the time, but have become incomprehensible ever since.
Zindagi is our Grandma’s favorite bedtime story that we enjoyed but never understood, until we grew up. Zindagi is a mathematical equation we could never solve, until one day when we suddenly could.
Zindagi is a nursery rhyme we want to dance to again. Zindagi is the Ed Sheeran number we are dancing to right now.
Zindagi is the fairytale we read to our kids every night. Zindagi is the dusty album we hide in the attic and burn in the backyard, so that our kids never find it. Zindagi is the photo collage we display in our living room. Zindagi is the forgotten black and white photograph that stays hidden in a diary. Zindagi is the novel we write, and the journal we hide.
Zindagi is passion. Zindagi is devotion. Zindagi is faith. Zindagi is doubt. Zindagi is questions. Zindagi is answers.
Zindagi is love. Zindagi is people we love. Zindagi is what we have. Zindagi is what we have lost.
Zindagi is a sum of those parts that can never make a whole. Zindagi is those parts that are whole.
Zindagi is all of the above. Zindagi is none of the above.
There is no way one can define Zindagi in a lifetime, let alone in a blog piece. Perhaps because we don’t have to. Instead of trying to decipher life, perhaps we ought to live it.
Zindagi is what we make of it. And we are what Zindagi makes of us. It is a chicken and egg situation — a kind of a to and fro between our choices and the inevitable, that is pretty much out of our hands .
What is in our hands is to live while we are still alive, while our Zindagi is still a pulsating force. What is in our hands is to live Zindagi, as is — revel in the moments of joy, and dig our feet in when things get rocky; love and be loved; give and be given; spread joy and let the joy of existence seep into us; be kind, be thoughtful, do the best we can in every aspect of life and be the best possible version of ourselves.
That is the least we should. That is also the most we can.
Badi Talash Se Milti Hai Zindagi Ai Dost
Qaza Ki Tarah Pata Puchhti Nahin Aati
— Shannul Haq Haqqi
It is only after immeasurable search that one finds life, O dear friend
It is not like death that seeks you out at your address
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