14th December marks the birth anniversary of one of Urdu’s most iconic and innovative poets, or perhaps the single most innovate poet: Jaun Elia.
Elia was born in 1931 in the town of Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, British India. He was fluent in 6 languages, Urdu, English, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Sanskrit. But these are things we all know. We all know this as well, that Jaun broke boundaries in the tradition of Urdu poet, establishing himself as an cynical and realist poet. He refused and mocked the long standing romantic devices of Urdu tradition and invested literary tools to reflect the hopelessness and meaningless suffering that is life.
PG collected for you a selection of his 6 most iconic couplets.
On the misery of inability to express
Androon e hisar e khamoshi
Shor ki tarhaan mach raha hoon mein
On looking beyond the mirror
Kis liye dekhti ho aaina
Tum to khud se bhi khoobsurat ho
Aino’n ko zang laga
ab main kesa lagta huun
On Condemning Silence
Bolte kiun nahi mere haq mein
Aable parh gaye zabaan mein kia
On Distance and Separation
chand ne taan li hai chadar-e-abr
ab vo kapre badal rahi hogi
On Emotional Intimacy
dil ki taklif kam nahin karte
ab koi shikva ham nahin karte
On the Futility of Romance
mere kamre ko sajane ki tamanna hai tumhen
mere kamre men kitabon ke siva kuchh bhi nahin
Jaun Elia rose from being a cult classic to a poet of modernity and rebellion. Posthumously, Elia garnered a mass following in the young generation. It is surprising to see his following increase even with the tragic backdrop of the slow demise of Urdu in Pakistan.