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The City of The Blind

Originally written in Urdu
 یہ اندھوں کی نگری ہے، میرے عزیزو
 یہاں رہنے والے سبھی بے بصر ہیں
Not a soul here
To see a lovely phenomenon
Like a bud breaking into a blooming smile
A baby’s cheek, a flower petal
Bedecking itself with dew drops
Butterflies hovering over flower beds
The dream-like rainbow colors spreading around in sky
The wet arms of branches elastically bending
To touch the passerby and give him a kiss
Drunk on the heady wine of spring – the leaves
Swaying in the breeze –
The breeze that is the dancing girl
Of the virgin goddess’s temple of conjugality.
The townsmen have no idea of what it is like
To see and relish these heavenly sights.
  Not a soul here
That might decipher the coded messages
Of love songs sent through cloud messengers
Soaked wet in the rain
Dripping with love and desire
The Meghadoot for Shakuntla’s forgotten love.
The townsmen in this city
Have no ear for such messages.
 Not a soul here
That might care to listen to the wounded cries
Of birds in cages, shuttered and locked up
No one here who might know
That the dry leaves of human flotsams
On the city’s highways have come from afar –
The poor countries of Asia.
No one is here to understand human relationships
These men and women
Were once sons, daughters, husbands, and wives
Lovers and friends in their own lands.
None has the compassionate eye
To see the hapless plight of poverty-stricken workers
Pockets hanging loosely from soiled shirts and pants
One might have the art of palm-divination
To know which tall building’s fate is written
In their gritty hands and lines thereon
For the stones indeed will be crushed
With hand-held hammers
Roads and highways built with human toil
But there is a scant chance
Of a stream of milk flowing
For none of these expatriates is a Farhad
Of the Persian lore.
 Not a soul here
In this godforsaken town in the desert
Whose inner sight might be an all-seeing?
A visionary’s third eye discerning pelf from poverty.
O  My friends,  says the poet
This, the town of plenty and penury
Is a city of complacent blind men.
The present-day Pharaohs of modern Arabia are
And they see nothing but themselves.
 (Written in Riyadh –  Saudi Arabia – 1993)

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