Her mothertongue is Punjabi, but Minu Bakshi is at her best when it comes to penning and singing Urdu couplets. Her latest verses, on how the coronavirus has created havoc worldwide, contain strong sentiments that call upon us to do a bit of introspection. Prof. Bakshi feels that it is human beings’ conflict with nature that has made life miserable for everyone on the planet.
The JNU professor of Spanish released a ghazal before the lockdown was implemented in Delhi. The first nazam was released on Instagram and YouTube on March 22. As the situation deteriorated, it pained her to see the suffering on a global scale. She translated her pain into poetry. The next Urdu couplets were uploaded on 30th March, followed by four more instalments. Prof Bakshi plans to publish them and also to translate them into Spanish.
Excerpts from a conversation.
What drove you to pen lyrics related to the coronavirus?
Poets are sensitive beings. They feel strongly – more than most normal people. When you feel concern about certain issues, be it love, happiness, sadness, anything that has an effect on your being, the poet’s pen flows. That’s what happened during this time. This pandemic and what it brought with it made me really think hard about life, the fragility of life, the helplessness of mankind in a situation like this. How ruthless we have been with nature. In fact we are responsible for this. Cutting trees, shrinking forests, destroying mountains, thinking we are gods. All this and more came out in the poems.
Is this a sudden realisation?
I’m a nature lover and I do believe in god as a higher power. For me, long before this I’ve always condemned what we have done to Mother Nature. We’ve ravaged and plundered and unsurped the balance. Nature has to fight back to maintain its equilibrium. I think man thought he was invincible; today we see otherwise. So my poetry is all about undoing what we’ve done to nature, ask forgiveness, and pray to almighty.
When did you start writing in Urdu?
Even though I never formally studied Urdu, all my poetry flows only in this language. I’ve read so many Urdu poets and so deeply love the language that my natural voice of poetry is Urdu. It’s the language that best captures my sentiments in the least number of words. It is the language of love and romance and that has been the bulk of my poetry before this.
Which is your favourite poem from your collections?
Abhi to waqt hai bande, Abhi to jaan hai baqi …Sanwaren ge bigarha jo, abhi insaan hai baqi. This translates into, ‘There is still time people, we are still alive. We’ll fix the wrongs we’ve done, we still have faith’.
Is there anything you’re doing in terms of reaching out to the less privileged?
We are doing our bit as a family and providing food to a large settlement of underprivileged families in Gurugram, on a daily basis.