Translated from Urdu by Jim Carruth
Incessant, the sea of motor cars floods these city streets
as though to stop for a second would halt its tides forever.
Waves of motorcycles, rickshaws, buses overflow the roads.
Trees martyred to the cause of wider lanes have died in vain.
Smothered by the traffic and tangled tarmac
between Jallo and Railwind lies the silent canal.
Once couples strolled on its banks hand in hand,
journeys flourishing among flutterings and blooms.
Time changes our own faces beyond recognition,
no different for a canal that takes what people cast away.
Factory waste, garbage, nameless corpses float in its waters.
Horses, donkeys, buffalos, cows, children too, seek refuge
from Summer’s intense heat to bathe, swim, drink it in.
Look at it wreathed in fumes, its dark and dirty murk.
To this generation it is nothing more than a drain
but others still remember when its banks were green
the sky clear, the waters the sparkle in a lover’s eye.
To the list of those who miss that most I add my name.
~ Afshan Sajjad
Afshan Sajjad is an educator and poet. She is currently the Head of the Urdu Department at Lahore American School, where she has been teaching High School students for the past eight years. She has widely published her poetry in Urdu magazines, and is the author of an Urdu poetry book, ‘Jo Dil Pe Guzarti hai.’ She holds a master’s degree in Urdu from Punjab University, Lahore.
Jim Carruth was born in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, and grew up on his family’s farm near Kilbarchan. He has published six pamphlet collections, and has won both the James McCash poetry competition and the McLellan poetry. He was appointed Glasgow Poet Laureate in July 2014 in succession to Liz Lochhead and Edwin Morgan. His most recent collection, ‘Prodigal’, was published by Mariscat in 2014.