To Meghna, My Daughter
When Gulzar, poet and lyricist, composed a verse to celebrate the power and resilience of a woman at childbirth...
The ocean was watching
From the ocean my pot of nectar was to come
Every time the ocean turned the waters would quiver
Throbbing pain would pass through
The fragile womb of my daughter
I would be afraid at that moment
To ask for my pot of nectar
Whenever she would shudder, I would tremble
She was thirsty…
But water was not allowed
Cubes of ice were passed over her parched lips
The ocean was going to convulse in its own waters
Slash the ocean and take out the pot
If you don't the mother will die!
Now, when she plays with my 'pot of nectar' on her lap
The male within me says:'You never had the divine power
To bear this agony
And shoulder the pain of creating a human being'
GULZAR HAS WRITTEN to his daughter Meghna often, down the years. Every time he's wanted to reach out, hold her and shower her with love, his words have arranged themselves in a verse or a story.
Most fathers buy their daughters gifts, or take them to a nice place for a treat on their birthday. Every year, until Meghna turned 13, Gulzar would write her a book of stories and poems. He wrote her poetry when she turned 18, and then again, before her wedding day.
But on a February day, six years ago, when Meghna was in labour, the poet saw before him the pain and struggle of a mother at childbirth. The joy of holding his grandchild came later. As Meghna lay in hospital, in that stark labour room, pain numbing her body, her anxious father wished it would end.
Meghna's doctor was away to Delhi, and they decided to wait for her return. She cried out in pain, begging to be operated. Eleven hours passed before Meghna gave birth to Samay, after a Caesarean section.
Gulzar wrote for her again. The father's pain and pride coming right through the verse. He embraced her with his words, sharing how he felt. "Meghna cried, when she read it later," says Gulzar.
This verse was translated by bureaucrat and writer Pavan K. Varma and became part of the compilation called Neglected Poems published by Penguin.