Camera: Nikon D70S, ISO-200, f-9, S-1/160s. Nikkor 18-70mm
Location: Taj Mahal, Agra, UP, India
This is a translation (only somewhat modified) from an Urdu poem by Sahir Ludhianvi, circa 1940.
The Taj Mahal
by Sahir Ludhianvi
*For you, the Taj may be a monument to love;
you may adore this lovely spot
let’s meet somewhere else!
In such royal places,
we— the poor?
Regal opulence seen every which way,
two poor lovers— here?
Sweetheart, under this so-called symbol of love,
if only you’d seen the vulgar splurge of opulence.
Charmed you may be by royal mausoleums,
if only you’d thought
of our own dismal homes!
Countless millions are in love;
who can say their emotions aren’t real
just because they, like us, have no means
to put up an advertisement?
These mausoleums, these arrogant forts,
these pillars of royal eminence, these lush gardens:
In these very flowers and vines
runs the blood of our own ancestors, my love.
Don’t you think they must also have been in love,
the people whose art and skill
made this monument so beautiful?
They and their loved ones now lie nameless,
in unmarked graves,without a single candle
yet lit for them.
These gardens, by the Jamuna [River],
this palace, the embroidered doors, walls and niches—
that’s just how an emperor,
using his wealth and power,
mocks the love between us destitutes.*