Her anxiety reflected in her writings

Her anxiety reflected in her writings

Forgotten poems

Forgetting Meena Kumari’s self composed poems will be an anathema to Bollywood. We colloquially keep quoting her as the ‘tragedy queen’. But how tragic was her life is something which shall be a mystery. Her poems are melancholic and her life a trap, in the shadow of the diva actress she posed to be. Are the news reports of her and Kamal Amrohi (husband) true? Was she loved and left as many times as it is suggested by reports? Or did she just long for death and hence drowned herself passionately into drunkenness?

These questions will be answered only little by her poems which pander to her alcoholism and her married life.  

Lavlin Thadani who also gave the voice for the documentary on Kumari by Rajya Sabha TV shared some of her poems that looked like Kumari’s reflection on her life. 

“She was the third daughter, born to a family of theatre actors. She was first dropped off at an orphanage, since her family could not afford her. On strong resistance by her mother, she was brought back home. She was also a far off relative of Rabindranath Tagore – her artistic bent of mind may have been actually genetic,” Thadani tells Metrolife.

‘Haa koi aur hoga tune toh dekha hoga, Haa koi aur hoga tune toh dekha hoga, hum nhi aaj se bach bach ke guzarne wale...’ wrote Kumari. 

“This poem is about courage. Yes, she was a tragedy queen, but how many people can take sorrow and live through it,” adds Thadani.

Kumari died before she was forty and in her career she worked in more than 90 films. Kumari was married to Kamal Amrohi who was 15 years older to her and became his second wife. One of her best known roles was in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, where she played the chhoti bahu, a forlorn alcoholic.

“In her real life also Kumari drowned herself in alcoholism, and wrote many a times, that she cannot take the pain of life and she is waiting for death to come over her,” says Tarannum Riaz, fellow of Ministry of Culture and Poetry Club of India. 

‘Ibadat hoti jati hai, ayadat hoti jati hai, mere marne ki dekho sabko aadat hoti jati’, wrote Kumari.

“She sort of accepted her illness,” avers Riaz. 

Though Kumari seems extremely tragic but she also had love and innocence of a child in her. In one of her poems, which depicts her love for nature portrays that.

‘Jama barsaat ki raat, jal tanrang bajati rahi, lehek lehek ke nayi leh ke saath gati rahi, chamakti boondo ki pahzeb chhan chhanati rahi...’ wrote Kumari in her poem Birhan. 

“Her suffering only increased after Amrohi decided to divorce her. He abominated her, and forbid her to meet any man. He doubted her fidelity towards him,” says Riaz. 

Corresponding to this life event, Kumari wrote ‘Talak toh de rahe ho, nazr-e-keher ke sath, jawani bhi meri lauta do meher ke sath,’ wrote Kumari. 

Her mushairas like, ‘Wafaon ka agar mere sanam sila dete, tumhare naam pe hum zindagi bita dete, wo agar kehta ki uspe bojh hai meri hasti, hum apni zaat ka nam-o-nisha mita dete’, also reflect the same.

“After Amrohi remarried her, she was never the same again and became a heavier drunkard. Soon her liver completely damaged. At the same time she was walking towards death. The alcohol had taken her into a different space where she felt more invited, so she writes before her death,” says Thadani.

‘Kitna halka sa halka sa tan ho gaya, jaise shishe ka sara badan ho gaya, gulmohar ki si phoolon mein bikhri hui, ye kasha kisi raste pe bikhri hui, meri aanchal ne aankho par ghoonghat kiya, meri payal ne sabse palat kr kaha, ab koi bhi na kata chubhega mujhe...’ 

Kumari wrote. All her poems reflected mostly of her life instances, the people and environment around her. She also judged the public correctly who was engrossed in her turbulent life. A poem which is about how much we’ll never know her by Kumari, ‘yunhi subeh tak rahegi, meri dastan paheli, soja meri mohabbat meri bezubaan saheli, mujhe dil ki dhadkano mein na chhupa sakega koi, meri aasuon ki kimat na jhuka sakega koi...’ 

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