What is the value of carefree-ness, inertia, vagrancy and lonesomeness? These words are almost never used in a positive connotation in the (ironically highly individualistic) urban world. Yet, Mohsin Naqvi works over and over again with the seemingly negative word, awargi and spins a compelling argument to comfort those who like to be with themselves more than others, those who despise social niceties and those who get left out of the circle of typical social behavior.

The request for this translation came from Saqib H and I am grateful to him for allowing me to explore this extremely eloquent poem which has been performed by many ghazal singers, most famously by legendary Pakistani singer, Ghulam Ali whose velvety rendition leaves you a little more mesmerized every time. Since he is one of my favourites, I would highly recommend listening to some of his best songs here, including the ones he has performed for Bollywood films.

Song Credits
Lyrics: Mohsin Naqvi
Album: Treasures, Volume 1
Singer: Ghulam Ali

Original poem, Awargi

ye dil ye pagal dil mera kyon bujh gaya awargi
is dasht mein ik shahar tha vo kya hua awargi

kal shab mujhe be-shakl ki aawaaz ne chaunka diya
main ne kaha tu kaun hai usne kahaa awargi

yeh dard ki tanhhaiyan yeh dasht ka veran safar
hum log to uqtaa gaye apni suna awargi

ik ajnabi jhonke ne jab pucha mere gam ka sabab
sahara ki bheegi rait par main ne likha awargi

Logon bhala us sheher mein kaise jiyenge hum jahaan
ho jurm tanhaa sochnaa, lekin sazaa awargi

le ab to dasht-e-shab ki, saari vus’aten sone lagi
ab jagnaa hoga hamein kab tak bata, awargi

kal ratt tanha chand ko dekha tha main ne khawab main
mohsin mujhay rass aye gi shayad sada awargi

Translation of Awargi by bollywoodtarjuma

That insane bustling jungle of my mind,
where did it suddenly disappear?
leaving perpetual vagrancy behind.

Last night I heard the faceless talk,
I asked, “who are you”?
It replied, “just some blithe on a walk”.

You kept my secrets,
and joined me where I traveled.
Still I never recognized how,
my laid back self unraveled.

These depths of isolated pain,
this desolate walks through wilderness,
Boredom has consumed me,
what about you, dear rootlessness?

An unfamiliar breeze of morning,
asked me of my yearning.
With smooth strokes on misty sand,
I indifferently spelled ‘nonchalant’.

My people, please tell me how,
just how to live in this city?
Forlorn thinking is criminal here,
with solitude seen as penalty.

All expanses of the desert night,
are dropping into a cold slumber.
Till when are we awake, dear weariness?
And how much farther do we loiter?

In my dream I met the lonely moon,
and its isolated grace made me swoon.
Marveling at the joy of being alone,
I once again chose to be on my own.