I am sure you all agree, it isn’t easy to translate our languages into English. Lost in translation? That’s a given. Our languages are more than just words, more than just verbs, and nouns and adjectives replaced with counterparts from other languages, what is lost in translation is nuance, context, culture, emotion, memories a community carries from generation to generation.Which is why, nothing can replace our languages, certainly not English. And the interesting thing is, that if you try, you will find your own language once had its own Shakespeare, Wodehouse, Dostoyevsky, Alice Munro and Alice Walker even. It will be a shame to lose it all, just because we don’t listen anymore, speak it anymore, read it anymore.
Which brings me to these two people we were honoured to host yesterday, Fazal and Fouzia, They represent a fierce love, a brave loyalty for a language that is undeniably, inarguably a beautiful, charming, evocative language: Urdu. It takes something bigger than just passion to dedicate yourself to art, it takes something more than just passion to take you from city to city, listener to listener to share your love for stories and tradition.
When we first started writing to each other, I asked them, why Urdu, why Dastangoi, what drew them to this art form, this language?
Fouzia said, “Yeh toh meri mitti ki cheeze hai. Fouzia ka wahin pe janm hua jahan ye art form ne apna dum toda tha. Agar hum is art form ko aage nahin karen, toh kaun karega?”
Maine Fazal se yahi poocha, woh Bhopal se hain, unhone kaha,“Urdu se rafta rakhna chahta tha main, yeh jahan se hain, wahan jab do char log mil jaaate hain shaam ko shuru ho jaata hai, lambi lambi kahaaniyaan khechna aur gappe lagana , bade maaze aate hain.”
Let me tell you a little but more about who they are.
Fouzia, a Dastango by profession, is the first woman Dastango of modern times and has been working towards integrating storytelling with education. Fouzia belongs to Old Delhi and brings this flavour of Old Delhi to her storytelling. She was born in and grew up in Turkman Gate locality in Old Delhi, and studied at Bulbuli Khana, a Government Urdu-Medium school in the same locality. Her love for literature led her to learn the art of storytelling known as Dastangoi. During the last eight years she has performed over seventy shows, including at the India Habitat Centre, India International Centre and the National School of Drama. She is also making efforts to bring out women-centric stories in her storytelling.
A student of history and lover of literature, Fazal has been performing dastans with Fouzia for the last two years.
And without further ado: ladies and gentlemen, here’s a few pictures from our event: Fouzia and Fazal present Dastangoi.