A friend shared this poem by Sarveshvar Dayal Saxena, with me. The poem is beautiful no doubt, but in the voice of Surekha Sikri, this poem really comes to life. Here’s the link.
Chandani ki paanch paratein, har parat agyaat hai
Ek jal mein, Ek thal mein, Ek neelaakash mein
Ek aankhon mein tumhare jhilmilaati
Ek mere ban rahe vishwaas mein
Five layers of moonlight, each seems like a mystery (or each is oblivious to the other)
One in the water, one on land, one in the blue sky
One that I see twinkling in your eyes,
One that exists in my evolving faith
Kya kahun kaise kahun, kitni zara si baat hai
chaandani ki paanch paratein, har parat agyaat hai
What should I say, and How should I say it? It is such a trivial thing
The five layers of moonlight, each layer a mystery
Ek jo main aaj hoon,
Ek jo main ho na paaya,
Ek jo hone nahi dogi mujhe tum,
Ek jo main ho na paunga kabhi bhi
Ek jiski hai hamare beech ye abhishapt chaaya
One that I am today,
One that I could never be,
One that you will never let me be,
One that I will never be able to become
And one that like some cursed shadow lingers between us
Kyun sahun kab tak sahun, kitna kathin aghaat hai
Chaandni ki paanch paratein, har parat agyaat hai
Why should I endure, and for how long? It seems like a very hard blow
(From) The five layers of moonlight, each one a mystery
I am sure there are many different ways this poem could be interpreted, and that, much of the interpretation is left to the imagination of the reader, makes this poem a brilliant one. There is the obvious literal meaning, but the lines put together seem like a mystery waiting to be unravelled. Here I give you one way of looking at it:
I think it is a journey from childlike innocence to the guilt that comes with age, from the naive love at first sight to a story that does not seem to have a happy ending, leaving it to the reader to fill in the blanks. This is how I imagined the poem:
He looked out of his window on a full moon night,
to find fragments of moonlight scattered in the water, a puddle, a pond, a lake , a river, shimmering silver,
the moonlight also soaked the land and everything on it in a soft white glow,
the sky sprinkled with the same moonlight, like a gleaming giant white umbrella,
and there she was, gazing at the night sky, staring at the moon, those eyes shining, with the reflection of the moon in them,
and there he was, taking in all this beauty, the moonlight filling his heart with its light and a growing fondness for her. He pondered upon ways to tell her how he felt wishing she also saw things the same way he did.
The five layers of moonlight, each beautiful in its own way, each oblivious to the other, each a mystery.
And then there was another time, when life has hit him hard like something jolted him out of that beautiful dream, and now on another full moon night, looking out of that same window, this time, not with an affectionate heart but a regretful soul, he thinks
about how things turned out, who he is now, what he had become, how did he get here,
about things he could have done differently, but now it is too late
about the things he did not do, because she would not let him
about the things he will no longer be able to do,
and then when he looks through that window, he no longer sees the soft white glow on the land, but all the shadows that it casts, the darkness that separates him from her.
The five layers of moonlight spanning his existence, each oblivious to the other, each still a mystery.
As for the link between the lines, (this may be a stretch) but I imagine may be he is a vagabond, or may be he left and came back when it was too late, or he never expressed his feelings to her and regrets it now.
He identifies his present self with : the moonlight in the water, dazzling but fleeting,
The one that he could never be : the land fixed, still, resilient
The one that he could have been only if she had let him : the sky – a protective envelop, loving and caring
The one that he can now never become: the twinkle in her eyes (may be because he missed his chance, or she is long gone)
And that same moonlight that kindled his love seems to have dwindled it too, throwing it into the darkness cast by the shadows that are present even when there is light.
“She” could be a beloved, or it may refer to “his life” or “time”. The moonlight possibly represents “his thoughts” – that come from the same source, his mind, and yet they are so different, hidden, indifferent to each other. And as he grows older his youthful enthusiasm is overpowered by a more mature view of the harsh realities of life!
The first paragraph comes from a younger self, looking forward into the future, at all the promising possibilities that the future holds, at all that can be accomplished, looking at the brighter side of things.
The second paragraph comes from an older self, looking back into the past, at all the promising opportunities that were let go, at all that could have been accomplished, at times blaming life for it, and now it all looks like the curse of time, that there is no way to go back and fix it.
My two cents.