New Poetry from Sudan: Mughira Harbya’s ‘Three Songs for the Ghajar’

I offered my mother’s legacy: The rusty bird cage the wooden henna bowl her ragged wedding dress and her lonely wardrobe, like a perforated wall. He never says to his woman: I gave you a hand, never boasts about how he carried her on his horse, and together they fled far away. I was walking alone. I offered my books for sale  but no one showed interest. Three Songs for the Ghajar By Mughira Harbya Translated by Adil Babikir First: Only a ghajari knows the meaning of love. Her ankle bracelets. But my woman ran away. Hunger drove me mad. It’s not wise   to bandage a bleeding heart; because, out there,  a sweetheart is still craving blood and life;  craving to have you beside her at night Here I am, she says, With night’s nails scavenging my heart, and singing my way in the wilderness. It’s not wise  to sing while at the last gasp. On the back of his last surviving horse, he awaits his death: releases his woman’s hair to the wild wind, and, with his lips, plays the kiss melody. His first poetry collection, Tayr Ghairr Mujannah, or Unrestrained Birds, was published by al-Musawwarat Publishing House, Khartoum, in 2017. When he makes love, he does so in the Lord’s public parks, where: the well and the bucket are present, as are the rain and the lusty soil, the cunning lock and the eternal key, the decorated gown and the waistcoat embroidered with roses and experience, where: no one betrays anyone. I never experienced the taste of mirrors. He learns to chat with horses and brothel maids in the morning And, from his seasoned grandmothers, he learns the art of deceit. He keeps her in his warm embrace on rainy nights and desolate darkness. They were springing out of my barren shirt. Only a ghajari knows the meaning of love; For his heart is not perforated with lovers’ stabs. A second volume, The Concerto Taste, is under contract for publication.   Adil Babikir   is a Sudanese translator into and out of English & Arabic, living now in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Roses kept blossoming out of distant vases in forgotten gardens. For the distant mountains won’t play out their drums.   His translations to English have appeared in   Africa World Press, Banipal, Al-Dawha Magazine,   and others. His published translations include   The Jungo: Stakes of the Earth, by Abdel Aziz Baraka Sakin (Africa World Press, 2015),   Literary Sudans: an Anthology of Literature from Sudan and South Sudan   (Africa World Press, 2016),   Mansi: A Rare Man on his Own Way, by Tayeb Salih (excerpted on Banipal issue #56),   The Messiah of Darfur by Abdel Aziz Baraka Sakin (excerpted in the   Los Angeles Review of Books, 2015), and a translation to Arabic of   Summer Maize, a collection of short stories by Leila Aboulela (Dar al-Musawwarat, Khartoum, 2017). They just let out howls from the distance. Translator Kay Heikkinen helpfully pointed us to Kristina Richardson’s Roma in the Medieval Islamic World. In this instance, the translator, Adil Babikir, opted to go with transliteration. * Mughira Harbya is a journalist, poet, and writer. I had to eat my child’s candies, devour the mint field. Many of his short stories appeared in Sudanese newspapers and Arab online platforms. Never saw my face peering at a homegrown flower; or myself leaning on the road’s shoulder, on my way to your pale park. My woman ran away, probably in an empty car, while friends stayed behind, filling my pockets with girls. At noon, he returns to life and melancholy. Third: Rubbing her ankle bracelets against a stone, the ghajari’s woman said: It’s not wise  to send birds after traveling funerals; for the winds tend to expose secrets of the dead. New Poetry from Sudan: Mughira Harbya’s ‘Three Songs for the Ghajar’ May 4, 2022April 27, 2022 by mlynxqualey Editor’s note: Within an Arabic literary translators’ email group, there was a vibrant discussion about how to translate الغجر, with suggestions ranging from Travellers to Roma or Romani to transliteration. Friends were caressing my collapsing shoulders slipping songs into my pocket, and fields of hope, deity eggs. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading… I know I am an insolent rogue No house or wilderness can accommodate me I’m good for nothing. In winter he firmly locks the tent’s windows sets fire to the wood of the unrestrained self and sets her body on fire until she loses memory. He learns to walk on mountaintops; For he hates the sea and filthy ports. Second: “We’re starving,” a ghajari says to his woman,  as he lets loose his last surviving horse. They brought in plenty of bad liquor chanting an endless flow of childhood songs. “We have only a few friends left who care to peer through our empty pots and our hearts packed with sorrow, and little fun; who burst into tears when they run their fingers over our children’s exposed ribs. But brokers hurled me away.

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