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Translated from the Urdu by Ilina Acharya 

(Lahore, Montgomery Jail 1954) 

Each leaf withers and falls
as the tepid afternoon wanes
The poison of loneliness licks the walls of this city
Like the muddy river of pain
whose waters rise, fall, rise, and fall again,
the lurid fog expands far
beyond reach
And beyond that fog lies the city of lights

O city of lights 

Who knows which path to take
When in every nook and cranny,
I stumble upon the shadow of your absence
But I soldier on,
even as these shadows cling to me like soot
Today my heart is weary
O city of lights 

Let not night’s assault extinguish desire
Stay safe Lailas all — and tell them this:
tonight, when you light your lamps, keep them burning aflame

Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911–1984) was a Pakistani poet, and author in Urdu and Punjabi language. He was one of the most celebrated writers of the Urdu language in Pakistan. Outside literature, he has been described as “a man of wide experience” having been a teacher, an army officer, a journalist, a trade unionist and a broadcaster. Faiz was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and won the Lenin Peace Prize.

Ilina Acharya is an artist and writer based in New Delhi and is currently learning French from Alliance Française de Delhi. She has a background in English literature with a Master’s Degree from Ambedkar University Delhi. She has also worked in the capacity of copy-editor with Delhi based Indian Cultural Forum and The Health Collective. Her writings have been published on Indian Cultural Forum, Health Collective, The Citizen as well as Kashmir Times. She has also performed in and around Delhi as a musician.

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