Aftab Husain







While Learning German


To learn a new language is

to enter a new continent


To learn a new language is

to revisit the alleys of childhood


To learn a new language is

to be born anew


The sound of each language

has a melody of its own

Learning a new language is

gathering melodies never heard before


Life itself is a melody

composed of a multitude of tunes

from recitals of the Holy Scriptures

to the whispering pleasantries of lovers


I love sounds

I love life

I love the people

who wander

from language to language






Now they are burying me

with flowers

though I was stoned to death


I was born among stones,

among stony walls

They wanted to make me

like themselves

And I wished

to bring them to life

That struggle has continued

to this very day


There were many of them

and I was simply alone

So they petrified me

But I managed to salvage

one thing within me

It still pulsates

and will continue to do so

even in my grave


It still grieves me to recall

how my mantra failed

to transform them completely

But I am pleased to see

I’ve changed them so much

that now they are burying me

with flowers!




Persistent Scene


It seems the scene

has been nailed

into my eyes


Wishing to see

I see nothing

but two nails


Or the scene

that has been nailed

into my eyes




Descending the Stairs


I walk with extra caution,

startle at the slightest sound,

hold fast to the railing

as I take each step


With a new unease

I descend the stairs


Descending to where?

To some dismal cell,

a mind-boggling maze?

Or another flight of steps

back up?


When I reach the top again,

will I be on the other side of the road?


I don’t know

Only this much I know:

I have to move on

The door behind me is closed




Death Calls Me


Death calls me

like a call-girl

Beckons me

Whistles to me


But I don’t heed her

don’t heed her

because to me

love is not a profane process


Death calls me

like an affectionate old man

Advises me

to shun the world

For the world to him is nothing

but Laho-lahb*



I deem the world

to be more than just Laho-lahb

I count every breath

on the sacred rosary of life

Death chases me

like a pack of hounds

sniffing after my presence


I want to die

But not at the paws and claws of dogs



conversing with the deep

Or with my love

while loving her!



* Qu’ran: sport, pastime












Aftab Husain

Originally from Pakistan, Aftab Husain lives in Vienna and writes poetry in Urdu, Hindi and English. He has three books of poetry to his credit: in Urdu, Hindi and a bilingual edition (German/English) published in Lahore, Pakistan, New Delhi, India and Vienna, Austria respectively. His poems have been rendered, among others, into Italian, French, Arabic and Persian and were included in many anthologies. 

Aftab Husain has translated German poets Paul Celen and Georg Trakl into Urdu. He teaches South Asian Literature & Culture at Vienna University, Austria.




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