The crying catharsis

Tears are said to be the deluge that cleanses regret and drains away sorrow. Tears and smiles are supposed to go hand-in-hand, just like rain and sunshine. Just like a plant needs the latter to flourish so does a human need the former to grow in strength and stature. Hmm…rain and sunshine, I guess this wasn’t an Indian simile. The Indian sun is a tear jerker in itself, and comparing tears to rain in India would mean a short supply of tears in the dry northern Indian plains or seasonal torrential downpours in coastal areas. But I digress.

Emotional tears are the mainstay of poets, and expressions of grief and heartbreak have given us some of the most beautiful verses. The poet Shelley was expressing a universal truth when he wrote, “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought”. But even for all this evocative beauty we simply cannot ignore the fact that we don’t just cry when we are emotionally affected. Aren’t we all familiar with the drops that turn into waterfalls as we chop onions or struggle with a bout of pollen allergy?

Having shed my fair share of tears in the last year, emotional and otherwise, I thought it was high time for me to celebrate the beauty of tears (aansun) and the catharsis of crying (rona). And what better way to do this than in the words of my beloved Hindi film songs?

Hindi film songs have beautifully expressed the tears and weeping of all hues of the broken heart. But only recently, while researching for this post in fact, did I realize that these songs are also rich in the description of the reflex tears that are formed in response to irritants, and even on the working of the eyes! Come join my tear fest as I tell you more.

Do naino mein aansun bhare hai
: Gulzar Singer: Lata Mangeshkar Film: Khushboo (1975)

Do naino mein aansun bhare hai,
Nindiya kaise samay?

[Two eyes full of tears,
How can sleep be accommodated?]

Hema Malini laments that since her eyes are full of tears, there is no space left for sleep. As any ophthalmologist will explain, eyes are always full of tears. These basal tears are necessary to keep the eyes hydrated and healthy. An excess of tears will be absorbed by the tear ducts, but for the sake of the health of her enchanting eyes, Ms. Malini needs to sort the storage issue of her eyes, without blaming these basal tears. Perhaps a tip from the storage naina (storage eyes) might help?

Rula ke gaya sapna mera
: Majrooh Sultanpuri Singer: Lata Mangeshkar Film: Jewel Thief (1967)

Rula ke gaya sapna mera,
Baithi hun kab ho savera.

[My dream has left me crying,
I sit here awaiting the morning]

Vyjayanthimala’s dream has left her crying and turned her into the lady of the lake. As she paddles her boat around the lake, in her white, frothy negligee, singing of this dream, she is followed silently by a patient Dev Anand, waiting for her to finish singing so he can clarify if it was the dream or maybe the heavy eye make up that made her eyes cry?

Kabhi khud pe, kabhi halaat pe rona aaya
: Sahir Ludhianvi Singer: Mohammed Rafi Film: Hum Dono (1961)

Kabhi khud pe, kabhi halaat pe rona aaya,
Baat nikli to har ek baat pe rona aaya.

Kaun rota hai kisi aur ki khatir ae dost,
Sabko apni hi kisi baat pe rona aaya

[At times at myself, at times on circumstances I have wept,
Once the conversation starts, then on every issue I have wept.

Who cries for the sake of others o’ my friend,
It is their own pain, on which each one has wept…]

As inflation sky rockets and salaries stagnate while the top 1% keeps getting richer, as fundamentalism spreads its roots and the majority remains silent, I too feel that I can cry on the circumstances and on the many, many issues of our times. But yes, Sahir knew my secret, while I empathise and get emotional about these issues, I cry the hardest on the ones that touch me personally.

Teri aankh ke aansun pi jaun
: Rajinder Krishan Singer: Talat Mahmood Film: Jahanara (1964)

Teri aankh ke aansun pi jaun
Aisi meri taqdeer kahan.

[That I could drink up your tears,
I am not that fortunate.]

Talat Mahmood’s tremulous voice aptly expresses the pathos of the overwhelmed tear ducts, as they watch helplessly, when the amount of tears produced is way more than they can absorb. Or when they are blocked, for reasons out of their control?

Aansun samajh ke kyon mujhe
: Rajinder Krishan Singer: Talat Mahmood Film: Chhaya (1961)

Aansun samajh ke kyon mujhe, aankh se tumne gira diya

Jo na chaman mein khil saka, mai voh garib phool hun
Jo kucch bhi hun, bahar ki chhoti si ek bhool hun.

Meri khata maaf kar, mai bhoole se aa gaya yahan,
Varna mujhe bhi hai khabar, mera nahin hai yeh jahan

[Treating me like a tear, you let me fall from the eye

Which couldn’t blossom in the garden, I am that impoverished flower,
Whatever I am, I am just a small fault of the spring.

Forgive my impudence, I came here in error,
Else even I am aware, this is not my world.]

Ah, the agony of a pollen as he is captured in the aansun and removed from the eye. This song beautifully captures his woe, at his failure to help the flower flourish to a fruit, his awareness that he is but a fault of the spring and yes, that he is now in the wrong place.

Aap kyon roye
: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan Singer: Lata Mangeshkar Film: Who Kaun Thi (1964)

Jo humne dastan apni sunayi aap kyon roye?
Tabahi to humare dil pe aayi, aap kyon roye?

Hamara dard-o-gham hai yeh, ise kyon aap sehte hai,
Yeh kyon aansun humare, aapki aankhon se behete hai?

[When I told you my story, why did you cry?
The destruction befell my heart, why did you cry?

This is my pain, why are you bearing it?
Why are these tears of mine, streaming from your eyes?]

This song is a heart rending expression of the anguish of an onion as it is chopped into pieces, while it beholds the streaming eyes of the person chopping it. How ironic is it that the one responsible for the pain, is the one that is crying?

Yeh aansun mere dil ki zubaan hai
: Hasrat Jaipuri Singer: Mohammed Rafi Film: Humrahi (1963)

Yeh aansun mere dil ki zubaan hai,
Mai ro un to rote aansun, mai hasdu to haste aansun

Aankh se tapki jo chingari,
Har aansun mein chavi tumhari.

[These tears are the voice of my heart,
If I cry the tears cry, if I would laugh so would the tears.
That spark dropped from the eye,
In each tear is an image of yours.]

In case you thought tears are just a response to emotional turmoil or a reflex to irritants, then this song will put you straight. There are many more functions of tears, as Rajendra Kumar explains. In his case, he elaborates, tears talk of what is in his heart. His tears of joy and grief are different, and each drop of tear can even function as a polaroid film carrying the image of his beloved. Sixty years on, it is still being claimed that tears of joy and grief are different, though scientists still have to confirm.

Aansun ki ek boond hu
: Asad Bhopali Singer: Suman Kalyanpur Film: Ek Paheli (1971)

Aansun ki ek boond hu main,
Jo aankho se chalak gayi.
Janam janam ka sathi chuta,
Pyasi ruh bhatak gayi.

[A drop of tear am I,
That has spilled off the eyes,
Having lost the companion of lifetimes,
The yearning soul has gone astray.]

And what happens after the tear is shed? I had heard of tears turning to pearls. But this tear drop has exceeded all expectations. It has gone beyond time and all other dimensions to become a bhatakti aatma (a wandering soul).

Aaj socha to aansun bhar aaye
: Kaifi Azmi Singer: Lata Mangeshkar Film: Hanste Zhakhm (1973)

Aaj socha to aansun bhar aaye
Muddate ho gayi muskuraye.

Rah gayi zindagi dard ban ke,
Dard dil mein chupaye chupaye.

[Today realising it made the eyes well up,
That it has been ages since I smiled,

Life has been reduced to an agony,
Hiding all this pain in my heart.]

Sometimes thinking too much is just not good for you. In such times watching masala films like Hanste Zhakhm (Laughing Wounds) with Priya Rajvansh in the lead, can make your suffering seem less (at least when you’re done with it). It can also make you wish for the tears that can emote, because Priya Rajvansh is not only capable of hiding her pain but also every other emotion from her face. 

Na ro ae dil
: Shakeel Badayuni Singer: Lata Mangeshkar Film: Uran Khatola (1955)

Na ro ae dil kahin rone se kya taqdeer badalti hai,
Kahin aasun bahane se tamannaye nikalti hai

[Don’t cry o’ heart, does crying change what is destined,
Does shedding tears wash away desires]

Actually Nimmi might be missing a point here. Crying is supposed to evoke sympathy in others who can offer consolation and help alleviate your pain. Perhaps even help change destinies or attain what your heart desires? But of course, for that you should cry when there are others present.

Aansun bhari hai yeh jeevan ki rahein
: Hasrat Jaipuri Singer: Mukesh Film: Parvarish (1958)

Aansun bhari hai yeh jeevan ki rahein,
Koi unse kehde humein bhool jayein.
Wadein bhulade, kasam tod de voh,
Halat pe apni humein chod de voh.

[Life’s paths are strewn with tears,
Could someone ask them to forget me.
Forget the promises, break the vows,
Leave me be in my state.]

Now, Raj Kapoor gets this absolutely right. Announcing his pain and asking if others could convey the message of his troubles to his beloved, while he continues to wallow in his pain, is a good way of getting satisfactory attention.

There is no dearth of songs on aansun and rona. Not surprising, since the masala movie world loves its lores of love and heartbreak. I have enjoyed wading through these songs and laughing and crying with them. Which songs would you bring for the celebration?


8 thoughts on “The crying catharsis

  1. This is such a fabulous post! I too have a WIP post on aansoo but it will never match up to this, so I shall not hurry to finish it and publish. 🙂 But here’s one song that I like a lot, which is about tears. Biswajit, prettier than Asha Parekh. tells her that her tears are pieces of his heart. Tukde hain mere dil ke from Mere Sanam:

    PS. Your captions are simply genius. The Sunil Dutt, Nimmi, and Priya Rajvansh ones in particular had me in splits.

    • Oh, thank you so much for that high praise, Madhu! I have been on cloud nine since reading your comment on Monday, despite slogging through a week that has not been so positive.

      Tukde hai mere dil ke is a lovely song. Thanks for reminding me of it. Have just added it to my Spotify list.😊 Biswajit is indeed giving good competition to Asha Parekh who I think is looking rather nice here. Especially if you think that pieces of Biswajit’s transplanted broken heart are dripping down her face!

  2. The captions! The onions! The tear ducts! Is it any wonder that I am sitting here howling with laughter while tears stream down my face?? This was truly inspired, my friend! 🙂 Way beyond merely hilarious….

    Two coincidences – one, that I too had an aansoo post ready, but like Dustedoff, will hold off on publishing it. (And then watch while D and I end up posting it on the same day with possibly the same descriptions!)

    Second, I used that same quote of Shelley’s for a post that’s scheduled for the 14th.

    The masala sisterhood is alive and well. Long live! 🙂

    • Ah Anu! I think I might soon need to do a post from outer space because after Madhu and your comments I just seem to be going higher and higher! Am so glad you enjoyed the post.
      Talking about coincidences, you don’t know how amazed I was when after writing the review of Knives Out, I went to your blog to find your review of it from a few days earlier! Masala sisterhood…now, that gives me a warm glow. 😊 So nice to think that I have inherited not just Ira’s blog but also her lost and found masala siblings!

  3. While perusing your gloss of “Aansun Samajh Ke Kyon Mujhe,” my heart swelled with gratitude towards the winter weather that, however temporarily, has relieved the burden of pollen-related weeping. Just below, “Aap Kyon Roye” brought me to my senses: I realized that, not yet having had my dinner, onion-cutting lay very near in the future. Such emotional whiplash suits the subject perfectly, I suppose!

    I’m delighted by this post : ) Thank you for it. I hope we shall hear more from you in the future.

    • Haha Shelomit!! You’ve expressed it well. Life is but a journey through the turmoil of tear jerking events. So, we need to follow the deeply philosophical words mouthed by the angry middle aged man, Amitabh Bachchan “Rote, rote hasna seekho, Hanste, hanste rona…”.
      Thank you for your comment. I intend to keep writing, but as with the delay in replying to this comment, routine life has a way of interfering with my plans. I hope to see more of your comments in the future.

      • I used to read your sister’s blog, but was too shy back then to post comments. That is a regret of mine. I really enjoyed her insights and sense of humor!

        • Thank you for sharing that Shelomit. I miss her so much! Every time I think of a post or have posted something, I wonder what she would have thought of it. So, it makes it even more special to receive comments from people who have enjoyed her writings.

          …was too shy back then to post comments
          I can so relate to that! 😊 It sometimes takes me so long to put down my thoughts properly in words, that I just let the comment go! I expect that will get better as I write more often.

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