Reading Paash poetry in Shahmukhi-Chaman Lal

 ‘Paash:Saari Shayri’ ,Jodanhaar-Paash Memorial International Trust, Shahmukhi transliteration-Khalid Ameen, revised by Maqsood Saqib,Published by Suchet Kitab Ghar, Lahore, 1st ed. 2005, Pages 384, Price Rs. 230/, bound edition.

This book is transliteration from Gurumukhi script to Shahmukhi or Persian script of Paash’s complete poetry published in Punjabi by Paash Memorial Trust earlier. Paash published three collections of poetry-‘Loh Katha’(Iron Tale) (1970), ‘Uddade Bazan Magar’(Following the Falcons) (1974) and ‘Sade Samain Vich’(In Our Times) (1978).After his assassination on 23rd March 1988, Gursharn Singh published some of the poems collected hurriedly from the house of Paash immediately after his martyrdom, even without the proper information or permission from the family of Paash. No effort was made to edit the collected material. A poet writes so many pieces as his or her creative process, but gives final shape to these later with patience and contemplation. He or she rejects some, revises some and then keeps some for not publishing for various reasons known to him or her only. In the romance to publish every word written by Paash, all collected pieces were just put to print. Many of these pieces have been used by Paash in different form in his published poems. How could anyone take liberty with poets own decisions after his sad passing away? There were many immature pieces, which Paash did not feel like publishing , so he did not, yet Comrades like that of Paash’s poem-‘Comrade Naal Galbaat’ could decide what to do with afterlife of Paash, even without bothering to take Paash family’s views on these things. In my view, lot many pieces, which Paash himself decided not to publish should not have been published in such hurry. But there were complete poems also, which Paash himself was publishing in his own style, like ‘Sab Ton Khatarnak’ was published probably in January 1988 Sunday issue of ‘Punjabi Tribune’, which I translated in Hindi and was published by ‘Jansatta’, Hindi daily in February 1988 Sunday issue. Paash could see its Hindi version himself. Poems like Bedakhli lai Binaypatar, Dharmdiksha lai Binaypatar, Khuh etc. Should definitely have been published, many poems , which were later found out, such as ‘Yaaran Naal Samvad’ published in ‘Aarsee’ could be located with help from Shamsher Sandhu, when we were editing Vartman De Rubru in Punjabi, published in 1989.Later Amarjit Chandan edited ‘Khilre Hoe Varke’ and finally Paash memorial International trust put everything together in single volume-Paash-Samuchi kavita. Since incomplete poems, pieces of poems, pieces of differently used poems in earlier poems like ‘Yudh Te Shanti’ etc. were all put together. And this book was transliterated in Shahmukhi in Lahore, making popular in West Punjab as well, which is three times bigger than East Punjab, which uses Punjabi in Persian script. So it has been a welcome publication. Khalid Ameen and Maqbool Saqib, who through his publishing house and journal ‘Pancham’ is doing tremendous service by publishing books from east Punjab- he has already published Nanak Singh, Kulwant Singh Virk, Gurdial Singh, Waryam Singh Sandhu and many more writers in Shahmukhi, published even Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna’s autobiography and some articles of Bhagat Singh, including ‘Why I am an Atheist’ through ‘Pancham’. I was gifted this book by Maqsood Saqib in 2007, when I visited Pakistan for first time. It was given for record, since I translated and published complete Paash poetry in Hindi. Yet I kept on struggling with learning of Urdu after my return and can now read though slowly Urdu and Punjabi in Shahmukhi script. Reading of Paash’s Saari Shayri may have taken three weeks or so,spending only half an hour per day, but it was a pleasure. There could be minor errors in publication/printing, but on the whole book has been brought out beautifully and at a very reasonable price. In today’s context of Salman Taseer assassination, Paash’s poetry becomes even more relevant in Pakistan, more than India, particularly his poem ‘Dharm Diksha Lai Binay Patar’ is as scathing for Pakistani jehadi Mullas, who instigated the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, as it was for Bhindrawale brand of Khalistanis, who assassinated Paash for writing such poems to expose them.Some poems of Paash against religious fundamentalism like-Dharm Diksha lai Binai Pater(Request for Baptisation),Khuh(The Wells) and ‘Sab Ton Khatarnak(The Most Dangerous), along with Salmaan Taseer’s tweets on Twitter against same thought, should be put together in a booklet in Urdu translation and also In Shahmukhi script in Punjabi and published in large numbers in Pakistan and distributed among common people to make them aware of the great dangers of such fundamentalism for society.Ironically Paash and Salmaan Taseer have again got two parts of Punjab together for a struggle for democratic and liberal humanist society.Paash’s ‘Saari Shayri’ now can play this role of common struggle of Punjabis against religious fundamentalism Wish friends in Pakistan translate this poem in Urdu or transliterate it from Hindi and use it like they use Faiz Ahmad Faiz’ poems to fight religious fundamentalism and state oppression. Meanwhile my heartfelt complements to Maqsood Saqib and Khalid Ameen for getting Paash into Pakistan through this edition.

Chaman Lal Visiting Professor on Hindi Chair The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad & Tobago mob. 1868-3692687


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