The Dawn: May 14, 2006
Thoughts on Mother’s Day Mother’s Day Special
Shafqat Tanvir Mirza
MOTHER has been sparsely addressed by male Urdu poets from Punjab while the Punjabi classical poets of kafi presented themselves in the female gender, suffering under oppressive male domination. They addressed mother as a guide, a sympathiser, a wellwisher and a person closest to their suffering daughters. In Urdu, Allama Iqbal wrote a powerful long poem or elegy at the death of his mother. (Iqbal has not written a single word about his father). In his poem, Walida marhooma ki yaad mein, he writes: Yaad sey teri dil-i-dard-aashna ma’amoor hey, Jaisey Ka’abey mein duaoon sey fiza ma’amoor hey.
Zindgani thhi teri mehtaab sey tabinda tar Khoob tar thaa suboh kay tarey sey bhi tera safar (Painful heart is filled with your memory/As prayers fill the environs of the Ka’aba/Your life shown brighter than the moon/Your journey sweeter than that of the morning star) In Punjabi, mother has been widely addressed by young girls, and there are hundreds of songs and verses in which mother’s help and guidance have been sought. These are laments of the girls who are denied their right to choose their destiny independently, by the male head of the family or the tribe. For instance, here is a folk verse from the Potohar area:
Maey ni! tudh mehndi aandi kis dey hathh rangesain?
Aeh jindrri mehndhi Ranjhay jogi, Kherrian ki kay daisain?
(Mother, whose hands are you going to adorn with henna?/I am all Ranjha’s, how will you hand me over to the Kherras?) According to the folk tradition, to send Heer or the girl to the Kherras or give her in to a match made forcefully is not a mother’s deed. It is the diktat of the male or whom the girl dare not address. Instead she lodges her protest with her mother. The father or the male figure is the supreme head about whom here is another line:
Aseen chirian da chamba vay, babul terey khait dian (A flock of birds we are, father, of your garden) The girl, however is often destined for the Kherras, hence her last lament to mother:
Nah mein larri tey nah mein boli ni maan! (Mother, I neither argued nor spoke up) Ajj rakh ley meri doli ni maan! (Keep my palanquin, today, Mother) Among the sufi poets or poets who wrote powerful kafis, Shah Husain in the 16th century identifies himself with Heer and says:
Ni maey! meinun Kherrian di gal nah aakh Ranjhan mera mein Ranjhan di Kherrian noon kurri jhak.
The late Ghulam Yaqoob Anwar’s English version of the kafi is:
Ranjha is mine and I am of Ranjha/False is the claim of Kherras/Talk not to me,/Of Kherras, O’ Mother.
The ordinary folk tale Heer,/To be a mad and senseless maiden/Having taken the cowherd as a groom;/But Lord alone doth know/The truth and all the truth/So sayeth Husain Faqir.
Mother’s is the only soul in whom a girl can confide all her sufferings and seek sympathy and guidance. In this respect a kafi by Husain, and sung by the late Hamid Ali Bela runs thus: Maey ni! mein kinhon aakhan dard vichhorey da haal ni Dhooan dukhey mairey Murshid wala jaan pholan tan a lal ni (Mother, whom do I tell of the anguish of separation?/A smoke billows within, my being is swelling red) After Shah Husain, Bulleh Shah sought consolation from the mother in between his kafis. But it is Husain who has more than 10 kafis addressed directly to the mother. The third great kafi-writer and sufi, Khwaja Farid, is full of complaint against the mother who he says becomes party to usurping her daughters’ rights. In one of the Dohrras, he says:
Maey ni maey! insaf nah kitoee, kithh sona kithh sika, Kherra bherra mool nah bhavey, Ranjhan naal dil hika, Doheen jahan qurban karan nah shan Ranjhey da jhika, Ghulam Farid nah dil Kherrey naal, taqdeer ditaham dhika.
(Mother, you’ve done no justice between gold and raw metal/Kherra is unworthy a price for someone who belongs to Ranjha/Heaven and earth I’ll forego for Ranjha’s glory/Ghulam Farid, the heart is not with Kherra, fortune be cursed) Mian Muhammad Bukhsh of the Saiful Muluk identifies mother as a ‘tree from paradise; Prof Mohan Singh Mahir follows him, and calls mother a tree with thick shadows. Mian Muhammad’s line is:
Maawan janat walian chhawan tey laad ladawan sarey (Mother is a shade of heaven; she pampers all the way) Shiv Kumar Batalvi and Amrita Pritam also addressed mother. Shiv Kumar’s famous popular lines:
Maey ni! mairey geetan dey nainaan vich birhon di rarrak pavey and Maey ni maey! mein shkra yaar banaaya (‘Mother, O’ Mother the eyes of my songs ache, with the pain of separation’; and ‘Mother O’ Mother I befriended a raven’) But what a mother feels about her children is most effectively reflected in another folk song. It is the cry of a cuckoo caught by a Jaat. She addresses a passerby about her babies left behind:
Bhaaya rahey jandia...lakk tunoon tunoon Tahli mairey bachrrey...lakk tunoon tunoon Va vagi udd jan gey...lakk tunoon tunoon Meenh pavey bhij jan gey...lakk tunoon tunoon Dhup lagi sarr jan gey....lakk tunoon tunoon.
(Stranger on the road, coo, coo, coo...In the Tahli tree are my babies, coo, coo, coo...Wind will blow them away, coo, coo, coo...Rain will wet them, coo, coo, coo...The sun will burn them, coo, coo, coo...
This, in sum, is the image of the mother, as etched on the Punjabi mind. — STM
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