Thandia’n Chha’nwa’n, Mithrey Geet: A Medley of Punjabi Verse Translated

Punjabi verae translated
painting by, Uma Krishnamoorthy

Thandia’n Chha’nwa’n, Mithrey Geet: A Medley  of Punjabi Verse Translated

by, Ms Komal Shahzadi

ٹھنڈیاں میریاں چھاواں مٹھڑے میرے گیت

Melodious are my songs, and soothing my shades

Punjab, my beloved province, the place of my birth and life where scorching, tandoori heat of summers naturally develops a physical yearning for shades of trees and waters of rivers and at the same time an aesthetic quest to compose melodious songs and lyrical ballads in its inhabitants. Present medley of five poetic pieces of varying length is an amateur attempt to translate eminent Punjabi versifiers such as Sharif Kunjahi and Baqi Siddiqui as a tribute to “the land of five rivers”. This selection is small in number but vast in scope since it covers a range of diverse genres like ballad, haiku, elegy (in free verse), ghazal, and nazm (lyrical poem). It also serves as a dialogue between these voices of poetic art.

Following poem with its narrative element, story of some unknown rustic character, abrupt beginning, simple language, repetition of stock phrases, melodious tone that makes it easy to sing, is a good example of literary ballad where theme though tragic in nature is very much grounded in eastern philosophy of rural life.

سوہل جئی کڑی سی ملوک جیا انگ سی

کالی اوہ دی اکھ سی تے چٹا دودھ رنگ سی

اکھیاں دے سومے وگےڈولی ساری بھج گئی

ماں پیاں دے فیصلے تے او وچوں وچ رجھ گئی

ورے پچھوں گھر اوندھے کاکا اک ہو پیا

گھر وچ خوشیاں دا میلہ جیا لگ گیا

کہن لگی شکر اے جے پیو اتے گیا اے

رب میرے ماں پیاں دا مان رکھ لیا اے


There she was, an innocent and fragile maiden

Her eyes were dark and milky-white the complexion

She wept her bridal tears and smeared the palanquin

To marry her parents’ choice she wither’d from within

One year passed and she gave birth to a little boy

The entire household became a scene of sheer joy

Baby hath the flat head and fleshy his nose was

Splintered his eyes and jet-coal the complexion was

She thanked God for saving her parents’ honour:

By making child the replica of his father

If the ballad talks about traditional acceptance of cultural norms then following Haiku is an attempt on the theme of liberty. Being impressed by the Japanese form the poem is unique in conveying vast meanings in brief, imagist lines.

اچیاں کندھاں

ڈک نہ سکن

پھلاں نی خوشبو

ایس نظم دا عنوان اے: آزادی


Deep vessels

Can’t contain

The fragrance of flowers

Title of the poem is “Liberty”

If this haiku is forward looking in its theme and promise of future freedom, following poem is full of nostalgia of the past– how someone’s presence or absence has topographical effects. Same place like heaven is changed to deserted places like graveyards.

اج اوس پنڈ دے میں کولوں لنگ چلیاں

جتھوں کدی ھلنے تے دل نئیں سی کردا

جتھے مینوں نت پیا رھندا کوئی کم سی

کم کی سی سچی گل اے جتھے تیرا دم سی

تیرے دم نال پنڈ حج والی تھاں سی

کڈا سوھناں ناں سی

دوروں رکھ تک کے تھکیویں لیہہ جاندے سن

بانئیں مار مار کے او اینج پئے بلاندے سن

سورگ دا سواد آئے جنہاں ھیٹھ کھلیاں

اج اونہاں رکھاں دے میں کولوں لنگ چلیاں

اج میرے پیراں نوں نہ کھچ کوئی ہوندی اے

پنڈ ولوں آئی وا پنڈے نو نہ پوندی اے

کسے دیاں چاہواں میرا راہ نئیں ڈکیا

کوٹھے اتے چڑھ کے کسے نے نئیں تکیا

کیکراں دے اولے ہو کے سب توں اکلیاں

اج اینج پنڈ دے میں کولوں لنگ چلیاں

جیویں کوئی کسے گستان کولوں لنگدا


Today I get pass along that village

Once I didn’t want to leave for a second

Where I just went for countless excuses

Real excuse, frankly, was your presence

Your presence made it Makkah of my heart

With what a romantic name it was called

A mere look at its trees was refreshing

Waving, dancing they looked so welcoming

To stand underneath them felt like heaven

I’m getting pass along those trees and elms

No magnet compels my feet towards itself

No wind strains my torso the village ward

No one’s love has picked the thorns of my path

No one has climbed roof to pay me a glance:

Gazing through acacias standing all alone

I bypass village, today, in a tone

Like someone bypasses burial ground

People die and get a grave in burial places but Ghazal in the subcontinent has attained a permanence of its sort. It is said to be the most ancient form of poetic expression that is still practiced by modern poets. Having a sequence of ash’aar every two lines are self contained couplets conveying theme and meaning in full. Following couplet is a masterful example of praise of beloved’s eyes in ghazal-like exaggeration:

او رھن لٹ بوریاں وانگ پھردے،اک وار اوندھیاں جنہاں ویکھیاں نیں

نشے گتیاں کھیویاں مدھ بھریاں جاگو میٹیاں مست مستان اکھیاں

They roam rapturously ever after:

Ones who once get a chance to glance at her

Vinous, almond-shaped, intoxicated,

Waking-sleeping, beguilingly-glazed eyes

If the poet of previous verse is immersed rapturously ever after in the beauty of beloved’s eyes, following Nazm (lyrical poem) juxtaposes the idea of temporariness of life and the decline in the beauty of a young girl in a very subtle and suggestive manner:

تیرا پنڈا پوری توت دی

تیری لگراں ورگی بانہہ

تیرے بل نے پھل کریر دے

تیرا جوبن ون دی چھاں

ایہہ چھاواں سدا نہ رھنیاں

رھے سدا اوس دا ناں

اساں پنڈ نہ پانے جوگیاں

اساں بوہتا نئیں پڑاں

کس پکے پا کے بیٹھنا

ایہہ دنیا اک سراں

تیرے جوبن وانگوں گوریے

اسی سب مسافر ھاں


You are so young, fresh and fragile

Your lips spark like petals of flow’rs

Your youth is like the soothing shade

Of a willow – under the sun

This shade will remain not the same

Ev’rlasting is the name of One

We, the mystics and the wand’rers

Despise cities and citadels

No one hath a permanent stay

World is very much like a stage

We’ll depart after we perform

Like your bloom, O Gori, is going to decay!

About the author

Komal Shahzadi is a faculty member in Department of English at the International Islamic University, Islamabad and has published articles about Pakistani literature. Her areas of interest include stylistics, postcolonial literature, translation studies and creative writing.