Punjabi is one of the languages that is tremendously close to my heart. A friend of mine recently talked about the language and brought up Bullay Shah as one of the poets that inspire. I freely admit that Shah’s words have often inspired me as much as Rumi’s or the Allama’s even though I perhaps understand Iqbal better. At the same time, I find that there is a certain passion and depth as well as common sense simplicity in Bullay Shah’s words that is difficult to replicate in Persian. While Rumi and Iqbal seek to solve the mysteries of the universe, Bullay Shah is more concerned with the reality and experience of love rather than the esoteric idea of love.
As a child, one of my instructors told me that the Punjabi language will die out in a few hundred years simply because there are fewer and fewer individuals who are able to write it. At that time I was somewhat shocked and saddened to realize that the words of poets such as Waris Shah and Bullay Shah may be lost for future generations. With that realization, I also thought about all the words and works that have fallen victim to time. I’m fairly certain that there were great poets and writers as well as philosophers in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Babylon whose works are now lost. Sadly, that seems to be the essence of evolution and perhaps one should not lament the loss but celebrate that those words existed at all. Or maybe the lamentation itself should lead us towards preserving what is left. It is with that feeling of not knowing exactly what to do or feel about things that I present this dismal Punjabi ghazal.
اودے کہر وی ہو آئیں آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟
سارے کم مکا بیٹھے آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟
I returned from her house
Not knowing where to go next
I finished all that I had to do
Now where do I go?
مکے مدینے ہو آئیں آں، زم زم پانی پی آئیں آں
حج تے عمرہ کر آئیں آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟
I traveled to holy lands
I drank from the sacred wells
I performed my pilgrimage
Now where do I go?
کی پلیکها پا آئیں آں؟ کی کی گلاں کہ آئیں آں
اودا دل دکھا آئیں آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟
Have I created a confusion?
Whatever did I say?
Did I hurt her somehow?
Now what do I do?
یار نواسی چھڈ آئیں آں، بتاں وچ وڑ آئیں آں
اے کی ظلم کما آئیں آں؟ هن کتہے جائیے؟
I left my friend alone
I have seen the temple of falsehood
O what a crime have I committed
Now what can I do?
دل گنوا ویکھا, ٹھیر مصیبتان پا ویکھا
رب نو وی بھلا آئیں آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟
I lost my heart to her
I took on a mount of troubles
I even forgot God in the process
Now what can I remember?
سنگھی کوئی ملدا نہی, دل دا ول کھلدا نہی
ایدر اوھدار ہو آئیں آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟
I do not find a friend
To whom I can unburden my soul
I went from pillar to post
Now where should I go?