SOME MASTERPIECES OF
SINDHI LiTERATURE -II
by - Dr. Motilal Jotwani
AHIREE RAATI TOON VAREE NA AANEENDEN
By Jotwani, Motilal (b. 1936), “Ahiree Raati Toon Varee Na Aaneeden” (You Won't Bring about this Kind of Night Again) from Rihaani, an annual miscellany, Rajasthan Sindhi Akademi, Jaipur, 1983.
An anti-war poem, it reminds us that the terrible night that the sick humanity experienced last time lasted for six years (1939-45). It forewarns us that if we brought about that kind of night once more, it will swallow up the sun in the nuclear winter.
AITA JO AAVAAZ
By Dukhayal, Hundraj (1910-2003), “Aita Jo Aavaaz” (The Voice of the Spinning Wheel) from the poet's compendium of poetry Sangeetaanjalee, Lok Saahitya Prakaashan, Adipur (Kachchh), 1963.
A patriotic song composed during the Indian struggle for freedom. It personifies the spinning wheel which raised a formidable voice against the alien rulers. The poet says that the spinning wheel united the Indian people. Everybody wore khaadi, or the hand-spun clothes, and supported the cause Gandhiji stood for.
AQULA JO VIYO IKHTIYAAR
By Bedil, Qadir Baksh (1814-72),” Aqula Jo Viyo Ikhtiyaar” (No More Control on Reason) from Sindhi Sh'ir jo Intikhaab, ed. Ram Panjwani, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1976.
In his poem written in the kaafi form, the poet says that he has no more control over reason, for in the fight between love and reason within him, it is love for the beloved God which has come out victorious. And now he feels, he is God Himself, the Quranic injunction to the contrary notwithstanding.
By Shyam, Narayan (1922-89), “Chau'dasee” (Sonnet) from Roopamaayaa, 1954.
A sequence of 16 sonnets, it deals with the mythological story of Vishwamitra and Menaka in their sensuous life-circumstances.
By Jatoi, Haiderbakhsh (1901-70), “Dariyaa Shaah” (The Sindhu River) from Sindhi Sh'ir jo Intikhaab, ed. Ram Panjwani, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1976.
A hymn to the Sindhu river, on the banks of which one of the oldest civilisations, of the Moan-jo-Daro fame, developed: the poem describes it from its source to its merger into the Arabian Sea.
By Kamal, M. (b. 1925) “Death Certificate” from Virhaange khaanpoi je Sindhi Sh'ir jee Choonda, an anthology of post-Independence Sindhi poetry, ed. H.I. Sadarangani, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1987.
The poet wonders whether he is no more alive consequent on his losing identity day by day. But he worries about the issue of death certificate, without which, members of his family would be put to hardships.
HARI DILGIR JE MAUT KHAAN POI
By Hari Dilgir (1916-2004) “Hari Dilgir je Maut khaan poi” (After the Death of Hari Dilgir) from the poet's collection of poems Jhangalee Gula, Sindhi Times Publications, Ulhasnagar, 1988.
In a fantasy, the poet envisions what would possibly happen after his death. People speak in many tongues about him; for some of them the 'dead' Hari Dilgir was a gentleman, because he extended help to many a needy person, for some others it seemed that he did all that to earn popularity. In the opinion of some people, he was a good poet, for he received a Sahitya Akademi award. To others, he was only a traditional poet, despite the award.
JE BHAAEEN PASAAN PIREEN-A KHE
By Dalpat (1769-1841), “Je Bhaaeen Pasaan Pireen-a khe” (If You Wish to See the Beloved) from Sindhi Sh 'ir jo Intikhaab, ed. Ram Panjwani, Sahitya Academy, New Delhi, 1976.
The Vedantist-Sufi poet, Dalpat advises people that they should look within themselves, if they wish to see the beloved. He admonishes them for harbouring hatred for one another and asks them: If God is in the Peepal tree, who is there in the Babool one? The same light burns in both the mosque and the temple.
By Bulbul Shamsuddin (1857-1919), “Karimaa Natural” from appendix to Deevaan Bulbul, 1891.
Playfully written in the mathnawi from, it has the first hemistich in Sindhi and next in Persian, the Persian one from the Persian poet Sadi's Karimma. As in the very title of the poem, Bulbul lambasted the Indian Muslims' blind imitation of the English way of life. He had digs at them, when he said, inter alia, 'Bring me half a pound of good whisky (then from Sadi's Karimma) 'O Benevolent One have mercy on our state of affairs.'
KUFRA AIN ISLAM MEIN
Rohal (1734-1804), “Kufra ain Islam mein” (Among Both Muslims and Hindus) from Sindhi Sh'ir jo Intikhab, ed. Ram Panjwani, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1976.
The poet says that among both Muslims and Hindus, the people take wrong steps and land themselves in hatred. Even as he sees it they do not see that He abides in all persons and places. Referring to an incident in the life of Guru Nanak, he asks: Can one who sleeps in the Holy Kaba (House of God) turn his feet in any direction, but towards Him?
LILA KHE HIDAAYAT
By Lekhraj, Kishinchand Aziz (1905-71), “Lila Khe Hidaayat” (An Instruction to Lila) from Sindhi Ratan Maalaa (Nazm), ed. Deepchandra Trilokchand and Goverdhan Mehboobani, Sunder Sahitya Publishing House, Ajmer, 1961.
The poet instructs the queen Lila (the heroine of the Sindhi legend Lila Chanesar) to implore her husband, King Chanesar, to forget and forgive her folly. He tells her that repentance over her wrong-doing is the only way out for her.
By Wafa, Prabhu Chhug'ani (b.1915), “Panjakiraa” (five-line verses) from Ham'asar Sindhi Sh'ir, an anthology of contemporary Sindhi poetry, ed. Arjan Shad, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1989.
In the five-line poetic form 'invented' by him, the poet speaks of love, morals and renunciation a la the good old Sanskrit poet, Bhartrhari. In them, he takes an erotic look at a beautiful fishermaid; teaches people to be respectful to the followers of other religions; and talks of death, the ultimate truth in life, where the humans inevitably meet.
By Vaswani, Harish (b.1940), “Purush Vaishyaa” (The Male Prostitute) from Virhaange Khaan poi je Sindhi Sh'ir ji Choonda, an anthology of post-Independence Sindhi poetry, compiled and ed. H.I. Sadarangani, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1987.
The poet says that the city provides him with livelihood on its streets and takes him back within the four walls of his home where his body and mind are bruised, making him none other than a male prostitute.
QAZI QADAN JA SATA BAITA
By Qazi Qadan (1463-1551), “Qazi Qadan Ja Sata Baita” (Seven Baits of Qazi Qadan) from the appendix to Bayaanul Aarifin, 1630, a Persian work.
The seven baits establish the poet as a great believer in the Unity of Existence. He says that he has not read any of the books of Prophet Muhammad's tradition, Hanifi Law or Arabic grammar in the rhymed form; it is a different place where he has met the beloved. In the seventh bait, he describes how he was lost in a slumber of ignorance and a jogi (yogin) woke him up. 112 more baits by him, discovered recently from Haryana, eagerly wait to be authentically known.
By Harumal Sadarangani 'Khadim' (1913-92), “Rubaa'iyoon” (Quatrains) from Khushboo jo Safar, pub. by the author, New Delhi, 1980.
In his quartrains, the poet does not feel shy of kicking up a row with God, the Maker. In the tone and temper of true bhakta or devotee, he questions God as to why He did not create man in His own image, why man is so mean and nasty.
SANATORIUM MEIN PAHIREEN RAATI
By Bharati, Goverdhan (b. 1929), “Sanatorium mein Pahireen Raati” (The First Night in the Sanatorium) from Virhaange Khaan poi je Sindhi Sh'ir jee Choonda, an anthology of post-Independence Sindhi poetry, compiled and ed. H.I. Sadarangani, 1987.
The poet, himself a tuberculosis patient, describes the ghostly atmosphere in the sanatorium on the first night of his admission there. As a transferred epithet would have it, the moon looks to him pale and emaciated.
SHAH ABDUL KARIM JA BAITA
By Shah Abdul Karim (1536-1623), “Shah Abdul Karim ja Baita” (Baits of Shah Abdul Karim) from Shah Karim Bulri Ware jo Kalaam, ed. U.M. Daudpota, Hyderabad, Sindh, 1937.
Celebrating the doctrine of wahdah al-wujud, or Unity of Existence, the poet says: That for whom we yearn is none but we ourselves;….. The Beloved is not separate from us; we have to turn our face within.
SINDH AIN SINDHI
By Krishin Rahi (b.1932), “Sindh ain Sindhi” (Sindh and the Sindhis), from his collection of poems Kumaach, Koonj Publication, Bombay, 1969.
The poet delineates the predicament in which the migrant Sindhis find themselves in India, after Partition of the country in 1947. He says that the new generations of Sindhis will visit Sindh like other aliens in the land; curiously enough, they will be the Sindhis visiting Sindh, on VISAs.
By Chainrai Bachomal 'Sami' (1743-1850), “Suhaagini” (The Blissfully-wedded Woman) from Sami-a ja Choonda Sloka, ed. B.H. Nagrani, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1960.
The poet says that the blissfully-wedded woman is she whose husband is happy with her. In accordance with the bhaavaatmak rahasyavaad (mysticism with emotional devotion as the basis), the poet calls himself a soul wedded with the Supersoul.
By Shah Abdul Latif (1689-1752), “Sur Marui” from Shah jo Risaalo, ed. Kalyan Advani, Bombay, 1958.
The poet presents Marui as a symbol of fidelity. She was kidnapped by Umar, the Thar ruler, and was offered all the comforts of his palace. But she refused to see him and insisted that she should be restored to her fiance Khetsen. According to the poet, Marui, Khetsen and Umar allegorically stand for the soul, Supersoul and worldly desires respectively.
TAPASYAA JOON ROSHANIYOON
By Arjan Shad (b. 1924), “Tapasyaa Joon Roshaniyoon” (The Lights of Penance) from Ham'asar Sindhi Sh'ir, an anthology of contemporary Sindhi poetry, ed. Arjan Shad, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1989.
The poet says that he has been going through hell to create heavenly lights. He asks, to whom he should hand over, in this 'civilised' world, the lights of penance emerged from his mind in ferment.
By Harikant (1935-94), “Ujirandaru Baru” (The Decaying Banyan Tree) from the poet's collection of poems Lapa-bhar Roshani, pub. Anil Jethwani, New Delhi, 1987.
The poet takes a look at the corrupt politics of the day and feels outraged in view of the decadence of the 5,000-year-old banyan tree, which the Indian civilisation is.
By Sangi Mir Abdul Hussain (1851 -1924), “Yaadgeeryoon” (Remembrances) from his Deevaan Sangi, 1904.
The poem is about things of the past, which he recalls in great despair. The grandson of Mir Nasir Khan, the last Talpur ruler of Sindh, from whom the Britishers wrested power in 1843, he remembers his 'glorious' past and hopes that bad days would also pass.
ADO ABDUL REHMAN
By Hingorani, Amarlal (1907-56), “Ado Abdul Rehman” (Brother Abdul Rehman) from Phulwaaree, 1930.
It portrays a Sindhi Sufi dervish, Abdul Rehman by name, who is given to converse with himself - his 'self' - about various happenings in the world. Once a poor man was implicated in the case of theft and Abdul Rehman went to the court to defend him. What transpired between the learned judge and Abdul Rehman lifted veils from many a worldly untruth.
By Israni, Kalyani, “Ajeeb Bukha” (A Strange Hunger) from Sindhi Kahaaniyoon, a collection of short stories, Baghi Publication, Karachi, 1947.
It depicts an old man who ignores the call given by students to observe hartaal, a day in protest against the repressive measures of the alien rulers and opens his shop in order to earn livelihood and ward off hunger. But his own daughter feels a strange hunger, a strong yearning for Independence of the country, and joins the student processionists.
By Abichandani, Param (b.1926), “Bhaau-Abhaau; Emotion-Anti-emotion), from the author's collection of short stories of the same title, Bhaau-Abhaau, New Delhi, 1991.
It tells how Rambha, a young woman born in a traditional family, is shaped into a changed person who acts against social norms. When she loses the taste of lustful life, she returns to the realms of tradition. As things would have it, her decision of getting married and settling down in life was right, but her choice of husband who proved to be a scoundrel, was wrong.
By Mirchandani, Tara (b. 1930), “Bhavanaa” (Bhavanaa) from her collection of short stories Uljhyal Tandoon Resham joon, Kavita Printing Press, Ahmedabad, 1986.
Bhavanaa, the heroine of the short story, is stage artiste. She suffers from mental depression, which her husband attributes to the roles she lives on the stage. He asks her to leave the stage-life in which she identifies herself with the characters she enacts. But she does not, The short story half reveals that the cause of her illness is her husband himself, who has an undue interest in the maid-servant.
By Khatwani, Krishin (b.1927), “B'ipahari” (An Afternoon) from the quarterly Rachana, 31, Calcutta, 1986.
An old man, about 60, lives an uneventful lonely life, his wife dead and his children leading separate lives with their families. A 70-year-old woman-servant manages his household: she comes every morning and evening, and cooks food for him. The man wonders how she makes friends with the neighbourhood ladies, half her age, despite her poverty and family sorrows.
By Baiani, K.S. (1930-70), “Chauraahe Te” (At the Crossroads), from the annual Sookhree, 1965.
Both Rajesh and Vijay love Lata with almost equal passion. But it is Rajesh to whom Lata reciprocates. Curiously, when Rajesh and Lata decide to marry, another girl Bretha raises a storm in the former's life and he loses his way. Lata looks at Rajesh's folly from a human angle and is prepared to see him come back home.
By Babani, Kirat (b. 1922), “Chunnoo Munni” (Chunnoo and Munni) from the monthly magazine Nain Duniyaa, 1956.
It tells how a young man, Gyan by name, pines for marriage to end his loneliness, only if he could procure a few thousand rupees to ask for a poor man's daughter. Presently, he is invited to a wedding reception at his employer's place. Chunnoo and Munni, the bridegroom and the bride, turn out to be two dolls – he-doll and she-doll - with which the rich businessman's little child plays at home.
By Bharati, Narayan (b. 1932), “Dastaavez” (The Property Deed) from Nain Duniyaa, 1952.
Based on the Partition-of-the-country theme, it describes one Seth Manghanmal, who is caught in a conflict of whether or not to file the claim for compensation for the house he left in Sindh and in which Rasul Bux, his former farm-employee, dwells. He decides against the filing of the claim, for if he did so, it would render the poor Rasul Bux's family homeless.
By Prakash, Prem (b. 1946) “Farqu” (Difference) from Sangeetaa, a Sindhi magazine, Baroda, 1988.
Based on a day-to-day life-experience, it tells how a husband and wife come to have a house of their own. They decorate it according to their taste and decide not to seek opinions of others, for they would only point out defects and mar their happiness.
HUNA JO PATIPUNO
By Hiranandani, Popati (b.1924) “Hun Jo Patipuno” (His Husband-hood) from the Hindvaasi, 1984; English translation by Dr.Motilal Jotwani, Sindhi Short Stories, Vikas Publishers, New Delhi,1985.
The short story portrays a homeless girl dwelling on a Bombay pavement: she aspires to grow into a young woman married to a good, decent man. With the passage of time, she does marry, but her husband does not like her sense of self-respect and hits her. She pooh-poos his husbandhood and walks out of his life. In the end, the husband is prepared to relinquish his right of hitting his wife.
By Jagatiani, Lalchand Amardinomal (1885-1994), “Hura Makhi-a jaa” (The Hurs of the Makhi Lake) from the journal of Sindhi Sahitya Society, Hyderabad (Sindh), 1914.
Based on a historical fact, it is the first Sindhi short story in the genre and tells about the Muslim Hurs (an Arabic word meaning, 'Independents'), who took to looting of the moneyed landlords and rich traders and businessmen and helped the lowly and the lost in the society. Lawbreakers, they boldly confronted the alien British administration.
KAHAANI-A JEE G'OLHAA MEIN
By Pushp, Lai (b. 1935), “Kahaani-a jee G'olhaa mein” (In the Pursuit of Short Story)
from the monthly magazine Nargis, Pune, 1957; English tr. Motilal Jotwani, Sindhi Short Stories, Vikas Publishers, New Delhi, 1985.
It delineates a young man, who tells his father that he wishes to be a short-fiction writer. The considerate father helps him know that for good writing one should come in contact with people and for very good writing one must love them. He introduces him to a stranger whom his wife had deserted. The young, budding writer learns, through the stranger's life, that a woman cannot love her husband, if he does what she should ordinarily do.
By Bhatia, Vishnu (b.1941) “Kaan'iru” (A Coward) from Koonja, a Sindhi magazine, 1968; English tr. Param Abichandani, Sindhi Short Stories, Vikas Publishers, New Delhi, 1985.
It tells how Ramprasad comes to Bombay in search of a job and meets Kalicharan who had already adapted himself to Bombay life. As Ramprasad settles down in the new environs, he legitimately hopes for a happy married life. But at the end, the reader is left wondering whether Ramprasad would, like many others in the city, take to Kalicharan's ways and visit the houses of ill-fame in the city.
Samtani, Guno (1934-97) “Khand'har (Ruins) from Khand'har, a collection of seven short stories, Koonj Publications, Bombay, 1968.
It tells how Shankar, the hero, disassociates himself from Hema, the heroine, with whom he had close, friendly relations before his passage to England for higher studies. With a sense of alienation imported in his being, Shankar shuts the door on her.
By Prakash, Kala (b.1934), “Khaanvaahan” from Nain Dunyaa, Bombay, 1956.
It tells how the Sindhis were scattered all over India after having been uprooted from Sindh in the wake of Partition in 1947. Though many families, originally from Khaanvaahan, a village in Sindh, settled themselves in Kubernagar of Ahmedabad, they look in vain for the same old environs of Khaanvaahan in Kubernagar.
By Mamtora, Asanand, “Kiki” (literally it means 'daughter', here it is used as a proper noun) from his collection of short stories Jeevat Prema ain Paapa joon Kahaaniyoon, Kahani Sahitya Maalaa, Hyderabad (Sindh), 1939.
It tells how Kiki, a sensitive young woman, feels it suffocating to live with her uncouth husband who tends cows for his livelihood and smells unpleasantly of cow-dung in bed. Once her husband is mauled by one of his cows and breaks his neck, she becomes motherly to him and looks after him with loving care.
MOTI AAYALU MAAZI
By Chander, Ishwar (1937-92) “Moti Aayalu Maazi” (The Time Past is Time Present) from his collection of short stories Moti Aayalu Maazi, Sangeetaa Publications, Baroda, 1981.
It portrays a school-going, 17-year-old girl, who shares her loneliness with her boyfriend. One of her love-letters to him reaches the headmistress, who immediately expels her from the school. Back home from their daily work, her parents learn about it. They recollect that, the same thing happened in their earlier life and their parents arranged for their marriage in order to save them from ignominy. They are curious about the boy, their daughter loves. And the girl in question keeps wondering why her parents do not even chide her for her misdoing.
By Khilani, Lakhmi (b.1935), Naangu (The Snake) from Band Darwaazaa, Armec Sindhi Sahitya Prachaar Yojanaa, Pune, 1981.
It reveals a hidden fear of Lajju, a housewife, who feels concerned for the well-being of her husband and children - a hidden fear, or an unexplained anxiety, that assumes the form of a snake she sees crawling now in a drawer of the blanket-board and then on the floor, now in the bedroom and then in the children's room. At the end she realises that she has started seeing visions, left all alone in the house.
NAANI SUGHAR SAYAANI
By Malhi, Gobind (1921-2001), “Naani Sughar Sayaani” (Grandma, Oh Beautiful, Wise Grandma) from the annual journal Alkaa, Ulhasnagar, 1985)
This short story celebrates childhood, its carefree life, and reconstructs the grandma-grandchild relationship, perhaps the happiest of all relationships. Rinku, an 11-year boy, visits his maternal grandma during his summer vacation. He only has to express his desire for a certain thing, and she runs about to fulfill it. And he won't be around or wait to see the needful done, always keeping busy as he does in his pranks.
By Rohra, Satish (b.1929), “Rishto” (Relationship) from his collection of short stories of the same title, Rishto, Sangeetaa Publications, Baroda, 1989.
It describes a common-day urban situation in which a man and a woman wait at the bus-stop for a bus to take them to their respective work places. They do not know each other, do not wish to peep into each other's life. One day, she does not turn up and he seems to have lost his sense of identity, as if unknowingly he built a relationship with her.
SARAU JO PANU
By Relwani, Jayant (b.1936), “Sarau Jo Panu” (An Autumn Leaf) from Beejal, 1986.
It tells how two fans of a grand old man of Sindhi letters decide to have his darshan at his residence and find to their dismay that the distinguished scholar lives an obscure life, his neighbors unaware of his residence in their vicinity and his relatives unmindful of his past glory.
By Kalpana, Mohan (1930-92), (Uhaa Shaama; That Evening) from Uhaa Shaama, Koonj Publications, Bombay, 1981.
It tells how a man and a woman - the man a Sindhi advocate from Bombay and the woman from Sindh in Pakistan - happen to meet at a hotel in Baroda. Comfortable in their chairs on the terrace of the hotel, the two Sindhis, now under two different political systems, exchange sweet nothings and feel that the feeble moon in the azure sky creates in them serenity and a sense of a long evening, and not that of a dark night.
VICHA D'AAKAN TE
By Uttamchandani, Sundri (b.1924), “Vicha D'aakan Te” (In the Middle of the Staircase) from her collection of short stories Kherial Dharti, Jai Sindhi Publications, 1992.
After two years of his marriage to another girl, Saajan wishes to renew the old relationship with his beloved Aneela. For a while, Aneela feels as if she were in the middle of a staircase, quite undecided whether she should accept his love she has been longing for, or reject him for his infidelity to her and his wife. Finally, she elects the latter course.
WAQTA JO KATU
By Jotwani, Motilal (b.1936), “Waqta Jo Katu” (The Rust of Time) from 'Kotha', the author's collection of short fiction works, Sampark Prakashan, New Delhi, 1985; English tr. by the author, Indian Literature, No. 152, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1992.
This short story recounts how time corrodes the lives of an old husband and his aged wife and how they make their life livable by caring for each other. Looking at the flabby fat, his wife has put on lately, the husband invites her to accompany him for a long, refreshing evening walk, leaving aside domestic chores.
(From Masterpieces of Indian Literature, Vol.3, New Delhi; 1997.)