I call on Warith Shah today

Amrita Pretam

I call on Warith Shah today:
O speak up from your grave
And from the Book of Love unfurl
A new and different page.

When one daughter of the Punjab did weep,
You wrote countless verses.
Today, millions of daughters are in tears
With this message for you:
‘Arise, you healer of inner pain,
And look now at your Punjab;
The forests are littered with corpses
And blood flows down the Chenab’.

Translated by Tariq Ali in ‘Can Pakistan Survive?” (1983).

This poem is the most fitting statement on the communal frezy that was unleashed at the time of ‘independence’ of India and Pakistan in 1947.

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2 Responses to “I call on Warith Shah today”

  1. This poem from Punjab can touch the heart of a Bengali more incisively than it can do the same for any other. All the Hindus and Muslims in West Bengal and Bangladesh share a common culture , share common mother-tongue . share the same poet ( Rabindranath Tagore ) , as a writer of our national anthems , share the name of the race as “Bengali” . Apart from the religion we dont have any difference at all . Inspite of all these , when the mischievous right-conservatives ignite us , we fight with each other . From 1947 to till today , its just destroying the Bengali Muslims and Hindus and our great culture where both of these two religions have same contribution.

    my sincere love and solidarity to the people of Punjab , both of Pakistan and India.

  2. ‘Waris’ Shah would be more accurate. Thanks for sharing. Indeed it was, and still is one of the most poignant poems written in Punjabi Literature.

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