I believe Shiv Kumar Batalvi along with being a fantastic poet was also a great feminist which is shown by one of his greatest literature pieces ‘Loona’ – Lūṇā – ਲੂਣਾ; The book that won Shiv Kumar Batalvi the Sahita Akademi Award, Loona is a play written in verse.
The king of Sialkot marries a young girl called Loona. She falls in love with the king’s son from his first marriage, Puran who is of her age. When Pooran repels her advances, she alleges misbehaviour by him to the king. Pooran is maimed and thrown into a well as a punishment. A sage rescues and treats him, and Pooran turns into a wandering ascetic himself – a Bhagat. Years later, a childless Loona comes to visit the famous Bhagat. When she realises his identity, she admits her mistake. Pooran forgives her and his father, and a child is later born to Loona. – This is how this tale of Bhagat Puran has been told for centuries.
There is radical shift is seen in Shivs version from the male persona to a female protagonist . Batalvi openly addresses the concept of female desire and justifies the sexual attraction that Loona expresses. She is married to man the age of her father desiring the sexual attraction from her husbands son who is the same age as her. Loona can be seen as a scapegoat to the situation. Every woman desires love, every woman has sexual wants and desires – And Batalavi makes it open for Loona to express her wants.
ਹਰ ਮਹਿਬੂਬਾ ਦੇ ਚਿਹਰੇ ਵਿਚ , ਮਾਂ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਹੈ, ਤੇ ਹਰ ਮਾਂ ਦੇ ਚਿਹਰੇ ਵਿਚ ਮਹਿਬੂਬਾ – har mehbooba de chihre vich, ma hondi hai, te har ma de chihre vich mehbooba – every lover’s image exists a mother and in every mother’s image exists a lover.
Batalvi questions the system which does not object to this mismatched marriage but raises the sceptre of morality if she longs for fulfilment in a man equal in age and youth –
ਧਰਮੀ ਬਾਬਲ ਪਾਪ ਕਮਾਇਆ
ਲੜ ਲਾਇਆ ਸਾਡੇ ਫੁੱਲ ਕੁਮਲਾਇਆ
ਜਿਸ ਦਾ ਇੱਛਰਾਂ ਰੂਪ ਹੰਡਾਇਆ
ਮੈਂ ਪੂਰਨ ਦੀ ਮਾਂ ਪੂਰਨ ਦੇ ਹਾਣ ਦੀ
ਮੈਂ ਉਸ ਤੋਂ ਇਕ ਚੁੰਮਣ ਵਡੀ
ਪਰ ਮੈਂ ਕੀਕਣ ਮਾਂ ਉਹਦੀ ਲੱਗੀ
ਉਹ ਮੇਰੀ ਗਰਭ ਜੂਨ ਨਾ ਆਇਆ
ਲੋਕਾ ਵੇ ਮੈਂ ਧੀ ਵਰਗੀ ਸਲਵਾਣ ਦੀ
ਪਿਤਾ ਜੇ ਧੀ ਦਾ ਰੂਪ ਹੰਡਾਵੇ
ਲੋਕਾ ਵੇ ਤੈਨੂੰ ਲਾਜ ਨਾ ਆਵੇ
ਜੇ ਲੂਣਾ ਪੂਰਨ ਨੂੰ ਚਾਹਵੇ
ਚਰਿਤਰ ਹੀਣ ਕਵੇ ਕਿਉਂ ਜੀਭ ਜਹਾਨ ਦੀ
ਚਰਿਤਰ ਹੀਣ ਤੇ ਤਾਂ ਕੋਈ ਆਖੇ
ਜੇ ਕਰ ਲੂਣਾ ਵੇਚੇ ਹਾਸੇ
ਪਰ ਜੇ ਹਾਣ ਨਾ ਲੱਭਣ ਮਾਪੇ
ਹਾਣ ਲੱਭਣ ਵਿਚ ਗੱਲ ਕੀ ਹੈ ਅਪਮਾਨ ਦੀ
ਲੂਣਾ ਹੋਵੇ ਤਾਂ ਅਪਰਾਧਣ
ਜੇਕਰ ਅੰਦਰੋਂ ਹੋਏ ਸੁਹਾਗਣ
ਮਹਿਕ ਉਹਦੀ ਜੇ ਹੋਵੇ ਦਾਗਣ
ਮਹਿਕ ਮੇਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਕੰਜਕ ਮੈਂ ਹੀ ਜਾਣਦੀ
dharmi babal paap kamaya
larh laya mere phull kumlaya
jis da IchraaN roop handaya
mein Puran di maaN pooran de haan di
main uston ikk chumman vaddi
par main keekan maan uhdi laggi
uh meri garb joon na aaiya
loka ve maiN dhi vargi salvaan di
pita je dhi da roop handaave
loka ve tainu laaj na aave
je Loona Puran nu chaahve
charitarheen kave kion jeebh jahaan di
Loona hove taan apradhan
jekar androN hove suhagan
mehak ohdi je hove dagaan
mehak meri taaN kanjak main hi jaan-di
Honorable father committed a sin
Married me to a wilted flower
Whose youth IchrraaN had worn out
I am like Puran’s mother, Puran is my match
I am just one kiss elder than him
But how can I be called his mother
He is not born of my womb
World, I am like a daughter to Salvan
If a father marries his daughter
World, isn’t that shameful
If Loona desires Puran
Why is she called characterless by the world
She may be called characterless
If Loona trades in pleasures
But if the parents don’t find a match
What’s shameful in finding yourself a match
Loona would have been guilty
Had her heart accepted the marriage
Had her essence been permeated
My essence is chaste, only I know.
Even though Loona’s feelings and emotions are being conveyed through Batalvi – a man, he understands Loona.
Loona in Batalvi’s poem speaks and voices her concerns to the reader. ਅੱਗ ਕਿਉਂ ਨਾ ਬੋਲੇ ?
ਜੀਭ ਦਾ ਜੰਦਰਾਂ ਕਿਉਂ ਨਾ ਖੋਹਲੇ ? – aag kyu na bole? jeeb da jadraa kyu na khooley? – Why should fire not speak? Why should she not open the lock that seals her lips?
Batalvi’s kissa is modern because it explores a modern theme – the condition of women in a male dominated society. While the old form was a narration of affirmation, the new is dramatic, disruptive and revolutionary. Shiv Kumar Batalvi has turned the tale of Bhagat Puran and Loona into a tale that questions the old legend, shifts the male society perspective and tells the story from the perspective of the woman. For Batalvi, it is the legend of Loona which is why it is called Loona – a girl of lower caste, married against her wishes, who falls in love with a man of her age. For this reason it is the epitome of Feminist writing despite it being written by a man.
online ebook of Loona – http://apnaorg.com/books/loonan/loonan.php?fldr=book
also available online at Punjabi kavita – https://www.punjabi-kavita.com/LoonaShivKumarBatalvi.php
online in shahmukhi at Punjabi kavita – http://www.punjabi-kavita.com/LoonaShivKumarBatalviShahmukhi.php