Wagah Border…

Wagah de border te raah puchdi Lahore’an de haye… 

15th August 1947
While India was celebrating
Panjab was crying
Crying tears of blood

Ravi was separated from her sister Chenab
And the river of love became filled with blood

The land that once co-existed with all faiths
Today was fighting
Hindu here
Sikh here
Musalman there
No one thought about my PanjabA line was drawn
And that was it
No one thought about the consequences
The mass migration
The killings
The rapes
The women abducted
The families separated
The houses destroyedMy Lahore
My Nankana
Was separated from me
70 years on
I still hear the cries of my people Panjab was torn apart into two pieces
But – where am I to exist
When I exist in a united Panjab
A Panjab without Wagah Border
A Panjab where it’s five rivers flow together

 

 

 

Where am I to exist
Where am I to exist…

 

(photography and poetry – Rupinder Kaur)

Why Loona is a epitome of Feminist writing

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. 

Image result for loona shiv kumar

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

English Translation:

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

Eurocentric Beauty Standards

Growing up I hated my long nose – a feature which is common for many brown women especially in Panjabi women.  I believed it was “too big”.  I wanted to have surgery when I was older and believe it or not it made me very depressed. I hated my appearance throughout my teenage years. I started wearing makeup at the age of 12/13 years old believing that it would make me look and feel beautiful. I would wear layers and layers to school many people didn’t understand this. But the reason why I wore so much makeup when I was younger was because of my sense of insecurity.

And it certainly didn’t help seeing a certain type of women showcased on magazine covers, shown in television and films.  These women had a certain type of features- eurocentric beauty standards.

Now what I mean by eurocentric beauty standards is its focus on European and Caucasian women how they have anglicized features e.g – smaller noses, thinner lips, fair skin and light eyes etc. These types of features are seen more beautiful.

Often many women of colour who have been on magazine covers or TV ads are shown many shades lighter to their actual skin tone and some are even shown wearing contacts. And we are often told to stay in this westernized style and that our cultures traditional style make us look ugly or too ethnic.

Now I’m not saying that European or Caucasian women are not beautiful however their beauty certainly does not define another women’s beauty.

Today I’ve come out of my self-hatred and I am learning to self-love. Today I actually appreciate my appearance, my long nose, my brown skin. And regardless if you wear makeup or don’t wear makeup just be comfortable in your appearance. Don’t feel you need to fit in because you really don’t. Having dark skin does not make you less beautiful than someone with fair skin, having brown eyes and not green eyes doesn’t make you less beautiful. And those women who are shown on magazine covers do not define your beauty. You don’t need to be fair, you don’t to be skinny to be beautiful.

True beauty is defined by the beauty of the heart, not appearance.

No I’m not sorry that –
My hooked nose goes against your eurocentric beauty standards.

No I’m not sorry that –
My eyes are big and wide filled with the depth of the ocean

No I’m not sorry that –
I don’t fit in with your perception of beauty

Do my curves make you feel uncomfortable?
That my back and spine holds so much strength and power
That I don’t fit in with your idealisation of a perfect woman
No I’m not sorry.

Does my brown skin make you feel uneasy?
That God painted me in golden rays of light
Not to fit in with your fair skinned beauty ideals
But to stand out.

And no, no, no I’m not apologetic
I’m a brown woman who’s not defined by your eurocentric beauty standards.

I wrote this poem a few months back. I felt it was necessary to give the message across to women that your beauty is not defined by eurocentric beauty standards.