Khuga Pekhawara (Pashto poem – with English translation)

Pashto poetry, when done well, is moving and inspiring and leaves the reader/listener speechless. That’s why I’ve always avoided it – ’cause I can’t do that much justice to a language every other word of which is so poetic and beautiful it makes you want to wrap the whole language around you with pride, even though you played no role in its development and growth. STILL! Here’s my second (technically third, but let’s not talk about that ’cause the first attempt was pretty bad) attempt at Pashto poetry. It’s in mourning of the Peshawar attack yesterday (December 16, 2014 – #NeverForget) and the many attacks before and after that, not just in Peshawar but also in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Kabul, Waziristan, Bajaur, and every other place where Pashtuns live as a majority. It breaks my 10849905_10154890120280005_136342531700925567_nheart and I feel somewhat guilty that a tragedy like that tends to inspire so much creativity in us, and a part of me feels as though I’ve exploited this opportunity for a selfish gain (working on improving my non-existing Pashto poetic skills), but I’m hopeful God will forgive me for that.

Also,  I’ve been told that this poem belongs to a genre of poetry called ghazal, apparently, and as with much of Pashto, Persian, Arabic, Urdu poetry, the writer has to use her name in the last verse of the poem (last verse of poem = maqta). Hence the reference to meeee at the bottom…. It’s exciting, okay! I’ve never done this before. (But someone else then said that, actually, no it’s not a ghazal. Whatevz – I’m sticking to ghazal ’cause I feel more talented that way, hah.)

Thank you for reading! 🙂 A Pashto-script version of this might be available soon, inshaAllah.

Khuga Pekhawara!

Morey zrra me chwe nan che da marg baraan wareegi
Nan pa Pekhawar ke da Pukhtun wina baheegi

Tor kamis kho dalta oss misaal da kafan jorr sho
Laliya rasha dalta taaza gulaan rejeegi

Insan ta khwdaayi laara, insan na sham lidaley
Qatal da insan dey sok da khwdey na na yareegi

Gul laaro irey sho pa har ghag ke mo salgai di
Daghe mor ta gora wass ba tol omar zawreegi

Mung tagi sta da raham ta Rahim ye ta Rahman
Na baraan da raham bass da marg baraan wareegi

Kabul, Jalalabad, ka Qandahar ka Pekhawar
Saadar khor da Izrael, masum har zai qatleegi

Orbala kho bass mena, da nur yawa lamba da
Khalka meena wakrrai gini jwand darna teregi

~ Orbala, December 16, 2014

English Translation (it’s a very, very rough translation and not intended to be poetic)

O’ Wounded Peshawar!

My heart breaks, Mother, that it’s raining death
Today in Peshawar, Pashtuns’ blood is being shed

The tor kamis* is now our coffin
Beloved, come home – the fresh flowers have wilted and died

Men have become gods, humanity no longer exists
Murder’s a common occurrence and no one fears God

The flower (child) has turned into ashes, every sound heaves a sigh
Look at that mother over there; she’ll yearn eternally for her child

We crave Your mercy, You’re Rahim and you’re Rahman
We never see rain of mercy here, only rain of death

Whether Kabul or Jalalabad, or Kandahar or Peshawar
Azrael’s** veil is coated over innocent lives all around

Orbala is all love, a ray of light
Love one another, humans; else life is futile

Notes for non-Pashto readers:

* = there’s a very popular Pashto folk song, with multiple versions, that goes like Laar sha Pekhawar ta kamis tor maa la raura / taaza taaza guluna dre salor maa la raura  (“Go to Peshawar, O’ my love, and bring me back a stunning black dress / bring along a couple of beautiful fresh flowers”). My use of the tor kamis and taaza gulaan is a reference to that song.

** Azrael = the Angel of Death

4 thoughts on “Khuga Pekhawara (Pashto poem – with English translation)

  1. I appreciated the poem. I have several Pashto-speaking students and as we study poetry I think that they might have a lot to comment on. Thank you for both the original and translated versions.


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