Thoughts On New Year’s Day: AMARJIT SINGH CHANDAN, as told to Nirupama Dutt
My Punjab Has No Borders,
My only hope and dream is the reunification our Punjab. I know well the hard reality that it now seems impossible. But I still dream. Counting starts from zero.
A poem of mine devoted to my homeland goes thus:
Punjab mera tan duniya jidda,
Punjab mera anhadd hai;
iss vich sabho darya vehndey
'My Punjab is as big as the whole world,
It has no borders, no limits;
All the rivers flow in it.'
In other words, humanism and universalism is what true Punjabiat means to me. And none other than Baba Nanak is its icon that symbolises this sentiment the best.
Though I have to cross the Wagha border – created by the Punjabis themselves – showing my British passport, but in my mindscape there is no border. I am Manto’s lunatic from ‘Toba Tek Singh’ and I too have never reconciled with the division of the Punjab.
I exist in the Punjabi language and I’ll die in it. I dream, think and feel in Punjabi. It is my last refuge against all odds. As my children don’t speak it, it’ll die with me.
The poem ‘Lasan’ was written while I was flying back to Vancouver from California in 1988. There I had come across the word Lasan written in the Punjabi script on a huge billboard meant for woman farm workers, migrants from the Punjab. For a moment the taste of the word ‘Lasan’ was like a lump of sugar on my tongue. The poem is a lament about the loss of language, though it is very much happening now in our own homeland.
My first visit to Lahore and West Punjab was in 1997. It was the most exciting and creative period in my life. It is the only place where I feel at home.
My disappointments with the present-day Punjab are many. The rot has set in. I will not repeat the situation we all are too familiar with. Politics and culture aside, my main concern is the complete degeneration of Punjabi language at the hands of university academia and journalists.
However, as Ghalib once wrote, one can have a thousand wishes worth dying for. My only hope and dream is the reunification of our Punjab.
I know well the hard reality that it now seems impossible. We are the cursed people of the cursed land.
But I still dream. Counting starts from zero.
[Courtesy: The Hindustan Times. Edited for sikhchic.com]
January 2, 2017
Conversation about this article
1: Kulvinder Jit Kaur (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada), January 02, 2017, 7:21 AM.
I totally share these thoughts and feelings. I have often thought how senseless and futile the Partition of Punjab and India into 2 countries was. Reading about the horrors of refugees on each side and the loss of life and property is deeply saddening. It gave birth to many other problems. Had there been no partition, there would have been no Kashmir issue. There would have been no Indo-Pak wars. Punjab and Punjabis would have been a strong force and very prosperous, rather than fragmented as we are now. Punjab, I am sure, would have been a role model to the subcontinent, even the world. Let us keep dreaming, Sardar Amarjit Singh ji. My philosophy in life is that Nothing is Impossible.
2: Tarlochan Singh Goel (Harrow, United Kingdom), January 04, 2017, 12:26 PM.
Punjab is unique. I come from East Africa and the African there recognizes a Sardar and has given him the title 'Simba' (Lion). Let us never waiver from our chardi kalaa.
3: Damanjeet Singh (Perth, Australia), January 06, 2017, 10:31 PM.
Love Punjab and Punjabi boli. Keep up the good work, Sir. God bless Punjab.