Categories
Editorial

Restless Stirrings

As we stand on the threshold of a new normal that will eternally rewrite the history of social interactions, of movements across the globe, of new world orders that will have to be more inclusive and more transparent to world view, we will, perhaps, feel the need to redefine business laws so that even countries with lesser wealth are able to access vaccinations and peace. We are now looking  up to leaderships which seem to be in crises themselves. Sitting securely on a tiny island that is well governed, an island where affluence and well-being set it adrift from the turmoils of countries around it, I wonder thirty years from now, what will mankind be like…  Will we be forever marred by the current events of the world? Globalisation has ensured that none of us can be secure on any secret island. There can be no land of lotus eaters hidden from the rest of mankind and accessed by only a few anymore. Even if one region is affected by the virus in any corner of the world, can the rest of the world be pandemic free? Perhaps, a question that those who peddle in vaccines and human well-being can address.

These issues have not only been highlighted by the news media but have also found echoes in some of our content this time. Keith Lyons’s essay talks of his last stay in India, when a tourist carried the  the pandemic  unwittingly into Kerala in February 2020 and subsequent repercussions. More stories and poems that dwell on the spread of the virus this year cry out for compassion. One hopes young poet Ruchi Acharya’s verses are born true.

One day the roses of hope will grow
Meeting the horizon,
Roses that, even plucked, will not die
But will bloom and bloom
Every single day that passes by.

We have young writers on the virulence of the virus and mature pens like that of globe-trotting academic Wendy Jones Nakanishi, who maps the pandemic from UK. Perhaps, we will find a new direction eventually.

There have been calls for uniting above divides as a single unit called mankind earlier too, from greats like Tagore and Nazrul. This time we carry translations of both — Nazrul’s translated poem calls for uniting against artificial divides drawn by man-made constructs and Tagore’s translation talks of redefining through self-reflection. An essay on Tagore by academic Parineet Jaggi talks of the impact of the teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, on Tagore.

We have essays on writers and icons from around the globe. A photo-essay on the bald eagle, heralding the American Independence Day on the 4th of July, gives a humorous anecdote on how the eagle was chosen above the turkey. We have more variety by Candice Louisa Daquin, an immigrant in US, who shows how important human movement across man-made borders is to the development of a country. Michael Burch has given us beautiful poetry reflecting the history of America and American dreams, one of them with the voice of the legendary Mohammed Ali. These verses add substance to the concerns raised by Daquin. Jared Carter brings to us the colours of life with his poetry.

We have humour in verses from Rhys Hughes and even from a young poet, Sutputra Radheye. Limericks from Michael Burch and Penny Wilkes photo-poetry on ‘Changing Seasons’ puts us in a more cheerful mood.  More poetry from multiple writers across the world, including Nepal, Macedonia and Korea, have found their way into our journal.

Hughes has also given us a comprehensive and interesting essay on a twentieth century poet called Ivor Cutler, who said much as he sang his poetry and was encouraged by Paul McCartney of the Beatles. The brilliant poetry of Akbar Barakzai continues translated on our pages by Fazal Baloch and one must give many thanks to the translator for his indefatigable energy and for bringing us wonderful fare from Balochistan. An excerpt translated by eminent journalist Ratnottama Sengupta from Nabendu Ghosh’s autobiography ends with Satyajit Ray’s starting his famed career with Apu’s triology (based on Pather Panchali, a novel by Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay). These three films have become iconic in cinema history.

We were fortunate to have Professor Fakrul Alam agree to an interview. An eminent translator, critic and academic who has lived through the inception of Bangladesh from East Bengal, Alam has translated not just the three greats of Bengal (Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda) but also multiple political leaders like Mujibur Rahman. In this exclusive, he has taken us through the annals of history, reflecting on less-known perspectives of the Partition. Also, in conversation with Borderless, is Arindam Roy, a journalist with forty years’ experience and the founder of Different Truths who started his writing career, much in the tradition of Cyrano de Bergerac on a humorous note.

This time our backpacking granny, Sybil Pretious, gives us a glimpse of her wisdom, wit and compassion while visiting Philippines and talks of an ancient death ritual, volcanoes and strange mud baths. Devraj Singh Kalsi explores young romance in his tongue-in-cheek fashion. We also have more semi-humorous musings from young writers across borders. While Sunil Sharma has explored facets of the impact of terrorism, the other stories are told in a lighter vein.

Our book excerpt from Feisal Alkazi’s Enter Stage Right has a picture of the young artiste in a discotheque dancing in abandon — check it out. It made me smile. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Jnanpith Award winner Shrilal Shukla’s Fragments of Happiness translated by Niyati Bafna. The book review by Meenakshi Malhotra of Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s The Secret Diary of Kasturba brings out an interesting facet on Gandhi and women in the Independence movement. It makes one notice the contrasts in the perspectives of Gandhi and Tagore, who created women like he saw around him in fiction. Kasturba’s life also contrasts with the independence found in the life of the avant-garde artist, Amrita Sher-Gil, who lived around the same time. In an essay, Bhaskar Parichha has shown how Sher-Gil lived out her dreams, blending the best of the East and West, while Malhotra writes, that though “Gandhi called women to join the national movement … he was not seeking to emancipate, but more to call forth their capacity for self-abnegation and self-sacrifice.”

Parichha has also introduced us to the need for changes in the banking sector in India while reviewing Transformational Leadership in Banking edited by Anil K. Khandelwal. Perhaps these will be part of the changes that will ultimately lead to a revision of old systems and the start of new ones. Changes, though not always welcomed or convenient, hopefully will lead to progress that can mould our future into a happier one. Restless stirrings transformed mankind from cave dwellers to an intelligent race that can assimilate nature and technology to survive and dream of a future, living among stars.

As Borderless reaches out to unite mankind transcending artificial constructs, its attempts can bear fruit only with support from each and every one of you. I would like to thank all our editorial team for their wonderful support, contributors for being the backbone of our content, and all our readers for continuing to patronise us.

Do take a look at our current issue for the writers who remain unmentioned here but create phenomenal bridges towards a borderless world.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Poetry

The Law of Nature by Akbar Barakzai

Akbar Barakzai was born in Shikarpur, Sindh in 1938. He is ranked amongst the proponents of modern Balochi literature. His poetry reflects the objective realities of life. Love for motherland, peace and prosperity and dignity of a man are the recurrent themes of his poetry. His love for human dignity transcends all geographical and cultural frontiers. Barakzai is not a prolific poet. In a literary career which spans over half a century, Barakzai has brought out just two anthologies of poetry, Who can Kill the Sun and The Lamps of Heads, but his poetry has depth and reaches out to human hearts with its profundity. Last year, Barakzai rejected the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) award, quoting  the oppressive policies meted out to his region by the government as the reason.

The Law of Nature

(First Voice)

Come, you the riff-raff evildoer!
Hearken to what I utter

You are my slave 
I am your Master
You are homeless
At my feet are forts and palaces
You are homeless 
I’m the lord of power and puissance 
You are destitute and famished
I am rich and affluent

I am wise and prudent, you are brainless
I am the man of might, you are weak and frail
I'm the owner of large estates and orchards
Irksome is your existence in this world
I’m the master
You are my subject

Of faith and the divine book
Guidance I always seek
You are a wayward heretic
I am pure, you are filth
I am strong, you are meek

Have you ever pondered?
On the law of nature
Always subdued in the world
Are the weak and vulnerable 
A shark preys on little herrings
The lion hunts the ibex
Birds and locusts are the falcon’s prey

History bears witness
Always favours the fittest
Throne and crown,
Glory and pride. Discern! 
In rebellion
You’ll gather only humiliation
I am powerful, you are powerless
I am the master, you are the subject

(Second Voice)

Granted, you are the master
Proud, rich and affluent
I am miserable and poor, 
Pious jurists and clerics
Your companions and cohorts
I am but a sinner and transgressor

True you are the mighty overlord
I'm just a wretched slave
But listen you to me --
I’m also a man, a descendant of Adam
No matter how much you oppress me
I wouldn't accept your law of nature
A pretext of my subjugation
No matter how mighty you are
No matter how weak and frail I am.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated many Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters and in the form of books and anthologies. Fazal Baloch has the translation rights to Barakzai’s works and is in the process of bringing them out as a book.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Poetry

Waiting for Godot by Akbar Barakzai

Akbar Barakzai was born in Shikarpur, Sindh in 1938. He is ranked amongst the proponents of modern Balochi literature. His poetry reflects the objective realities of life. Love for motherland, peace and prosperity and dignity of a man are the recurrent themes of his poetry. His love for human dignity transcends all geographical and cultural frontiers. Barakzai is not a prolific poet. In a literary career which spans over half a century, Barakzai has managed to bring out just two anthologies of his poems, but his poetry has depth and reaches out to human hearts with its profundity. Last year, Barakzai rejected the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) award, quoting  the oppressive policies meted out to his region by the government as the reason.

Waiting For Godot. Courtesy: Creative Commons
Waiting for Godot

Arise! O friends from this deep slumber
Godot will not, will never show up

Godot is the  prophet of slumberous wakefulness
He's a messenger with a black scripture to misguide
the ignorant, halfwits and simpletons

O friends and pals! In your hearts and mind
and in every bone and vein of your body
The poison of slumberous wakefulness
Sprouted into toxic mushrooms
Pray tell me why do you want to waste yourselves
Why  do you want to rob your mind of wisdom and reason

O friends! Much desired is the dark tunnel of death
Than the curse of slumberous consciousness
Either sleep eternally like a rock
Or like the sea stay awake for evermore
Either imbibe the poisonous chalice of death
Or reap the treasured harvest of life

The poison of slumberous wakefulness is evermore feared
Than the murderer's deadly sword
The murderer's sword puts an instant end to life
Liberates one from all worries and woes
The curse of slumberous wakefulness
Neither lets you die in peace
Nor breathe in life's gentle breeze


Dear friends and comrades rest assured
Godot will not, will never show up
Setting our eyes on Godot's trail
We shall surely lose our vision
And the wealth of wisdom
We shall squander away forever

Arise my pals and companions
Pray cast off the snare of death
Liberate yourselves
From this slumberous consciousness
Set your brilliant minds free
From the fetters of indolence
For the hope of a mirthful spring
Together with your mates
Gulp down the potent liquor of death

O friends and comrades!
Betray not yourselves any more
Godot will not, will never show up

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated many Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters and in the form of books and anthologies. Fazal Baloch has the translation rights to Barakzai’s works and is in the process of bringing them out as a book.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Index

Borderless, April, 2021

Greetings from Borderless Journal for all Asian New Years! Click here to read our message along with the video and a translation of a Tagore song written to greet the new year, with lyrics that not only inspire but ask the fledgling to heal mankind from deadly diseases.

Editorial

New Beginnings

A walk through our content and our plans for the future. Click here to read.

Interviews

In Conversation with Arundhathi Subramaniam: An online interview with this year’s Sahitya Akademi winner, Arundhathi Subramaniam. Click here to read.

Sumana Roy & Trees: An online interview with Sumana Roy, a writer and academic. Click here to read.

Poetry

(Click on the names to read)

Arundhathi Subramaniam, Jared Carter, Matthew James Friday, Michael R Burch, Aparna Ajith, Jenny Middleton, Rhys Hughes, Jay Nicholls, Achingliu Kamei, Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Ihlwha Choi, Smitha Vishwanath, Sekhar Banerjee, Sumana Roy

Photo-poetry by Penny Wilkes

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

With an introduction to Blood and Water by Rebecca Lowe, Rhys Hughes debuts with his column on poets and poetry. Click here to read.

Translations

The Word by Akbar Barakzai

Fazal Baloch translates the eminent Balochi poet, Akbar Barakzai. Click here to read.

Malayalam poetry in Translation

Aditya Shankar translates a poem by Shylan from Malayalam to English. Click here to read.

Tagore Songs in Translation

To commemorate Tagore’s birth anniversary, we translated five of his songs from Bengali to English. Click here to read, listen and savour.

Tagore Translations: One Small Ancient Tale

Rabindranath Tagore’s Ekti Khudro Puraton Golpo (One Small Ancient Tale) from his collection Golpo Guchcho ( literally, a bunch of stories) has been translated by Nishat Atiya. Click here to read.

Musings/Slice of Life

Pohela Boisakh: A Cultural Fiesta

Sohana Manzoor shares the Bengali New Year celebrations in Bangladesh with colourful photographs and interesting history and traditions that mingle beyond the borders. Click here to read.

Gliding along the Silk Route

Ratnottama Sengupta, a well-known senior journalist and film critic lives through her past to make an interesting discovery at the end of recapping about the silk route. Click here to read and find out more.

The Source

Mike Smith drifts into nostalgia about mid-twentieth century while exploring a box of old postcards. What are the stories they tell? Click here to read.

Lost in the Forest

John Drew, a retired professor, cogitates over a tapestry of the Ras lila. Click here to read.

Tied to Technology

Naomi Nair reflects on life infiltrated by technology, by Siri and Alexa with a tinge of humour. Click here to read.

Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

In Inspiriting SiberiaSybil Pretious takes us with her to Lake Baikal and further. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Tributes & AttributesDevraj Singh Kalsi pays tribute to his late mother. Click here to read.

Essays

Reflecting the Madness and Chaos Within

Over 150 Authors and Artists from five continents have written on mental illness in an anthology called Through the Looking Glass. Candice Louisa Daquin, a psychotherapist and writer and editor, tells us why this is important for healing. Click here to read.

At Home in the World: Tagore, Gandhi and the Quest for Alternative Masculinities

Meenakshi Malhotra explores the role of masculinity in Nationalism prescribed by Tagore, his niece Sarala Debi, Gandhi and Colonials. Click here to read.

A Tale of Devotion and Sacrifice as Opposed to Jealousy and Tyranny

Sohana Manzoor explores the social relevance of a dance drama by Tagore, Natir puja. We carry this to commemorate Tagore’s birth anniversary. Click here to read

Photo Essay: In the Midst of Colours

Nishi Pulugurtha explores the campus of a famed university with her camera and words and shares with us her experiences. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

Oh, That lovely Title: Politics

A short piece by Bhaskar Parichha that makes for a witty comment on the forthcoming Indian elections. Click here to read.

Stories

Pothos

Rakhi Pande gives us a story about a woman and her inner journey embroiled in the vines of money plant. Click here to read.

Elusive

A sensitive short story by Sohana Manzoor that makes one wonder if neglect and lack of love can be termed as an abuse? Click here to read

Ghumi Stories: Grandfather & the Rickshaw

Nabanita Sengupta takes us on an adventure on the rickshaw with Raya’s grandfather. Click here to read

Flash Fiction: The Husband on the Roof

Carl Scharwath gives us a story with a strange twist. Click here to read

Flash Fiction: Flight of the Falcon

Livneet Shergill gives us a story in empathy with man and nature. Click here to read

The Literary Fictionist

A playlet by Sunil Sharma set in Badaun, The Dryad and I: A Confession and a Forecast, is a short fiction about trees and humans. Click here to read.

Book reviews

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Reconciling Differences by Rudolf C Heredia, a book that explores hate and violence. Click here to read.

Nivedita Sen reviews Nomad’s Land by Paro Anand, a fiction set among migrant children of a culture borne of displaced Rohingyas, Syrian refugees, Tibetans and more. Click here to read

Candice Louisa Daquin reviews The First Cell and the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the last by Azra Raza. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

Excerpted from Raising a Humanist: Conscious Parenting in an Increasingly Fragmented World by Manisha Pathak-Shelat and Kiran Vinod Bhatia, the focus is on media and its impact. Click here to read.

Sara’s Selection, April 2021

A selection of young person’s writings from Bookosmia. Click here to read.

Categories
Poetry

The Word by Akbar Barakzai

Translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch

Akbar Barakzai

Akbar Barakzai was born in Shikarpur, Sindh in 1938. He is ranked amongst the proponents of modern Balochi literature. His poetry reflects the objective realities of life. Love for motherland, peace and prosperity and dignity of a man are the recurrent themes of his poetry. His love for human dignity transcends all geographical and cultural frontiers. Barakzai is not a prolific poet. In a literary career which spans over half a century, Barakzai has managed to bring out just two anthologies of his poems, but his poetry has depth and reaches out to human hearts with its profundity. Last year, Barakzai rejected the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) award, quoting  the oppressive policies meted out to his region by the government as the reason.

The Word 

We begin with the word 
With the word we end 
Blessings and Salutations 
To the Apostle of the word! 

The word is God 
The very existence 
And the guiding ocean of time
The word brings forth 
Freedom and providence 
Prosperity and ruin 
Mountains trembles with the fear of the word 
Who could put out the ever-leaping flames of the word? 
Don’t ever bury the word 
In the chasm of your chest 
Rather express the word 
Yes speak it out! 
The word is freedom 
End of oppression 
Light and radiance 
Beauty and bliss
The word is Socrates’ free-spirited paramour 
The ember glowing in Mansour’s fervent heart 
The harbinger of a new dawn 
Don’t ever bury the word 
In the depth of your chest 
Rather express the word 
Yes, speak it out. 
The Word brings forth 
Freedom and providence.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated many Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters and in the form of books and anthologies. Fazal Baloch has the translation rights to Barakzai’s works and is in the process of bringing them out as a book.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Stories

The Dark House

A Balochi folktale translated by Fazal Baloch

Once there lived a king who ruled a certain land. He had a son, whose mother passed away during his childhood. The prince was so handsome that no boy or girl in the land surpassed him in good looks. Time passed and the prince became a young man. The king looked forward to his wedding with wedding songs, drumbeats and dance. He gave a picture of the prince to one of his most trusted slaves and assigned him the task of finding  an equally beautiful girl for his son in the neighbouring kingdoms.

The slave took the picture and set out on his mission. After travelling for several days and nights, he finally reached another land and spent the night at the hut of an old woman. Next morning, he resumed his journey and went from door to door till at last he found a beautiful girl in the house of a poor man. The beauty of the girl stunned the slave. When he regained his senses, he pulled out the picture of the prince and compared the two — once gazing at the girl and then at the picture. He believed the girl was worthy of being the prince’s bride.

At last, he turned to the owner of the house and addressed him: “I’m the slave of the king so-and-so. He has given me the task of finding a bride for the prince. I have been wandering from city to city and house to house looking for a beautiful girl. The beauty of your daughter surpassed that of all other girls I’ve seen so far.”

He presented the prince’s photograph to the girl’s father who after looking at the picture said: “How can a poor man like me dare to compare himself to a rich prince? I think you are making fun of me.”

The slave turned to him and said: “I swear by the honour of your chaste daughter that whatever I told you is true. I believe your daughter is worthy of being my master’s bride.” He then asked him for a picture of his daughter and urged him to accept the proposal.

The man took the prince’s picture from the slave and gave him one of his daughter in return. Early in the morning, the slave took leave of him and set out for his own home. After having travelled for half-a-day, he reached a small hamlet and went into a house to rest. It was the house of a maidservant. She welcomed him. After exchanging greetings with him, she inquired: “Where have you been and where are you heading?”

The slave confided  the details and the purpose of his journey. In the middle of the conversation the maid expressed her desire to see the photograph of the prince’s would-be-fiancé. Actually, the maid was the paramour of the prince. But the slave did not know that. The moment her eyes fell on the photograph she went almost numb with trepidation. She had never seen such a beautiful girl in her entire life. She feared the prince would discontinue his attentions to her after he tied the knot with the pretty girl. The prince would most likely not spare her a single glance.

A myriad of thoughts flooded her mind. Hideously envious of the girl, she gave the photograph back to the slave and excused herself and strolled out of the door. Sometimes later, when she returned, she found the slave fast asleep. She surreptitiously took out the photograph from his pocket and cunningly left a scratch mark on the picture – on one of the eyes of the beauty — and slipped it back into his pocket. When the slave woke up, he took leave of the woman and resumed his journey.

Late in the evening he finally reached his destination and gave an account of his journey before the king, presenting him the photograph of the girl as well.

When the prince returned from a hunting trip the king told him that they had found for him a beautiful girl and within a few days he would be married to her. The prince happily returned to his bedroom. Dreams and desires blossomed in his heart. But the moment he took out the picture from his pocket, his glowing face almost turned pale. The girl was exceedingly gorgeous but alas she looked blind in one eye. Anyhow, the prince submitted himself to his father’s will. Soon  drum beats, the sounds of shehnais and wedding songs reverberated in all corners of the land. Amidst music and dancing, the prince was conducted to the nuptial chamber. However, he was not happy with the marriage and thought it to be a burden unleashed by his father on him. On the very first night he ordered the maidservants thus: “Lay my bed away from that of the bride’s and put out all the lamps and lights.”

 The lamps were blown out and the prince and the bride slept separately in the dark house. It became the routine with the prince. He spent the day outside hunting and, at night, he slept away from his wife in the darkness.

The girl was worried about the strange behaviour of her husband. She was desperate to please, but she couldn’t ask him anything. She was worried. She thought something might be ailing the prince and he didn’t want to disclose his illness. And that was the reason for his sleeping separately and blowing out the lamps. She also wondered if she had made a mistake or the slave had told him something against her.

People began to whisper and gossip about the king’s daughter-in-law for not giving the prince an offspring. Sick of people’s gossip, the young girl began to devise a plan. Secretly, she wove winnowing baskets and sold them door to door. One day she happened to go to the house of the maidservant who was responsible for the agony she was going through. She was shocked to see her husband sitting with the maidservant. The maidservant was almost stunned. The prince had his eyes fixed on the beautiful lady. He took pity on her as he thought poverty had forced her to sell straw-baskets. He couldn’t help but call out to her: “O basket-seller! Come here.” She strolled forward.

He asked her: “Do you live in this city?” The girl replied in affirmative.

The prince asked her again: “Where do you live by the way”?

“I live in a dark house somewhere in this city,” replied the girl.

“Dark house?” The prince slipped into deep thought. A moment later he turned to the girl and said: “Anyhow, I’ve to discuss something with you. Where shall you meet me?”

“I shall wait for you by the riverbank tomorrow,” the girl responded.

Next day, she asked her maidservant to accompany her to the river to wash her hair. She picked up the mirror, hair oil and soap, and, together with her maidservant, went to the river bank. Through the strands of her open hair covering her face, she saw the prince ride up on his horse. She turned to the maidservant and said, “Give me the bottle of hair-oil.”

The next moment, she broke the bottle and pierced her hand with a shard. She began to cry. In the meantime, the prince went to her. When he saw blood dripping from girl’s hand, without any hesitation he tore his chador and dressed her wound with the strip of cloth.

The girl turned to the prince and regretted, “Today our meeting was spoiled by this unexpected incident”.

The prince said, “We shall meet sometimes in the future.” The prince rode back to the palace. The girl and her maidservant took a different route back.

At night, as usual the prince blew out the lamps and slept on his bed. When his wife was sure he was fast asleep, she dragged her bed near to her husband’s. The prince turned on his bed and his hand touched his wife’s wounded hand. The girl cried out aloud:

“O God! Ah! My wounded hand. You touched my wounded hand.”

He asked him what happened to her hand. The girl replied: “Didn’t the shard pierce it on the riverside?”

“A shard?” The prince was taken aback.

“Yes, it did,” replied the girl.

The flabbergasted prince got up. He was surprised to see his wife’s bed placed by his own. He asked his wife: “How do you know a girl’s hand was pierced by a shard on the riverside? She was someone else”.

The girl said, “She was none but me.”

The prince could not believe his ears and said, “You are telling a lie.”

The girl said, “If you don’t believe, turn on the lights and look for yourself.”

He asked all her maidservants to go away that very instant. He turned on the lights. The moment he saw his beautiful wife he was mesmerised. He cursed himself in his heart. He pulled her into his embrace and apologised, “Forgive me my beloved! I was mistaken. Rather I’ve been betrayed.  I… when I saw your photograph, I noticed a blemish in your eye… I didn’t know…”

In the morning, the slave was summoned to the court. He told his entire story. The maidservant with whom the slave had stayed that night was summoned to court.  The king warned her with dire consequence if she did not tell the truth. Finally, she was forced to admit her wrongdoing. And the king ordered the maidservant to be hanged and adjourned his court.

(This folktale retold by Rahman Murad, originally appeared in Quarterly Drad Gwadar, Dec 2001-Jan 2002).

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated several Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2017 and in India.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.

Categories
Stories

I Grew into a Flute

This is Balochi folktale retold by Fazal Baloch. These stories would be related by a storyteller and they would end with a punchline defining their role in the story.

A storyteller telling a story to an eager crowd. Courtesy: Wiki

Once there lived a merchant. He had two children, a boy and a girl, from his late wife. Travelling to far off lands became difficult for him as he had to look after his children. In his neighbourhood, lived a widow who pretended to love the merchant’s children so much so that it filled him with the longing to marry her. However, she had a wicked heart, and in reality she had had her eyes on merchant’s wealth. At last the merchant tied the knot with her. Soon she began to treat her stepchildren very cruelly. As the merchant spent most of his time outside, he was unaware of his wife’s brutality to his children. She forced them to live on leftovers. As they feared her wrath, the children disclosed nothing to their father and silently suffered torment at the hand of their stepmother.

Time went by. The merchant’s wife was pregnant and eventually gave birth to a child. Her hatred for her stepchildren grew stronger. When the boy grew older, the merchant assigned him the flock to tend in the pasture. The boy spent most of the time away from home. On the other hand, his sister did all chores at home. Her stepmother would curse and beat her. One day, the stepmother made a plan to kill her stepdaughter.

So she took her stepdaughter to the forest on the pretext of collecting firewood. When they got there, she strangled the little girl to death and threw her body into a deep gorge and returned home wailing, “I don’t what befell my daughter. God knows if she ran away; or was devoured by a lethal beast; or did somebody kidnap her…”
The merchant was not at home nor were any men in the neighbourhood. The women looked for her but they could not find any trace of the girl.
Times passed by and the girl’s flesh and bones grew into a reed plant. One day, tending his flock, the merchant’s son passed by the gorge and caught the sight of the very reed plant. He bowed low and pulled up a reed stalk and made himself a flute. When he played the flute, a voice echoed:

‘Play on brother! Play on brother!

Curse the lowly brute

who killed and threw me into the gorge

and I grew into a flute

Goats nibbled my leaves

my brother played me.

The merchant’s son was taken aback. He grew a little afraid but soon he assumed it was her sister’s voice coming out of the flute. He played it again and the flute repeated again:

Play on my brother!

Whenever he played the flute he heard the same lines over and again.
On a moonlit night, a little distance away from home, in the sands the boy played the flute and the flute said:

Play on brother!

When flute’s call reached to the ears of merchant’s wife, she trembled in fear. She thought it was her stepdaughter’s spirit come to haunt her. In the morning, as usual, the boy drove the flock to the pasture and at dusk he made his way back home playing the flute:

Play on brother!

The merchant’s wife at last discovered the voice was coming out of the flute. She seized hold of the flute. Next day with a heavy heart, the boy drove the flock to the pasture. The moment he disappeared from the sight, his stepmother threw the flute into the burning oven.

A while later, an elderly woman came over to bake herself a bread. When she was taking the dough out from beneath the hot ashes, she found a ring stuck to it. The flute had transformed into a ring. She brought the ring home for her grandson. She wrapped the bread in a cloth and put it on the tablecloth.

When her grandson demanded bread, she told him where she had kept the bread. The boy walked over but instead of the bread she found a beautiful girl sitting there. The boy drew back in fear. The girl said softly: “Don’t get frightened. I’m your fiancée. Your grandma has brought me in.”

Meanwhile the grandmother walked in. The boy turned to her and said: ” There is no bread. Instead, there’s girl who says I’m your fiancée.”

The grandmother went to see and found a beautiful girl sitting there. She was happy to have found a fiancée for her grandson. The girl nevertheless warned her and said: “Never tell anyone about me.”

From that day, the girl did all chores at old woman’s hut.

One day a wandering fakir caught the sight of the beautiful girl. He thought that such a moon-like girl deserved to grace a palace rather than a hut.

The fakir immediately made his way to the palace of the king where they were deliberating where to find a beautiful bride for the prince. The king was asking everyone present in the gathering about princesses of nearby kingdoms. Everyone was giving their opinions. Finally the king turned to the fakir. The fakir replied politely: “O, Majestic King! I’ve been to Syria and Rome, China, Hind and Sind; I’ve visited the abodes of rich and poor. If I get my life spared, I want to say something in your honour.”

The king said, “Go ahead O Holy subject of the Lord.”

The fakir continued, “I’ve seen a girl in the huts. She is as beautiful as a houri.”

The prince said he would go and bring the girl himself. Hence, he took plenty of gifts and along with the fakir went to the old woman’s hut. When the old woman understood the intentions the prince, she moved the girl to an undisclosed location. The prince sent many people to the old woman demanding the hand of the girl in lieu of enormous wealth but she refused and said that other than a grandson, nobody lived with her in their hut.

At last, the enraged prince went to her. He placed hot roasted wheat on old woman’s palm and firmly clenched it in his hand. The old woman cried loudly and sought apologised to the prince and revealed the location of the girl and demanded a huge dowry for her.

The prince granted all her demands and gave her so much wealth that she could lead the rest of her days in peace and prosperity.

The storyteller concluded the tale:

I took the girl to the palace and made it back home.

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This folktale originally appeared in Gedi Kessah ( The Folktales; Volume 07) published by the Balochi Academy Quetta shared with us with permission taken by the translator.

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Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated several Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2017 and Silence Between the Notes — the first ever anthology of Partition Poetry published by Dhauli Books India in 2018. His upcoming works of translation include Why Does the Moon Look So Beautiful? (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Naguman) and God and the Blind Man (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Minir Ahmed Badini).

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL. 

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An Eternal Void

A Balochi story by Munir Ahmed Badini translated by Fazal Baloch

Munir Ahmed Badani

A fortnight after my elder brother’s death, heavy rain deluged our town. For two consecutive days, violent winds blew across the town and the sky remained engulfed in dark clouds. It was so dark that days appeared like nights. Clouds hung so low that it appeared rain would burst forth at any minute. But it did not for two days.

Our house was in mourning. During the day my mother along with the womenfolk of the neighborhood, wailed and mourned the death of her beloved son, and at night she offered prayer for his departed soul. When we went to bed, she would stay for a while at our beds and intonate some sacred lines and blow her breath one by one upon us. Before retiring to her bed, she would walk over to have an eye on the Holy Quran again. But she could not get to sleep out of grief and constantly recalled her son who at a young age had fallen seriously ill and eventually would breath his last while in pain. I noticed that during his illness my mother showed a great amount of courage but as soon as he breathed his last, she almost collapsed. She wept incessantly.

I was quite young then, and often stayed awake late at night. I couldn’t fathom my mother’s grief which I wished to share. I hoped his memory would stay forever with us. At the same time, I solaced myself that one day life would return to its normal rhythm and happiness would make it back to our house. It seemed a far cry though.

I was quite hopeful that the heavy rain would wash off our grief and sorrows. My father too was shaken by the grief but unlike my mother, he held back his tears. Indeed, death of my brother hit our house like an earthquake and rendered everything meaningless for us.

At night, towns-elders came to see my father. They chattered and puffed at the hookah*. I noticed my father’s absentmindedness. I knew he was shaken by the grief. I heard anguished groans coming from his room in the late hours of the night. I couldn’t sleep properly. I desperately wished for something miraculous to turn our sorrows into happiness.

At times some unusual events dragged us back to life again. For example, at times our goatherd failed to return late in the evening. We anxiously waited for him to show up. And then my mother would dispatch our servant to trace him outside. My father himself went out to enquire of neighbors as well. Seeing him taking an interest in something after my brother’s death made me very happy. I assumed that he was finally managing to get over the grief of having lost a son.

Thus, after the heavy rain, I was hopeful that this torrent would wash off everything even our grief and sorrows.

Initially the clouds remained suspended in the sky for two days. First it drizzled lightly but soon the rain gained momentum and relentlessly poured down for seven days and nights at stretch. Water flooded the land.

My father along with other farmers went to the fields to protect the crops and yield from the flood while my mother held the Holy Quran in her hands and sought God’s mercy. I was happy to see that she too had finally succeeded to get over the shock. I thought life was finally back to its routine. At the same time, I feared that this heavy rain would lead to unimaginable losses. But, as of yet, I was not able to forget my brother. Despite this heavy rain and flood, his memory continued to haunt me.

Last time when it rained, he was with us, reduced to a skeleton though. Yet we hoped that he would recuperate sooner or later. We never thought he would leave us forever.

But nobody can avert life’s course. The worst had happened. My brother was dead. Now all I wanted to see was for life to return to its routine path. I pinned all hope on the rain and it partially helped us to divert our attention. His memory was making lesser inroads to our minds.

It was night and my father had not returned from the fields. My mother asked the helper to go after him. Carrying a lamp in hand, he went towards the fields. I sneaked out stealthily and followed him. I remember the sky was covered with dark clouds and it was still raining intermittently. We had left our homes behind and were on the way to our fields. By the graveyard, I noticed the servant stopped and talked to someone. It was my father. I heard his words clearly:

“No matter if the flood sweeps away my fields and crops, but all I want is to save the graveyard from the flood”.

I was shocked.

From that day I was convinced that there’s nothing that could wipe my brother’s grief off our hearts.

*Hookah — an oriental pipe that passes the smoke through an attached container of water before it is inhaled.

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Munir Ahmed Badini is known as the most prolific fiction writer ever appeared on the horizon of Balochi literature. So far he has authored over a hundred Balochi novels and three anthologies of short stories. Recently he was awarded the Kamal-e-Fun Award by the Pakistan Academy of Letters. It is the highest award for the recognition of lifetime achievements in the field of literature.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated several Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2017 and Silence Between the Notes — the first ever anthology of Partition Poetry published by Dhauli Books India in 2018. His upcoming works of translation include Why Does the Moon Look So Beautiful? (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Naguman) and God and the Blind Man (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Minir Ahmed Badini).

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.

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Thus Spake the Vagabond

The First Tale*: Mother Mary and the Angel

by Dr. Haneef Shareef (Translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch)

Dr Haneef Shareef

Almost after eleven long years he dreamed again. He saw his last dream when he was thirty-five and now, he was almost an old man at forty-six. Stretched on his bed in the nephrology department, as he shut his eyes, he saw the dream.

Mother Mary and the angel appeared like the fond memories of his bygone days. Dust and haze were gone and the days of thirst and scorching heat were over. Under the cloud covered sky, the two old familiar shadows emerged after a long wait. He recognised them. Even if he wished, he could not forget them. What he gained from his dreams in the last thirty-five years were the two kind faces; Mother Mary and the angel, whom he had since childhood been desperate to meet in every dream. And today, after eleven tedious years, they returned home.

As usual Mother Mary was standing a step ahead of the angel. She was silent. Moonlight had drenched her hair and a long journey towards her destination lingered in her eyes. He had etched her eyes in his heart and mind. Light was pouring forth from Mother Mary’s white robe. She seemed to have been encircled by cotton flowers and wax-moths. The entire ward was enveloped in the scent of camphor. Mother Marry looked at the dialysis machine which was making a gurgling sound. Blood coursing in a tube attached to his arm was passing through the machine and after being purified returning to his body through another tube. The machine was an alternative to his kidneys, enabling him to push his book cart forward.

He wished to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca and there, he would see a dream. The overcast sky; gentle breeze; clad in an Arabic robe, he would lead Mother Mary’s camel along the high mountains and before the end of the dream, ahead of dusk they would cross the desert. And then by the fountains, under the shades of the blessings he would marvel at flowing streams of milk and trees laden with figs and mulberries. Yet he knew, at present, the pilgrimage was beyond his reach as both of his kidneys had given in. He could only drag his life on with the support of the dialysis machine. He knew that once a week, he had to endure the pain and solitude of the dialysis room. He had never thought that he would have the dream during his dialysis session.

He was quite astonished that the angel was still thirty-five. Exactly thirty-five. He looked the same as he appeared thirty-five years ago. As far as he could remember, they both grew up in the same period. Whenever in dreams they ran into another, they mulled over the same plans and played the same games.

They had travelled for thirty-five years and half at the same pace in the course of their life. They shared the same age. Hence, he always used to think that the angel was his twin brother who lived with the Virgin Mary. Sometimes in scorching afternoons he would come out and look for him. He didn’t look like the angel, but he believed that he was blessed with a heavenly age and sent on the Earth. He traced his lineage to angels, created from fire, far superior to these earthly folks. But the fact was otherwise. He spent his whole life in selling books at his book cart.

Kamal always tried to convince him that he was a liar.  He told him that he was destined to sell books at his book cart and to look eagerly at people was his need. In fact, while selling books he had sold himself as well. But he refused to believe.  He had a world of fake dreams around him.

He always argued with Kamal. He never wanted to see him. He never visited his house or walked past his clinic. If someone from his family fell ill, he would take him to the civil hospital and would stand there in the middle of the crowd in the scorching heat but would never seek Kamal’s help. He began to avoid him.

His dreams never left him alone. He never sought Kamal’s help nor yearned for another’s confidence. After losing faith in his own cousin Kamal, he never shared his dreams with anybody anymore. He took refuge in his dreams.

As heaven is not kind forever. At thirty five, while pushing his book cart down home, one evening he felt stabbing pain around his waist. He felt glowing ambers running down his sides. Thus, began the never-ending visits to hospitals. He couldn’t help but finally sought Kamal’s favour. If the nephrologist were not Kamal’s friend, they would have not offered him free dialysis for eleven years.

Death lurked nearer him with every step he took.  He thought that actually he was not one person. Rather his body housed two people. Both got up early in the morning, had their breakfasts and set out for their daily rounds. Gradually he felt heaviness on his shoulders. He told Kamal he felt as if he was carrying a dead body and his shoulders were weighing down by its burden. He also lamented that people around him would never share his burden. Kamal always invited him home and treated him to tea and saw him off at his clinic. People always noticed that he walked with uneasiness. As if he was dragging a funeral pyre on his shoulder. His family witnessed another change in his sleeping posture. He crouched on his bed in such a way that it seemed as if a baby slept beside him and he was afraid that he would roll over him in his sleep. He spent his nights in great agony.

And then came the sleepless nights. Sleep had forgotten the address of his eyes. In those days his relatives too had gradually begun to forget him. Mother Mary and the angel had forgotten him as well. Neither did the Virgin Mary send him a message nor was there any trace of the angel. Afternoons were as hot as fire and nights as cold as ice.

He waited for many months. At times, he deliberately attempted to catch a dream and planned to write a few letters. But there was not any trace of the dream. Again he desired to go for Haj. He bought an earthen piggy bank to start saving money. But he never shared his plan with his family. Eleven years went down the line, the dialysis machine had become an integral part of his life. Whenever Kamal and the nephrologist met, they always brooded over the reason that had kept him alive and determined.

Usually after two years of dialysis, patients caved into death. Rather they sought emancipation in death. But he dragged on to labour the years. The desire for Haj had kept him alive and healthy. He knew that he could not go out of this city. He could not leave Kamal. He knew that on each sacred day his family prayed for someone’s calm death. He felt as if they had been mourning someone for last two years. He didn’t know who was about to breathe his last at home. After all he was to go for Haj. He feared that someone might die like his dream while he would be performing Haj.

He narrated to Mother Mary what he felt during the last eleven years. He was about to address the angel when someone placed his hand on his cold forehead. He opened his eyes and saw the doctor was on the round. He was accompanied by the two-house jobbers, nurses and the registrar. The doctor asked him something, but he couldn’t hear anything. He looked at the doctor who appeared like a seventy-headed monster. A dream that had returned after eleven years was aborted by the doctor and his team. He closed his eyes to recapture the dream. But there was no sign of the dream. It vanished like a road lost in the fog.

Half-heartedly he opened his eyes again. Doctor was still standing by his bed. The ward boy was noting his blood pressure while the nurse was scrawling something on the history sheet. He found Kamal was sitting on the edge of his bed. He wanted to tell him that he had told a lie that he was alone in the world. That he had built a fake world for him. That Mother Mary had left him. That the angel was not his twin brother. That he had forgotten him.

At my home you called me a lunatic. You called me a dream digger. I didn’t say anything. My dreams had abandoned me. I had no witness to my dreams. But today again I received the tidings that I am blessed with an angelic age. I am the only living being from the land of angels. I have mistakenly landed on the earth. I carry fire in my eyes. I can reduce the whole world into ashes. You never believed me. You thought I was out of my senses. But today I announce in front of you that I am far superior to these earthly folks. I am a descendent of angels. You all are dependent on me. I am the architect of this universe. Without me nothing would exist in this world. Neither you, nor the doctor and
nor the dialysis machine. These colours and clouds all owe to me.

Kamal saw he was pointing at the dialysis machine and trying to say something. He assumed that Hussain was lamenting over his delayed visit. Kamal addressed him by his name and told him that he was busy and belatedly learnt that the doctor had called him on the telephone. He tried to convince Hussain through excuses. To him Kamal’s voice was wafting from afar. As if he was speaking beyond a wall amid a tumultuous and bustling crowd. His voice evaporated before reaching his ears. He hardly managed to tell him that he was unable to hear his words. Kamal spoke louder but half-conscious Husain had already drifted off to sleep.

After eleven years, he had seen Mother Mary and the angel back in a dream again. Mother Mary looked as usual, but the angel seemed to have aged. Though he was about forty-six, he had grown old like Hussain. He looked for Kamal in the alleyways of his mind. But to no avail. All doors were locked off and darkness had descended upon the lanes of his mind. Before he could slip into contemplation, the angel moved forward. He was carrying some freshly blossomed jasmine flowers. He placed them on the side table. The fragrance of the fresh jasmine filled the suffocating room and Hussain’s heart with freshness. The angel sat beside him, caressed his hair and wiped the froth off his mouth. He held his hand against his bosom. Hussain opened his eyes and saw Mother Mary was standing at the foot of his bed. She was in tears.

The angel was looking down with downcast eyes. His long tufts hung loose across his neck and wings were at rest. Wax-moths were melting down and cotton flowers had caught fire. But the fragrance of camphor was in full bloom. Dust and haze was thickening. It was the first dream in the last forty six years wherein he craved for the companionship of a man. He called the name of a kind acquaintance but in the shower of jasmine flowers his voice diminished. He found it hard to breathe. But flowers kept showering and his breath stuck in his nostrils.

The dialysis machine was running, and the tick tock of wall clock had gain momentum. The fan was running fast. Amid tumult and clamour nurses and ward boys were in hurry. He saw the doctor’s sombre face for the last time. A thick fog appeared before his eyes. A fog that was no less than a deadly monster. He was abruptly put under the oxygen by the doctor. But his heart had ceased to beat. His eyes had stopped blinking. He was no more.

The doctor looked around with great gloom. Everybody was in a state of grief. The doctor placed his hand on Kamal’s shoulder. He was in tears. His enemy had departed. But he left him in tears. He closed Husain’s eyes and blew out the candles that had been lit for forty-six years. He covered his face with a piece of cloth. This scene made the elderly woman who was the attendant of the boy lying on the bed beside, wail in great grief. The boy too began weeping with her. Kamal, the doctor and the entire staff, everybody was startled. How come the old lady knew Hussain?

She remembered that today before going towards the dialysis machine, Hussain strolled to the old woman and enquired her about the boy’s health. The doctor and Kamal tried to solace her but she was inconsolable.

It was a long time since Kamal had left the room. Neither did he return nor did anyone else come to the hospital. The dead body was lying there and the old woman was sobbing unrelentingly. The dialysis machine was silent. All tubes and pipes had been removed from his body. The wall clock was ticking down. And the fan had scattered the jasmine flowers in the room.

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* The author plans to write a series of stories in the future under ‘Thus Spake the Vagabond’.

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Dr. Haneef Shareef, a trained medical professional, is one of the most cherished contemporary Balochi fiction writers and film directors. So far, he has published two collections of short stories and one novel. His peculiar mode of narration has rendered him a distinguished place among the Balochi fiction writers. He has also directed four Balochi movies.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated several Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2017 and Silence Between the Notes — the first ever anthology of Partition Poetry published by Dhauli Books India in 2018. His upcoming works of translation include Why Does the Moon Look So Beautiful? (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Naguman) and God and the Blind Man (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Minir Ahmed Badini).

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL. 

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Nazuk

By Syad Zahoor Shah Hashmi translated by Fazal Baloch

This is a chapter from Nazuk, the first novel written in Balochi language. It was first published in 1976 and has been translated into Urdu and Persian. It depicts everyday life and experiences of the people living around the coastal area of Makkuran especially Gwadar and its surroundings.

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The old man fell ill and stayed in bed for around eight days. He recuperated later, but remained quite frail and weak for a few more days. Nazuk looked after him like her father. Whenever she did him a favour, she would recall her father. But she was surprised to notice that sometimes the old man would slide into deep thoughts, and tears stream down from his eyes.

When he finally regained his strength, he expressed his desire to leave for his home but Nazuk did not let him go. She said: “Look uncle! I am a woman and alone with my two children. I don’t have anybody to chat with to while away the night. Ever since you have arrived, I feel like my father has returned. I would rather be glad to see you here. We would live like father and daughter and share our grief and sorrows with each other. From today onward you are my father and I am your daughter”.

The old man’s eyes welled up. He held and kissed Nazuk’s hand and broke out crying madly. Nazuk was astonished. After having consoled and comforted him she said: “Father! I am going to ask you something but don’t mince your words.”

“Come on my daughter. If I wouldn’t tell you the truth, then who would you think I am going to?”

“It’s alright. Whenever I speak to you, all of a sudden, your eyes well up. Why?”

“Yes my daughter. It is a long tale. I had a daughter whose name too was Nazuk. But she was pitilessly forced to die.”

“How did it happen?”

“Ah! I don’t know how to begin the story, daughter. Whenever, I look at you, I recall my poor daughter and can’t hold back my tears. I had never been as poor as I am now. Once I owned three boats. One I rowed myself and for the remaining two I hired two sailors. I was in fine fettle then. One night I was asleep when the anguished cries of a woman joggled me awake. It was coming from my neighbor’s house. I knew her husband had gone to fishing at sea. I jumped over the wall and found someone trying to make advances at her. It was dark and I couldn’t see his face clearly.

“I grabbed him from his waist and lifted him up and slammed him on the ground. He held his breath right there and I assumed he was dead but a moment later he beguiled me and sprinted out of the door. Some receding footfalls followed him. I knew he was not alone. I lit the lamp. The woman’s shirt was in tatters. I asked her about the man but she feigned ignorance. She also pleaded with me not to mention this incident to her husband otherwise he would divorce her. I assumed she knew the man but was afraid to disclose his identity. Till this day I haven’t shared her story with anybody.

“Six month later, one night, one of my sailors woke me up. He told me that he had docked my boat somewhere on the shore but it had disappeared. We went there and exhaustively searched for it but all our efforts ended up in smoke. Someone had stolen it. Six month later, they repeated the cycle and stole my second boat. Each time I went to village’s elder, Shugrullah. He was at a loss himself that nothing had been stolen from anybody but only me. His son Gazabek, who was sitting there, said: “You might have wronged someone and now they are paying you back.”

“I didn’t say a word. Nor I was offended by his remarks. But I lamented that I had been robbed of my two boats without any reason.

“A few months later Shugrullah’s brother invited all the sailors at the launching ceremony of his boat. One by one all the fishermen, were turning up at the seashore. Shugrullah’s son was lashing everybody with a whip to move quickly. He walked over to me and without any warning whipped me. And I without any delay lifted him up in the air and hurled him on the ground. For a moment he held his breath right there on the ground and a while later he sprinted off. I assumed he was the very man who had broken into our neighbor’s house on that distant night. When I grabbed him I felt the same plump body in my arms. His follow through further convinced me that he was the very man who had stolen my boats. Though I never accused him in public, between the lines I tried to throw hunches at Shugrullah. But as poor’s truth is always taken as a lie, everybody castigated me instead. Thus I kept quiet. It was followed by another tragedy. May God let nobody witnesses such doom. I wonder if you know, Gazabek enticed my young and innocent daughter Nazuk.”

“Father! Should I ask you something?”
“Yes daughter.”
“Well, what is your relationship with Zaruk?”
“Zaruk? Her aunt was my wife. But why are you asking this question?”
“It means your daughter Nazuk was Zaruk’s cousin who died at childbirth. It all happened because of Gazabek.”

“Yes, my daughter,” the old man broke into tears.

“Now I know it is the tragedy with your daughter that often makes you cry. From today onward I am your Nazuk, your daughter and you are in place of my father. No doubt God is great. Gazabek and his family will have to pay for the wrongs they have done to you.”

For a whole year the old man stayed with Nazuk. She looked after him like her late daughter. When the old man fell ill, he would anxiously grumble, “O God how long will it take your millstones to grind? The revenge you extract after I am dead will not bring me any relief.”

As luck would have it, the next day news spread that last night a thief broke into Gazabek’s house and cleverly left without leaving any trace behind. Next night everybody was on the alert yet he hoodwinked them and broke in again. When the old man received the news, he desperately called out Nazuk.

“Nazuk! Come on Nazal! Come on my mother!”

Nazuk hurried towards the old man and asked him anxiously: “Yes Abba I am here. Tell me what’s the matter?”

“Nazuk my daughter! I wouldn’t lament at all if God takes my life at any moment now.”

“What are you talking of? What happened?”
“Hey! Don’t you know what happened?”
“No. Tell me what is the matter ?”
“Daughter! Gazabek’s family has been dishonoured. A woman in his house is having a secret affair with a man.”

“That’s not fair father. The man who forced himself must have been only a thief.”
“No my mother! He was not a thief but a shrewd man and Gazabek was well aware of everything but lacked the courage to reveal anything. Indeed your millstones grind late but they grind fine. Thank you, O Holy Lord!”

A few days later the old man was summoned by God’s glory.

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Syad Zahoor Shah Hashmi (1926-78) is known as the pioneer of modern Balochi literature. He was simultaneously a poet, fiction writer, critic, linguist and a lexicographer par excellence. Though he left undeniable marks on various genres of Balochi literature, poetry remained his mainstay. With his enormous imagination and profound insight he laid the foundation of a new school of Balochi poetry especially Balochi ghazal which mainly emphasises on the purity of language and simplicity of poetic thoughts. This school of poetry subsequently attracted a wide range of poets to its fold. He also authored the first ever Balochi novel ‘Nazuk’ and compiled the first comprehensive Balochi-to-Balochi dictionary containing over twenty thousand words and hundreds of pictorial illustrations.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated several Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2017 and Silence Between the Notes — the first ever anthology of Partition Poetry published by Dhauli Books India in 2018. His upcoming works of translation include Why Does the Moon Look So Beautiful? (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Naguman) and God and the Blind Man (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Minir Ahmed Badini).