Khowar Poetry and the Temporality of Life

PC: Zeis

Khowar poetry has developed in an extremely small and mountain-locked part of Chitral, Pakistan but the depth and philosophical rigour in Khowar poetry are fascinating. Amongst many philosophical themes that Khowar poetry deals with, the temporality of life seems to be a huge theme. Many poets have talked about the world as something that will end soon and life to be of two days. A famous song that got viral recently states that:

“Dunya ju baso zhan shirin no joshe

awa ta gham zhuni giti ma poshae”

Roughly translated it means that my beloved should not think sweet of this world that is of two days rather she/he should come to see me before I am gone from here.

There are numerous other poems that deal with this theme, but one of my favourites is this poetry by Chairman Shaukat Ali sahb that talks about how the world will stay the same even after he passes away. This ghazal draws from the daily events that happen and the festival that occurs in Chitral to show how they will keep happening but the poet will not be present to witness them. It is a humbling expression that we do not matter a lot in the functioning of this world as it will go on. Similarly, this poem celebrates all the small things we do before we are gone. I am presenting the poem here with a rough translation.

مشرقہ یور یئی نسیر اوا نوبوم مغربہ ڈوکو خامیر اوانوبوم

The sun will rise in the east but I will be gone

It will set in the west but I will be gone

وا نو پاشیم ہاتیغار یئی کوری تہ موژی پردو باتیر اوانوبوم

I wouldn’t be able to see you here from there

The blind in the middle will be tied, I will be gone. 

عمرو مثال یومونو ڈشٹہ انوس انوس غیچھو څیپہ بیر اوانوبوم 

Life is like a short winter day

The day will go in a blink, I will be gone

ساریران دوݰ اوا اژی اسیتم ہوتم ہنون اکابیر اوانوبوم

Looks like I was born only yesterday

I am old today, I will be gone.

گیتی مایون نشی گلابو تھاغہ چھوچی راغیشٹی چوڑیر اوانوبوم 

The oriole will come to sit in the branch of a rose

It will sing early morning, but I will be gone. 

گیتی میرژوریان گنی تان کوروو پری ملکھونان څاپیر اوانوبوم

She will come to her garden with her fairy-like friends

The fairy will pick violet, but I will be gone

گونی گلتک ݯھترارو سوم غاڑوتے دونی شندورا چاتیر اوانوبوم

The team of Gilgit will come to play Polo against Chitral

The tents will be set up in Shandur, I will be gone. 

شرین ہوازا سوزو ساز باشونی ہتے مئیلسہ حاضر اوانوبوم

The rhythms will be played in a sweet voice

There will be such gatherings, I will be gone

کہ ہائےکوٹھووان ڑینگئے زار ݯھارونی 

ہُنزیک دانیوتے پھانیر اوانوبوم

It would look beautiful when he comes shaking his shoulders

A person from Hunza will dance to Dani tune but I will be gone

چالہ طواف کوری تان وزیریو اڑغانہ پونگ لاکھیسیراوا نوبوم

After kissing the mane of the Wazer horse

He would put his feet in the stirrups, I would be gone

نیسینی ہاڑ ہر قیسمہ وار باشونی تھمپوق ہوائین کاسیر اوانوبوم

There will be shouters and music tunes of all kinds

The free-kick will soar in the air, I will be gone

کوری بغائے رے تے شوکت گدیری 

گیتی خبارو گانیر اوا نوبوم

Where did the crazy Shaukat go? 

This s(he) will ask, I will be gone

This poem has been sung by many artists from Chitral and here is one from Ansar Elahi. I hope that you enjoy this music and poetry while contemplating on the depth of the simple poetic expressions.

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2 years ago

This a commendable service to Khowar for its preservation and dissemination to world wide public that too in the lingua franca. Wish you more progress with it Wahid bro❤️????

2 years ago

Literally a heart touching poetry about the reality of life. When we compare this earth where we live, with the whole universe, it is unmeasurably small, or we can say it is a vague concept of comparing something with an infinite.Now just imagine how fortunate we are:we come here in this mysterious phenomenon just once, and when we feel our presence, it seems it’s just a blink of an eye from appearing to fading.