‘Skeena: a Woman Beyond Borders سکینہ: سرحداں توں پار دی عورت’ Review by Surjeet Kalsey

Presented by Surjeet Kalsey at the launch of novel ‘Skeena’ by Fauzia Rafique (Libros Libertad, 2011) in Surrey on April 9, 2011

سکینہ: سرحداں توں پار دی عورت
(فوزیہ رفیق دا ناول “سکینہ”)
ریویو: سرجیت کلسی

فوزیہ رفیق دے ناول “سکینہ” نال میرا رشتہ بہت پرانا ہے کوئی ویہہ پنجھی سال پہلاں جدوں میں فوزیہ نوں اک کانفرنس تے ٹورانٹو ملی سکینہ ناول اودوں دا ہی لکھیا جا رہیا سی۔ اس دے کانڈ ہولی ہولی وگست ہوندے گئے تے ہن آخری روپ وچ ساڈے ہتھاں وچ پہنچیا ہے۔ ناول دی شروعات مادھو لال حسین دی اس کافی نال بہت ہی خوبصورت ڈھنگ نال ہوندی ہے اتے کافی دی ہر سطر ناول دا اک کانڈ ہو نبڑدی ہے:

جھمے جھم کھیڈ لے منجھ ویہڑے، جپدیاں نوں ہر نیڑے
ویہڑے دے وچ ندیاں وگن، بیڑے لکھ ہزار
کیتی اس وچ ڈبدی ویکھی، کیتی لنگھی پار
اس ویہڑے دے نو دروازے، دسویں قلف چڑھائی
تس دروازے دے محرم ناہی، جت شوہ آوے جائی
ویہڑے دے وچ آلا سوہے، آلے دے وچ تاکی
تاکی دے وچ سیج وچھاواں، آپنے پیا سنگ راتی
اس ویہڑے وچ مکنا ہاتھی، سنگل نال کھہیڑے
کہے حسین فقیر سائیں دا، جاگدیاں کوں چھیڑے
(مادھو لال حسین لاہور، ١٥٣٩-١٥٩٩)

بھاگ (١) منجھ ویہڑے (پنڈ ١٩٧١)، سماں “لوڈھے ویلے”،” نماشیں” تے اگلا پاٹھ “رات” ہے۔
بھاگ (٢) مکنا ہاتھی (لاہور ١٩٨١)، جس وچ “میلہ” تے میلے وچ محبوب نوں ملن دا تصور –
رات ویلے محبوب نوں ملن جاندیاں ہولی ہولی تر کدھرے تیری پازیب دی آواز توں لوکاں نوں خبر نہ ہو جائے؛ “اگلے دیہاڑے” دیکھی جائے گی کیہ ہوندا اے تاں جاں فیر “کنڈھے رہی کھلو” ١٩٨٢ دا واقعہ ہے۔

بھاگ (٣) سنگل نال کھہیڑے (ٹورانٹو ١٩٩١) دی “سویر”؛ ٹورانٹو دی “رات” تے ٹورانٹو دے ہی “سرگی ویلے” ساریاں گھٹناواں دا پسار پیکا گھر پاکستان، تے سوہرا گھر ٹورانٹو دا بہت نیڑے دا آلا دوالا ہے جس نال سکینہ دا کوئی واسطہ نہیں پیا ہووے۔ ملک بدلن نال اوہ سماج اوہ دھارناواں اوہ وطیرے تاں نہیں نہ بدلدے، جویں دے تویں ہی رہندے ہین، تے عورت دا درجہ وی اوہی رہندا اے جو گھردیاں نے دتا ہوندا ہے؛ سماج تاں پچھوں آؤندا ہے۔

بھاگ (٤) جاگدیاں کوں چھیڑے (سرے ٢٠٠١) جس وچ “ناں” وچ کیہ پیا اے، ناں تاں کوئی وی ہو سکدا ہے پر ناواں دے بھلیکھے کئی وار زندگی دے اینے وڈے بھلیکھے ہو نبڑدے ہین کہ جیہناں چوں نکلنا مشکل ہو جاندا ہے تے کجھ اس طرحاں دیاں گھٹناواں واپردیاں ہین “اگ”، “رولا”، تے “میری کوئی تواریخ نہیں”۔

سکینہ دا پسار دو ملکاں پاکستان تے کینیڈا وچ وچردا وگسدا تیہہ سالاں دا برتانت حاضر ہے۔ اک بالڑی دیاں معصوم اکھاں آس پاس جو دیکھدیاں ہین تے اوس دے کن جو وڈیاں نوں کہندیاں سندے نے تے فیر اوس دی آپنی نرچھوہ پاردرشی سوچ اوہناں گلاں تے گھٹناواں نوں جس طرحاں گرہن کردی ہے اوس دا ویروے سہت بیان دلچسپ ہے۔ سکینہ روشن دماغ تے سوخم دل والی کڑی دی حیاتی دا روچک تے بے باک ورنن ہے۔ گھٹنا-در-گھٹنا چھوٹیاں وڈیاں گھٹناواں اک دوجی دا ہتھ پھڑی لڑی ہار تردیاں ہین جویں اک سین بعد دوجا سین آ جاندا ہے تے فلم اگے ودھدی جاندی ہے۔ ناول دی ایہہ ودھاء جتھے جیون-برتانت ہون دا بھلیکھا پاؤندی ہے اوتھے اک پاتر-پردھان ناول والے سارے گن سمائی بیٹھی ہے۔ جگیاسا پاٹھک نوں نال لے کے چلدی ہے، اگے کیہ ہووےگا دی چیٹک لاؤندی ہے، پاٹھک نوں انگلی لا کے سکینہ دوڑی جاندی ہے۔

سکینہ دی بولی دی روانگی تے پچھمی پنجاب دی گھیو-گھنی پنجابی پڑھ کے اک وکھری قسم دا احساس ہوندا ہے جس وچ موہ، جھڑک، اپدیش تے صلاح دا احساس ہندا ہے محاورہ شدھ پنجابی تے شبد-چون ڈاڈھی ڈھکویں تے کھچ پاؤ۔ بھا دا رعب داب لہجہ، اماں دا گھر دے ہور جیاں تے دبدبے والا، موہ والا تے سلاہیا لہجہ بولی توں ہی انوبھو ہوندا ہے۔

سکینہ دا وشا-وستو: عورت۔ عورت دا پیکے گھر وچ، عورت دا سوہرے گھر وچ تے سماج وچ درجہ/رتبہٰ سبھیاچارک تے روائتی پچھوکڑ وچ سکینہ عورت دا اک بمب بن ابھردی ہے؛ جس بارے پیکیاں دے سوہریاں دے، تے سماج دے (ہینکڑ جاں اونر والے)، وچار جاں وچاردھارا تے دھارنواں دا کچا-چٹھا پیش کردی ہے۔ اوس دی بولنی، کہنی، رہنی، کرنی تے انسکھاوے ورتاریاں تے کنتو کرن دی سمرتھا نوں جو کھنڈھا کرکے رکھدے ہین کیونکہ اوہ اک عورت ہے جس دا رول حداں وچ رہنا ہے، ایتھوں تک کہ دند کڈھ کے ہسن دی وی مناہی ہے۔ ناول وچوں اگے دو بند پیش کردی ہاں ایہہ دو سین ہین جو پیکیاں دے پیار دیاں موہ دیاں ریشمی تنتاں وچ نوڑی سکینہ وڈی ہوندی ہے

١٩٨٢ وچ جدوں “کئی سیاسی پارٹیاں دے لیڈراں نوں گھر-بندی دا پتہ ہونا اے۔ سرکار کسے نوں اوہدے گھر وچ قید کردی اے، اخباراں وچ خبراں لگدیاں نیں، لوکی لیڈر نوں آزاد کراؤن لئی سرکار تے زور پاندے نیں۔ اوس لیڈر تے اوس پارٹی دا مل ودھ جاندا اے۔

“پر میں، آودے بھا تے ماں جی دی گھر-بندی وچ بس اک اینجہی زنانی آں جیہنوں آودے آپ نوں درست کرن دی لوڑ اے۔نہ اخبار وچ خبر آئی اے، نہ کسے نے میری آزادی لئی کسے نوں کجھ آکھیا اے، تے نہ میرا مل ودھیا اے۔

“ایہہ قیدن سوہنا پاؤندی، چنگا کھاندی تے سانبھ کے رکھی جاندی اے۔ اک گھر دی اتلی منزل تے اک بیڈ تے باتھ اے، کمرہ شاہی قلعے دیاں کئی کوٹھڑیاں توں وڈا ہونا اے۔ روز سویرے ساڈھے چھ وجے چاندی دی ٹرے وچ ناشتہ آ جاندا اے۔ قیدن ست وجے توڑی آودے چار سادی کاٹن دے سوٹاں وچوں اک پا کے تیار ہندی اے۔ نماز پڑھ، قرآن شریف دے تیہاں پاریاں وچوں اک پڑھنا شروع کردی اے۔ اوہ پارہ دس یاراں وجے توں پہلوں ختم ہو جاندا اے، کیدن اوہنوں ولاء پڑھدی اے، اس واری اردو وچ۔”

پیکیاں دے گھر وچ سانبھ سانبھ کے رکھی جاندی چیز وانگ عورت جد اچانک بیگانے گھر تور دتی جاندی ہے پتی دے گھر اودوں نو-ویاہی اتے اوتھوں دے نیم لاگو کر دتے جاندے ہن؛ سکینہ دی شادی کینیڈا دے اک رجے پجے گھر دے آدمی نال کر دتی جاندی ہے تے سکینہ ہن آپنا ملک چھڈ بیگانے ملک تے بیگانے گھر وچ نواز کردی ہے اجے اوس نوں اوتھوں دے ماحول وچ انکولن وی نہیں ہون دتا جاندا کہ میہنے طعنے تے کھروا ورتاؤ پہلاں ہی شروع ہو جاندا ہے۔ نویں ووہٹی دا چاء کدھرے اڈ پڈ جاندا ہے صرف اینا ہی واسطہ رکھیا جاندا ہے کہ گھر وچ اک عورت لیاندی گئی ہے جس دا فرض بندا ہے کہ اوہ باقی دے سارے جیاں دی خدمت کرے، جے کوتاہی کردی ہے تاں اوس نال جو سلوک کیتا جاندا ہے اوس دا دل-ونوا بیان ہے ٹورانٹو دا پتی دا گھر:

“لوکاں شور پایا ہویا اے، کوئی مینوں کھچ کے کھلاردیاں کہندا اے “گیٹ اپ سلٹ، اٹھ کنجری”!  کھلوندیاں ڈھڈ وچ پیڑ دا گھسن وجدا اے، آندراں پنجر نوں وجدیاں نیں، میں کبی ہو جانی آں۔ کوئی وال دھرو کے سدھیاں کردا اے، متھا کسے موڈھے دے ہڈھ وچ وجدا اے؛ گمڑ دیاں وسمدیاں چنگاں مچ پیندیاں نیں۔

“احتشام مینوں قالین تے چھکدا کچن دے فرش تے لیا سٹدا اے۔ ٹائیلاں ابھر کے میرے منہ تے وجدیاں نیں’ ممی جی نے ایہہ کیویں سوچیا کہ برینڈا ایہناں نوں ادھو-ادھ کر لگی اے؟ ٹائیلاں دور جان لگ پئیاں نیں، کوئی مینوں کھلاردا پیا اے۔

“وھاٹ دا فک از دس؟ اوہ میرا سر مائیکروویو وچ تن دیندا اے۔ ناساں  کچے چکن دیاں بوٹیاں وچ کھبھ کے پھیپھڑیاں نوں سڑے لہو دی ہواڑ نال بھر دیندیاں نیں۔

“تے ایہہ؟” اوہ مینوں گھسیٹ کے چلھے کول لے جاندا اے، دیگڑی دا ڈھکن چا، دھون تے ہتھ رکھ، میرا منہ وچ واڑ دیندا اے۔ گچی پیڑ دا شکنجہ، سر کھوہی دا ڈول، دماغ وچ سڑے لہو دی بوٰ ۔

“تیری ایہہ جرأت؟ توں میری ماں نوں بھکھیاں ماریں؟” کوئی مینوں ٹائیلاں تے پٹکاندا اے، وکھیاں فرش تے وجدیاں نیں، “کسے دی ماں تے نہیں مر گئی اے؟”

توں (عورت، اک بیوی) آپنے آپ نوں سمجھدی کیہ ایں؟ جویں سکینہ صرف اک نوکرانی ہووے تے صرف ممی جی دی تیمارداری تے سیوا لئی لیاندی گئی ہووے جویں اوس دا آپنے پتی احتشام نال کوئی دور دا وی واسطہ نہ ہووے اوہ صرف آپنی ممی جی دا تابعدار پتر ہووے تے ماں لئی نوکرانی توں کم کرواؤنا اوس دا دھرمی فرض ہووے؛ پرمپراوادی پتر دا فرض۔

خیر کہانی اگلے پڑ ول جاندی ہے۔ اینی کٹ مار کھا کے سکینہ جدوں رڑھدی کھڑدی گھروں نکل جاندی ہے تے اڈا دتا جاندا ہے کہ اوہ آپنے بوائے-فرینڈ نال بھج گئی اے آپنی عزت تے آنر بچاؤن لئی عورت دی عزت تے آنر نوں مٹی وچ ملا دتا جاندا ہے جویں اوس دی نہ کوئی عزت ہے نہ کوئی آنر۔ تے عام جنتا نوں کیہ؟ اوہناں دی سوچ پرم پراں دے سنگلاں وچ جکڑی سوچ اس توں اگے جا ہی نہیں سکدی تے اوہ سچ من کے عورت نوں بھنڈن لگ پیندے ہین۔ عورت اتے ہوندے تشدد دا مدعا سماج وچ بدل دا غبار بن کے رہ جاندا ہے؛ پیڑت دی حالت دھندلی کر دتی جاندی ہے تے تصویر کجھ اس طرحاں پینٹ کیتی جاندی ہے کہ لگے عورت قصوروار ہے۔ایہی کارن ہے کہ اجے وی آپنے پنجابی/بھارتی بھائی چارے وچ عورتاں/ماواں/دھیاں دے قتل پتیاں/باپاں ولوں کیتے جان دیاں خبراں آئے دن سنن نوں ملدیاں ہین۔ جدوں دوشی چارج کیتے جاندے ہین کیس کورٹاں وچ جاندے ہین تاں بچاء پکھ وچ قتل کیتیاں عورتاں اتے بدکاری دے دوش لا کے اوہناں دے قتل جسٹی فائی کیتے جاندے ہین۔گھناؤنے جرم کرن توں بعد وی دوشی آپنے ورتارے دی ذمہ واری عورت دے سر ہی مڑھ دیندے ہین۔

برینڈا دی مدد نال تے اک پنجابن بلوندر نال ہوئی جان پچھان صدقہ سکینہ ٹورانٹو توں بی سی صوبے دے شہر سرے آ جاندی ہے۔ جتھے اوہ ذکر کردی ہے کہ پچھلے دساں سالاں وچ پہلی وار اوس نوں آزاد آسمان تھلے ساہ لین دا احساس ہوندا ہے تے کینیڈا وچ آؤن دے دس سال بعد پہلی نوکری فارم ورکر دے طور تے ملن دا خوشی بھریا احساس اوس نوں باوری بنا دیندا ہے حالانکہ اوس نوں پتہ ہے کہ اوس دے بھا تے ماں جی نوں ایہہ کم پسند نہیں ہونا۔ ایتھے ہی فارم تے اوس دی ملاقات فارم دے مالک اقبال نال ہوندی ہے۔آس دی اک نویں کرن جاگدی ہے۔

سکینہ نوں لگدا ہے کہ اقبال اک بہت ہی سمجھدار تے ودھیا انسان ہے اتے اس اک خاص پاردرشی درشٹی ہے جس وچ ایہہ سبھ کجھ سنچت ہے:درد نوں سمجھن دا احساس تے شدت نال پیار کرن، کسے دا دکھ سن سکن تے ہر کسے پرتی ستکار ہے۔شبداں دی روح (ارتھاں) نوں سمجھن دی یوگتا ہے، بھاوکتا ہے جو بے شک عورت ہون دا گن ہے (جو کسے کسے وچ ہی ہوندی ہے)، حق انصاف دی سنجیدگی، نیتکتا دے اصولاں دی سوجھی ہے، صبر، سنتوکھ، سہنشیلتا۔ پیارے دے ہلار نے اوس دے سارے سوخم بھاو جگا دتے ہین تے اوس نوں اقبال وچ اوہ سارے گن دکھائی دے رہے ہن- کوملتا، ویدنا، سمندروں ڈونگھا ویدنا بھریا دل ہے تے جو پیار دے قابل (سچجا) ہے جو اوس دی زندگی دی ہاری ہوئی بازی مڑ توں جتا سکن دی شکتی رکھدا ہے۔ سکینہ نوں اقبال دا ملنا کجھ اس طرحاں دی مڑ-سرجیتی دا احساس دے دیندا ہے؛ اوس نوں چڑھدی جوانی دا پیار “اچا متھا” چیتے آ جاندا ہے۔ بے شک آپا نچھاور کرن والی عورت اک وار آپنا سبھ کجھ دل و دماغ، موہ پیار تے ضمیر دی سچمتا نال ارپن کر دیندی ہے بھانویں اوہ چھن-بھنگری ہو جاوے اس دا غم نہیں کردی۔

سکینہ دا پاتر آس پاس دی سوجھی تے آپنے عملاں دا آلے دوآلے تے پیندے اثر توں واقف تے چیتن شخصیت ہے -آلے دوآلے دا خیال رکھن دی سوجھی دانی سبھاء (ماں جی وانگراں)، بولن والے شبداں دا احساس ہے، دوسرے دے بولے شبداں دا صحیح ہنگارا بن جان دی سمرتھا ہے۔عورت اجیہی زندگی دی کامنا کردی ہے فیر اوس دی کامنا اوس نوں سماج دی دلدل وچوں کڈھن توں اسمرتھ کیوں رہندی ہے۔اوس دے پیار نوں پاپ تے اوس دی شخصیت نوں بھنڈیا جاندا ہے سکینہ لئی اقبال اوہ ربی روپ بن کے آیا جس نے اوس دے زخماں تے مرہم دا کم کیتا پر آس پاس وچردے فارماں وچ کم کرن والے ورکر جدوں سکینہ تے آوازے کسدے تاں “سلٹ” کہندے اوس دا جرم صرف ایہہ سی کہ اوس نے اقبال نوں جی-جانو پیار کر لیا سی۔

سماں بدلدا رہندا ہے ملک بدل جاندے ہین پر روڑیھوادی وچاردھارا تے جس طرحاں دا ورتاؤ عورت نال ہوندا ہے، جاں کیتا جاندا ہے اس وچ تبدیلی آؤندی نظر نہیں آؤندی۔ عورت دی ہونی نہیں بدلدی۔ ہاں، اوس در-وہاری ماحول نوں چھڈ کے کتے ہور چلے جانا، سرکھیا گھر وچ پناہ لے کے کینیڈا ورگے ملک وچ پراپت سہولتاں تے سپورٹ ورکراں دی مدد نال آپنی زندگی نوں مڑ کے جیون دا یتن کرن دا سنیہا ابھر کے ساہمنے آؤندا ہے، ایہی سنیہا پچھلے سال چھپے ناول “بلیک اینڈ بلو ساری” وچ وی ملدا ہے۔ عورت دی آپنی وتھیا نوں لوکاں ساہمنے پیش کرنا تے در-ووہاری موہل وچ دکھ-درد دا جیون کٹ رہیاں عورتاں لئی بھرپور تے شکتی شالی سنیہا ہے، مثال ہے جے میں دلدل چوں ابھر سکدی ہاں تے تسیں وی ابھر سکدیاں ہو ہمت کرو، پہلا قدم چک لوو، دہلیز توں پیر باہر پا کے تاں دیکھو، دنیا بدل جائے گی۔کیہ سچ مچ دنیا بدل جاوے گی؟ بہت شکتی شالی سنیہا ہے۔پر عورت نوں چوکھٹ چھڈن سار ہی جو مل تارنا پیندا ہے اوہ سکینہ دے آخری چیپٹر “میری کوئی تواریخ نہیں” وچ سپشٹ ہو جاندا ہے عورت دل و دماغ تے ذہنی طور تے ٹٹ جاندی ہے۔

“کول آودا اج وی اے تے لنگھیا کل وی۔ دوواں وچ ماں جی، بھا تے منحوس جینو ویہنی آں۔اوہ مینوں آودے دند نہیں وکھاندے۔ اوہناں دے دند ہیگے نے؟ میں کول ہو کے ویہنی آں۔ ماں جی نماز پڑھدے پئے نے؛ بھا حقہ پیندا پیا اے، تے جینو آودا منہ پیلی چنی وچ ولیٹی پئی اے۔ کئیاں دے مکھ چیتے نہیں آندے۔ ہالی توڑی میں اقبال تے گامو دا فرق نہیں پچھانیا۔”

ناول دے اخیر تے جو گھٹناواں واپردیاں ہین اقبال دا قتل تے پتہ لگنا کہ اقبال تاں اوس دے بچپن ویلے دا اوہی گامو ہے جو آپنی عورت نوں مار کے فرار ہو گیا سی؛ تے نال ہی سکینا دا اتوادیاں نال سنبندھ ہون دے شک دے گھیرے وچ آ جانا تے پولیس دا پہرہ ایہہ سبھ کجھ سوچ کے سکینہ نوں اک وار آپنا مانسک توازن گواچ گیا لگدا ہے جدوں سکینہ آپنے آپ نوں کہندی اے -“میری کوئی تواریخ نہیں، میری کوئی کہانی نہیں، میرا کوئی ناں نہیں” میں آودے آپ نوں چیتے کرانی آں۔

جدوں میں سکینہ دا سارا کھرڑا اس دی شاہ مکھی توں گورمکھی وچ اتارے توں بعد سکرپٹ دے پروف پڑھن لئی کر رہی ساں اس دا اک اک ورقہ اک اک سطر میں پڑھدی جا رہی ساں تے سکینہ اک سرحداں توں پار دی عورت ہو میرے ساہمنے اجاگر ہو رہی سی۔ سکینہ نہ پاکستان دی اے، نہ بھارت دی نہ انگلینڈ دی نہ کینیڈا دی سکینہ ہر اوس عورت دی دیہہ من تے ذہن تے ہنڈھائی حیاتی دا سجیو بمب ہے، ہر اوس عورت دی کہانی ہے جو پرم پرا دیاں سنگلاں وچ جکڑی پیدا ہوندی ہے تے جکڑی ہی دنیا نوں چھڈ کے جان توں پہلاں آپنے آپے دی غلام ستھتی تے کنتو کرن دی جرأت کردی ہے، بندھن مکت جیونا چاہوندی ہے تے اک آزاد سوے-مان والے ویکتی دی ماند ہی دنیا توں جانا چاہوندی ہے۔سکینہ کسے طریقے بچ جاندی ہے۔ تے جو عورتاں بچ جاندیاں ہین اوہ سماج دیاں ساریاں عورتاں نوں آپنی مثال دے کے دسنا چاہوندیاں نیں کہ جے تسیں بچ سکدیاں ہو تاں بچ جاؤ بھاویں گھر ہی کیوں نہ چھڈنا پوے، تے سکینہ اک مثال ہے۔پر ہزاراں سکینہ گھراں دے تشدد دی بلی چڑھ گئیاں نیں تے بلی دے رہیاں نیں تے بچ نہیں سکدیاں، اوس پرم پراوادی ماحول توں نکل نہیں سکدیاں، دنیا دا ڈر، رشتے داراں دا ڈر، کیہ کرن گیاں کتھے سر لکاؤن گیاں؟

قانون بدل گئے، عورتاں نے چلن بدل لئے، سہائتا مہیا ہو گئی، پر نہ پرم پرا دیاں لیہاں بھریاں نہ روڑیھوادی سوچ، نہ عورت پرتی دھارناواں ہی بدلیاں۔ سماجک سوچ تے ورتارا بدلن دی پکی نشانی ایہہ ہووے گی جس دن عورت نوں اک انسان سمجھ کے اوس نوں برابر دی عزت تے ستکار دتا جائےگا، اوس نوں گھٹیا درجے دی جاں نوکرانی دے طور تے نہ ورتیا جائےگا تے کسے عورت نوں مجبور ہو کے بدسلوکی دا ماحول چھڈن لئی ننگے-پیریں، سیت ادھی راتیں، نکے نکے بالاں نال آپنی چوکھٹ نہ چھڈنی پئے گی۔کسے باپ نوں آپنی کنجک دھی صرف آنر لئی بلی نہیں چڑھاؤنی پئے گی نہ ہی کسے پتی نوں اپنے بے لگام کرودھ دا شکار آپنی پتنی نوں بناؤنا پوے گا اوس دن ایہہ سماج رہن یوگ ہووےگا۔

سکینہ دی آمد کینیڈا دے پنجابی ساہت وچ نگھر وادھا ہے فوزیہ رفیق دی دلوں دھنوادی ہاں تے مبارک باد دیندی ہاں کہ سکینہ نے سماج نوں اک وار فیر جھنجوڑ کے جگاؤن دا جتن کیتا ہے۔

First published in Gurumukhi by Indo Canadian Times from Surrey BC in May 2011

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‘Pride of Performance’ for Ahmad Salim


Ahmad Salim, London 2009
Photo by Amarjit Chandan

After 36 years of research, writing and advocacy, Ahmad Salim gets the Pride of Performance, a lifetime achievement award offered by the Government of Pakistan. The announcement came earlier this week as a part of this year’s Independence Day celebrations.

Here is a poet, author, teacher, translator, researcher, editor and activist, who has a formidable record of authoring 150 publications. Among them, about 40 books compiled and edited by him, explore Punjabi and Urdu literature; history of Punjab, Sindh and Pakistan; freedom struggles such as the Khilafat Movement; and, the status of minority communities in Pakistan.

His works of original writings include:
– 25 books of Punjabi literary works of poetry, fiction, criticism and travelogues
– 20 books of non-fiction in Urdu, English and Punjabi
– 20 researched works on the minorities in Pakistan

At this time, he is working on 15 book projects.

In the previous years, Ahmad Salim won the following awards:
– Punjabi Adabi Sangat Award (UK) on best Punjabi contribution, 2000
– Guru Ram Singh Azadi Award (UK), 1999
– Masood Khaddarposh Award on best Punjabi prose work, 1996
– Masood Khaddarposh Award on 3rd best Punjabi prose work, 1996
– Best script for television documentary (Cholistan), 1978
– Writer’s Guild Award on best translation from Sindhi to Punjabi, 1977
– Best poem on Poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, 1966

He has taught Pakistani languages at Shah Hussain College in Lahore and Sindh University in Jamshoro, is an avid translator, has served as the Director of Urdu Publications for Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), and, has been associated with South Asian Research and Resource Centre (SARRC).

Born January 26, 1945 in village Miana Gondal in district Mandi Bahauddin in the Punjab, Ahmad Salim grew up to be a strong political voice in Pakistan.

In the past three decades, not only that Ahmad Salim has produced 150 books but his work has emanated from his strong commitment to human rights where he was among the very first people who fought for the language rights of the people of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and the NWFP. He was among a handful of people in West Pakistan who took a clear stand in support of Bengali freedom movement in the early 70’s. He has been tireless in his work to strengthen inter-community/inter-faith relations in Pakistan, to develop and maintain lines of communication between Indian and Pakistani Punjabis, and to investigate Pakistan’s curricula and text books with a view to eradicate religious and political bias.

Ahmad Salim’s contribution to Punjabi literature, development of literary criticism, research into history, and his ongoing attempts to bring communities together has created a body of work so substantial that the Pride of Performance seems slight in comparison.

More information
The Subtle Subversion: The state of curricula and text books in Pakistan
Qabar JinhaN de Jeevay
Punjabi writer receives Presidential Award
Ahmad Salim: Wikipedia

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Ram Sarup Aņkhi 1932–2010

Ram Sarup Aņkhi, who has died aged 78, was a prolific Punjabi writer with 15 novels and eight story books and five collections of poems to his credit.

Aņkhi was Brahmin by caste but Sikh in appearance. He kept the Hindu name as is the custom in the Malwa region of East Punjab. Only a tiny minority of Brahmins converted to Sikhism and changed their names – Bhai Bhagwan Singh of Ghadar Party, Gyani Hira Singh Dard, SS Amol and Vidhata Singh Tir being the four most famous names amongst them.

Known as a mesmerising storyteller, Aņkhi chronicled rural life in Malwa in the latter half of the 20th century. In his writings, the Malwa landscape comes alive. His Sahitya Academy Award winner novel Kothey Kharhak Singh ਕੋਠੇ ਖੜਕ ਸਿੰਘ, named after a fictitious but typical Malwa village, is a novel of epic dimensions spanning three generations. It covers the period starting after 1940-42 and moving to Janata Party’s rule after the Emergency and thence to Indira Gandhi’s return to power in the early 1980s.

In his later novels, self-evidently titled Salphas ਸਲਫਾਸ 2006, (a chemical used by debt-ridden Malwai Jatts to commit suicide), Jamināñ Wāley ਜਮੀਨਾਂ ਵਾਲੇ (The Landed Gentry) 2004, Kaņak da Qatalām ਕਣਕ ਦਾ ਕਤਲਾਮ (Slaughter of the Wheat) 2007 and Bhima ਭੀਮਾ (a Purbia farm worker) 2009 etc., he portrayed the post-green revolution Malwa with all its acute socio-economic problems such as the onslaught of corporate capitalism, pauperisation of small peasantry, mass drug addiction, influx of Purbia migrant labour and, in consequence of all this, disintegration of village communities.

Aņkhi also edited a Punjabi short fiction quarterly Kahāni Punjab ਕਹਾਣੀ ਪੰਜਾਬ since 1993 assisted by his son Krantipal, who is currently teaching at Aligarh Muslim University.

Reviewing his two-volume autobiography Malhey Jhārhiāñ ਮਲ੍ਹੇ ਝਾੜੀਆਂ (Thorny Bushes with Berries published in 1988 and later updated twice) Atamjit, Punjabi playwright and columnist wrote:
‘It is not only his art of storytelling that mesmerises its reader; his simplicity, honesty and bluntness also produce magic.
‘Content with his life in his native village Dhaula, its surrounding areas and later on in the town of Barnala, Aņkhi has always sought his themes, locales and characters from within this region. His vast canvas of narratives never required anything from outside. Many may like to see it as a limitation but he is happy to portray what he knows best. ‘He explains how with the passage of time the same landscape has seen a sea change and this transformation is depicted in his novels like Kothey Kharhak Singh.
‘Aņkhi creates the much-desired diversity by using characters from different economic, social and religious backgrounds. There are many divergent tendencies and traits in his personal life too: he is Brahmin by caste but Sikh in his appearance; he was wild in his childhood but is very disciplined in his writing; he started as a poet but ended up as a fiction writer; and he married thrice.’

His novel Zakhmee Ateet (The Wounded Past. 1981) was published in the Farsi script by the Institute of Punjabi Language & Culture, Lahore. Some of his books were also translated into Gujarati, Hindi and English.

He is survived by his widow and their three daughters and two sons. A daughter predeceased him.

AC

Ram Sarup Aņkhi, Punjabi writer, born August 28, 1932 Dhaula Sangrur died February 14, 2010 Barnala Sangrur

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‘Kitab Trinjan’ a poem by Zubair Ahmed

(To comemorate the end of Kitab Trinjan)

Lungh geyaN shamaN yaar deyaN
Yaad surahi bhhar bhhar rakhh lae
Din beetay khali paun bharae
Adh-bhulay nooN poora ker lae
Bunh bunh rakhh lae sawgundh gallaN de
Ghul ghul jo dhooN hoi
PauRiyoN leh gaye
Andar dub lae aas naroi
MuTheiN purtdi hawaeiN nup lae
MuR muR kai oh chaitay kerna
Jis na hona jo na hoi
Buss aj raat ruj vuss lae
Unt fana jo hoi

Author Zubair Ahmed made Kitab Trinjan possible through his dedication and volunteer work. View more here

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Most viewed Uddari posts 2008-2009

April 2008 – April 2009

In April 2008, Uddari Weblog was viewed over 600 times, by March 2009 the number had risen to 5000 views with the totals reaching 41000

Top Posts

Photo Album: Foto Mandli 2,361 views

Great Women of Punjabi Origin:
Punjab deyaN ManniaN PerwanniaN ZnaniaN
1,931 views

Punjabi Poems: NazmaN 1,758 views

Cultural Events: Rehtal Mehfli Varqa 1,670 views

Punjabi MaNboli Writers: Punjabi MaNboli Likhari 1,444 views

Punjabi MaNboli Publishers: Punjabi Maanboli Chhapay1,202 views

‘Sanjh’ A New Punjabi Literary Magazine 897 views

Slumbering Over Islamic Unity 887 views

All-Time Favorites
April 2008 – April 2009

Autobiography of the Great Dada Amir Haider Khan (1904-1986)

1. Royalty Rights in Punjabi Publishing

2. Royalties for Punjabi Language Authors

Modern Punjabi Literature at UBC: A glass half full!

Amarjit Chandan’s Poem being Carved in Stone in Oxfordshire

3. Author Royalties Down to Definitions in the Punjab

Post Retirement Positions for Musharraf

Bhagat Singh Shaheed Statue

Kishwar Naheed to Ahmad Faraz

‘Identity Card’ by Mahmoud Darwish in Punjabi

Lost and (Not) Found: Teen Idol Afzal Sahir

Kikli 13 July

THE SHOCK OF RECOGNITION: Looking at Hamerquist’s ‘Fascism and Anti-Fascism’ by J. Sakai

Yaar da Ditta Haar by Fauzia Rafiq

‘Porn Creation’ by Fauzia Rafiq

Most popular posts on Uddari pages

Sixty Years of Unflinching Beauty, 1948-2008

Kishwar Naheed: A Great Woman from the Punjab

Sophia Duleep Singh: A Great Punjabi Woman

Recent Raves
‘No Heer please, we’re Sikhs!’

Punjabi MaaNboli and the Punjabis-1

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

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Uddari is One

April 11, Uddari Weblog is one year new!

134 Posts

300 Comments

295 approved

First post
April 11, 2008

Photo by Partap Singh Ahdan, Lahore 1943

Photo by Partap Singh Ahdan, Lahore 1943


Title
Aahu Chashm Ragini
Photo by
Partap Singh Ahdan
Sourced by
Amarjit Chandan

Post intended to be the first
Royalty Rights in Punjabi Publishing

First Comment
‘It is so unfortunate that in the new provincial assembly there is no party/individual/group to voice the right of children to study in the mother tongue. maybe we need to start a signature campaign to promote the cause.’
Posted by
Chitrkar
On
Home Uddari Mudhla Warqa
Submitted
2008/04/07 at 9:19pm

First Uddari Page
Great Women of Punjabi Origin – Punjab Diyan Mannian Perwannian Zananian
Added on
2008/04/20

Kewal Kaur, a Naxalite activist

Kewal Kaur, a Naxalite activist

First post
Kewal Kaur: A Great Punjabi Woman
Photo and information by
Amarjit Chandan

First Uddari blog site
Uddari Art

First work of art
Shahid Mirza’s ‘Kala MaiNdha Bhaes’

In
Modern Art by Punjabis
On
May 23 2008

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frafique@gmail.com

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Punjabi MaaNboli and the Punjabis-2

Punjabi is the mother tongue of 90-100 million people; out of this, Pakistan claims 63 million, and India 29. The rest of us are sprinkled around the world where Canada is the Fourth largest host with UK being the Third. In these four countries, Punjabi is deemed ‘the most commonly spoken’ language in Pakistan, ‘the 11th most commonly spoken’ language in India, ‘the 2nd most common’ spoken language in the UK, and ‘the 4th most common’ spoken language in Canada.

Yet a UNESCO report lists it as endangered to disappear in the next few decades. And, even when we can not find the report, it is apparent that the extinction may well happen if we do not take notice of the situation faced by Punjabi Maanboli at all our present locations.

Even though Punjabi MaaNboli has suffered in India from Hindi and English as it has in Pakistan from Urdu and English, its effects are not as devastating. There are many reasons for this but the most intriguing is the one that has to do with the situation in which influential Punjabis found themselves at the time of Partition.

‘Influential Punjabis’ is a flexible, rather ‘loose’, term for the decision-makers of the Punjab at different times in our history; and, it allows for diverse social formations for all three of our contexts: India, Pakistan, and the Diaspora.

The Influential Punjabis

Language as identity emerged as an important issue for Punjabis in both India and Pakistan but the positions were as distant as the two proverbial banks of River Chenab.

Where In 1947, language became one of the strongest symbols of the survival of Sikh identity for Sikh Punjabis in India, for influential Muslim Punjabis the mother language was one of the many hindrances to the implementation of the ‘ideology of Pakistan’. The status of Sikh Punjabis as an insecure minority in Hindu-dominated India was reaffirmed as bloodshed ensued among Muslims and Sikhs across new borders. On the other hand, Muslim influential Punjabis ‘owned’, so to speak, the new state of Pakistan; and, continue to be the major stake holders in the country. In that still-born concept, the growth of a ‘Muslim’ identity was deemed crucial to the survival of the new state; and so, Urdu and English were awarded the status of national languages to rule and ‘unify’ the people who were rooted in five distinct cultural, linguist and geographic locations in a far-apart ‘nation’.

Most Punjabis reside in the Pakistani province of the Punjab where it is the mother language of 44% of the population; better still, because of the privileges and influences Punjabis enjoy in the country, it is understood and spoken by 70% of the population. Yet Punjabi has no status in Pakistan. The country has two official languages, English and Urdu, although none is the mother tongue of any indigenous group in the areas included in it. Punjabi remains un-acknowledged in Pakistan; it does not enjoy the status of, for example, the third national official language or even the official language of the province of the Punjab. As a result, Punjabi is neither taught at any level of the provincial education system nor is it the language of instruction or interaction at any level of guidance or governance. This assures that the language remains bereft of jobs, resources, teachers, educationists, students, researchers, writers, publishers and readers in Pakistani Punjab where 60% of all Punjabis live.

Despite discriminatory policies and practices of the Muslim Punjabi ruling elites, a tremendous development of Punjabi language and literature continues to happen in Pakistani Punjab, and i am glad to say that it is because of the painstaking continuous work of cultural activists and intellectuals of West Punjab. With no or negligible support from successive provincial or federal governments, political parties and vested religion-based interests, Punjabi continues to be spoken, written and read by millions.

In India, although only 3% of the population is ‘native’ Punjabi speaker yet it fares way better in comparison. Here, Punjabi is recognized as one of the official languages of Chandigarh, the shared state capital; and, of the states of Delhi, Panjab and Haryana. In the state of Panjab, Punjabi acquired the status of an official language in September 2008. Now it is taught in schools, and is the language of interaction at some levels of provincial government. This has been accomplished because of the persistence of East Punjabi politicians, cultural activists and intellectuals who did not allow the government of India to disregard their language rights.

It is also true that since the Partition, much of the direction to the movements for Punjabi language development around the world has been provided by progressive writers and intellectuals from East Punjab.

Living in the third space, we continue to reflect similar patterns regarding our mother language. Out here as well, Punjabi language is nurtured by East Punjabi writers and cultural activists while West Punjabi counterparts continue to avoid any allegiance to it by choosing to write in Urdu or English. Few middle class families in Pakistan speak Punjabi at home, and this is how it is in most our families in North America. Though this is a burning issue for East Punjabi communities as well but East Punjabi community leaders have developed organizations to discuss it, spread awareness and to improve the situation. Such structures, however, are still hard to find in Pakistani Punjabi communities in the West.

In my view, the saving grace for Pakistani Punjabis has been the efforts of dedicated Punjabi intellectuals/activists such as Dr. Manzur Ejaz and Safir Rammah, who built the APNA website in Washington DC to publish Punjabi literature in both Shahmukhi and Gurumukhi. This valuable work has now branched into a bi-script quarterly literary journal, and an online Punjabi daily newspaper.

In all our physical spaces, we face similar problems with important yet marginal differences. This prompts similar solutions. An example of this is the formation of ‘chairs’ in educational institutions. From my perspective, the downside to Punjabi language development was the formation of ‘Sikh’ chairs where a large proportion of development effort went into the hands of religious interests in India and in the West. The same solution is now being implemented in Pakistan by initiating the ‘Sufi’ chairs.

It is important for the health of languages and cultures to take shape in non-restrictive creative environments, and so we must find, support and create secular spaces to develop Punjabi MaaNboli literature, languages and cultures. An interesting example of this came out last month where a folk singer was not allowed to sing Heer when requested by the audience at a music concert in a Khalsa College in India.

Also view Punjabi MaaNboli and the Punjabis-1/The PLEA Event: Need for Capacity Building

Numbers from Wiki
Top Ten Punjabi speaking countries
Pakistan: 80,000,000
India: 30,000,000
United Kingdom: 1,600,000
Canada: 800,000
United Arab Emerates: 720,000
United States: 700,000
Saudi Arabia: 640,000
Hongkong: 270,000
France: 180,000
Australia: 120,000
Genetic Markers
‘Roughly 42% of genetic markers in the Punjab were of West Asian origin, the highest amongst the sampled group of South Asians’ (1).
The areas included in West Asia now have the following countries in it: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Cypress, Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbiajan, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhastan.
Main Dialects
Punjabi has 28 dialects (PU, Patiala), the following 12 are recognized by Language Department of Punjab, India.
1. Pothohari, 2. Jhangi, 3. Multani, 4. Dogri, 5. Kangri, 6. Pahari, 7. Majhi, 8. Doab, 9. Malwai,10. Powadhi,11. Bhattiani,12. Rathi
Major Religious Groups
Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Christian
Scripts
Gurumukhi, Persio-Arabic/Shahmukhi, Devnagri

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

References
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjabi_people
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_Pakistani#Canada
3. http://www.advancedcentrepunjabi.org/intro1.asp
4. http://iaoj.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/punjabi-becomes-official-language-of-indian-punjab/
5. http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/analysis/language/allophone_cma.cfm
6. http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/Products/Analytic/companion/lang/highlights.cfm
7. http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Punjabi_language
8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Toronto_Area
9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Canada
10. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjabi_language
11. studentsoftheworld.info

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Punjabi Author Dr. Ujagar Singh Dhaliwal Moves On

us-dhaliwal-port

Author of ‘Jungle de Ful’, Dr. US Dhaliwal passed away today. Following is a message sent earlier this morning by his son, Artist Kanwal Dhaliwal, to his friends:

‘Just wish to share my grief over the passing away of my father (Dr US Dhaliwal) today. He was suffering from multiple symptoms of Dementia and Parkinson. His personality had played a significant role in shaping my cultural conscious. He was 78. As per his desires there will be no last rites. He had donated his body to a local medical college and hospital for medical research purposes.’
Kanwal

Last year, Kanwal had initiated publication of ‘Jungle de Ful’, the collected works of Dr. US Dhaliwal, and had created a beautiful book cover to house them.

us-dhaliwal

‘My father’ Kanwal Dhaliwal wrote on Nov 3/08, ‘is a veteran writer of Punjabi satire. I have recently got his book published (Jungle De Ful) I designed the title cover and used one of my paintings on it.

‘The book not only contains satire but many other styles he has written in, which includes historical references, political commentary, reformative ideology (almost Utopian), autobiographical notes etc…

‘My aim to get this book published was simply to save his work, which he doesn’t consider any good ! He is now 77 and has developed symptoms of Parkinson! He has been regularly published in the Preetlarhi of Gurbax Singh in the 70s.’

View Ujagar Singh’s portrait by Kanwal at Uddari Art ‘People Punjab: Portraits and Groups’

Contact Kanwal Dhaliwal at:
art.d.kanwal@googlemail.com

Web addresses:
www.art-d-kanwal.com
uddariart.wordpress.com

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2. Royalties for Punjabi Language Authors

After the first post, i received some feedback questioning the need to raise the issue of royalties for authors of MaaNboli mothertongue languages, and asking why even after getting royalty on my novel Skeena, i am still keeping on about it.

It is the historic discrimination faced by MaaNboli languages in Pakistan where most of the meager resources earmarked for the development of languages, art and literature are awarded to the ‘national’ language Urdu at the expense of all local languages. So now the MaaNboli literary organizations, authors and publishers of Punjab (Punjabi, Seraiki, Potohari), Sind (Sindhi, Behari), Balochistan (Balochi, Brahvi) and the NWFP (Pushto, Pukhto) face depreciation due to the persistent non-recognition of native languages by national and provincial cultural agencies. It is a miracle performed by writers, intellectuals and publishers of maaNboli literature that any of our languages have survived the last sixty one years of Pakistani politics.

Punjabi writers and publishers, artists and patrons, musicians/dancers and producers are facing decreasing markets and lesser value for their creative work and hardship because of the ever-increasing conservatism of the political environment that does not encourage or allow creativity in art and literature. Nahid Siddiqui, a master of Kathak classical dance, and i assure you there aren’t many left in the country, does not get a chance to perform on stage or on television very often; and so, she sustains herself with a percentage of student fees from her dance classes with a community-based non-profit cultural organization that struggles each month to pay its own bills in the absence of any core funding or structural support.

The perpetual lack of government funding and public resources has pushed Punjabi cultural communities to operate at ‘charitable’ levels from before the Partition of 1947; and, now the defensive strategy once adopted to help the ailing art and literary institutions recover, has become the only ‘possible’ way to continue. This has flung most Punjabi literary organizations into an overall low-lying introvert stance where work is valiantly carried on even in the absence of ‘basic necessities’ such as scanners and printers. A living example of it appeared in my inbox yesterday in the form of a general request to help fundraise for Publisher/Distributor Kitab Trinjan to get a UPS, a printer and a scanner (For more information and to extend your support, email Zubair Ahmed at kitab.trinjan@gmail.com).

I had the unique opportunity to travel within Pakistan from May to August last year to launch my novel Skeena; and, it was most rejuvenating to meet poets, fiction writers, prose writers, publishers, musicians and cultural/social activists in nine different places including my own city of Lahore. This was made possible by many individuals and organizations but most of all by Amjad Salim of Sanjh Publications who took a big step forward by launching what may well be the first actual promotion campaign for a Punjabi book in the Punjab; Columnist Hasan Nisar who gave the campaign his unconditional support by dropping the first cash donation; Mohammad Tahseen of South Asia Partnership (SAP) who supported the Campaign by approving funds for it. I am most grateful to the cultural communities of Gujranwala, Kot Adu, Multan, Sargodha, Islamabad, Jhung, Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore who supported this action by organizing the events to launch ‘Skeena’ in their cities.

My gains are unlimited. Just getting the feel of different places and meeting some of the most inspiring people there would have been enough for me but i got luckier than ever; great exchange of ideas, strong cultural impacts, heated discussions, hot and cold weathers, home-cooked foods, great Hasheesh, and no kidding. On the question of royalties, most authors and publishers said that since Punjabi books do not sell it will be meaningless to ask for or grant royalties to authors; some reject the very idea of running a self-sustained Punjabi publishing business as being a ‘commercial’ and so negative activity while others feel it will be impossible to make a Punjabi literary publishing business a commercial success in a market catering to Urdu and English.

The most important factor in resolving this situation is to push for language reforms as has been suggested by Shahid Mirza in his comment on Uddari-Home: “It is so unfortunate that in the new provincial assembly there is no party/individual/group to voice the right of children to study in the mother tongue. maybe we need to start a signature campaign to promote the cause”; and, the comments made by Shumita Madan Didi here, and there. As well, this is the reason for Publisher Amjad Salim and I to launch an extended promotion campaign for Skeena that included discussion on language rights, and for Mohammad Tahseen, and others to support it. I believe that winning author royalties for Punjabi writers is an important part of developing Punjabi language and literature.

The sentiment behind rejecting the concept of author royalties is well expressed by Author Amarjit Chandan in his comment on the previous post: “…In principle there can’t be any debate about royalty rights for Punjabi writers. A Punjabi writer should assert his/her rights while dealing with big publishers, but sadly we don not have any in Punjabi book industry.” I understand this view but do not share it; to me, its not a question of whether a publisher is big or not, an author is ‘successful’ or not, a publisher is ‘commercial’ or not. “Everyone has the right to the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which (s)he is the author.” (UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27). It is a matter of human rights; of how creative work is used and valued in a society; of how creators of art and literature are recognized for their work. To me, it is important to see that a system contains at least a semblance of the ‘possibility’ for writers and artists to sustain ourselves through our creative work; and, may also improve the quality of our work as suggested by Jatinder in her comment.

Amarjit Jee further says, “I belong to the old tribe of writers who wrote and published for the love of it without asking for any reward.” Yes, in South Asia as elsewhere, writing has been a noble profession and the profession of the nobility as it required not just intellect but also education, a commodity still inaccessible to a large majority of people. I shirk from it also because it reminds me of all those other ‘recommended’ and ‘favored’ roles that are created to dupe people into feeling good about themselves while they are made to serve larger vested interests; for example, the ‘sublime motherhood’ concept for women where a woman is prompted to negate all other aspects of her person to fulfill that one role.

In the absence of royalties, what do writers do? Depend on local monarchs where available, find affluent patrons and befriend wealthy printers; Have dual careers, self-publish through an established publisher, and stay in a position of acute valuelessness for being an author who is often reminded that her/his creative work is not read by many; few want to buy it; and, the publisher is taking a loss by printing it. That reminds me of Poet Arshad Malik in Sargodha who would not publish his collection of poetry because “Ke faida? whats the use?” he said; Mushtaq Sufi, a poet of unique sensibilities who has stopped writing poetry; Painter Shahid Mirza who may have canvases ready for six exhibitions but has not exhibited his work in years outside of his own Lahore Chitrkar, “ke faida?” he says.

In every city, i met some creative artists, poets, writers, singers, dancers who are working on their art day and night without hope to publish, perform or exhibit their creations. I am clear that this situation is caused by larger political realities where literary and cultural communities suffer as a whole regardless of their role in it. But the publishers and producers of Punjabi art and literature in Pakistani Punjab though miraculous in sustaining maaNboli languages, can not continue to overlook the negative impacts on their communities of their non-recognition of creative and intellectual rights. Seen from my perspective, this non-recognition mirrors the same model of projected valuelessness to authors of native languages and literature that is projected by the larger mainstream society in relation to native languages and cultural communities; the model that we are all fighting against.

Meanwhile, we are all in a bind and at this end, even authors who are not dependent on Punjabi publishers feel slighted by them, “Lugda ai Punjab de publishraaN agay sadee koi value nahiN” (It seems punjabi publishers do not value us) says Poet/Playwright Ajmer Rode of Vancouver who has worked with publishers both in India and Canada.

Punjabi Authors and Publishers Page brings this discussion together.
books on Punjab

Modern Punjabi Literature at UBC: A glass half full!

Yes, a glass half filled with an invigorating and inspiring drink when it could as easily be brimming with it; despite falling short on the representation of over one half of Punjabis, and Punjabi women, it was still an important landmark in the development of Punjabi literary community.

The UBC Conference on Modern Punjabi Literature this past weekend was a powerful mix of literary criticisms, academic observations, poetic expressions and cultural activisms. So when the next morning, i was still grappling with the overwhelmingness of this pleasant experience, Amardeep Singh of Lehigh University had already written and published his Notes From a Punjabi Conference in Vancouver. And so, soon after meeting Amardeep at the Conference, i was happy to again experience his crisp, observant and ‘positive-interventionist’ presence through his blog, and it did bring things in perspective for me.

The discussions at the Conference were initiated by Sabina Sawhney of Hofstra University with her paper on Punjabi/Sikh identities where some of the points made by her led to issues put forward by Sadhu Binning about Canadian Punjabi literature . Though each paper presented and every thought expressed was valuable to me, I am most appreciative of ideas that tackled the work of individual writers because though we may find a sizeable body of work on Punjabi classical writers, there is a dearth of criticism on modern Punjabi writing. In that, we had Amritjit Singh of Ohio State University on “The Generational Challenges of Progressivism in the Poetry of Gurcharan Rampuri and Sadhu Binning“; Rana Nayar from the Punjab University on “Narratives of Dispersal: Stories of Raghbir Dhand” and “The Novel as a Site of Cultural Memory: Gurdial Singh’s PARSA“; and, the views expressed by UBC students of Punjabi on Ajith Kaur.

The organizers had created a safe environment where giving and taking criticism was the way to find solutions to various problems faced by Punjabi cultural and literary communities in Canada and elsewhere. “The Uncomfortable Residue of Dis-location: Fragment, Hybridity, and Panjabi Literature(s) in Canada” by Harjeet Grewal (University of Michigan), “The Cultural Politics of Crossing Boundaries” by Anne Murphy (University of British Columbia), and “Secular Sikh Writers” by Amardeep Singh pointed to some groups and individuals that are attempting to extend existing cultural, social or religious boundaries.

The Student Panel, Writers Panel, and Punjabi Poetry Readings were the highlights of this weekend of inspiration and togetherness.

Though Pakistani side of the Punjab, and the literature created by Pakistani Punjabi writers did not feature in any area of this conference on modern Punjabi literature yet the problems, needs and barriers faced by us are the same. The sad truth of the current state of Punjabi literary communities in India and Pakistan, in Canada, and in United States is apparent where we are swamped by the challenges of our immediate situations while our totality is being annihilated by our ignorance, and sometimes, our denial of each other. Let us see who we are then. We are Nanak, Farid and Kabir; Madhulal Hussain, Waris and Bullah; Amrita Pritam, Najm Hosain Syed and Ashu Lal Fakir; We are Ustad Daman, Gurdiyal Singh and Pash, Amarjit Chandan, Baba Najmi and Ajmer Rode; Mushtaq Sufi, Amarjit Pannu and Neesha Dosanjh Meminger; Nilambri Singh Ghai, Ahmad Salim and Sadhu Binning; We are Parveen Malik, Surjeet Kalsi and Baljinder Dhillon; more, and many more.

As was pointed out by presenters and participants from time to time, modern or classical Punjabi Literature is not limited to the writings of Sikh writers of Punjabi language; rather, it includes works of writers of all religions who write Punjabi maaNboli whether in Gurumukhi, Shahmukhi and Roman scripts; who live in India, Pakistan, Canada and elsewhere. As well, it must include works of writers of Punjabi origin using languages other than Punjabi because a literature is not just the keeper of a language but also of the culture and diversity of its people.

In other words, Punjabi literary community must be represented in its wholeness in Punjabi departments, language courses, educational seminars and conferences, and in text books. I was happy to note that the structure put in place by Sadhu Binning, Anne Murphy and others here at UBC already contains this capacity. The faculty members seemed proficient in both scripts; most students were aware that Punjabi uses two scripts; some senior students were able to read books in both scripts. That in itself is gratifying and encouraging; so, i came away from the Conference with the hope that steps will be taken to bring a sense of balance to our persepectives on and appreciation of Punjabi literature by assuring full representation at various levels of cultural and educational activity at UBC and in Canada.

Taking my own advice, i would like to express gratitude to Anne Murphy for the wonderful work she has accomplished for Punjabi in Vancouver by adding a title to an existing name given to her by Punjabi Sikh community so that it reads ‘Bibi Anna Kaur Murphy’ instead of ‘Anna Kaur Murphy’. The imperceptible change from ‘e’ to ‘a’ in the first name is optional but highly recommended as it will help create a beat that may appease all the diverse communities of Punjabi-rhythm freaks.

Another post will soon follow on the development ideas and strategies put forward by Sukhwant Hundal, Ajmer Rode, Darshan Gill, Baljinder Dhillon, and the Student Panel.

Fauzia Rafiq

(Update: Second Post:
“UBC Students of Punjabi Literature, Delightful Performers”

Punjabi Literature

1. Royalty Rights in Punjabi Publishing

I had the opportunity to publish my novel Skeena in Punjabi (Sanjh Publications, Lahore 2007) last year, and while it was one of the most creative and inspiring experiences for me, it did include, and still does, confrontations with my peers around royalty rights and promotional strategies.

All the wonderful things began happening with Ijaz Syed in California who after reading the English manuscript of Skeena, recommended it to a publisher in Lahore; who in turn, offered to publish it in Punjabi and invited me to come to Lahore to translate it. This was a wonderful opportunity for me, and Ijaz Syed again stepped up by bringing me over to California where i enjoyed his hospitality and that of his family and friends. I am most grateful for the time and attention i received there from Nusrat Syed, Sarmad Syed, Vidhu Singh, Sanjeev Mahajan, Shaista Parveen, Salma, Cesar Love, Nidhi Singh and Rob Mod. Later, Ijaz, Sanjeev and Shaista were prevailed upon to buy me a one-way ticket to Lahore.

This also meant a chance for me to live in Lahore for a meaningful length of time in 2006 after having left it for Canada in 1986.

This was a dream situation for me also because Skeena is a character and story rooted in Pakistani Punjab, that then reaches out into the Punjabi communities of Toronto and Surrey. The very diversity of our communities had shackled the English manuscript with sentences upon sentences of Punjabi while the living culture of Muslim characters had laiden it with shots of Arabic. This was pointed out by most of its readers, and by Editor Michele Sherstan in Vancouver who had worked with me on Skeena in 2004. At that time, I knew that the novel had to be re-expressed in Punjabi before the English can ever be published; yet i had been away for so long that many sounds and words shivered below the surface of my mind as i looked for the courage to draw them out in the open again.

It will be an understatement to say that i am grateful to Skeena’s Punjabi Editor Zubair Ahmed for giving me the courage, the skills and the environment to rewrite Skeena in Punjabi. Zubair is a rare friend who cares for me and my work, and challenges me to do better. He spent countless hours of volunteer work to edit more than three hundred manuscript pages of Skeena as he supported me to shape my voice in Punjabi. Zubair also provided a comfortable and creative environment at Kitab Trinjan, a Punjabi bookstore on Temple Road that he manages on permanent part time voluntary basis for over a decade now. I was also happy to know Trinjan’s only full time employee Ghulam Haider; as well, Zubair introduced me to some most wonderful people there including his wife Samina, and Amjad Salim of Sanjh Publications who later published Skeena in Punjabi.

The publisher who had originally offered to publish Skeena was excited about the submission of the Punjabi manuscript, and we were beginning to discuss production and promotion when i realized that nothing had been mentioned about royalties yet. After a while, i asked the publisher as to how much royalty i was going to get; the question set off a wave of double headed culture shock hitting both the publisher and the writer. The publisher nearly fell off of his chair, so to speak, telling me that the top most Punjabi authors in Lahore pay the production cost to get their books published, where I, a mere writer of unpublished novels, am asking for royalty when my book is being published for free. Across from him, my eyes were popping out of my forehead because years of living in Canada had made me unprepared to deal with a situation where a small or medium level literary publisher was apparently operating for many years without recognizing an author’s right to royalty.

That culture shock helped me to figure out that royalty is NOT one of the rights accepted by Punjabi publishers or writers. So, this was the beginning of many inspiring discussions and fiery confrontations on royalty rights, book promotion strategies and maaNboli language issues in Lahore and other cities. I am aware that fighting for royalty rights for Punjabi writers/creators, and generating a debate on this issue by pushing it on the Net is not going to make me popular in Punjabi literary circles on either side of the border. Still, i will continue to share my ideas and experiences in Uddari Weblog because i think that the non-recognition of royalty rights is central to the ailments of Punjabi publishing industry.

Before i end this post, let me put your mind to rest: Yes, Sanjh did accept, and respect, my royalty rights.

Fauzia Rafiq
2. Royalties for Punjabi Language Authors
3. Author Royalties Down to Definitions in the Punjab

Royalties and Copyrights