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A mouthful of venom

columns Updated: Oct 09, 2009 13:49 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times
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There is something weird about Varun Gandhi’s fulminations against Muslims and Sikhs; it defies common sense. He used the abusive term saley for Muslims and according to The Indian Express report, used the racial slur bara bajey (noon time) for his Sikh opponent.

It was the language of the gutter for which he should not be forgiven. I refrained from commenting on the subject as at one time I had quite a lot to do with his mother Maneka Gandhi, her mother Amtesh — both Sikhs, like all their other relations. We had a bitter parting of ways and I thought it would not be fair on my part to say anything about Varun’s bad-mouthing other communities. I was sorely disappointed as on one occasion, when his mother invited me to the launch of his collection of poems, I forced myself to go. I read his poems, liked them and gave them a favourable write-up. I thought if this young man is into poetry, he will be above dirty politics. I was wrong.

When and why did anti-Muslim venom enter his mind? During his grandmother Indira Gandhi’s time, a permanent fixture in the home was a Muslim, Mohammed Yunus. Both his parents addressed him as “Chacha Yunus”. They were married in his house on Tughlak Road by Navin Chawla, now election commissioner. I never heard Sanjay or any other member of the Gandhi family use derogatory words for Muslims. The word bara bajey for a Sikh is even harder to understand. Didn’t he realise that it would not go down well with the Badals and their Akali colleagues who are allies of his own BJP? His utterance must have deeply embarrassed his leader LK Advani (who is an Amil believing in Sikhism), Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley. In short, Varun Gandhi has, as the saying goes, cooked his own goose. Has he gone off his rocker? He would be well-advised to undergo psychiatric treatment and confine himself to writing poetry.

A lost love

Nasir Raza Qazmi, born in 1925, belonged to a land-owing family of Ambala. He did his schooling in Ambala, Simla and Lahore. On the partition in 1947, he migrated back to Lahore. For a while he worked with Radio Pakistan and edited the magazine Humayun. He died in 1975 at the young age of 50.

I confess I had never read anything by Qazmi till I chanced upon a couple of his poems in Kuldip Salil’s anthology, A Treasury of Urdu Poetry (Rajpal). I was particularly charmed by it and read it so often that it embedded itself in my memory. I would like to share it and my translation with my readers.

Diyaar-e-dil kee raat mein chiraagh sa jalaa gayaa
Voh naheen milaa to kya hua, shakl to dikhaa gayaa

(In the dark cavern of my soul he lit a spark of light
We did not meet, so what? Of him I caught a sight.)
Voh dostee to khair naseeb-e-dushmanaa huee
Voh chhotee chhotee ranjishon ka lutf bhee chalaa gayaa

(That closeness however has fallen to my rival’s lot
The fun we had over little tiffs is now forgot.)
Voh judaiyon kay zakhm to Zindagee nay bhar diye
Tumhein bhee neend aa gayee, mujhey bhee sabr aa gayaa

(The wounds of parting have healed and hurt no more
You sleep in peace again, I am at rest as before.)
Pukartee hain furstatein, kahaan gayee voh mohabettein?
Zameen nigal gayee unhein, yaa aasmaan khaa gayaa?

(When I have nothing else to do, I ask where has our love fled
Does it lie beneath the earth or swallowed by the sky and dead?)
Gaya dino kee laash par, padey rahogay kab talak?
Aaram kasho uttho kay aftaab sar peh aa gayaa

(How long will you lie on the corpse of days gone by?
Wretched ones awake, the sun is high in the sky.)

Sons and mothers

Why persecute the poor darling?
Varun Gandhi has said nothing
That should hurt anybody’s feeling
Except that the hand that is against the lotus lifted
Should be cut into pieces.
Who says it is a hate oration?
He was only dishing out hot mutton
By equating Muslims to Osama bin Laden;
He is truly secular, for he has begun
To attack his own mother’s religion
And by threatening the minority
He is proving that he is a true Gandhi,
So why not dispense with Advani and Modiji
For Varun is the real need of the real BJP.

(Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

Woman power
Question: To what extent does our concern for Bapu Gandhi go today?
Answer : Upto his ‘Samadhi’ twice a year.

(KJS Ahluwalia, Amritsar)