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Khaddi-Peeti Act

Imagine if your newspaper headlines were to read: Punjab Cabinet to debate on the newly proposed Khaddi-Peeti Maaf Act. If passed, the Act to offer relief to millions of Punjabis who act the way they do after khaddi peeti. Khushwant Singh writes

punjab Updated: Jul 31, 2012 18:18 IST

Imagine if your newspaper headlines were to read: Punjab Cabinet to debate on the newly proposed Khaddi-Peeti Maaf Act. If passed, the Act to offer relief to millions of Punjabis who act the way they do after khaddi peeti by Khushwant Singh.


Literally translated, khaddi peeti means ‘in a drunken stupor’. Translated in its true Punjabi spirit, it transforms into action, assuming a hyperbole which can vary from breaking a beer bottle in front of your former girlfriend’s house to aiming a pistol at a singer’s head, that how dare he not know the song you wanted to hear.

Other than that, standing on a water tank, Dharmendra style, threatening your beloved’s parents with suicide if they refused her hand in marriage to you, also classifies as an act of khaddi peeti. But hold on. It’s not over yet.

The climax would be the day after. A punctured burrrrah, a head that is threatening to split apart and a mood which is repenting, are all part of it.“Pardon me, Honey, if the splinter from the beer bottle hit your dad. I’ll make sure it’s a can next time.”

“Sorry, don’t mind. I didn’t mean to aim the gun at you. Khaddi peeti wich hogaya! Brother, you are world best singer.” So, under the circumstances, what should the cabinet omit or keep, which can pass off as khaddi peeti? After all, majority of the perpetrators of khaddi peeti are gentlemen with golden hearts, very good people, who don’t mean harm to anyone, minus the Bonnie Scott.

“It was just that a few friends had got together to celebrate Bhinda’s Canadian visa. You know what I mean. Peg-sheg and we decided to sort out Billa before Bhinda left the country. There was no plan to break Billa’s bones, blah, blah. It was by chance that Kulwant kept a hockey stick. Just in case.”

So, how many broken bones should the law allow to be broken? Should crime committed in a
state of khaddi peeti be looked at differently? If yes, what are the acts that should be condoned?

And, the cabinet has history to back its decision. After all, it’s not by chance or overnight that the aphorism, khaddi peeti, has penetrated in Punjab’s culture the way it has. Renowned 18th century Punjabi Sufi poet, Waris Shah, describing the circumstances of Punjab at that time wrote, “Khada Peeta wahay, da baki Ahmad Shahay da.”

Translated, it means, “Whatever we eat or drink is our own; the rest is plunderer Ahmad Shah Abdali’s who will take away everything else.” This continuous plundering, say fellow writers, perked up Punjabis to consume maximum of whatever they had since the rest would go to Abdali in any case. They wore their best clothes and drank and ate to the hilt, which perhaps gave birth to twins, Khaddi-Peeti and Khanda-Peenda. The latter grew into a sort of a consensus on a well-off society.

A deadly combination, khanda-peenda and khaddi-peeti, it works like a rocket propellant in Punjab’s context. Imagine if you are both — khanda-peenda and khaddi–peeti. Which god? I am six feet tall, and Mickey is my name. God is just a particle. For god’s sake, the cabinet should not at all take this bizarre dream of mine seriously. But what it should do instead is, consider tweaking this imaginary law’s cousin. The one that till now has been encouraging acts of khaddi-peeti. We seriously need to delve out smarter ideas to earn revenue, than just bank upon a bottle head count. How long can you make thekas a state’s lifeline? And as for my Punjabi brethren, who, along with me wish that this Khaddi–Peeti Maaf Act becomes a reality, my request to you is that this is only wishful thinking, so start drinking responsibly. Damn it! We are not in the 18th century anymore. Or, are we?

(Punjabi by nature is a fortnightly column. The columnist is a Punjab-based author and journalist.
singhkhushwant@hotmail.com)