A poet talks of Pakistan the way we would of India
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A poet talks of Pakistan the way we would of India

Syeda Henna Babar Ali who I had the privilege of meeting on my last visit to Lahore many years ago has sent me her collection of poems A Rose. Khushwant Singh writes.

columns Updated: Dec 10, 2011 21:59 IST

Syeda Henna Babar Ali who I had the privilege of meeting on my last visit to Lahore many years ago has sent me her collection of poems A Rose. The first poem is A Prayer For Pakistan. What she has to say about her country most Indians would say about India. I quote two passages from it:

The layers of rot sit on top
Of garbage heaps, corruption, poverty and hunger.
The burning hatred of greed kills within.
The body politics in strife, strikes
And the head falls with loving sadness
On wilderness clouds in protective wings
To find a new life, a diffident destiny;
A prayer for God to guide the misguided,
Help them live a life of wisdom and devotion,
A life devoted to a mission,
A life where He plans
Destiny for a better future - enables them, to seek guidance, protection, fortitude,
All is not lost - Allah cares for Pakistan.

Knee Surgery
I know a few people who underwent knee replacement on medical advice as their knee-caps were rotting. The operation costs between Rs 3-4 lakhs. Not one of those who had knee replacements is able to walk as he was before the operation.

You can see our ex-prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee - He was a brisk walker. Now he walks very slowly and finds it tiresome. My friend Mujtaba who lives in Hyerabad dropped in one evening and complained bitterly of pain he suffered while walking. And my secretary, Lachhman Dass, far from being able to walk, is confined to his bed. It is high time the medical profession looked into the matter and made knee replacement more effective.

The Sarabhais
Two visitors I received a few days ago reminded me of my long association with many members of the Sarabhai family, not only Gautam who I knew best and Gira who keeps me informed about her relations. At one time the Sarabhais were counted among the richest in the country and more talented than any other. They produced scientists, dancers and philanthropes. The one I was closest to was Gautam. And after he died, Gira.

The eldest known as Boss earned fame as a stout defender of Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir. Pandit Nehru had her put in jail. Others espoused different causes connected with education, art and culture and made significant contributions in each field. The family lived in an enclosed complex of houses (one made of plateglass known as Kanch no Ghar) named The Retreat. Whenever I visited Ahmedabad, I was the guest of either Gautam or Gira.

My visitors were Gautam's daughter Mana and her English husband who was captain of England's football team. Mana is as beautiful a grandmother as I have ever seen. I could not keep my eyes off her for the time they spent with me. The next day they took the flight back to London.

Division of UP
Small states are better for administration
Small states meet peoples' aspiration
A wonderful idea, like a rat out of the hat
Especially a few months before the election,
Small states are Mayawati's latest creation;
Medical care in a pathetic state
Hapless women left to their fate
Japanese fever taking its toll
And the state revenues slipping through many a hole;
Scams and scandals, robberies and killings,
Small states are a good cover for Mayawati's failings;
Law and order going haywire
The number of 'Elephants' rising higher
Let all these considerations go to hell
Mayawati plans extremely well;
A woman with an iron fist,
Scaring her rivals from the top to the bottom of the list
Mayawati is a master strategist.

(Contributed by Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

First Published: Dec 10, 2011 21:49 IST