Posted by: Myself | May 15, 2011

Pain in words – Amrita Pritam

Writing about Punjabi literature will be incomplete without Amrita Pritam. One of the very few females artists which were accepted in this male dominated society. Not surprisingly she wrote hundreds of writings putting forward the pain of being female. Whether it was at the hands of her in-laws or during the catastrophic events like partition.
One of the most popular works of hers is a short poem where she is calling out to Waris shah, the writer of Heer-Ranjha love story to write about so many women in despair during the partition. The pain and anguish blended with helplessness is something that struck me so hard that i could still feel it the same way when i first used it in a speech of mine when i was barely 10 years old. Here are the words in english as well as the translation for all those who haven’t been through this already.

Original Verse

aj aakhan waaris shah noo kito.n qabra.n vicho.n bol!
te aj kitab-e-ishq da koi agla varka phol!

ik roi si dhii punjab dii tuu likh-likh mare vain
aj lakkha.n dheeyan rondian tainuu.n waaris shah noon kahan

uth darmandan diaa dardiiaa uTh tak apna punjaab!
aj bele laashaa.n vichiiaa.n te lahu dii bharii chenaab!

kise ne panja paania.n vich dittii zahir rala!
te unhaa.n paaniaa.n dharat nuu.n dittaa paanii laa!

jitthe vajdii phuuk pyaar di ve oh vanjhli gayi guaach
ranjhe de sab veer aj bhul gaye usdi jaach

dharti te lahu vasiya, qabran payiyan choN
preet diyan shaahazaadiiaa.n aj vich mazaaraa.n roN

aj sab ‘qaido’ ban gaye, husn ishq de chor
aj kitho.n liaaiie labbh ke waaris shah ik hor

aj aakhan waaris shah noon kito.n qabra.n vicho.n bol!
te aj kitab-e-ishq da koi agla varka phol!


I say to Waris Shah today, speak from your grave
And add a new page to your book of love

Once one daughter of Punjab wept, and you wrote your long saga;
Today thousands weep, calling to you Waris Shah:

Arise, o friend of the afflicted; arise and see the state of Punjab,
Corpses strewn on fields, and the Chenaab flowing with much blood.

Someone filled the five rivers with poison,
And this same water now irrigates our soil.

Where was lost the flute, where the songs of love sounded?
And all Ranjha’s brothers forgotten to play the flute.

Blood has rained on the soil, graves are oozing with blood,
The princesses of love cry their hearts out in the graveyards.

Today all the Quaido’ns have become the thieves of love and beauty,
Where can we find another one like Waris Shah?

Waris Shah! I say to you, speak from your grave
And add a new page to your book of love.

PS: This is abridged version of her complete poem



  1. Probably seems a little silly, but I’d wager the NCC would be coming into these discussions with some cash to help build nice stations for the national capital region. That, coupled with the federal funding, gives them a reasonable case for having some input. Hopefully they’ll work co-operatively with the city, though, and help pay for stations worthy of the nation’s capital.

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