The Story of Gul Badshah – Z. Nigah

Zehra Nigah’s beautiful poem for an Afghan boy, a victim of the war that was waged in the name of world peace but that has brought more anguish and suffering for the ordinary people. This poem makes no overt political statement and yet is one of the best anti-war poems I have read in recent years. The erudite translation posted below is from The Little Magazine.

My name is Gul Badshah
My age, thirteen years
My story, like my age
Is disjointed, short

My nameless, faceless mother
Without medicines, quietly died
Buried in her burqa by father

He was afraid that Munkir, Nakeer[1]
Would glimpse her face In any case
Even when alive she was in her grave

Father’s name, Zartaj Gul
Age thirty-two
A Mujahid desiring martyrdom
Became a voyager on the Path of Truth
And the martyr’s cup
From my uncle’s hand he drank
Uncle was a Northern Mujahid
And prayed five times a day

This matter of martyrdom…
Too intricate, too complex
Better to leave it here and now.

In any case, now
Father is in Paradise
In his hand the cup of chastity
In his arms the heavenly denizens[2]
But in my fate
Bombs, blasts, smoke
This crumbling earth
That melting sky
After death, he is alive
And I
Though living am not alive

Last evening, while flying out
The enemy rained on me
A few yellow bags
In which I found
Round pieces of bread
A blob of butter
Bottled sweet water
A tin of preserves

In return they took
My brother’s toiling arm
On which was tied a black thread
To ward off evil
My little sister’s small foot
On which the henna was still radiant

People say this war is for peace
In such peaceful war, the assailants
Leave the children only without hands
and feet
They never leave them with empty
Humanity is not dead after all, is it?

I, standing alone among burning
Holding the gun, my inheritance
Looking at the Pageant of the Benign
Looking at the Pageant of the Benign

My name is Gul Badshah
Age thirteen

Translated from the Urdu by Syeda Hameed.


1. Two angels who go to the grave with the dead

2. Houris and Ghilmans who entertain good souls in Paradise

Here is the Urdu version from here

Gul Badshah

nam mera hai Gul Badshah
umr meri hai taira baras
aur kahani meri!..meri umr ki tarah say mukhtasar.

meri beNaam beChehra Maa.n BeDawa Mar Gayi!
Baap nay ussay Burquey mai.n Dafna dya
Takah Munkir, Nakeer us ka Chehra na Daikhai.n-
waisay zinda thi jab bhi Madfoon thi…

Baap ka nam Zartaj Gul!
Umr Batees Baras.
Woh Mujahid, Shahadat ka talib,
Rah-e-Haq ka Musafir hua…

Aur Jam-e-Shahadat bhi Ussnay
Apney Bhai kay Hatho.n piya
jo Shumali Mujahid tha aur punj waqta namazi bi tha

Mas`ala iss Shahadat ka Paicheeda hai!
Isko Behtar yehi hai, Yahi.n chorr Dai.n

Ab Baharhal…
Baba to Jannat mai.n hai
Uskay hatho.n mai.n Jam-e-Tahoor
Uski banhoo.n mani.n Hoor o Kasoor

Meri Qismat mai.n Bam Dhamakay, Dhua.n
Dehakti hui Yeh Zameen…Bikhirta Hua Aasman
Baad aZ Marg woh Zinda hai
aur zindagi mujh say sharminda hai..
Kal Sar-e-Sham ,
Dushman nay jatey huay mujh par barsa Diye peelay thailay
Jin say mujh ko milay
Gol Roti kay tukray, aik makhan ki tikiya,
aik Sharbat ki Botal, Murrabey ka Dibba!

Isskay badlay mai.n wo lay gaye…
Meray Bhai ka Dast-e-Mushaqat
Jis mai.n Mannat ka Dora Bandha tha
aur meri choti behan ka woh pao.n
Jis say Rang-e-Henna Phot-ta tha.

Published on May 7, 2007 at 1:06 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A good satire on a comic tragedy or a comic tragedy as you may take it.

    An erroneous use of the word ‘kasoor’,I think. ‘kasoor’ or “Qasoor’is perhaps the plural of ‘Qasr’, meaning ‘palace’and so to tkae it in arms seems to be rather absurd. Why not say ‘bahoo.n hei.n le kar ‘Hoor-o-Ghilman’

  2. The Story of Gul Badshah, captivates the tragic story of Afghanistan and many other places around the world.
    Beautifully written. And let peace prevail around the world. ameen.

  3. […] Full story here >> Tagged as: Afghan, nazm, poem, Poetry, Urdu, Zehra Nigah Leave a comment Comments (4) Trackbacks (0) ( subscribe to comments on this post ) […]

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