Amrita Pritam
To Vaaris Shah

Today, I ask Vaaris Shah
To speak from the grave,
To unveil the next page
In the book of love.

A daughter of punjab once wept,
And you wrote a saga over it,
Today a thousand daughters are weeping,
They say to you, O Vaaris Shah,
You who had such compassion for grief,
Wake up. Look at our Punjab.
Corpses carpet its forests,
And the Chenaab is filled with blood.
Somebody has mixed poison into the five rivers,
And this water
Has spilled over the earth.
Now poison sprouts
From every pore of this fertile land,
Ankle deep the earth is crimson,
Calamity blooms everywhere.
Poison has crept into the wind
And blows through every forest.
It has turned every flute
Into a serpent.
With the first snakebite,
The snake-charmer lost his spell,
With the second snakebite,
Everyone was contaminated.
Under the spell of this contagion,
The deadly poison spread rapidly,
Within moments every limb of Punjab
Turned blue.
The music died in the alley,
The yarn snapped in the spindle,
Friends were severed from their women-gatherings,
The spinning wheels were silenced.
Luhdan cast the boats away
Along with their beautiful beds,
The swings, along with the branches,
Were torn from peepal trees.
The flute that played the music of love
Is lost,
Every one of Ranjhas brothers
Has forgotten how to play it.
Blood has soaked into the earth
And is leaking out of graves.
The princesses of love
Are weeping in their tombs,
Today everyone is a Kaido—
A looter of beauty and love.
Today, where can we find
Another Vaaris Shah.

Today I ask Vaaris Shah,
To speak from the grave,
To unveil the next page
In the book of love.

Translated from the Punjabi by Suman Kashyap.