Guru and Zafarnama
Khushwant Singh

Navtej Singh Sarna is India's Ambassador to Israel. Though our embassy and his residence are in Tel Aviv, which is like any European city, he spends all his spare time in Jerusalem, which is replete with historic buildings of various faiths Judaism, Wailing Wall, Christianity's Bethlehem and Islam's Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque. However, despite his interest in other faiths, his principal concern is with the Sikh religion and history.

He is thorough in his research and writes in a very lucid prose. His latest offering is Guru Gobind Singh's Zafarnama, Epistle of Victory (Penguin Classics).

We are not certain where and when Guru Gobind Singh composed the Zafarnama; nor if it was ever received by Emperor Aurangzeb. In all probability, it was the Guru's thesis on justification of taking up arms to fight injustice. He had lost all his four sons. Two were killed in battle. The other two were executed by being bricked alive in a wall.

Guru Gobind Singh unsheathed his sword and turned his peace-loving Sikhs into the kirpan-carrying Khalsa
Guru Gobind Singh unsheathed his sword and turned his peace-loving Sikhs into the kirpan-carrying Khalsa

So he had all the justification he wanted to unsheathe his sword and turn his peace-loving Sikhs into the kirpan- carrying Khalsa. The Zafarnama is a long poem of 111 couplets written in Farsi (Persian), as spoken in northern India. The most favoured lines were taken from Firdaus:

Chun ka azhameh heelate dar guzasht;

Har haal tey darguzhast;

Halal ast burdan;

Ba shamsheer dast

(When all avenues have been tried;

Yet justice is not in sight;

It is right to pick up the sword;

It is then right to fight).

Sumita Misra

Sumita is an IAS officer, holding a high position in the Government of Haryana. She is also good-looking and gifted. She writes poetry in Hindi and English, which have been published in different journals. Two years ago she sent me her works. I liked them and published some verses in my columns. I also suggested she send some to The Statesman of Kolkata. She did. A few weeks later, half a page was devoted to her poems. Now they have been published in a book entitled A Life of Light (Unistar). I quote two verses from a poem entitled My Failure:

I wear my failure well;

Like a magic cloak;

It guards me snugly;

Against seeking eyes, against success;

Its distortions and perils;

Failure clings to me;

Like the smell of stale nicotine;

I light up my life;

And inhale, wondering;

Why do I seek you success?

What can you give me?

That I do not already possess?

Medical terminology

Santa Singh's answers in the entrance examination to become a doctor:

Anti-body against everyone;

Artery the study of paintings;

Bacteria backdoor to a cafeteria;

Caesarean section a district in Rome;

Cardiology advance study of poker playing;

Cat scan searching for lost kitty;

Chronic neck of a crow;

Coma punctuation mark;

Cortisone area around local hurt;

Cyst short for sister;

Diagnosis person with slanted nose;

Dislocation in this place;

Dilate the late British Princess Diana;

Duodenum couple in blue jeans;

Enema not a friend;

Genes blue denim;

Impotent distinguished/well known;

Labour pain hurt at work;

Lactose people without toes;

Lymph walk unsteadily;

Microbes small dressing gown;

Obesity city of Obe;

Pacemaker winner of Nobel Peace Prize;

Pulse grain;

Pus small cat;

Red blood count Dracula;

Tablet small table;

Urine - opposite of you are out;

Varicose very close;

Secretion hiding anything;

Ultrasound radical noise.

(Courtesy: Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)

Repairing trousers

Banta came home from the office and found Banto sobbing. She told him: "I feel guilty. I was ironing your suit and I burnt a big hole in the seat of your pants." Banta consoled her: "Forget it. Remember that I have got an extra pair of pants for that suit." "Yes, and it's lucky you have. I used them to patch the hole," said Banto, drying her eyes.

(Contributed by Shivtar Singh Dalla, Ludhiana)