A poet’s touching epitaph
Khushwant Singh

Khushwant SinghOnce on a visit to Pakistan, I went to see its largest bookstore, Ferozesons, in Lahore. It was a large hall crammed with books in Urdu and English. I bought a compilation of poems of Ustad Daman — Punjabi verses written in Urdu. There were also many books in English published in England and America. But there was none published in India.

I was surprised because all Pakistani writers who write in English are published in India and command a sizeable readership in this country. I went to meet the manager of the bookstore to find out the reason. He admitted that it was against the policy to market Indian publications. "Yeh dushmani kab tak chaleygee? (How long will this enmity go on?)" I asked. He had no answer. I told him that their leading writer of Punjabi poetry was a Lahoria who, in two lines of a poem, had demolished Pakistan’s claim to be a people’s republic:

Nehru offered Daman Indian citizenship. The poet thanked him but stated that he would never leave Lahore
Nehru offered Daman Indian citizenship. The poet thanked him but stated that he would never leave Lahore

Pakistan diyan maujan hee


Chaarey passey faujan hee


(Whichever way you look, there are armies and more armies). Ustad Daman was jailed many times by the government. Amongst his admirers was Pandit Nehru. He offered Daman Indian citizenship. Daman thanked him but stated clearly that he would never leave Lahore. Before dying, he expressed his wish to be buried in the graveyard where Madholal and Hussain, two gay Sufi poets, were buried. And so it was. I went to put flowers on his grave and copied the epitaph he had composed himself:

Sarsaree nazar maari jahan ander;

Tey zindagi vark uthallia main;
Daman koi na millia Rafeeq mainoo;

Tay challya main (I took a casual glance at the world;

And turned the pages of my life; Daman found no one to befriend him; And took the road to eternity). My excuse for writing about Daman is the publication of his life in Punjabi by Jaiteg Singh Anant, entitled Bey Niyaz Hastee: Ustad Daman by Punjabi Adabi Sangat of Canada. Daman was born on September 3, 1911, in Chowk Mati Das in Lahore. His father was Mian Mir Baksh. He died on December 3, 1984.

Top priority

While going over my personal diary, I came across an amusing little verse which I would like to share with my readers:

Rosberry to his lady says;

"My honey and my succour;

Or shall we take our supper?"

With modest face, so full of grace;

Replies the bonny lady;

"My noble lord, do as you please;

But supper is not ready."

India against corruption

The crowds half a kilometre long;

That at Anna Hazare rallies throng;

Are obviously mistaken and wrong;

Thousands of men, women and children;

When they raise slogans to say in unison;

"Down, down, down with


When they say to get any work done;

However fair;

They have to grease the palm everywhere;

When they resent massive

capitation fees;

And the way the officials fleece;
When they cry, how far the people minus the privileges and the elite;

It is becoming difficult to make both ends meet;

They are obviously wrong;

Because our GDP is going strong;

Led by the oldest political party;When our entire political



Is against corruption and bribery;

How can there be any corruption in the country?

So even when his supporters are a billion strong;

Anna Hazare will continue to be wrong.

(Courtesy: Kuldip Salil, Delhi)


Little Rebecka Lonnblad, from Gavle, Sweden, was born on June 8, 1980, the same date as her mother, her maternal grandfather and great grandmother. The chance of four generations being born on the same date are one in 48 million.

Twin problem

Two identical twin brothers, eight years old, were enrolled in different schools. I asked one of them why. "Well", he said, pointing accusingly at his brother, "he was always making trouble, and then they found out it was me!"

(Both contributed by Reeten Ganguly, Tezpur)