I have recently read another gem by the great poet, painter and sculptor of the Khyber who happened to have matured in his writing, both poetry and prose, due to the hardships and events that befell him in his life. He is widely considered as the best Pashto poet of the 20th century. He has written on social philosophy, beauty and love in his genius writing style, which by far is unmatched and unique in its own mannerisms.
I am convinced that there are some events and some incidence in a man’s life that make him whatever he becomes and hence we are all but prisoners of our fates. We must then learn from everything that falls before us and try to gain something from everything, which might be either joyous or miserable. such events and happenstance, shape up a writer, mature his pen, for it is not possible for one to write about life and its atrocities without having gone through them oneself. This is something that cannot be learnt otherwise. There is only one way to learn that, it is the hard way.
I personally believe that Ghani Khan’s poetry, paintings and sculptor depict life as he saw it through the goggle of hardship, perhaps physical as well as psychological that he had to undergo. Atrocities by the state, plight of the Pashtoons, being jailed for his ideas for years, the death of his mother when he was 6 years old and death of his son gave his poetry a philosophical colour which became a hallmark of his literary persona. A peasant killed Ghani’s son Fareedon Khan (the image featured on this article is a painting of Fareedon Khan done by Ghani Khan himself). Though the incident shook him greatly, he pardoned his son’s killer.
After this little introduction I will reproduce one of his great poems O Lord Why here-under with an English translation followed by my commentary on its philosophy in my humble effort to raise awareness about Ghani Khan and his poetry. He surely was a poet-philosopher of the Pashto language who belonged to the Utmanzai village of Hashtnagar now called Charsadda district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan.
Khydaya Walle- O Lord Why
Wa Khudaya Aqal che o, zra de walle rako?
Pa yao mulk ke dwa khud-sarey Badshahan?
O Lord, why give me a heart when I had (mind) wisdom?
(Its like) Two selfish Kings in a singular kingdom.
Badshahi ao faqeeri de walle yao kra?
da Jwandoon pa hara saa ke marg pinhaan?
Why have you made Badshahi and Faqiri the same?
In every breath of life, death awaits.
Walle gham laka asmaan pa jahaan khor de?
Wa Khudaya walle khushali de kra nayaba?
Why sorrow looms over the world like the sky?
Why have You made happiness so rare?
Walle jor de kral nangi da gul da panro?
Khudaya walle nasha ye bya ye da sharaba?
Why have you made (my beloved’s) cheeks out of flower petals
Lord why then her intoxication like wine
Walle rung ao Khaish de dwanra wror ao khor kra?
Walle walle de jahaan kro dak pa rung…?
Why have you made colour and beauty siblings?
Why-o-why did you fill the world with colour?
Walle kunr de walle za pa jahaan na kram?
Khudya walle de awaz ko pos da chng?
Why was I not born deaf to the world?
Lord why is the voice of Chang so sweet?
Walle de mata de ata kro fikr-o-khyal?
Walle walle pa ranra wrazey khobuna?
Why have you granted me thinking and imagination?
Why o why then all the day dreaming?
Khudaya walle de zwani har cha la warka?
Khudaya walle de paida kral Umeedona?
O Lord, why did you give youth to everyone?
O Lord, why did you create hope?
Walle jor de da yar stargo ke jannat?
Walle trikh de kro beltoon ao khog visaal?
Why did you place heaven in my beloved’s eyes?
Why have you made separation bitter and union sweet?
Khudaya walle de spogmay la ranra warkra?
Che zangayi me da mastey pa maheen taal?
O Lord, why have you given the moon its shine?
It rocks me a delicate swing of ecstasy.
Walle jor de kra azghi da gul pa khwa ke?
Walle zra me paak o, jism me na, wele?
Why have you created thornes near the flower?
Why my heart was pure by not my body, why?
Walle ma la de da “walle” taaqat rakro?
Khudaya walle? Khudaya walle, Khudaya walle?
Why have you given me the power of ‘Why’?
O Lord Why, O Lord Why, O Lord Why?
In this poem Ghani is trying to put a metaphysical question before God and is asking Him as to why did he give humans the power to ask Why? If that would not have been the case, life might have been a simpler business. There might have not been any thinking and thinkers and the world would have moved according to His wishes without people questioning anything. He contests that all that is done in this world is through the power to question why. However, he being one of the great thinkers is not trying to prove that the power to question why is a bad thing yet he is using this as a metaphor to enable the readers in understanding that the power to question WHY is the biggest gift given to mankind by God. We learn things because we question, we understand things because we ask why. there might not have been any evolution in this world if man could not question why whatever happened happened.
The opening of the poem is worthy of a discussion here given that he tells God that if He had given humans the mind then why did he give the humans the heart. If we had the mind, it was enough, there was no need for the heart. Since these two opposites always create trouble and are like two kings in a singular kingdom of the human self. The mind uses logic and reason in understanding things and taking actions that are rational and logically stable, however, the heart on the other hand, uses emotion, love and a force beyond logic and reason for taking action. Therefore, he contests that these two opposites are enclosed in the human body or self and create a diversified opposition within man to the way he sees things around him and takes actions in his lifetime.
He continues to question God and says why did you make happiness and misery and even if you did, why is it that the man’s life is full of misery and happiness is for but a few moments only. Here he indicates that the days of happiness in life are numbered whereas the tragedy looms over him like the sky over us. And I personally think he is very right for if we think on it a bit, we find out that we easily forget the happy days but it takes a lifetime to forget misery. Hence happiness is limited and misery is in abundance. He then questions that why did God give man thinking and imagination and if He did, why did He create day dreaming meaning that if thinking and imagination is there, it will cause people to day dream and man will create an ideal world around him but then the realities of the world shatter his dreams and he comes to know the real world, which is unlike his imaginary and thought out world. Hence this is, like the war of the mind and heart, a complete opposite to reality too. Asking things like creating thrones near flowers and
He says that if he were born deaf to the world he would not have seen its beauty and heard its sweet sounds, it would have been easier for him to accept its atrocities and anguish. Hence he questions God overall on the creation of opposites, which on the other hand, is the very thing that enables us in understanding the world around us. I mean, we know light through darkness. If there was not darkness we might never have understood light. Similarly, we understand happiness because of misery. If there was no tragedy, what joy would have been there in happiness. Hence if the absence of one that makes us realize the presence of another- opposites are essential to life. Love could not have been understood in the absence of anger. He is trying to enable us to fathom that all the things are essential to life, the opposites that he is questioning is done for the sake of realizing their importance to life. Similarly, the creation of thrones near flowers and having a pure heart and body not pure carry the same philosophical value.
Another thing that he questions also show the misery of his life as well when he asks that why did you create youth in life and why did you create hope. had that not been there, he would not have known what youth is in his old age, and may not have had dreams or hope and might never have seen them getting shattered. This again revolves around the point discussed above that we understand youth due to old age and dreams can only be comprehended by them getting shattered.
In the end, he puts the biggest question of them all, which truly puts perspective on the metaphysical reality of existence as he asks rather pleads God by asking why did you give me the power of why. If that was not there, I might not have been a thinker and the one who ponders and might have led an easy easy life.