Some weeks ago I came across a saying in Hindustani which I keep repeating to myself without really understanding the full implication of the words. Perhaps some of my readers can help me decipher the meaning of this saying. It runs as follows:
Zindgi mein kuchh aisee chaal chalo
Jab tum na chal sako
Tumhare daastaan chaley
In your life, do something that will keep your story going even when you are no longer able to walk.
The saying can mean different things for different people. Take for example Mother Teresa and the dacoit queen, Phoolan Devi. Both did things which ensured their names will be committed to memory for years to come — one will be remembered for the good deeds she did for the people, and the other will be remembered for looting and killing them.
Come to think of it, killers’ daastaans are more often recollected. They last longer than the stories of do-gooders. I recall one general election when right-wing Hindu political parties put up hoardings bearing such messages:
Indira Gandhi kaisee hai?
Phoolan Devi jaisee hai.
Indira Phoolan ek samaan
Loot liyaa hai Hindustan.
I am now unable to walk without someone holding my hand in order to prevent me from stumbling.
I have well over 80 books — novels, collections of short stories, biographies, two volumes of A History of the Sikhs, and translations of Sikh scriptures and Urdu poetry, mainly Ghalib and Iqbal, to my credit. All these books have sold reasonably well, but my collection of jokes have done much better in terms of saleability.
As a result of this, I am not taken seriously —which I deserve to be. Instead, I am often seen as a ‘joker’ who specializes in lightweight gossip and humour. I think this kind of public opinion about me is very unfair. It hurts me.
“My husband Uroko returned home from the bar at about 3 am,” Mrs Odachi Onoja told reporters in Ugbugbu, Ogbadibo (south-eastern Nigeria), “and came into my bedroom as usual. He always preferred to sleep with me, because I am the youngest of his six wives, but this had made his other five wives jealous. They had already had a meeting about it before he came home, and they all burst into my bedroom, armed with sticks and knives, demanding that Uroko have sex with them too. He reluctantly agreed, and began doing his duty with them. He had intercourse with four of them, but then, as the fifth wife was making her way to the bed, he suddenly stopped breathing. I tried to resuscitate him, but when the other wives saw what had happened, they all ran off laughing into the forest, leaving me with his corpse.”
The village head, Okpe Odoh, commented, “this is a very sad affair. Uroko Onoja was a wealthy businessman and a philanthropist who contributed positively to the local community. He married the women after becoming rich, but he was too old to satisfy them properly, and now it seems he has died trying. The matter has been reported to the police.”
(Courtesy: Private Eye, London)
What’s unique about India?
Its borders are easier to cross than its roads.
How did Indore get its name?
Earlier, the people of Indore used to remain indoors. So the name, Indore.
(Contributed by K.J.S. Ahluwalia, Amritsar)