21 July 2014

Stories of the Soil

Waris Shah I call out to you, rise from your grave, speak out and turn, another page of the Book of Love – Amrita Pritam

Stories of the Soil.. for centuries Punjabis have associated the fragrance of the soil (matti)to their motherland. The essence of mother, home and motherland merging into one – the Punjab and the Punjabi. If you are a Punjabi, in whatever corner of the world you sleep, the dreams will be of Punjab, whatever food you eat, you crave for the taste of garma garam tawa roti, wherever you go, your feet eventually will want to return home. You can say we are a proud race, and I will say am arrogant. You can say I am a stuck up, and I will say am rooted. You say you are loud, and I say, I AM, I AM.

Each story in this Short Story collection, reminds you of the fragrance of the soil of Punjab - the feet burning smoky cracked land in summers, the fresh rain drenched soil in the monsoons, the cool dewy wet grass of the winters, and the dry windy arid land of the autumn. The water, the wind, and the soil mix as you breath and be the smell of this land. The land lived and destroyed over and over again. The freedom fight, the independence, the partition, the riots, whether Hindustan - Pakistan – Khalistan, it is Punjab, the land of 5 rivers, the land of my forefathers, the land of legends and the land of stories.

There are many stories which touched the chords of my heart – ‘Mirror’ by Gurdev Singh Rupana, ‘A Matter of Faith’ by Gulzar Singh Sandhu, ‘Grass’ by Kulwant Singh Virk, ‘Doors and Windows on a Rainy Day’ by Zubair Ahmed were exceptionally good. The compiler has done a great job compiling varied set of writers, stories and subjects all set around the legendary land of Punjab. The subjects varied from Love and longing, village and town, Dalits, Pakistan side of Punjab, extremism, and the emigration of Punjabis to foreign lands, The authors are quaint and unknown but their writings only claim differently. Each story is beautifully written, translated and compiled in this brilliant collection.
To know a place or city or country you can visit it, but to belong to a place you need to listen to the ‘Stories of the Soil’. Some beautiful lines from the beautiful land in its beautiful language…

Hakan maarde bakrian waale, dudh pee ke jayin Jai Kure
(The goatherds are calling out to Jai Kaur to drink a glass of milk)

Palla maar ke bujha gayi diva, akh naal gal kar gayi
(She put out the lamp with the swish of her scarf, and talked to me with her eyes)

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