How can I shoot my brother in India? Remembering Shaikh Ayaz

Shaikh Ayaz (1923-1997) was one of the major Sindhi poets of Pakistan. He was one of very few brave writers who wrote against the tyrannical rulers of Pakistan and the wars they waged against their own people.

In one of his early poems, he writes of the two deities from classical India: Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and music sitting together with Kali, the wanton goddess of blood and violence, the two of them sipping nectar in a moon-lit temple. “How have the two come together?” the poem contemplates and then comes up with the answer: Perhaps a great poet has been born. Ayaz’s poetry must have been born in such an instant since it represents the coming together of diverse elements — beauty and the shadow of death.

During the Indo-Pak war of 1965, he wrote a poem about another progressive Sindhi poet, Suragwasi Narain Shayam, who had migrated to India after independence. It goes like this:

He sangram!
samhoon Aa
Narayan Shayam!
hina ja munhinja
Qola bi saGya
Boola bi saGya
hoo kavita jo kaaka-dharni, para
munhinja ranga-ratola bi saGya
DHatu bi saGyo
DHolu bi saGyo
hanou bi saGyo
hola bi saGya
huna tay keean bandooka KhaRNa maan!
hina Khay golee keean haRNa maan!
keean haRNa maan!
keean haRNa maan!
keean haRNa maan!


This sangram!
in front is
Narain Shayam!
His and mine
tales are the same
promises are the same
He is the king of poetry, but
my colorful ways are also same
land also same
beloved also same
heart also same
horrors also same
How can I point a gun to him!
How can I shoot him!
How can I shoot!
How can I shoot!
How can I shoot!