Luncheon In Chapursan

Piyar Ali came from the meadows, gasping
Across the road, to guide us through
The stony and rusty terrain to the shrine
Baba-e Gundi, to whom he was a ‘Minjowar',
Caretaker, for three generations. Could not
We find a place to rest for a while and then proceed?

Autumnal terrain, familiarity breeded love,
The road to my village Dabkot, is the same
And down the plane vastness, drying ‘Chinar'
Trees, whose saplings' stems had been scarved
With yellow, green and red cloth, to protect them
From winds, which would dry skins to wrinkle,
Faster than the years of harshness, breezed.

We were sitting in a room, sharply red and blue
Colored carpets, Spartan to poverty, functional.
In steppes, the cool of the rooms, the shadow
Of walls, are a blissful relaxation, stillness
Hushed by the leaves, who would cross each other,
By the edge. ‘We call it ‘Manai' and the winds
Yellowing, tinkle the trees, an advance awareness
Of the approaching winters, brown deep, yellow and black.

We were seated on cushions, with white pillows
Embroidered with flowers, and motifs, I do not know
Who invented it, we or them, but they were the same,
As had been gifted to me once, roses with leaves.

We were taking cold, seasoned ‘Ghee' of a Khush-Gai,
The Yak is so called there. In my terminology, it was
‘Washalye with Gorhi of Banai', they called it ‘Khasta',
This is served to the esteemed guests. The ‘Ghee' is
From Pamir, Afghanistan. They bring it here,
After a foot-travel of four days, and take back things.

We took it with sugary tea, carefully
But it did not give acidity, the seasoning in the goat-skin,
Might have reduced that. There were blankets in the room
A suitcase, of the newlywed, and curtained to avoid the glare.

In our tradition when we have a luncheon like this,
We as a symbol of honor, give something to the house lady,
I took, a thousand Rupees, note, gave it to Piyar Ali.
Outside, his mother was waiting, anxious, for the comfort
Of the ‘guests' mattered. She greeted us, like all the mothers
Who want all your tiredness, dissolved in their divinity.

She was wearing ‘Urdwa', the beaded cap, standing nearby
Was her young daughter, similarly clad, pleasant of face,
I told Ali, to give her the money. ‘It's not a hotel', she said.
No, it is just an honor, I want to pay, and very gratuitously
She kissed it, giving me the honor of a prince, on tour.
Blessingly, she bade us good-bye. It was a homecoming,
And a home leaving. We, in some very distant past, I suppose
Had been living together connected by stones and needles.

-On my visit to Chapursan, October,27,2014.

Sadiqullah Khan
Gilgit
November 1,2014.

by Sadiqullah Khan

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