Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Kashmiri Poet Queen...

           (image google)

Habba Khatoon was born in 16th century Kashmir. Her family were poor farmers from Chandhar. There were no schools in the village so her father arranged for a Mullah to teach her about religion. 

She got married young but the marriage failed because her husband was threatened by her intelligence (talk about a repeating theme). In the dark days that led to her divorce she began singing sad songs which reflected her pain and anguish. Her melancholic voice is said to have had a mesmerizing effect (how very Bollywood). Her most common themes were longing and unrequited love and her songs embody love in its many moods.

In true fairy tale-esq style she would often sing in the shade of the Chinar trees around her home. Then one day her lonely singing paid off when king Yousuf Shah Chak, the last independent ruler of Kashmir, was out hunting and heard her. He was captivated by her beauty and brain (please note that he was attracted to her brain which is quite unusual for men even today) and they fell in love and were married. Thereafter she adopted the title, Haba Khatoon. 

Sadly it wasn't a Bollywood movie, and so before they could dance around trees and on mountain peaks, he was arrested shortly thereafter. Thereafter he lyrics mostly portrayed the pangs of separation. 

Even today, despite Kashmir not being allowed any happy endings, Haba Khatoon is a legend for her poetry in a time when lyrical genius was a male dominated arena. In fact her most famous “Chaara Kar Myon Maalinya ho” is still sung in the valley today.

In henna I have dyed my hands,
        When will he come ?
I die, while he roams distant lands,
        My heart is numb!

O, where is now the day's delight ?

        I've waited long.
The golden wine cups of the night
        To him belong !

The ritual of love is sweet,

        Could I adorn
My love with jewels, perfume his feet,
        Be no more torn,

Anoint him with my fragrant kiss,

        Love, for your sake,
The lotus of my heart in bliss
        Would block the lake !

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