Mulligatawny

Dusk is a very special time for me and the Urdu word “Udaasi” comes to mind as it best describes the mood I associate with dusk.  A literal meaning of Udaasi is melancholy or sadness; however, in the Sikh’s Guru Granth Sahib it also denotes a contemplative state of mind.

As another crisp Fall day comes to a close, dusk descends and the temperature drops noticeably.  The breeze strengthens, whisking around the dry rustling leaves that had been lying forgotten all around.  I stand alone atop the neighborhood trail and look at the lake stretching languorously into the horizon, its darkening shadow offset by the plenitude of a silver moon that is just starting to emerge.  Gulzar’s following lines come to mind:

Be-sabab muskurā rahā hai chāñd The moon is smiling for no reason
koī sāzish chhupā rahā hai chāñd (Possibly) it is concealing some conspiracy
jaane kis galī se niklā hai Wonder from whose street it has emerged
jheñpā jheñpā aa rahā hai chāñd (For) the moon appears bashful
sīdhā-sāda ufuq se niklā thā Naively/simply it had risen over the horizon
sar pe ab chahtā jā rahā hai chāñd (But) now the moon is climbing over our head

(the expression “sar pe chaDhnā” also implies getting out of hand)

The poet Qatil Shifai’s following sher (verse) echoes the silence of dusk beautifully:

Pareshaan raat saari hai The night has dispersed/scattered all over
Sitaaron tum toh so jaao (O’) stars you should now sleep
Sukoot-e-marg taari hai A death-like silence is spreading/prevailing all over
Sitaaron tum toh so jaao (O’) stars you should now sleep

Transfixed, I thank “my stars” for:

  • Bringing me to a place where such beauty prevails
  • Granting me the eyes/sight that allow me to see this beauty
  • Endowing the power to appreciate and enjoy what I can see. But for this Grace, I would walk by mindlessly, unable to observe nature’s magnificence

“Shukrana” is a beautiful expression.  Literally, it translates as giving thanks, or being in a state of gratitude.  Sufi and Muslim saints, Sikh Gurus and Bhagats like Kabir, the Buddha and other enlightened beings exhort us to exist in a mindful state of gratitude.

As I lie in bed later at night, I think of my parents, teachers and all the souls whose actions continue to shape my being.  Each of us is like a bowl of soup in which many ingredients come together and help create a unique flavor.  We can only bow our heads to acknowledge each contributor and thank them for what we receive.

2 Replies to “Mulligatawny”

  1. Dear Pankaj ji, Thank you for such a wealth of information . The poetry you select touches the heart every time. This week couplets by Quatil Shafiq were particularly touching.please keep it it up !!
    Naini

    Liked by 1 person

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