little johnny or chota jani?


most of the people who read this blog write in some form or the other. well actually all do – my point being that most people who read this crap write creatively. well what would you guys and, for that matter, you bakras, do if someone stole the novel you just wrote and got it published under the name of say, saleem motiwala? i suppose the more magnanimous would just shrug their shoulders and write something else. the north americans would sue. the british would call saleem motiwala a dog on big brother and then deny they were racist. the french would come up with some more poetic epithet. the iranians would question the existence of saleem motiwala. the chavez-castro bloc would blame america, the afghans would send in the suicide bombers and the chinese would probably pirate the book and sell it cheaper than the publisher’s cost to print.

but what would the desis do?

to answer that question, as always, we must turn to history. there was once a poet who for some wierd reason wrote under the nom de plume of chirkeen (with the almost silent nasal pronunciation of the “n” the way only desis can do it). anyways, this chirkeen bloke was on the verge of getting an anthology of standard fare ghazals and nazms published when somebody (i have no name for this guy so lets call him saleem motiwala – the irritating sobriquet kind of complements the character) stole the book and got it published under his own name. deevan-e-saleem, so to speak.

chirkeen got so irritated by this that he decided he’d write stuff that no one would dare to copy. and so he took bathroom humour, which was apparently rare enough in those days – i doubt they actually had bathrooms back then – to an art form. ignoring the maxim that a pun is the lowest form of wit he came up with dozens upon dozens of couplets loaded with jokes of the ewww-sick variety. case in point:

dar pe aajaye jo koi pyasa musafir
kardo us ke saamne tum paish aab

the pun here is on the last two words, which while totally innocuous separately, have a whole different meaning when read together (keeping in mind the sensibilities of my readers, i won’t translate that until i get a request). now its all very well to write this kind of stuff and share it among friends over a cigarette and have a few laughs but when you start reciting it mushairas you make waves.

a bunch of the kind of poets who had nothing to do but criticize other people’s work decided to set him right once and for all. they named him poet of honour and invited him to a milad on the eve of hazrat ali’s birth anniversary, gambling on the assumption that not even chirkeen would dare to take his style to blasphemous levels. boy did they underestimate him.

chirkeen began with a classic misraa or line, one which kept the guys in the audience calling for muqarrar irshad (or “once again”) and had to repeat it several times over to the smug listeners who thought that they’d reformed him.

kheenchi is dam se talwar, haider-e-karrar ne
(hazrat ali unsheathed his sword with such force)

and the crowd erupted in wah wah! and kya kehnay!. and the crowd waited eagerly for the next line, literally hanging on to every word.

darr ke maaray hug diya, sub lashkar-e-kuffar ne
(the armies of the infidels shat out of fear)

needless to say, pandemonium broke out. i pity the poor organisers of the event.

there are, as is inevitable when you discuss history, great lessons to be learnt here. firstly, never plaigiarize a desi’s stuff. you have no idea of the extent to which the victim can go to. secondly, never put on stage a guy when you have no idea what he’s going to say. thirdly, be proud of the fact that while the goras were still talking in thees and thous, we had already mastered the part of literature which is now crudely referred to as “dirty jokes”.

later, much later, in a bid to clear the mess prevalent in udru literature all traces of chirkeen’s work were burnt and destroyed. certain couplets have filtered down over generations and nearly two centuries and are still quoted today.

and you thought literature was boring.


20 Responses to “little johnny or chota jani?”

  1. lol. No translation request. I understood the first verse loud and clear. he he. I have no clue where you come up with these folks eh. I actually feel drawn to urdu literature now. Except unlike you I probably wouldnt get 99% of what Id read. sigh.

  2. yeah that would be unlike me. i don’t get 98%. if only they had an urdu dictionary in roman somewhere…

  3. lol xil!

    i heard about this guy once before.. dont know from where.. but it was seriously hilarious!!

    you keep this up, and maybe we might start enjoying literature a little more 😀

    no translation request here either 😉

  4. how can something be seriously hilarious? 🙂

  5. little johnny ..let it be! 😛

  6. chirkeen sounds like my kinda man!

    excellent post, especially since this is the first time i read verses here that i could actually understand.

  7. thanks sarah, and he sounds like almost everybody’s kind of man. he was waaaay ahead of his time.

  8. But wait, what happened with Saleem motiwala and the stolen novel???? or maybe u have blogged about it earlier and since this is my first visit to your blog, i have no idea….

  9. lol 😀

    oh for christ’s sake, there was no saleem motiwala, i was drawing a parallel..

    oh and thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  10. 10 Ahmad

    hahaha cool stuff man…But, when some ppl hear about it they say eeeeeeek…but lets be realistic-its such a part of life that no one can afford anyone to do it for you. U’ll have to use mostly your own left hand to do it…..hahahah. Ask the US president if you don’t believe…..ok folks…mulaihizah farmain how a lover roamed around in search of his lost love and what situations he had to go thru!!!

    Too na milee to bhatakta raha weerano main;
    Na janey kitni baar pair sana pakhano main

    …..Its highly likely to have such a situation! isn it??? hahaha

  11. yer joking right?
    this whole post was a joke?
    did someone actually recite those poetics at a poetry recitition competition?
    WHERE did you pick this up from?

    you know, someone stole my mom’s divan. she completely stopped writing poetry afterwards. i think something mustve frozen inside of her. does that make her alaskan?

    btw. chavez and castro are my heros. chavez is soo cool he makes ice freeze [yea, im trying to be poetic here]. youtube him. he calls bush a dog. he says, “bush, you are a dog”. yeah.

    yer joking about chirkeen right?

  12. crap. your blog ate my comment

  13. there you go. regurgitated.

    and no this isn’t a joke. it’s literary history, unbelieveable as it sounds. 🙂

  14. 14 v.b.mehrotra

    I had his book with me about 40 yrs back.

  15. lol!! This is for real??!! Where DO you find this stuff?! 🙂

  16. @ vb: if you remember anything at all from it, please do quote it here. 🙂 and thanks for dropping by.

    @ bibi: this, my friend is very very real. its found, as expected, in these things we call schools in pakistan. i belive they’re a comparative rarity in southern california… 😛 🙂

  17. 17 v.b.mehrotra

    Have one more
    Maronde pet mein uthin na is tarah Chirkeen
    Kisi ki Zulf ka yaad aya pench-o-taab humein

  18. 18 ayaz

    Its not muqarrar. Its mukarrar

  19. kudos to your efforts to show cyber-light to chirkeen.i shall be extremely grateful if you could please mail me his ashaar.being a lucknowite i have been searching the book from ages. if you have the book, please mail me all 46 pages in as many as mails,depending upon your convenience. thanks in anticipation.a misra- email-

  1. 1 inglish cheetay « The rain on your parade

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