Monday, Jul 04, 2022

Life, Kingsize: Punjab Has Lost Much But Not Its Spirit

The people of the state are a hardy lot, always taking on the divisive forces, the invaders, whether from within or without, head on.

Photograph: Shutterstock

Standing on the boundary of his small field, Harpal Singh stares at the moon as it drifts in the farm stream. There is an air of melancholy about him. When asked about the reason for his pensive demeanour, he says, a bit reluctantly, “This crop that is now ready for harvesting was sown by my father. I was at the Delhi border at that time. After finishing the sowing Bapu joined me there and gave up on life in the bitter cold that followed.” His eyes begin to well up. I look at the farm. A sheet of golden sunshine has spread over it. Late March is the time when the Rabi crop is nearly ripe and the wheat stalks nod happily in a winnowing wind that begins to blow.

Although not much has changed on the ground, there have been forces at work that have torn asunder the soul of its people, the fabric of its soc­iety and the vibe in its ambience. The people of Punjab are, however, the hardiest of the lot as historically they have always taken the divisive forces, the invaders, whether from within or without, head on. And they have lived through all this with a broad smile and with a spirit that is by now aptly known as ‘Panjabiyat’. Yes, the indomitable happy spirit that allows them to live the day to the hilt, going by the age old saying “Khada peeta lahe da/te rehnda Ahmad shahe da” (What you eat and drink today is yours, the rest will be pillaged by Ahmad Shah Abdali, who inv­aded Punjab thrice between 1747-53.)