Saturday, 21 May, 2022
HomeFeaturesIn search of home in a pandemic — Gulzar's new poem likens...

In search of home in a pandemic — Gulzar’s new poem likens migrant crisis to Partition

Between Partition and the migrant exodus, Gulzar says he doesn't know which is worse. Read the poem and translation by Rakhshanda Jalil.

Text Size:

Poet, writer and lyricist Gulzar knows what Partition was like. Born in Punjab’s Dina (now in Pakistan) in 1934, he and his family moved to Bombay in the wake of the great migration, where he made his name in Hindi cinema.

He also extensively wrote about the scarring event in Footprints On Zero Line, a collection of fiction, non-fiction and poems, and in a novel called Two.

Now, as the Covid-19 pandemic and the humanitarian crisis of labourers trying to get home in lockdown continues, he has done what he does best — write about it.

Through the lockdown, Gulzar has written and recorded a number of poems documenting different aspects of the pandemic, but while many have been messages of hope and solidarity, his latest is perhaps his most searing.

He draws a parallel between the mass exodus of workers from the cities to their homes and Partition, which is the largest mass migration of humans in history. Read the original and the translation by Rakhshanda Jalil, and watch the video.

मज़दूर, महामारी – II

कुछ ऐसे कारवां देखे हैं सैंतालिस में भी मैने
ये गांव भाग रहे हैं अपने वतन में
हम अपने गांव से भागे थे, जब निकले थे वतन को
हमें शरणार्थी कह के वतन ने रख लिया था
शरण दी थी
इन्हें इनकी रियासत की हदों पे रोक देते हैं
शरण देने में ख़तरा है
हमारे आगे-पीछे, तब भी एक क़ातिल अजल थी
वो मजहब पूछती थी
हमारे आगे-पीछे, अब भी एक क़ातिल अजल है
ना मजहब, नाम, जात, कुछ पूछती है
— मार देती है

ख़ुदा जाने,. ये बटवारा बड़ा है
या वो बटवारा बड़ा था

Migrating/Covid-19 – II

I had seen similar caravans in ’47 too

They are fleeing to their villages in their own country

We had fled from our village setting out for our country

Calling us refugees, our country had kept us

Given us refuge

They are stopped at the borders of their states

There is danger in giving them refuge

Then, too, there was a murderous Death around us

It asked us our religion

Now, too, there is a murderous Death around us

But it doesn’t ask us our religion or caste or name

It simply kills!

God knows if this Partition is great

Or that one was greater

Migrating/Covid-19 – II – Gulzar

कुछ ऐसे कारवां देखे हैं सैंतालिस में भी मैनेये गांव भाग रहे हैं अपने वतन मेंहम अपने गांव से भागे थे, जब निकले थे वतन कोहमें शरणार्थी कह के वतन ने रख लिया थाशरण दी थीइन्हें इनकी रियासत की हदों पे रोक देते हैंशरण देने में ख़तरा हैहमारे आगे पीछे, तब भी एक क़ातिल अजल थीवो मज़हब पूछती थीहमारे आगे पीछे, अब भी एक क़ातिल अजल हैना मज़हब, नाम, ज़ात, कुछ पूछती है– मार देती हैख़ुदा जाने. ये बटवारा बड़ा हैया वो बटवारा बड़ा था – GulzarMigrating/Covid-19 – II – Batwara#LockdownPoems

Gulzar यांनी वर पोस्ट केले गुरुवार, २८ मे, २०२०

Also read: Of course the migrant labourers will go back home, for that is where their lives are: Gulzar


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Surely death, genocide and permanent uprootment from one’s own ancestral homes since prehistoric times was far worse.
    Religion was the reason and people escaped from those who were after their blood or honour.
    That was during partition. Their homes were also stolen.

    Present migrant crisis is about going trying to go back to a home that was and still exists.
    Here economy was the reason and not the rioting religious mobs out to kill.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular