Friday, 8 June 2012

Landay poems - one of the treasures of Afghanistan

Interesting article  on the website of the Pulitzer Center in Kabul about the continuing popularity of Landai (or landay) - two-line poems written in Pashto by women and mostly aimed at teasing men.
The article mentions the Mirman Baheer, or Ladies' Literary Society, which has around 100 members in the city and possibly another 300 members across the country.
According to the article: "They often rail against the bondage of forced marriage with wry, anatomical humor. An ageing, ineffectual husband is frequently described as a “little horror.” This is from Gulmakai, a 22-year-old woman in Gereshk, Helmand Province:
Making love to an old man is like
Making love to a limp cornstalk blackened by fungus.

“I know this is true,” she announced. “My father married me to an old man when I was 15.” She said she made up poems all the time, as she cooked and cleaned the house."

I first came across Landay in the wonderful little book Landay: Anonymous Pashto Couplets, published in Kabul in 1979 by the International Center for Pashto Studies and translated into Dari by the renowned Afghan scholar AR Benawa and into English by S. Shpoon.
Here are three Landay from that publication:
I can easily kill my lover;
I smile at others while he is watching
.

My love was a nomad who struck camp;
I salute the empty ground.


Curse on your journey!
You departed whilst I was sleeping.

These endlessly amusing couplets are one of the great treasures of Afghanistan. I really hope that someone out there will begin to collect them and preserve them for future generations.

PS Thanks to Alex.

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