“Itt kharakkay, dukkar wajjay, tatta howay chulha
Aan fakeer tay kha kha jaavan, raazi hovay Bullah”
I have been reading Bulleh Shah since years now. I have always loved the message it gives. His poetry, along with other saints, has really helped me become a better human being. It has made me more sensitive over time and I started feeling for people around me. Yet it’s a long journey towards a better person and I wish I reach my destination soon. I wish we all do.
Over these years I have developed this well-built faith in destiny and I believe one stops fighting for material things once you start believing. Life is a one timer thing and how you live it, only and entirely depend on your decisions and preferences. Why waste it in hostility, pulling each other’s leg and planting conspiracies. Why not use the same energy positively on our own work and ability, and rise and shine. Both of these decisions are totally in our own hands. If the criterion of judging our life, is only by looking at others, then why not compare it with someone less privileged. At least we will feel better about ours. And when you really want to set standards, you can always look up to people and get inspired from their talent and achievements, not from the amount of money they have. If you will live your passion your skill will enhance improving the quality of your work and success will be guaranteed. If you will go to bed satisfied and content, consider yourself wealthy. Money is as important as you will let it be in your life. It’s like a crescendo of an opera; happiness and sadness are mere reactions which you choose.
Getting back to my day spent at Bulleh Shah’s shrine, it was not what I expected.
Yes, I was not pleased and I did not feel anything. The whole outlook of that place, now, is not what I have been reading and interpreting. I’m sure if Bullah could visit the place himself, he would not like the marbled tiles and flooring all around. He wouldn’t have liked a huge commercial market around. This is so not him. I was expecting a ruin, or a little ‘mitti’ grave. I was expecting simplicity. As he said:
“Maati bagh, bagheecha maati, maati di gulzar
maati noo’n maati dekhan aayi, maati di aye bahaar”
I understand the elected representatives of that area might have worked with a good intention developing this memorial and surroundings with tiles and facilities, and as an Architect/Photographer, I understand that community develops around places of significance and markets are formed where people often visit. But it would have been really pleasant if these decision makers would have read, understood and felt the person, Bullah, for whom all this was done. They could have at least left the shrine area in its original state and should have conserved it rather than enveloping it with a totally new appearance. This should be practiced with all the historical buildings.
It is always the original experience of a place which attracts a visitor/admirer. Any modification, doesn’t matter if it’s improving the infrastructure, will offend a true follower. There’s always a difference between preserving architecture and totally making a new one. You just can never create the original again, no matter how much money you put in. I know this line can be interpreted in many ways; maybe that is what I intent here.
-Mohsin Khawar (writing from Pakistan)
Published in Sunday Plus, The Nation.