Red Dye: Barahmah di chitthi Guru Nanak nu / A Letter of Twelve Months to Guru Nanak - Sikh Research Institute

Red Dye: Barahmah Di Chitthi Guru Nanak Nu / A Letter of Twelve Months to Guru Nanak

Red Dye:

Barahmah di chitthi Guru Nanak nu /

A Letter of Twelve Months to Guru Nanak

by Amardeep Kaur

 

sai, my Beloved!

Fill me into your red dye

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I return, to find the ports of Komagata’s revolts

What a long journey from the Fragrant Harbour,

with gifts of agarwood for the coast of Salish peoples

When Ghadaries promised to deliver        

your Jahaz’s lotus-scented treasure

And in its place, lay memorials at Budge Budge and Coal Harbour

But where is that lost girl?

a baby girl - nameless,

deported to Timonwal, Amritsar

 

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sai, my Beloved!

Fill me into your red dye

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I return, to find the well of Jallianwalla Bagh

When your lovers gathered in the garden of blossom

to sing to you on Vaisakh

with offerings of their harvest

And in its place, lay the marks of bullet holes on that brick wall

Where a second birth takes place,

Ram Mohammad Singh Azad

 

sai, my Beloved!

Fill me into your red dye

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I return, to find the broken parts of Partition - Panj Ab -

The cost of that azadi

Where the map of Radcliffe carved on paper

cut through my body like a dagger through my liver

And erected Wagah,

the border of corpses seeping through my gushing veins

Now, I carry them all

in the heaviness of this hair

Endless river streams turned graves

of all your identities and names

Is this the memory of all your forms?

 

sai, my Beloved!

Fill me into your red dye

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I return, to the sarovar of Ramdaspur

For a taste of the red dates from the Beri Dukh Bhanjani

and find instead Gandhi’s blue tainted branch

And Bhindranwala rises and descends,

which side of the marble wall was he on?

Now thousands join Tegh Bahadur in Delhi -

what a blood bath!

Shaheed, but without their consent

And human rights are thrown upon U.N.

But who will make, a widow from the colony,

a root of a new home?

Where leaves may grow anew,

like jujube’s fruit

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sai, my Beloved!

Fill me into your red dye

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I return, to the fields of basmati and golden kanak

From Ambedkar to Anandpur Sahib Resolution

The price of Punjabi suba -

modernity’s safaid pages

humanity's new shade

Dharam Yudh's masquerading fate

The rigged scale of the green revolution

Now the departed board Monsanto’s cancer train

Ashes of trickery replace the great diwan shelves

While the arching ink of Paonta is substituted with fire and grenades

Our shayarir blown away,

and Urdu flown away

 

550 years wiped clean

1430 pages float upstream

The tirath of 12 months turned eternity

When will we hear the melody of Tukhari again?

Once stretched Kush to Tibet

Now from where will we get our rabab, O Firandia!

Now our veins and tears become its broken strings

And its players stomp upon them as poisonous mobs

And kaur Pritam pleas, now your daughters cry, O Waris Shah,

when will you rise again to write in the ink of your red dye?

O when will you bring Heer again to Takht Hazar?

And singh Sartaaj sings,

from where will we find our Rumi and Farid?

ve Goya Lal, from where do we spark the flame of inner atma?

 

O sai, my Beloved!

When will You wear the bride’s dress again?

When Siri Ragu struck the chords of all your ishqaris

And the Tenth rained upon us deep-crimson bliss

When the path of the Khalsa was the way of sahej

And miri-piri danced in full harmony

on the balance scale

 

sai, my Beloved!

Fill me into your red dye

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I return, on the rainbow, for a touch of That Wind on my skin

Bring us to Lahore, to feel the sweet gurh on our tongues

Lohri’s sugarcane rasa

and fulfil that thirst for Mian Mir’s darshan

O rababi of Mardana, when will they invite you to the Darbar

to fill us once again with the tunes of Mirasi

and light up Harimandir Sahib with Diwali’s qawwali

when the Sixth came home from Gwalior azad

Now, let those heavy clouds explode That Bliss

Drop those water balloons at Hola,

filled with your red dye

And shower upon this dastaar,

the true sindoor of your Mohalla

 

sai, my Beloved!

Fill me into your red dye

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I return, in dreams, for a visa to your Dharam Khand

Where your dharti’s sanctuary rests

As this sorrowful spirit mourns in four pieces:

For that ishnan at Kartarpur

O what I shall do to seek the needle and thread

which could stitch the page of Nankana to my heart’s chest

Then track up to Sivalik Hills

like the Sixth's passage to the plateaus of Cathay

And build the Yamuna Sutlej love canal

by weaving the baskets of sacha sauda dharamsal

O where is that dream ticket,

to complete along Ravi’s freedom banks, 

the perfect Begampura

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sai, my Beloved!

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I return, to the metropole on the other side of the Atlantic

And I watch the Koh-i-Noor

through the towering walls of London’s glass halls

The gem of miri crowned from the ruins of the Lost Palace

stolen wealth derived from sharab di rasa

missionary blankets smothered in disease, daru and deception

rails of forest banditry on lands First Nations

constructed with the sweat and blood of Chinese and Indians

From the treaty Jahangir first paid at Surat

And those boatloads of Black warriors

         in shackles shipped to islands Caribbean

But the jewel of your true red dye

still remains to be found

 

sai, my Beloved!

Fill me into your red dye

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I return, a wandering ghost even after sixty-eight hajj

and across the seven seas

Adrift from my cherished One,

and still longing the kiss of qisse,

a birth sakhi of your udasi

Like the cradling Mother from Kabul to Goindval

mai, when will our yatra finally meet,

the confluence of Sarasvarti

 

O Nanak, my Beloved!

You ferried me over the Pacific once

Today, I sail in circles in search of your Indus treasure chest

The ruby of your true red dye

Lost in the Indian Ocean

The jewel of your piri

sai, my Beloved!

Drench me with your true red dye

Imbue me with all your pigment

And colour

me

red

 

 

 

 


Amardeep Kaur was born and raised in Hong Kong and presently lives in Toronto. She is a doctoral candidate in Geography at York University and a graduate associate at the York Centre for Asian Research. In 2019, she taught Introduction to Sikhism as a course director at the University of Toronto (Mississauga campus) in the Department of Historical Studies. Amardeep Kaur's work explores diaspora, culture in the city, religious spaces and political movements across the Pacific. At night, she explores artistic creations, walking and training in Chinese martial arts. She has participated in Sidak at Sikh Research Institute in the summer of 2016 and 2017.

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