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Poet, Singer, and Activist

Nothing pleases human beings more than living in a free country and feeling free. Happy 4th July Independence Day America!

I am sure as an Indian American, Pakistani or Bangla Deshi American, you participated some way in these celebrations on July 4, 2017. Like the previous year, we were visiting our daughter’s family living in Morgan Hills where all of us attended the celebration in downtown Morgan Hill – California. Stretching up to the mountains and beautifully tucked in its undulations, Morgan Hill is a small town extending both sides of Hwy 101, south of San Jose.

Nothing pleases human beings more than living in a free country and feeling free. Interestingly even those who may think that it denies full unfettered access to those freedoms to so many never said they hate America. They may not think it is the best country in the world; proudly still they call this land home.

It reminds me yet again of Ghadarite, Founder- President Baba Sohan Singh

Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna pointing out to Nehru

Bhakna’s words to Pt. Nehru, as the first Prime Minister of Independent India. When the Desh Bhagat delegation met the Congress high command leaders in Delhi and congratulated him, Baba Bhakna among other things said something like this “ Pt. Ji you are talking about rejoicing the freedom of India; we are talking about the freedom of Indians”!

When a nation has raised itself to liberty and has finally broken through the shackles of subjugation and slavery, it calls for celebration. Liberty and freedom comes with a price that patriots and their families have paid with their lives, blood, sweat and tears.

Touching upon the spirit and inspiration that ties us together in a unique relationship, let us revisit briefly on this day, the Declaration of American Independence and the formation of Ghadar Party in America.

The Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, announced that the 13 American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regard themselves as independent states and are no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they now formed a new nation—the United States of America.

Abraham Lincoln many years later, not only reaffirmed this declaration in his famous Gettysburg Address of 1863, he made it the centerpiece of his policies. Since then, it has become a major statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence that became the spirit that inspired the modern world: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Since it was greatly motivated and driven by the American Independence, understandably this was a declaration not too far removed from the ideals of the Ghadar Party fighting for the Independence of India in the early 20th century. While I fully celebrate, appreciate and participate in the Independence Day celebrations of my adopted country America, I wish the Ghadrites had won the day in my home country India and had made a similar declaration in 1947 that said: “The war with Great Britain is over. Indian Provinces regard themselves as independent states and are no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they now formed a new nation—the United States of India,” (meaning there would be no Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Kashmir a disputed territory or the cry for Khalistan!).

I say this because as much I love my adopted and beloved country America as a naturalized citizen, a migrant’s fear never subsides however he gets naturalized in his new environs. His heart keeps throbbing in the land he /she were born and brought up.

Explaining the irony, I wrote a Punjabi poem a while ago that I would like to share it here for my Gurmukhi reading friends:

ਕੀ ਰੱਖੀਏ ਨਾਂ ਇਸ ਆਲਮ ਦਾ:
ਕੀ ਰੱਖੀਏ ਨਾਂ ਇਸ   ਆਲਮ ਦਾ
ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ
ਦਿਲ ਵਿਚ ਰਿਸਦੀਆਂ ਯਾਦਾਂ ਦਾ।
ਸਾਥੋਂ
ਟੁਟ ਗਏ ਕੌਲੁਕਰਾਰਾਂ ਦਾ,
ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਅਣਸੁਣੀਆਂ ਫਰਿਆਦਾਂ   ਦਾ। ਕੀ ਰੱਖੀਏ ਨਾਂ . . . .

ਨਿੱਕੇ ਜਿਹੇ ਪਿੰਡ ਮੇਰੇ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ,
ਆਸਾਂ ਸਨ ਵਡੀਆਂ ਮੇਰੇਤੇ।
ਮੈਂ
   ਚਾਨਣ   ਲੈ   ਕੇ ਪਰਤਾਂਗਾ,
ਸੱਜਾਂਗਾ   ਆਣ   ਬਨੇਰੇ   ਤੇ।
ਪਰ
ਤਲਖ ਹਵਾਵਾਂ ਦੇ ਸਾਹਵੇਂ,
ਨਾ ਚੱਲਿਆਂ ਜ਼ੋਰ ਚਿਰਾਗਾਂ ਦਾ। ਕੀ ਰੱਖੀਏ ਨਾਂ . . . .

ਇਹ ਖਸਲਤ ਰਹੀ ਹਨ੍ਹੇਰੇ ਦੀ,
ਕੋਈ ਜੁਗਨੂੰ ਇਸ ਨੂੰ ਭਾਉਂਦਾ ਨੲ੍ਹੀਂ।
ਉਹ
ਟਿਮਕਣ ਬਾਝੋਂ ਰਹਿੰਦਾ ਨੲ੍ਹੀਂ,
ਤੇ ਨ੍ਹੇਰਾ ਚਾਨਣ ਚਾਹੁੰਦਾ ਨੲ੍ਹੀਂ।
ਇਹ
ਝੜਪ ਨਹੀਂ ਕੁਝ ਰਾਤਾਂ ਦੀ,
ਇਹ ਘੋਲ ਹੈ ਆਦਿ ਜੁਗਾਦਾਂ ਦਾ। ਕੀ ਰੱਖੀਏ ਨਾਂ . . . .

ਇਕ ਐਸੀ ਰਾਤ ਦਾ ਆਲਮ ਸੀ,
ਮੈਂ ਸੰਗ ਜੁਗਨੂੰਆਂ ਤੁਰ ਆਇਆ।
ਮਾਂ
ਸੇਜਲ ਨੈਣੀਂ ਤਕਦੀ   ਰਹੀ,
ਜੂਹ ਪਾਰ ਲੰਘਾ ਪਿਉ ਮੁੜ ਆਇਆ।
ਉਹ
ਮੇਰੀਆਂ ਮੰਨਤਾਂ ਮੰਨਦੇ ਰਹੇ,
ਖੁਦ ਜੀਉਂਦੇ ਜੀਣ ਆਜ਼ਾਬਾਂ ਦਾ। ਕੀ ਰੱਖੀਏ ਨਾਂ . . . .

ਮੈਂ ਹਾਂ ਤੇ ਕੈਸਾ ਦੀਪਕ ਹਾਂ,
ਜੋ ਪਾਰੁ ਸਮੂੰਦਰ ਬਲਿਆ ਹਾਂ।
ਲੈ
ਚਮਕ ਅਮਾਨਤ ਤੁਰ ਆਇਆਂ,
ਸੰਗ ਚੰਨ ਚਾਨਣੀ ਰਲਿਆ ਹਾਂ।
ਮੇਰੇ
ਸਿਰ ਤੋਂ ਕਰਜ਼ਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਲਹਿਣਾ,
ਮੇਰੇ ਪਿੰਡ ਦੇ ਜੂਨੁਖਰਾਬਾਂ ਦਾ। ਕੀ ਰੱਖੀਏ ਨਾਂ . . . .

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