My Pahari moment

On my iPad I was organising my Pahari articles. There seemed to be an obvious omission; that of Dr Farah Nazir. I knew she had written several articles, as I knew her work through the British Kashmiri Academics WhatsApp group which I had established. So, I searched her name on the internet. Up came a long list of entries, including the article I had instigated. I saved the links for reading later. One particular entry stood out as a bit of an emotional Pahari connection moment. The item came up with the name Awais Hussain (he of the Mirpur Heritage page on Facebook, member of the above WhatsApp group). I then noticed the picture. It looked very familiar, not surprisingly because it was a photograph, of the snowcapped Himalayas, I had taken during one of my visits to my birthplace, taken in Ratta where I had gone to Middle School. My first thought: how did she end up with that? 

I carried on reading the post. Of course, it was the poem Hill Speak by Zafar Kuniyal, he being the son of the man from Mirpur. It went….

There is no dictionary for my father’s language.
His dialect, for a start, is difficult to name.
Even this taxi driver, who talks it, lacks the knowledge.
Some say it’s Pahari – ‘hill speak’ –
others, Potwari, or Pahari-Potwari –
too earthy and scriptless to find a home in books.
This mountain speech is a low language. Ours. “No good.
You should learn speak Urdu.” I’m getting the runaround.

Whatever it is, this talk, going back, did once have a script:
Landa, in the reign of the Buddhists.
… So was Dad’s speech some kind of Dogri?
Is it Kashmiri? Mirpuri? The differences are lost on me.
I’m told it’s part way towards Punjabi,
but what that tongue would call tuvarda,
Dad would agree was tusaana –
‘yours’ –

truly, though there are many dictionaries for the tongue I speak,
it’s the close-by things I’m lost to say;
things as pulsed and present as the back of this hand,
never mind stumbling towards some higher plane.
And, either way, even at the rare moment I get towards –
or, thank God, even getting to –
my point, I can’t put into words
where I’ve arrived.

Then I got to the bottom of the post and there it was, the acknowledgment:

Photo credit: Dr Karamat Iqbal, taken in 1986 in tehsil Dadyal. I then remembered something about sharing with Farah the photo; memory and old age!