Thursday, April 9, 2020

H is for Hiraeth #AtoZChallenge

A Welsh word today. 
Nesta, my friend Angela's mother, has very kindly shared the correct pronunciation of the word here: 


I came across Hiraeth by accident last week while watching Khamakha, a short film. The word's meaning as explained in the film fit a feeling I've nursed for a very long time, perfectly.

Hiraeth, according to Samantha Kielar describes, "The place where your spirit feels most at home. It may be a physical location that you can return to at any time, or it may be more nostalgic of a home, not attached to a place, but a time from the past that you can only return to by revisiting old memories."

It's a longing to be where your spirit lives.” She quotes further.

"Shinkiari da mitha paani....te uthe de mithe anaar..." (the sweet water of Shinkiari and its even sweeter pomegranates...) Papaji's sighs would carry us, his grandchildren, on the wings of his imagination. 

Sometimes, when the evenings were cold and the nights chilly, we'd snuggle around him; our bodies covered with his itchy grey woollen kambal (blanket).

And sometimes we'd visit his home and the land he had to leave behind in Pakistan while sprawled out on a munjhi (woven cot); the three of us and Papaji; under the shade of the giant mulberry tree that stood in the middle of vadda verandah. 

Was the spring breeze that lulled us into sleep blowing in India or in Shinkiari?  I'd close my eyes for a bit, just to rest the eyelids heavy with sleep while his far away voice would carry on painting bulbuls and koels and juicy, ripe anaars (pomegranates) that stained your fingers and tongues and white kameezan on the canvas of my dreams.

Streams of water that tasted like sherbet gurgled on in the telling of tales of his beloved Mansehra. 

In the months of school holidays, when we lay down under the tree after eating lunch of rotis, subzi and lassi, the summer sun would sieve through the mulberry leaves and fall on us creating soft bubbles of day and night--dancing just beyond our closed eyelids. Our grandfather would hum a tune or was it a longing he whistled?

Papaji would adjust his place on the munjhi to ensure he took the hot sun on him. But if the sun was too much to take, he'd pick up one end of the munjhi (with us in it) and drag it over, rattling us like popcorn kernels in a karahi. 

Khuddd...khuddd...khuddd over the criss-crossed bricks the munjhi would travel. And pop...squeal...giggle we'd go, pleading once more...once more to Papaji for those noisy munjhee de jhoote (rides in woven cots).

The word Shinkiari is a combination of two Pashto words: Shin means green and kiari means garden or a place of greenery.

Shinkiari is where Papaji was born. His ancestors; my ancestors called it home.

Google searches inform me that Shinkiari sits at the junction of Siran Valley, Konsh Valley and Baffa and that it is a Union Council of Mansehra District in the Kyber-Pakhtunkhwa (North West Frontier ) province of Pakistan. 

Google search results are ersatz to the landscapes Papaji painted with his words while we lay dreaming and awake under the shade of the mulberry.

"Paani sharvar, sharvar kardaa, thundee nahar de kunde." Water gurgles and sings in the cool stream.... is a Punjabi song sung during weddings. 

As soon as I was able to hold a chammach (steel spoon) and sing, I used to blast out these songs while beating the chammach on a dholok (drum). People with good singing voices need breaks to conserve energy so over-enthusiastic cutlets like me were used as fillers.

How I loved to sing those songs. 

Very early on in my life, I realised that songs and  stories, recipes and riwaz (traditions) and remembered memories are the treasures my grandparents were able to bring over from across the border with them. It is my sacred duty to keep their stories alive and their history relevant.

As a teenager and even in my twenties and thirties, my foremost ambition was to visit Shinkiari and see for myself Papaji's paradise. I'm not so sure any more. I think Shinkiari is safest in my memories. I'll visit his garden of green; his land of maakhiyan (honey) and honeybees and juicy pomegranate seeds when I close my eyes and let his longing for a home he loved mingle with my hiraeth for a land I've never known.

Perhaps my spirit, the one I've inherited from my ancestors continues to live there.
********
Sharing this photo I clicked of the Pink Moon last night.
 Moon is my hiraeth on nights like these.

Do you have an image (in your heart or mind or memories) of a place where your spirit lives?

30 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    Hmmm interesting one! There are so many places on this earth which have captured my heart; but in purely spiritual terms? Wherever I can stand high and look out to sea... YAM xx

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    1. I like the image of your hiraeth Yamini.

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  2. I'd love to stand in the middle of nowhere and sing my heart out! I tried snapping the moon last night - if only it had come out like yours!

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    1. You should Keith. Nothing like belting it out:)
      It's a mirrorless camera I'm trying to get friendly with these days. Was happy with how the moon turned out in this pic.

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  3. You made me learn one more new meaningful word in life after Meraki....rememberer? You shared that word in the last year’s or the year before series that’s stuck with me forever. Now this hiraeth.....what a beautiful explanation and a string of vivid memories you narrate. My hiraeth would be somewhere like your first video precisely in India....’yeh haseen wadiyan....yeah khula asman’ sort of destination 😊.

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    1. You're so good Pinkz. You remember my Meraki post:) Wow!I'm so impressed.
      Your song is a perfect example of Hiraeth.

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  4. I wrote a poem for last year's challenge...HIRAETH
    Later last year I reviewed a book by a friend Shivani Salil on my blog. The book is titled Hiraeth and covers accounts and stories on partition.
    Much love!

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    1. I read your poem Sonia. Lovely, as usual.
      I'll try to get a copy of Shivani's book when I can.
      Thank you for the info.
      I'll read that review in a bit.
      Cheers.

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  5. Can I have more than one? I have traveled a lot and lived in many places, and I have both locations and memories that are hiraeth. :) Rome is definitely one of them.

    The Multicolored Diary

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    1. You can have as many as your heart desires:)
      I've never been to Rome but would like to one day.

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  6. Haha. It takes courage to sing out in public, especially if you were used as a filler. ;) And all thanks to you, I learnt a new word today - Hiraeth.

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    1. I am quite fond of singing actually despite my besuri awaaz and utter lack of sur:)

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  7. A new beautiful word in my life too!Thank you.One dear friend told me something which stays forever with me. "When someone dear leaves us forever, something within you dies with them, but importantly something about them lives within you..FOREVER." Like your Papaji's stories, he too lives in you Arti.
    I too have memories that would be my Hiraeth, to pick a location it would be my very own balcony & my home with my full family.All the tenants had to vacate that building as it was marked dangerous by the Municipality to live there. Few years back when I drove past there except this building & one old Mango tree bang opposite,everything had changed.No one stays there anymore,but our houses, my balcony still continue to exist.

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    1. Such a poignant end to your beautiful balcony Vidya.
      And those words from your friend: precious.
      I'll remember them.
      Thank you dear one.
      Hugs. xx

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  8. You are such a beautiful writer Arti, and I so appreciate and honor your acceptance of your "sacred duty" to keep the stories and memories alive. You are part of the chain of blessings.

    Such a lovely word, and how fabulous to have a recording of it's pronunciation and meaning.

    I laughed out loud when you described yourself as an overenthusiastic cutlet - that's hilarious. But I so feel the strength of your holding the stories of land of honey and honeybees and juicy pomegranate seeds, it fills my heart.

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    1. Thank you Deborah. I admire the way you string your words and spirit into posts that are just so sublime. So, I'm happy you enjoy my writing.
      I was so thrilled when Nesta's recording reached me. Her voice is making me want to learn Welsh!

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  9. Hello My Cutlet, your musings have now pushed me in the direction of finding my Hiraeth... shall surely share if am able to decipher... ( vaise rumi is coming to my mind)
    In the meanwhile look for the Second one .
    And The Pink Moon Click is Awesome. 🥳

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    1. OOooh! flutering my eyelashes at you Chaudhary sahab...aapne humein cutlet bula kar ghayal kar diya... Jain sahab ko batana padega. Ha! Ha!
      Can't decipher the 'Second one.'
      And cheers for the appreciation.

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  10. Another very beautiful narration. It left me wondering where does my mind or spirit go to when it looks for that inner ray of happiness and bliss. Definitely to childhood days and I guess to my grandparents house too. I loved your lines which say that "it's best they stay that way in your memory"....I guess that's where they are safe, untouched and unchanged :)!I feel like reading your post once again while typing my comment! Just reading it itself I feel my spirit going to it's happy place!

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    1. Awww! Ira. I'm sending you a big pyaar waali japhhi right now...the Punjabi version...kuss ke:)
      You've made my day.
      Thank you.

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  11. I think mine is also the in my memories.

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    1. I can sense that Kristin after reading your posts.

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  12. "The place where your spirit feels most at home." Thank you for the word. It's an important one.

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  13. Such an engrossing narration Arti, I am getting fan of your writing style. Beautiful word 'Hiraeth' with a beautiful meaning.
    Well, my Hiraeth would be in Gangadarshan, yogashram in Munger, Bihar, from where I did my yoga teacher's training course. The ashram stands on the hill overlooking Ganga river, and we get the breathtaking panoramic view of the majestic Ganga in its full glory!
    Another Hiraeth, would be Igatpuri ashram for Vipasanna meditation, such a serene and holy place surrounded by western ghats.
    With all my love, Nisha

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    1. Nisha, I had goosebumps when I read about your Hiraeth. I have a feeling that both the places will be added to my list of "Hiraeth' when I visit them. Igatpuri has been on my list and now I'm adding Munger too.
      Thank you. Much Love. xx

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  14. Hii. I bumped into your blog through a friend and I was glued. You write beautifully. Reading your stories made me all warm and happy-it felt like home. Keep writing!

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    1. Thank you Meha. That's such a lovely comment to read. I'm grateful to your friend who brought you here.
      Dare I say? welcome home dear Meha:)

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