Monday, December 21, 2020


It is a small poster, with a longish quote typed in a rather small font, carrying a face not too familiar to the thousands walking by. Thus, suspended on a bamboo, in front of a tractor, in the midst of this fair of solidarity, this celebration of resistance, one encounters Manto.

Here he in the company of Bhagat Singh and of Banda Singh Bahadur. Probably, unfamiliar territory for him, but not for his writings. His words, undivided by partition, speak for him.

‘Sahit taan tapman hai apne desh da, apni kaum da – Sahit apne desh, kaum te usdi sehat ate bimari di khabar dinda rehanda hai. Purani almari de kise khane vichon mitti-ghate naal bhari koi kitab chukko, beete hoye samein di nabaz tuhadiyan ungla heth dhadakdi lagegi.’

‘Literature is the pulse of one’s country, one’s community – Literature tells the news of health and illness of one’s country and community. From the shelves of an old almirah pick a dust laden book, you will feel the pulse of the past beat under your fingers.’

In his dedication ਇਹ ਮੇਲਾ ਹੈ ‘Eh mela hai’ ‘This is a carnival’ to the farmers movement, to those currently camping at Delhi Borders, Surjit Patar answers the state’s misleading question on who is participating in these protests.   

ਇਹਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਧਰਤ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ, ਬਿਰਖ, ਪਾਣੀ, ਪੌਣ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਨੇ         

Soil is here, Trees, water, air are here,

ਇਹਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਸਾਡੇ ਹਾਸੇ, ਹੰਝੂ, ਸਾਡੇ ਗੌਣ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਨੇ                

Our laughter, our tears, our songs are here,

ਤੇ ਤੈਨੂੰ ਕੁਝ ਪਤਾ ਹੀ ਨਈਂ  ਇਹਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਕੌਣ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਨੇ            

And you don’t know, who is here?

ਇਹਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਪੁਰਖਿਆਂ ਦਾ ਰਾਂਗਲਾ ਇਤਿਹਾਸ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਹੈ           

Our forefather’s celebrated history is here,

ਇਹਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਸਿਦਕ ਸਾਡਾ, ਸਬਰ, ਸਾਡੀ ਆਸ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਹੈ          

Our faith, patience, our hope is here,

ਇਹਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਸ਼ਬਦ, ਸੁਰਤੀ, ਧੁਨ ਅਤੇ ਅਰਦਾਸ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਹੈ         

Our words, awareness, passion and prayer are here

ਤੇ ਤੈਨੂੰ ਕੁਝ ਪਤਾ ਹੀ ਨਈਂ                                        

And you don’t know?

ਇਹਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਵਰਤਮਾਨ, ਅਤੀਤ ਨਾਲ ਭਵਿੱਖ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਹੈ            

Present is here, past and future are here,

ਇਹਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਮੁਸਲਮ, ਬੁੱਧ, ਜੈਨ ਤੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਹੈ          

Hindu, Muslim, Budh, Jain and Sikh are here

ਬੜਾ ਕੁਝ ਦਿਸ ਰਿਹਾ ਤੇ ਕਿੰਨਾ ਹੋਰ ਅਦਿੱਖ ਸ਼ਾਮਿਲ ਹੈ            

Many things one sees, and much unseen is here

ਇਹ ਮੇਲਾ ਹੈ                                                     

This is a carnival.


Manto will be pleased that Patar sahab has recorded the pulse of today.

Manto will be pleased to know that over two hundred poems dedicated to the farmers movement have been written and are published as ‘dharat vangare takhat nu’ ‘soil challenges the crown’.

Manto will be pleased to know that from celebrated writers and singers to young ten year olds, all are penning stories and songs for the movement.

Manto will be pleased to glance at the first edition of TrolleyTimes.

And much more than that Manto will be pleased to take a walk through the tractor-trolley townships and see elderly and young holding books, learning from their glorious past, from those whose posters surround the one Manto finds himself on. Every few hundred meters there is a collection of books, some better organized, some just sitting in tokras (large baskets). 

Manto will be pleased to know that they are feeling the pulse of their past and keeping this pulse alive for their future. 

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