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Habba KhatoonHabba Khatoon
Habba Khatoon

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Lal Ded contributed the vaks of devotion and wisdom to the Kashmiri language. Habba Khatun, on the other hand, sang songs of love and romance.

Habba Khatun was born in the village of Chandrahar in the sixteenth century. In her earlier days, she was called Zoon (the Moon). She grew up in the midst of the saffron fields and in the shade of the chinar trees. She was not raised as a typical peasant girl. She had learnt how to read and write from the village moulvi. At an early age her father married her to a peasant boy. But this illiterate peasant boy could not keep Zoon happy. He could not understand the longings of her heart. Just like Lal Ded, Zoon also was sad. Lalla became desperate and left her home. Zoon divorced her husband and started singing songs in Kashmiri.

Zoon used to sing in the shade of a chinar tree. One day Yusuph Shah Chak was out hunting that way on horseback. He happened to pass the place where Zoon was singing under the chinar tree. He heard her melancholic melodies, and went to look at her. He was stunned by her beauty. As soon as their eyes met, they fell in love. Later, Zoon and Yusuph Shah were married. She changed her name and became Habba Khatun.

Habba Khatun introduced lol to Kashmiri poetry, lol is more or less equivalent to the English 'lyric'. It conveys one brief thought. It is full of melody and love.

Habba Khatun kept Yusuph Shah under her control. The couple was very contented, and Yusuph Shah became the ruler of Kashmir.

Their happiness did not last long. Akbar came into prominence in Delhi, and he called Yusuph Shah there. In 1579, Yusuph Shah was compelled to go to Delhi. In Delhi, Akbar arrested him. He was kept in prison in Bihar. Poor Habba Khatun was separated from Yusuph Shah. The songs of Habba Khatun are full of the sorrow of separation. It is claimed that Habba Khatun introduced the lol into the Kashmiri (language) After her came Arnimal who also sang mournful lyrics.

A Song by Habba Khatoon

Which rival of mine has lured you away from me?
Why are you cross with me?
Forget the anger and the sulkiness,
You are my only love,
Why are you cross with me?
My garden has blossomed into colorful flowers,
Why are you away from me?
My love, my only love, I think only of you,
Why are you cross with me?
I kept my doors open half the night,
Come and enter my door, my jewel,
Why have you forsaken the path to my house?
Why are you cross with me?
I swear, my love, I am waiting for you,
dressed in colorful robes,
My youth is in full bloom now,
Why are you cross with me?
Oh, marksman, my bosom is open
To the darts you throw at me.
These darts are piercing me,
Why are you cross with me?
I have been wasting away like snow in summer heat.
my youth is in its bloom.
This is your garden, come and enjoy it.
Why are you cross with me?
I have sought you over hills and dales,
I have sought you from dawn till dusk,
I have cooked dainty dishes for you.
I do all this in vain!
Why are you cross with me?
I shed incessant tears for you,
I am pining for you,
What is my fault, O, my love?
Why don't you seek me out?
Why are you cross with me?
The shock of your desertion has come as a blow to me,
O cruel one, I continue to nurse the pain.
Why are you cross with me?
I have not complained even to the spring breeze
That is my agony.
Why have you forgotten me?
Who will take care of me?
Why are you cross with me?
I swear by you
I do not go out at all,
I don't even show up at the spring.
My body is burning,
Why don't you soothe it?
Why are you cross with me?
My hurt is marrow deep; I did not complain.
I just wasted away for you.
I have suppressed endless longing,
Why are you cross with me?
I, Habba Khatun, am grieving now.
Why didn't I ever greet you, my love?
The day is fading and I keep recalling,
Why are you cross with me?
 

Reproduced from:
An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri
by Braj B. Kachru
Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois 61801 U.S.A.
June, 1973

 


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