Of Gujjars and Grandfather tales.

Last night found us talking about Gujjars*. My grandfather was telling us about how, when they first came into India from Afghanistan, they split into three main groups. One of them settled in the north, in Khyber Pakhtun Khwa and Gilgit Baltistan. The other one along the Grand Trunk Road (GT rd). And for a long time, they actually did herd cattle and sell milk. In South Asia, lots of people don’t buy pasteurised milk. The trend has increased in recent years, but still a lot of people drink fresh milk provided by gawalay. These milkmen were invariably (as my grandfather says) Gujjars. However, for three days every year, they didn’t give their milk to anyone but instead they all gave the milk to the grand Urs of Data Darbar. For three days, any man could come and take as much milk as he wanted without any charge. This Darbar is actually a shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri who was a saint and a deeply spiritual man. The Darbar is called Data Darbar because Data means “The giver” (a crude translation, forgive me) and it is believed that anything will be granted if the person in need asks God through Data Sahib. Shirk, yes, but nevertheless it is a notion held by many.

This practice of giving all the milk to the Urs actually has a very interesting origin. There is a story about it, and when asked about its authenticity, my grandfather said it was completely true.

The story goes that one day, Ali Hajveri sat by the bank of the Ravi. A woman passed by him carrying a pot full of milk. He asked the woman if she would give him some milk.

“I cannot. I will only milk my cows for the jogi that lives yonder.” She replied.

He asked her to give him some milk for that day only. She refused. He asked the reason.

“Whenever I give this milk to anyone other than the jogi my cows start giving blood instead of milk.” The saint then understood that the jogi had cast some sort of spell.

“Give this to me, and I assure you, your cows will never give you blood again.” He told her. Reluctantly, the woman gave him the milk. The next day, when she milked the cows, there was such an abundance that all the containers in her house were not sufficient to hold the milk. Word quickly spread throughout the village, and all the other milkmen soon stopped supplying milk to the jogi and gave it, instead, to Ali Hajveri.

When the jogi realised this, he confronted the saint and threatened him. The saint said there was nothing he could do to harm him. At this, the jogi flew up in the air. The saint took of his kharawan (a very simple shoe — a wooden block with a single canvas strap across it) and threw it after him, and the shoe started beating the jogi in mid-air! The jogi realised this was no magic, that it was actually a Divine power. And so the jogi was defeated!

I don’t know if the milk thing still happens, but it was quite interesting to know this!


*Gujjars are a cast in the Indian subcontinent. The usual stereotype says that Gujjars sell milk and herd cattle, but it doesn’t apply anymore. Lots of other casts have taken up this profession. Similarly, one can find Gujjars in all fields now. Chaudhary Rehmat Ali, an eminent Muslim leader in the Creation of Pakistan, was a Gujjar. He suggested the name for Pakistan in his famous publication, “Now or Never”. Two strangers will become instant friends upon learning that they are both gujjars. It is said that Gujjars are quite fierce (it doesn’t apply anymore though). After the War of Independence (1857) in India, the British had commanded their officers to shoot gujjars on sight. They were considered “rebels”.

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Hey there! Pt. 2

Take off your shoes. Don’t worry, this is dirt, but it’s clean dirt. Like the Earth. The un polluted, pure parts of the Earth. Walking on this will actually make you feel better. So anyways, come on in, lonely soul. Yes, we have established the fact that you might not be a lonely soul. But if you are one of the rare people who have found their soulmate, please hold your tongue. You wouldn’t want to offend your host? Especially since you are in the host. I mean in my brain. But here we are, and off we go once more on the tour.
So I know last time our goodbyes were a bit rushed and abrupt. What can I do? Management had a fit. Management was still so against having you over again. But what can I do? I had to.
So that’s the path we took last time. This time, Management told me to lay out the rules before we went inside. I know, tedious. Anyways: just don’t touch anything, ESPECIALLY A MEMORY, and keep to the path. Stick with me because trust me, you do NOT want to get lost in here.
So I thought I would take you to the Insomniac Sector. This is where I am when I can’t sleep. You might find that this is covered with crazy colours, but that’s just how it is. So come over here. You see this tube? It’s like a tunnel but I don’t think anyone can fit down here (even if you are skinny and small enough don’t try it) but this is also the most unfortunate connection. This connects my brain to my legs. In other parts, similar hollow tubes connect my legs to those other parts. So basically, when I can’t sleep, I get this urge to move my legs, hence the tossing and turning. Moving on, we can see over here how the Bad Memory Sector is linked to this part too: every stupid and cringy thing I may have done or said is revisited and re-evaluated. As you can see: the Over-Analysing Sector is also connected. The Fear of The Unknown and The Fear of the Near Future are also located behind that black box. The Fears are actually part of this Sector and we just provide connections when they are required in other Sections or in other times. I can’t open this black box in your presence. I’ll tell you what it contains: an overwhelming concentrated colour fusion. Opening this will keep you awake for hours, until you feel as if you are loosing yourself and your soul into this. After that the Colours will trick you into the Void. Here, the Void will strip you of your identity and defence. The Void will strip you until you are raw and bare and then it will target you with everything you have ever avoided or defended yourself against. You think you’re so smart that you can just choose to not go into the Void? Do you not know of the sinister nature of these colours, enticing you with their ways, luring you in into a seemingly merry world and then… The Void. Many a man has lost his sanity here. You remember when I took your coats at the door? I didn’t just take your coats. I took away your material existence. So take a look at yourself. What are you? A bare soul. Vulnerable. So the only material existence here is the one that I possess. Nevertheless, let us continue!
Any questions? No?
Your sanity?
My sanity? You see, this is my brain. My brain is the guardian of my sanity. So yes, I have been in the void, and yes, I have survived it.
The insomniac Sector gets its own access to the Eyes. You know the little innocent light of the street lamps outside which slips in through the tired old curtains and dances on the ceiling? My brain stares at the light until it reaches the intensity of the Sun and becomes unbearable. Aah the connection with the ears: this is what makes me think that my brother breathing in his sleep sounds like a train going around in my head, whistling away in my ears.
This is the overall-over sensitivity of the entire body: usually, I can sleep anywhere no matter how hard or soft it is. But in insomniac times, the slightest bump feels like a huge knife trying to pierce my skin.
Over here, this is the Past and opposite this is the Future. I spend a lot of time inside these rooms. The space in between is (quite obviously) the Present but I guess during Insomniac times being in the present gives me anxiety, even though the anxiety is in anticipation of the future….
So here we are in the Conversation Room. Here I go through any conversations I may have had, online or offline, and think how I could’ve answered differently or said something wittier if only I had taken an entire insomniac night to think before I answered. Not that there’s something wrong with what has been said. But what’s an insomniac night without over-analysing and worrying about something completely useless and unproductive, right?

Anyways. I don’t want you to start thinking you know everything about me or atleast about this Sector. There’s lots that has been left unsaid. It’s safer that way. That’s the door right there, if you want you can leave, if you want we can have a coffee or something. It’s up to you but I won’t show you more. I think this is enough for this time.
So what do you say? Coffee or “Rab Rakhan”?

Dark Clouds

Dark clouds have turned day into dullness. A magnificent wind blows, entering this window and exiting that window. It is so dark I cannot read, yet I have not switched on any lights yet. The darkness corresponds to my mood. For days now, weeks, the weather had been the same: either oppressive heat with unbearable humidity, or continuous rainfall still with humidity. Why should I call a continuous rainfall “still”? It was so. Everything was still. Days rolled into weeks, weeks into months, and yet all was still. Utter monotony. I sat on the floor, amidst cotton amd nail polish. Looking out, seeing the hours while away, away to be lost in monotony. People ask: are you well? Yes, I am well. Well enough. I have everything I could need and more: monotony. An unchanging routine with no chance of excitement. No prospect for difference for another year or so. People are dying around the globe, death visits the neighbors and here I am. Perhaps the most ungrateful of them all? Perhaps just human? Books find me a way to escape: sometimes the past, sometimes in lands so far from my eye and yet, as soon as we come back, the sameness returns, the circumstances are still, our ways uninterrupted. We have done so much and yet nothing. Looking out I see a freshness in the green of the leaves but I know as I leave the house in accordance with my routine, I shall come back to find even that stale with dust. Sometimes the rain intensifies, sometimes it calms down, sometimes it even stops. I know I have a lot to do and not enough time, yet I know if these words are not penned down they too will be lost in the vast expanses of my thoughts. Just like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. When I prioritise something above words, I am punished by their loss. Yet writing deprives me of words too. This is sometimes pleasant: no words to think of, a clear mind, a consciousness. However, sometimes it has the reverse effect: I am overburdened with words and they keep forming until I have no alternative except to put my mind at rest: sleep. But all this does not relieve me of the current monotony. Seeing the time, however, I realise that I have nothing new to offer to anyone. I am NOT depressed, or upset. These feelings have now turned into cliches and irritate me to an extent that is unbearable. Perhaps you wouldn’t understand, but try living your entire life with the female species of this society… particularly the Homo sapiens. Felis felidae would make a nicer alternative for this society but that has other problems and anyways, I have yet to write about that another day. Anyways, as I was saying, I am not upset or anything, I am just tired of the same sameness that engulfs my world, even though the Earth is in chaos.

Until next time, stay hydrated.

Rab Rakhan. 

(P.S. If you happen to be a female of the species mentioned, please do not be offended, I was referring to the females found in my society that I face. Just like when I do my post on the females of Felis felidae, I shall be referring to those of my society too. I should add that this post reflects my mood for this passage of time, and that almost none of my posts reflect my “permanent” moods or stances on anything, if such a thing exists. Also if there is someone genuinely depressed or upset, you have my sympathies. I was referring to all those people who have turned this into cliches. May Allah bless us all with His bounties. Remember me in your prayers.)