Listen to Bulleh Shah!

Listen – do listen! – to Bulleh Shah
Beware of the tyranny of names!
They’ll give you a label and ever thereafter
Forget that we’re all just the same!

Nothing! We’re nothing but shapes of dust,
A story that’s yet to be told!
But names are a prison, and I’d rather perish
I’m more than that bugger can hold!

Poured out my heart, and at long last he said
You’re Right, so I cannot agree –
Confusion ensues and I beg him – explain!
He says he’s a Leftist and leaves.

“I’m not a Leftist or Rightist, no!
Just trying to get through my day.
Turn Right when it suits me and Left when it suits me
Survival! Put food on the plate!”

“Then you have got to be capitalist!
A heartless pursuer of wealth!
A Keynesian Hedonist! A neo-elitist!”
– I no longer call him a friend.

Names are deceptively easy to earn
For lines are easily drawn
Remember, it’s better to tell them instead, ke
Bulla ki jaana main kaun.

Doodles that didn’t make the cut.

Beware the label stuck upon your chest!
For names are prison cells to chain the mind.
Once you’re Right, they’ll take what’s left and twist it,
Or worse, they’ll call you Left, forget you’re right.

Once you’re Left …

At first, we had our hearts and minds alone
And instinct was enough to know the truth
The way ahead was not a single road
You had to be prepared to twist and turn.

At once you could be Right and left and center,
Or Left behind, though never Left alone.
Be frugal and giving; careful and bold,
Or able to melt and happily fit the mould.

But now we have to fight against the names that
Condense and simplify what is in fact
A complicated mess of thought and action
More beautiful than labels would allow.


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