Creative Heritage

Lullabies, poems, stories

Waseema Azfar (Urdu)


“Dhire se aajaa ni                                (Come slowly) (Punjabi “ni”, In Urdu “re”)

Akhian nannay…                                 (Little eyes…)

Neendia aajaa reh aa jaa                    (Come, come, oh sleep come)

Dhire se aajaa                                     (Come slowly)

Chup ke se aake                                   (Come quietly)

Mere nannay ko sulaa ja                      (Put my little one to sleep)

Aaja neendia aa jaa”                           (Come, oh sleep come)


Sufia Choudhury

“Okay. I’m going to tell you the two sisters’ story… Actually, my uncle (told me this story). We really liked the story. We used to ask him “can you tell the story again?”…

There was a mum living with two daughters, and one is really pretty and one is really dark. But prettier girl…no, the dark girl always thinks that nobody likes her, everybody likes the prettier one. But mum likes them both equally…but she thinks nobody likes her because she is pretty and I’m not pretty.

One day she went to see one of her uncle’s shops – and uncle selling the herb-things shop…You know the…herbs. Yeah. So she… and “can you give me something to kill her?” and then uncle said “Okay, don’t worry, I’ll sort it out for you”. “Can you give me poison to kill her?” “Okay, I’ll give you poison, but there is one condition. If you give her poison now then people will think of you, that you killed her. So you’ll have to kill her slowly”. She said “Okay, that’s no problem”. “The from now on, when you go, take the bottle and when you make food for her, give her one drop of the poison, and do this for 6 months – but you have to be nice to her, you have to look up to her properly because she going to die soon, and you have to look after her properly and everything.

And…she says “There’s no problem. I’ll do it!” Her uncle gave her a thingy…a bottle of poison. She came home, and she was really nice and the next day she made breakfast for her…and she dropped in the poison. And then she continued making her breakfast, making her dinner, she’s so good – and mum wondered what was happening, it’s like a dream. And three months continued, and after three months, she was so….what is the word?…she’s getting to like her. Because they’re both really nice together and they’re playing together, eating together, doing things together…and after three months she went back to the uncle thingy…uncle’s shop.

Uncle said ‘What’s now? Is she not getting died. There’s three months left, so why are you here. What do you want now?” and then the darkest girl said “Uncle, I don’t want to kill her now”. “Why?” “Because she’s so nice to me and I’m so nice to her, I don’t want to kill her.” And then uncle said “Look, sit down and listen to me. That wasn’t poison, it was just water. It’s not poison, the poison was inside your heart. So you washed your poison now; now no problem.”

So since then they’re really good friends, they’re really good to each other. That’s the story. (laughter). So that’s the story, then the main point is if you’re nice to people they’ll be nice to you…”


Mazhar Hussain

The djinn story: (originally told to Mazhar Hussain by his Grandmother in Punjabi)

“…My daadi had a djinn…(a being referred to in the Qur’an that is described as being made from smokless fire) heard from her, they say when she was young she was very good looking, she had very long hair, she washed her hair and she was on the roof drying her hair and djinn, by chance, he was passing over….and he fell in love with her…

…in the evening she would tell us about this djinn, and confirmed by my mother – all of a sudden she is talking with somebody…and after a while he is gone and my grandmother becomes normal.

…but this djinn when my great-grandfather, being head of the community village, used to read the Quran, it was his practice in the morning, he would sit on a bed, a charpoyee …a charpoyee is like a local bed where you can but sheets on and sleep as well, but he would sit on it and read the Qur’an in the morning, that’s early morning…and he noticed that a little snake, over the wall, it would come down and sat in front of him with his head up, and when my great-grandfather would finish the Qur’an this snake would go away!

It happened so often, so regularly, that my great-grandfather realised that it’s not an ordinary snake…it’s a djinn! (laughter) chota hai tou, djinn ka bacha hai! (the little one, is the djinn’s child!). When after a few days when he was going away my great-grandfather told him – ‘Look, bring your elder to the mosque at the mosque time, and so it happened that a few days later an elderly person and a young boy appeared in the mosque door – djinn and his son. Elderly person told my great-grandfather that he was his son to learn the Quran and would you please take him, teach him? Agreed! In those days there used to be, in a mosque, a room where children who were learning the Quran and other Islamic things will live there, and occasionally my great-grandfather would also stay there for the night. Now this djinn-child had been given a bed and told to behave. You must not let anybody know that you are what you are! Agreed!

Now what he was doing in the mosque, there was a well, to draw water, a place where you could have a shower…very old, not today’s modern shower, a little tank where people could fill it and an outlet where people could have a shower... people filling for their own nature and also people coming for the prayers they were bought where they could use water for ablution, and this djinn started filling the water-tank regularly, always full. This was always full of water for the people who came to prayer. When you come in you take your shoes off; when you come out shoes are always turned around the other way so that people can get into them easily…and people notice all of these things. Who’s doing it? Thinking somebody good is doing it…it was djinn who was doing it!

And the story goes, again according to my grandma, that at night there was an oil-lamp in the room, when everything was said and done then somebody whose bed was nearer to the lamp was told to put the lamp out. This djinn would say, ‘now cover your faces…I’ll do it!’, and from that corner a long hand would come out and…(laughter)…My great grandfather saw him doing it and he was told off, not to do it.

The longest story I can remember…there was a tree, a large tree was cut in the field somewhere, they needed the wood…that tree to bring it in to use for some purpose; it was a big tree…and they were thinking and talking about it…who and how to do it, how many people we’ll need to carry it…this djinn was listening to all of that. They hadn’t decided anything…who would do it, how many people…and the next morning all the tree was there, where they wanted it (laughs)…the djinn did it!

…My grandmother was telling that he was told off and he said ‘well, this is it! You’ve learned what you wanted…now you go away! And he was sent away, and the story goes that he broke a wall of the mosque when he went…in anger (laughter)…and these kind of stories I can still remember.”


Samina Hussain (Urdu)

Nursery rhyme:

“Guriya meri rani hai                            (Dolly is my princess)

Laado barri siyaani hai                        (The favourite one is very clever)

Roz parne jaa ti hai                             (She goes to school every day)

Jaldi ghar ko aa ti hai                          (She comes home quickly)

Aa meri guriya chaach paloh             (Come my doll churn the butter-milk)

Chaach paloh kar makk’han lo             (Churn the butter-milk and have some butter)

Makk’han misri kha ti hai                      (She eats butter and sugar)

Taali khoob bajaa ti hai.”                    (She claps lots and lots.)


Samina’s poem: (used in the Different Moons women’s workshops)

“Ye jo main parr rahi hoon “Kaanch Ki Chudrian Aur Aurat”.

(The one I am reading is Glass Bangles and Woman.)

Aurat ki misaal kaanch ki chudrion jaise hotin hain.

(Women can be compared to glass bangles.)

Jaise kaanch ki chudrian mein bohoth se rang hote hain, aurat ke bhi bohoth se roop hote hain.

(Like glass bangles have lots of colours, women have lots of qualities.)

Kabhi wo maan banke apni aulaad ki parwarish karti hai.

(Sometimes in the form or a mother she nurtures her children.)

Tou kabhi bhain bankar, bhai par wari sadqay hoti nazar aati hai.

(Sometimes she is seen in the form of a sister giving blessings to a brother.)

Beti bankar maan baap ki khidmat karti hai,

(As a daughter she cares for her mother and father,)

aur biwi bankar shohar ke liyae jannat zameen par utaar laati hai.

(and as a wife she brings heaven down for her husband on earth.)

Laikin ye sab kutch haasil karnay ke liyae aurat ke jazbat ka ehsaas karna bohoth zaroori hai.

(But for all of this to happen it is important that a woman’s feelings are respected.)

Jis taran kaanch ki chudrian mukhtalif rangon mein jhilmilaati rehti hain, aur kaano mein jaltaran bajti rehti hain,

(Just like bangles shine and shimmer with different colours, and create music for our ears,)

wese hi aurat bhi mukhtalif rishton mein dubhi rehti hai.

(in the same way a women is drowned in different relationships.)

Wo in rishton mein kho kar apna ehsaas dilwati hai.

(She loses herself and shows her care in these relationships.)

Kaanch ki chudrion ko toot ne se bachanay ke liyae jaise unn ki hifazath ki jaati hai, wese hi aurat ki aisasaath ka khayal rakna chae’yea.

(Just as we keep glass bangles safe from being broken, in the same way we should consider a woman’s feelings.)

Uske jazbaath ki hifazath karni chae’yea, Chaa’ye kyon ke uske aisasaath zari si thais se toot kar chakna choor ho jaate hain.

(We should keep her feelings safe because her feelings can be shattered like glass.)

Lihaza aurat ke maamlay mein ehthyath se kaam layna chae’yea kyon ke uss ke jazbaath bhi kaanch ki churdrian jaise hote hain.”

(In our relations with women we should take care as a woman’s feelings are as delicate as glass bangles.)


Mohammed Ishaque (Urdu)

“So people used to sit around. And elderly people you know used to make the stories. And children and even grown up they used to listen to them and in those days there used to be no proper work because manual work, hard work you know. Then the invention of the tractors and those things. All these things finished, and plus…drying the water from the wells, in those days. And summer they used to work to make their earnings to get some produce and in the winter, it was cold. So and there was a lot of other things with it as well. So in winter we used go for hunting as well. Fox and jackals and other things, you know, rabbits and those we used to go for hunting as well.

…Then also bull fighting, you name it, anything we are doing because winter people used to come and to see those things.”

Extracts from: “Shahzaadi ka gharoor”, “The pride of the princess”.

“Iss zamaane mein, Hindustan ke gaon mein chaar Brehman rehte thay.

(In these times, in a village in India, there lived four Brahmans). Brehman means high caste priest. In India, they call them Brahmans… 

The four were really good friends.

Unno mein se thiin bashoorma yahoor …te. (Amongst them there were three scholars…

Laikin thiino ke paas common sense. (But between them all three had no common sense.)

…Ek din, charon dost baihte we, aapas mein batain kar rahay thay.

(One day, the four friends were sitting amongst themselves talking.)

Balla itne aalim ka kya fiada hai? (Hey, what’s the point/benefit of all this knowledge?)

he says three you are very highly educated, and other one was not educated but he has a good common sense. They were sitting together and he says: what’s the use of our knowledge? You are not taking any benefit from that, see why not go out? To see the kings, and tell them about your knowledge?

…So they went out on a journey. …the elder man, one of the elder man in them said.

He says out of four of us, this other man he’s an idiot. The one which had no good education, he’s a(n) idiot.

He says how man can effect a king with just a common sense? We are educated we will impress the king, with our knowledge. This is why it has be necessary to be educated. To impress somebody.

… So at the end, they agreed. Okay we’ll take him…with us. They kept on their journey, they went into a jungle, a forest. They in forest they saw, the bones of an animal.

One of the educated man said. We know we have got the knowledge. Allah has given us the knowledge. Now we should make the use of it this knowledge, on these bones. To see what this bones of. What sort of animal is it?

…Hamain aap ne ilam ke zariya ye, in bikre we haddiyon ko akkhatta karke . Ek saalam dhanche mein tabdeel kar saktain hain, kar sakta hoon.

(Using our knowledge, we can, I can gather these scattered bones and change them into a complete skeleton.)…

He made it into a perfect skeleton and the second man gave him the blood and other things and skin. Then the third man, third Brehman he said I’ll give the life. So he kept on reading sections from the book, to give him the life.

The fourth man who had no knowledge, but he had a common sense. He says my friends, educated people, my understanding is telling me that this is skeleton of a lion. The man with the common sense. Now, it’s my mashwara… (to sonsult)

It’s my opinion, don’t make him don’t give him life, because this is a lion. If you alive him, what he will do? He will eat us up. He says, don’t give him life. If you did that, certainly he will devour you, he will eat you up. Lion…

When they heard those three friends became angry with him.

“Ahmaq”. “Oh idiot”. They said, all of them said, he’s a(n) idiot. “You are going to tell us, you know more than us?” “Nahin.” (No.)

But he said (the man with a common sense) no, no friends this is not the things. I know, I am telling you only things which is I know it. Which is my common sense tell me.

Agar although aap loagon ne uss ko zinda kar ke… Karne ka pakka irada ki hua, tou mehrbani kar ke muje drakth pe charwaa do…

(If you people intend to give it life. If you have definitely decided, then kindly please help get me up this tree.)…

The fourth man went on the tree. The third man with his knowledge he gave him the life…he alived the lion. And as soon as the lion… stood up he ate all of them, the three. And when…

Jab shere wahan se chala gaya tou aam samaj buje rakne walla Brehman, drakth se uttar gaya aur apne ghar chala gaya. “

(When the lion had gone from there, the Brahman who had common sense came down from the tree and went home.)


Aslom Miah

“Groom came from Rawtenstall (original would have used Bengali village name)

To see bride..beautiful bride

He gave his handkerchief as a gift

As a gift to the lady to keep her happy”


Farida Munir (Urdu)


“Chanda mamoun dhoor ke                 (uncle moon of far away)

Barai pakai bhoor ke                            (made dumplings with crumbs)

Aap kaahain thahlee mein                  (himself he ate them on a plate)

Ham ko dain pyalee mein                    (to us he gave them in a bowl)

Pyalee gai toot                                    (the bowl went and broke)

Chanda gai root.”                                 (moon/baby got upset.)


Story of the princesses and the king:

“Meri daadi bohoth hamain kahani sunnaya kartiin thiin. Shahzadon ki, shahzadian ki.

(My grandma used to tell me lots of stories. Of princes and princesses.)

Wo ek baadshah tha, uss ki teen betiyan thi, aur ke paanch betiyan thi.

(There was a king, who had 3 daughters, and or five daughters.)

Tou wo sab se bohoth pyar kiya kartha tha. Tou Betiyan kehti thi ham bohoth pyar karte hai aap se. Ham bohoth pyar karte hai.

(He loved them all very dearly. And his daughters used to love him and say that we love you. We love you very much.)

Tou usko, baadshah ko meetha bohoth passand tha. Tou har ek beti na uske, meetha koi kehti hai, mujhe aap gulaab jaman ki taran meethi…acche lagtay hai.

(So he, the king liked sweets a lot. So each of his daughters, said something sweet, I think you are as sweet as … I like you like gulaab jaman (oval sweet in syrup), I like you that much.)

Dusri kehti hai mujhe kheer ke taran acche lagtay hain. Dusri kehti hai ke mujhe aap zarde ki taran aap acche lagtay hain. Koi kehti barfi ke taran acche lagtay hai.

(The other says I like you like kheer (sweet rice pudding). The other says I like you like zarda (sweet saffron rice). Another says I like you like barfi (a coconut sweet).)

Iss taran meetha kehte hain. Wo sab se jo chohti hain na, kehti ke dad aap mujhe na. Jaise namak accha hota hai na. Mujhe aap namak ke taran acche lagtay ho.

(In this way they say how sweet. Then the youngest daughter, says that you know dad how salt is good. I like you like that, as much as salt.)

Tou dad ko bohoth ghussa aa jaata hai. Kehta hai ke dekho ye mujhe itna hai ke namak ke taran sab se, kuch bhi nahin uss mein. Aur ye namak ke taran muhje pyar karti hai.

(So the dad got very angry. He says, look, just like, as much as salt, and there is nothing in salt. And she loves me like salt.)

Aur ye mujhe itna accha pyar karte hai. Kitne acche acche cheezain unno ne batain hai.

(And they love me so well. How many lovely things they have said, (they love me like).)

Tou uss ko, khud naraz ho ke, uski shaadi kar de ta hai. Kehta hai ke main ne, iss ke saath nahin…iss ko mere saath pyar nahin hai.

(So he, being offended, gets her married. He says I won’t have her (here)…she does not love me.)

Tou wo chalee jaati hai dusre shehyr, muhlk mein. Shahzade ke saath rehti hai.

(So she goes away, to a different city, country. She lives with the prince.)

Tou ek din usko khayal aa ti (ta) hai ke, uss baadshah ko. Usko nahin pata tha meri beti, bar ke usko nikaal de tha na muhlk se. Tou usko ek shahzada lay jaata hai, tou uske saath.

(Then one day, that king has a thought. He doesn’t know it’s his daughter. In fact he had banished her from the country. So a prince takes her away, (so) with him. )

Tou uss ko khayal aata hai ke uss shahzada ko, apne uss baadshah ko apne muhlk mein dawat deti hai.

(So she has a thought, (that prince(cess)), that she would invite the king to her country.)

Tou baadshah ko ek hafte ke liyae dawat deti hai. Tou har roz kabhi gulaab jaman, kabhi kheer. Har meethi cheeze koi namak wali cheeze ban aake nahin rakti na. Tou har meetha, meetha, meetha, meetha. Tou theen, chaar din ke baad wo baadshah na, thang aa jaa ta hai. Tou kehta hai, ye tou har cheeze. meethi hai tou, main tou thang aa gaya hoon. Main meethi cheeze nahin kaunga.

(So she invites the king to stay for a week. So every day she serves gulaab jaaman, sometimes kheer. Every sweet thing she makes and serves, but nothing (savoury) salty. Everything sweet, sweet, sweet. So after three or four days, that king was really fed up. So he says, everything here is sweet, I’m fed up. I’m not going to eat anything sweet.)

Tou aur phir apne naukar ke haath usko paigham bhaij thi hai. Ke jaao usko kaho ke ek mouqa tha aap ki beti aap ko namak ke taran pyar karti thi.

(So then she sends a message in the hand of her servant. That go, tell him there was a time your daughter loved you like salt.)

Tou namak ke (ka) matlab ye, ke aap har roz bhi namkeen cheezain khao tou aap thang nahin hoinge.

(So the meaning of salt is, that every day you can eat salty things, and you will never be fed up.

Tou wo iss taran pyar karti thi, Aur aap ne usko ghar se nikaal diya tha aur saza de di ti.

(So she loved you like this. And you banished her from home and punished her.)

Ke wo itna kam pyar karti hai. Tou jo meethi cheezain hai, aap unse jaldi thang aa jaa thay ho. Tou namkeen cheeze se aap kabhi bhi nahin thang aate.

(That she loves you so little. But sweet things you get fed up of them quickly. Salty things you never get fed up of.)

Tou phir baadshah bohoth roya, tou kehta meri beti wakihe bohoth sachi thi. Tou gaya, tou phir iss taran wo beti ke saath milta hai.

(To then the king cried a lot, and said, truly my daughter spoke the truth. So he went, and that is how they got back together.)

And then they lived happily ever after.” (laughter)


Luai Ullah (Bengali)


“Kandeyo na reh shuna moni. Kandeyo na.

(Don’t cry my love golden one, don’t cry.)

Dada zayba shoshur bari thumi zaybai ne?

(Granddad will come to my in-laws village, will you go too?)

Kandeyo na reh shuna moni. Kandeyo na.

(Don’t cry my love, golden one don’t cry.)…


Shuna Dada Kandeyo na.

(Dear granddad don’t cry.)

Kandeyo na reh kandeyo na amar dadai kande na. Kandeyo na reh kandeyo na dadai zayba shoshur bari thumi zaybai ne?”

(Don’t cry. Don’t cry my love, granddad don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry granddad’s going to the in-laws village will you go too?)