Killing Pushto

Daily Prompt: Non Regional Diction
Write about whatever you’d like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.

My husband R was a typical Pathan of North West Area of Pakistan. When I got married to him, he was aghast at the way I spoke Pushto.

The background to my pre marriage life:

The only two people at home were my older brother and I. Most of the time he wouldn’t be at home either. At home I had our maid and our cook. Both these people spoke Urdu (our National language) or Punjabi (the local dialect). Father would be away too. At Convent, my school the language was English.

At our home Pushto gradually became a forgotten language spoken occasionally with grandma or uncles when they visited. I am trying to explain why I couldn’t speak Pushto properly and the reasons behind it.

When we visited our ancestral village my aunts and visitors to our home would laugh when I would speak Pushto. Here are examples.
خدي دي اباخي
It means God forgave you. This means you are already dead and God has forgiven you.

خدي دي اباخا
This is the correct one. God forgive you. This is a sort of wishing you well when you are leaving.

I still commit the mistake of using the Pushto word Parun for tomorrow. It means yesterday actually. For tomorrow the correct word is Sarla.

My relatives would emit peals of laughter at my pathetic attempts at Pushto. I would hang my head in embarrassment.

Now back to my life with my husband. The way I would speak Pushto, he would shake his head and say, “Rahman Baba must be turning in his grave!”

Rahman Baba (1650-1711) was a poet. He is buried in Peshawar, Pakistan. Rahman Baba is to Pushto as Shakespeare is to English.


These two verses are from Rahman Baba’s poem Antics of the Age, translated by Jens Enevoldsen.

Patience is a virtue
With the sweetest taste
When impatience hurts you
Know, that haste is waste

Take on trust your fate if
You desire repose
You would soon regret if
Something else you chose

Whenever I would slip, R would hold his head in his hands and remark, “Rahman Baba must be jumping from a bridge to commit suicide”.

The mental image of Rahman Baba’s skeleton escaping from his grave and running towards a bridge would make me laugh.

Killing Pushto

14 thoughts on “Killing Pushto”

      1. Our gardeners wife was angry when we hopped around and told her the words.She was angry with Subedari,she said ‘you should teach them the name of foods etc’, But we were evil we wanted her to teach those words,one of them was”khanzi loorey”,I won’t write the rest.Sorry,we were only very young, she was my age. I was eight or nine. I would definitely learn proper Pushto now.


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