Tag Archives: Pushto


Fierce reminds me of a neighbor’s mother. We were living at Thall. Our home was inside the Fortress. My daughter Nola, and I were the only ones at home. My late husband was at that time a Lt. Col in the army, and commanding a Unit. Mostly his unit was at the border. My son was at Burn Hall in Abbotabad. He would come home during school breaks.

Our neighbors were army doctors. Lt. Col Dr.Q’s mother was living with him. She had no other children beside him. She was fiercely protective  of her son’s children. When the children came out to play, she accompanied them. 

She would be dressed in black. I think I never saw her in any other color. I never could understand her. Although both of us spoke Pushto, but the dialect changes from region to region. Mine had softer edges to it, whereas hers’ was difficult to understand. I would just nod when she would speak to me, trying hard to decipher what she was saying. Most of the time I wouldn’t understand a word of what she would say. I could only make out a word, or two, with that I would try to carry on the conversation with her.

My son S had come home on one of his breaks. He had a slight altercation with Q’s son. Nola came running in to tell me. I went out to see what had happened. S had come to blows with one of the boys. Q’s mother was crying as she said something to me about S fighting her grandson. As a punishment I gave a slap to S’s behind. At this she started to wail. I was horrified at her crying, not knowing what to do. It turned out she was now crying because of my son’s tears. She didn’t want me to punish S. I saw her hugging S, drying his tears, giving him a sweet from the ones she carried around.




Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. 


Not Needed

Even seven words are not needed. Where there is a will there is a way. A lady (M) from Scotland used to stay at our home during winter months. She was teaching at a school in Murree, Pakistan. When the school closed for holidays, she would come and spend her time with us.

We had given her our guestroom free of any charges. Our paternal aunt whom we called Babo looked after us in absence of father. Babo only knew Pushto, and M spoke English. The language wasn’t a barrier between them. They carried on, each speaking their own language. 

They had devised a way to converse, and they understood each other perfectly. Sometimes when the spoken words weren’t enough, they resorted to sign language. In the process Babo learnt English, and M learnt Pushto.


Seven Wonders

Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?


The Dilemma


Tired with the old prompt I am writing my own story.

My home country is an amalgam of languages. There are four provinces, and each has its own dialect—- Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi, and Pushto. Then there are  more languages — Saraiki, Hindko, Gujrati, Hydrabadi, Kohistani, and three versions of Pushto. The unifying language in the country is the national language Urdu. Then there is English which is a kind of world language, is also spoken; not on street level, but in schools, and colleges which are English medium.

At home my (late) husband R, and I used to speak Pushto. Both of us were Pathans from the North Western Region. Our first born, our son was used to Pushto.

A problem occurred when he started playing outside with the other children. He couldn’t talk in Urdu. The children shunned him. The first time he came inside in tears, “nobody wants to play with me”.

To remedy the situation I started with Urdu. Children are quick, and in no time he picked up easily. He adjusted with the other children happily.

We never thought two languages at home would create a problem, and that’s what happened. Our daughter who is two years younger than her brother wasn’t saying a word even. She was two, and half years by then, and wouldn’t speak. We were scared that she might be mute.

We never realized that she was having difficulty in speaking because of us. Our little daughter was confused. R and I talked in Pushto. With our son we spoke Urdu, and with her we continued in Pushto. After getting over my initial worrying I started speaking Urdu with her.

Within a week, or two she was speaking words, then sentences —a chatterbox was born. She speaks very fast — the words tumble down in a hurry to be let out. My husband was forever telling her to slow down.

The children grew up, and a new problem surfaced. Their grandma (father’s mother, mine wasn’t alive) was annoyed as to why the children couldn’t speak Pushto. That was the only language she understood.

We tried to bribe the children with money to learn to speak their mother tongue, but they wouldn’t.

Actually they tried at first, but R would mimic their mistakes, and make fun of their attempts. This put them off, and they refused altogether. No amount of cajoling by me soothed their ruffled feathers.

They know Pushto now, and make good use of it in places where they want to communicate privately.


Take That, Rosetta!

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?


Fourth Wall
by Ben Huberman
You get to spend a day inside your favorite movie. Tell us which one it is — and what happens to you while you’re there.


It’s strange. In books I like light fiction, but I love those movies which are thrillers, and fast paced like The Pirates of the Carribean, Indiana Jones movies, and The Mummy.

Recent movies which I watched (a few months ago) are The Croods, and Frozen. They are children movies. I don’t think I see myself in those.

I am a lousy actress, so I can’t visualize myself in movies I like.

A few years back, I was asked to portray the Corps Commander’s wife by the Army Ladies Club I had joined. The lady in question was fair complexioned – I was too. She was petite, I was the same. Besides our voices with the Pushto accent sounded the same pitch. I was pressurized to play the part in a comic script. They wanted me, and they didn’t listen to my excuses. They besieged, and cajoled; whatever worked, and I was roped in for the role.

On the day in question, it was hell for me. The stage fright — I wanted to disappear. With me, quaking in my four inch heel, I played the part. Two small tureens, one for tomato soup, and the other one for chicken soup were given to me by the Ladies Club at the end of the show. The tureens have the recipes printed on them. They are a reminder of that acting day in my life.


What to Say?

Daily Prompt: Head Turners
We often hear strange snippets of conversation as we walk through public spaces. When was the last time you overheard something so interesting, ridiculous, or disturbing you really wanted to know what it was all about?

As a teenager though I understood my mother tongue Pushto, I couldn’t speak it fluently. The reason was — at home our servants talked to us in Urdu or Punjabi, and at school English was mandatory. I grew up with basic rudimentary words of Pushto.

My Pushto improved with my marriage to my husband. Although I can’t write in it, but I can speak it fluently, and can read it too. In the beginning people around me would laugh at the words I spoke. At home R would hold his stomach, and laugh at my feeble attempts (at Pushto speaking).

A few years back at a village wedding, some village women were discussing me right in front of myself. Thank God for mercies, it was all complimentary. Nothing derogatory was said. They thought that I wouldn’t know what they were talking about. I moved away from them.

On one occasion my cousin’s wife went to visit her young widowed relation to offer condolences.

She laughingly asked me, “Do you know what you’re called behind your back?”

I braced myself for embarrassment. She kept on laughing making me assume God knows all sorts of things.

“The villagers call you an Angrez (a foreigner).”

Ooh! I breathed a sigh of relief. I was mentally prepared for something worse.


The Cat Girl

Daily Prompt: Mutants and Hybrids
If you were one part human, two parts something else — another animal, a plant, an inanimate object — what would the other two parts be?

Photo Credit: Google

The thought of being a mutant or hybrid scares me. No, I don’t want to be someone like that, even in make believe. To me it sounds repulsive.

As a child I used to wish for many hands, like the Indian deity with multiple arms. The thought of it excited me. With three extra pairs I was sure to finish my tests in time. At the last minute the teacher used to tug the test papers from under my hands.

With my father’s second marriage, we (my siblings) acquired three step sisters and a step brother. They were from our step mother’s first husband.

The two elder sisters were fiends in disguise. They made our life a total misery.

To get back at the eldest one, we named her Pisho in Pushto. It means cat. We envisaged her as a cat, (with a cat’s head and claws).

Whenever she was mean, we talked about her, and called her Pisho. This way we put a salve on our hurt feelings. The steps didn’t know Pushto, because they weren’t Pathans like us.

To give her credit she was clever. She asked father one day about the meaning. Father didn’t know that we were calling her Pisho, so she got the meaning.

Our step mother hit the ceiling over it. That was the end of the name.

The Cat Girl

Are You Turning Sheenistic?

Daily Prompt: A Name for Yourself
Some writer’s names have become adjectives: Kafkaesque, marxist, Orwellian, sadistic. If your name (or nickname, or blog name) were to become an adjective, what would it mean?

My blog name Sheen is an alphabet of Urdu language, and it looks like this: ش

It is the first alphabet of my real name.

In Pushto language it means green.

If Sheen becomes an adjective, it can be sheenistic.

Now let’s make sentences.

She has a sheenistic color.
This would mean green color, and the sentence meaning would be that she is sick.

Or I become world famous (haha), you would be using the sentence:

She is a sheenistic girl.
This would mean that she is like the real Sheen.

Are you turning Sheenistic?
This means you are turning into me.

She is wearing a sheenistic shirt.
Means she is wearing a green shirt.

My own mind is turning round and round.

Imagine everyone adding new words to the vocabulary.

A Pandora Box let loose on the unsuspecting?

Are You Turning Sheenistic?

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

No Change In 2100

Daily Prompt: 2100
The language of the future: what will it be like? Show Future

Today our internet stopped working. I am writing quite late as it is.

Growing up spoke three languages
Pushto, Urdu and English
Got the three jumbled up
Would forget to my anguish

People I’ve known don’t use slang
So don’t know what to say
I don’t think English will change
It will go on the same way


Images Credit: Google
No Change In 2100