Ambri (Mother) A Poem by Anwar Masood – By Asif Naqshbandi

Ambri by Anwar Masood

Ambri by Anwar Masood


The poem highlights many things which are a part of rural Punjabi culture, especially the spoilt upbringing of male children, in particular, and the unconditional love which mothers have for their children.
Translated & Transliterated from the Punjabi by Asif J Naqshbandi

Dramatis personae:

Munshi ji (a school teacher); Akram (a schoolboy); Bashir (his friend and class-fellow); Akram’s mother.

The background to the poem: As a school teacher in the Punjab, one day, Munshi ji (Anwar Masood himself) had a student, Bashir, who arrived at school late and the teacher asked him why he was so late. The poem forms Bashir’s reply. According to Anwar Masood this is a true story and happened to him when he used to be a teacher and he got inspired to write it as a poem whilst he was at Pindi Gate one night in Rawalpindi. He says the poem came fully-formed to him in both form and content although it took him ten years to put pen to paper. This is the poem with my Punjabi transliteration and line-by-line translation. I chose to attempt this translation because Punjabi is my mother-tongue and also because hearing this for the first time, recited by the author, Anwar Masood, himself made me cry. (I have included the Youtube link to Masood’s recital at the end). The poem highlights many things which are a part of rural Punjabi culture, especially the spoilt upbringing of male children, in particular, and the unconditional love which mothers have for their children. The imagery is vivid and recalls village sights and sounds too. I hope you enjoy it as I think it is one of the great poems of modern Punjabi literature.

Munshi Ji: Aj baRee dair naal aaya’ehn oh Bashiriya

Oh eh tera pinD eh te naal ee sakool eh

te jaainga tu mere kolooN haddiyaaN panaa keh

aayaa’en tuN aj dovain TalliyaaN kasaa kay!
Bashir: Munshi ji, meri ik gal pehlaaN sun lo

Akram ne nair jyaa nair aj paaya je

Maii nu eh maardeh the baRa Daada maar deh

aj iss paiRkey ne hadd payee mukaayee eh

UnooN maar maar kay madaani pann saTTee soo

banday kaThay hoye te uthhoN paj vajjay eh

Chukk kay kitaabaaN tay sakool val nassay eh

Maii ehdee Munshi ji kaar saaDay aayee sii

Munh utthe neel san, sujjah hoiya hath sii

akkhaN vich athroo te bullaaN vich ratt sii

Kehn lagee, “Sohniya, vey puttar Bashiriya,

Mera ik kamm vee tu kaReeN aj heeriya

Roti mere Akram dee lay jaa madarsay

Aj fir Tur gyaa’ee mere nal russ kay

Kyoh vich gunn kay paraThay uss’ch pakkay ne

Reej nal rinniya soh andiyaaN da halvah.”

Paunay vichh bann kay te mere hath dittii soo

Ayyo gal aakhdee see murr murr Munshi ji:

“Chetee naal jaaiN beeba, deriyaaN naa laayeeN beeba

Ohdiyaan te loosdiyaaN hauN diyaaN aanDraaN

Pukkhaa paana aj oh schooley Tur gyaa eh.”
Roti ohnay dittii main pajja lagha aaya je

Akram ne nair jyaa nair aj paaya je!

Munshi Ji:
Oh Bashir! You are very late today!

Here is your village and right next door is the school!

You will force me to break your bones-

Today you’ve arrived after the second bell!

Sir, please listen to what I say first

Today Akram has done a dastardly deed indeed:

He beats his mother and beats her terribly;

Today this scoundrel crossed all limits

Beating her so much that he broke the churning-stick!

When people gathered, he scampered from there,

Picked up his books and ran to the School.

Sir, his mother came to our house

With bruises on her face, a swollen hand,

Tears in her eyes and bloodied lips.

She said, “O’ my dear lad Bashir

Do me a favour today my little gem

Take my Akram’s packed-lunch to the school

He has again left after being cross with me

There are parathas cooked in pure ghee inside

And halwa made from eggs, cooked with love.”

She wrapped it in muslin-cloth and handed it to me

Whilst repeating these words, Sir, again and again:

“Go quickly, darling, do not take too long, darling.

He must be starving by now

He left for school on an empty stomach today!”
She gave me the lunch and I ran as fast as I could

Akram today has done a dastardly deed indeed.



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1 Response

  1. Tauseef Ahmad says:

    Brother thanks for this transliteration,I don’t understand Punjabi & i used to listen this poetry since a decade now I got understand it completely & literally got break down… thank you so much

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