Main Boraywala!

By Shaikh Peeran Boraywala
Kasab, Pinjari, Laddaf, Dudekula,
Ghodewala, Lakdewala, Chamdewala– like them
I am Boraywala,
The forgotten Muslim,
Until now
Out of the reach of all Muslim literary history,
The one banished to darkness by the Muslim khandaan
Discriminated against because of my occupation,
But I am still a Muslim
A brand new Boraywala Muslim.
Mother jungle was my livelihood
I'd climb hills, cut wood and sell it
I would make my living from carrying tree trunks to the village
I'd wander around valleys and streams
I'd gather date palm leaves
and make mats for a living
and that's how I became a Boraywala!
You avoided all relations with me
because of my caste and lifestyle
You considered me unfit,
I learnt the Kalma even when my belly was on fire
I am reciting Suras even as you keep your distance
Like you, performing Namaz..Roza..Zakat
I mingle amidst you
but still you look at me with derision
and talk differently with me,
interact coldly with me and show
scorn for my occupation
scorn for my language
scorn for me.
What's human? What's inhuman?
Who's civilised? Who's uncivilised?
I'm of the Boraywala clan which doesn't know all those things
All I know
is that I am a Mussalman too!
Islam is my religion too!

Call me Boraywala..
Or call me a Girijan Muslim..
Or call me a Dalit Muslim..
Or call me any other Muslim..
But one thing is certain..
If I don't weave a 'bora'*
Your Janaza won't move!!
From the oppression of the Hindu order
and the discrimination in the Mullah order
I'm waking up only now

Leaving the inertia and indifference
that burnt me for decades
I'm sounding the marfa** of the Boraywalas.

*bOra: here it refers to a mat made of date palm leaves.
** marfa: a musical instrument that resembles the kettle-drums.
Naren Bedide's translation of Shaikh Peeran Boraywala's Telugu poem 'main bOrEwAlAn'(from the collection of poetry 
'alaavaa: muslim sanskRti kavitvam'). The title 'Main Boraywala' would mean, roughly, 'I am Boraywala' in Hindustani.
The original post appeared on The Shared Mirror on September 9, 2010. It can be accessed here

The translator Would like to thank his friend Khalid Anis Ansari for sharing certainvaluable inputs on Islamic burial 
practices in India.

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