The Ballads of Burhan

Burhan Wani
Burhan Muzaffar Wani's funeral procession on 9 July 2016 in his native town Tral of South Kashmir. Photograph by Fahad Shah

Soon after the news of encounter diffused into the streets, shops, even the living rooms of the common people residing in the cities and villages alike. The pent-up emotions erupted abruptly like a stewing volcano that it caught everyone off-guard. While some expressed their anger by flooding the streets, beating their heads at the ‘great loss’, some chanted slogans, some shouted angrily, some pelted stones, but none enjoyed the Eid cuisines for they didn’t remember that it was supposed to be a festival of joy. All were the bearers of this grief.

Those who were ‘rulers’ in their notion saw that no matter how hard they tried to bind the bodies and make the crowd subjects to their authority, some hearts were free ruled by an ‘ordinary’ person, with no crowns, no thrones, no titles and no gold. This warrior hermit was Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the love for whom was expressed in the most intense colours of blood, with teary wails, and some with their lives.

In the following unrest, one particular tribute echoed more distinct than others- with the title ‘Chon Buhan, Myon Burhan'(your Burhan, my Burhan), by Omar Yousuf, written in the Kashmiri language. It lacks poetic techniques, indicating the lack of experience of the writer poetry.

However, the simplicity and absence of embellishments make it all the more beautiful for it’s not the craving for publicity, or any achievements in the literary history, that has compelled him to write, but surely the essence of sheer emotions and love that has made the poet to find a way with words. This song, unlike any epic, sings the virtues of a real-life hero. While the legendary heroes slay dragons and even survive the kingdom of Hades.

Unlike these heroes, some heroes leave memories which are deeply etched, as these heroes live among them, suffer what they suffer, and still find the courage to stand and fight.No matter what the hero suffers the love of people will in no way be diminished by it (What is it?). As evident from the bold expressions of the song, the apparent ‘killing’ of the hero, in eyes of the poet, is a badge of honor rather than a degrading thing. He sees it as the ‘martyrdom’, a status for which Burhan’s parents should be congratulated.

Tuhundis mealis mubarak soun
tuhunzi maji mubarak soun
ghare choun asi chu akh misaal
tse chukh Burhan soun Burhan

“We congratulate your father
we congratulate your mother
your family is an example for us
you are Burhan- our Burhan”

On popular video sharing site, YouTube one can find many such songs written in Burhan’s tribute. One such song, having earned 18.3k views, titled ‘Burhan wani shaheed’ (Martyr Burhan Wani), performed by a young artist ‘Nouman shah’ who also recites Na’ats, is also quite popular. The song is written in Urdu. It follows proper writing techniques and rules.

The lyrics and the composition convey clearly the same feelings of praise for a true hero, as its verses speak:

Kashmir laho ka darya
tu ghairat ki tugyani
salar e saf e azaadi
kirdaar tera lafani

“Kashmir, a river of blood
you are a flood of honor in it,
a commander at the resistance front
your character is an immortal one”

The languages may be different, the words may vary, but the people’s heartfelt love transcends beyond language speaking of Burhan and the nation’s pride for having borne such a hero. These writers, singers, and artists had no other choice but to celebrate the hero, each in their own way and within their own capacities and abilities, for epics can be written by anyone but only fortunate ones get to know and bind in words the real-life heroes.

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