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Nano Begal-a Khowar Elegy

Introduction and Translation by Zahoorul Haq Danish

The background story of the song goes that a young man named Mirza Begal lived in Shoghor, one of the scenic valleys of Chitral. The rulers of the erstwhile state of Chitral had their summer palace at Shoghor, which was also sometimes used as a regional administrative centre of the royalty. As a tradition, where there were palaces there would be means of recreation and sport for the royal elite. Polo had been the most favourtie hobby of rulers and elites of the state. Mirza Begal, being from one of the notable families of the time, was a reputed player of polo. His and the Mehtar’s teams were considered as traditional rivals of the game, and most of the times Begal’s team would beat out the royal one.

Once on the occasion of some festival the royal team challenged Begal’s team to a match for a bet. Begal accepted the challenge. Day and time for the game were set, players were gathered, and horses were prepared. The Mehtar collected his players the night before the match and said that losing the match to Begal this time would be tantamount to losing his royal glory. “We have to win this match at any cost,” enunciated the Mehtar. Someone among them said that with Begal living and playing against them they couldn’t even think of winning against his team. And, thus, the plot to murder Begal in the dead of night was hatched, and executed.

In the morning when Begal’s mother went into his room to wake him up, she found to her utter shock that her dearest son has been brutally murdered, and there his slaughtered body lay in blood. She realized for sure that the Mehtar’s men had done it out of cowardice. She gathered her nerves, and made her mind to keep the matter to herself till the end of the much awaited game. She covered her beloved son’s dead body, hid it in her house, put on Begal’s polo dresses, masked her face, rode Begal’s horse and went to the polo ground precisely at the time of the match. The Mehtar, seeing Begal’s precise arrival at the ground, doubted execution of the plot by his men. Begal’s supporters and players cheered ‘his’ arrival on time, but ‘he’ was tight lipped, and had vowed not to speak till the end of the game.

Now, the match started. It was a nail-biter one as usual. Begal’s mother, in the guise of Begal, played the game with her son-like skills. Lo, Begal’s team beat out the Mehtar’s team even this time. When the frenzied celebration was over Begal’s mother took off her head cover and mask, rode her horse across the ground all the way to where the Mehtar was sitting in the crowd of his players and supporters. Addressing the Mehtar on her horseback she sang this song in tears. The song is known as “Nano Begaal”---Mother’s Begaal---, and is marked by a deep elegiac tone and melancholy.

Listen to Gul Nawaz Khan Khaki

Nano Begal (Mother’s Begal)

Behold the ruthless Mehtar’s ruthlessness, O mother’s Begal!
Behold my pierced and bruised heart, O mother’s Begal!

Wherefore should the Mehtar get you murdered?
While even an old woman could hit the ball, O mother’s Begal!

Thou would hit the ball from far end, and get goals scored on the other;
Who could play the game like thee now? O mother’s Begal!

Thy flying-hit would soar high into the air,
And would tear through the heights of the sky, O mother’s Begal!

May he, who killed thee, lose his son too!
And may mourning never cease in his house! O mother’s Begal!

Ah! The players get paired now, and the team is short one player:
Oh mother’s spear-lashed! O mother’s Begal!

Shoghor’s is rocky ground, O mother’s Begal!
Thou wilt stumble over, O mother’s Begal!

ننو بیگال

میتارو بے رحمیو لوڑے نانو بیگال
زخمی مہ ہردیو لوڑے نانو بیگال

میتار تہ کو ماریتائے اے نانو بیگال
پڑینجو دیکو واؤ دی بیتائے اے نانو بیگال

وارزہ دیتی پونگہ ہاڑئے نانو بیگال
کا کوروئے تہ غونہ غاڑئے نانو بیگال

تہ تھمپوق پھورینے گوئے اے نانو بیگال
آسمانو چھوئینے گوئے اے نانو بیگال

تہ ماراکو ژاؤ بریار اے نانو بیگال
شوغ تے دوری مو چھیار اے نانو بیگال

یار بوژیکو یار پھتوکی اے نانو بیگال
تان نانو خنجر پھتوکی اے نانو بیگال

شوغور بو ڑانگہ ژاغہ اے نانو بیگال
تہ پونگ بوہتہ شیخی دوئے اے نانوبیگال

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