There’s a larger than life figure in Punjabi literature, Baba Farid. I have spent a few years of my childhood playing in his courtyard. He was long gone, many a hundred years ago. But these Sufis are devious people, they don’t leave. Baba Farid never left Pakpattan.
We had a home in Pakpattan. Bibi da ghar. My nani. It was customary to send us kids there before we were admitted to schools in Islamabad. I loved that house. It was built by a Hindu family just before the partition. Small yet spacious. With just two rooms along the back wall, a 10-feet covered but open area in front of the rooms, stairs on the right side that lead up to mud roof, and a baithak with a door opening in the street. A large vehra in between the front and back structures. Along the right wall was chulha. Mitti da. Out in the open. Bibi sometimes let us blow air into it, to lit the balan up. Akhan ch pani aa janda si but it was still fun.
She used to take us to Baba Farid’s. It was at a walking distance. There was a wooden roti outside his grave. I never got that. But people used to distribute Makhanay there, white balls made of shakkar. They were sweet. We were kids.
Bibi had a charkha and a khaddi. She couldn’t sit idle. From raw cotton, she made threads. Using the threads, naale, khais, and what not.
Baba Farid was doing something else. Taking the blame for all social evils upon himself and talking to himself. Weaving words into poetry. Beautiful couplets.
That house still stands but it’s nobody’s home. My aunts who used to run around the house are all married. Bibi passed away. Abba ji, my nana, now lives in Lahore.
I want to go back to that house and write about my travels. There’s so much to tell. About what happened outside. And inside.