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Two Khortha songs (lok geet) of Satish Das

Two Khortha songs (lok geet) of Satish Das

Amyri* (First song)

As I lie comfortable in my well-cushioned bed, a song plays through the expensive audio speakers I own. The song is Amyri. Satish Das is the singer.

The first verse begins by the song-persona saying he had sown moong along the shores of the river (moong is one of the lentils found in Jharkhand, and around the villages in the country) : Nadiya ke neere-teere bunn lo re moongiya.

The second verse introduces the sugga (parrot). The persona then wryly complains why the sugga is stealing the moong from the tendrils/shrubs. The sugga steals the moong and goes flying away drenched in the rain: Suggwa re seedhe bhinjaley jaaye.

The persona continues to ask the parrot if he has committed any mistake (for the sugga to behave this way with him). Then, the song describes how he has cared for the moong tendrils: Chaaro peher se dekhey hali moongiya (He had watched over the moong shrubs all the four sections in which a day is divided in the Khortha culture). Badi re jatan se rakhoe haleey moongiya (He had kept the moong plant with earnest care and with all the effort he could muster). Chhatiya sei diya le le jaay (Not only does the parrot steals away the moong, it also takes away the diya (earthen pot which holds light) with itself). Refrain : The parrot flies away in the rain. The persona then moves on to his lover, admitting that he cannot live without her: Rahiyo na paebb tor bina re sajaniya. Kaise kaatabb hamei raat aar dinnya: How will I bear the nights and days in solitude, he croons). Mann ke sukoon le le jaaye (The parrot is taking away the sukoon (peace) of his mind). Refrain. Again he asks whether he has committed any mistake for the sugga to behave in this way with him.

The song concludes.

Next in the series : Amyri 2.0, which has more pathos and is, frankly, heart-wrenching.

*Note about the title of the song: Amyri is a way to refer to mother. Maayy in Khortha means one’s mother. The song is an extremely popular folk song (lokk geet) of Satish Das, also one of the most important songs of his famed singing career. It is recognized easily both by the youth as well as by the older generation who have Khortha as their mother tongue.

My mother tongue, despite being Hindi, is half-Khortha, if I can put it that way. My dadi (grandmother) speaks only in Khortha and in broken, sweet Hindi. So when I talk to her, it’s a sort of bilingual conversation where she asks me in Khortha and I respond in Hindi. I am as fluent in Khortha as she is in Hindi. However, nothing is lost in translation. I have grown up in this milieu. All my extended relatives mostly speak both Khortha and Hindi.


Chanchal Kumar is from Jharkhand and currently lives in Delhi, India. His poems have previously appeared and awarded in The Sunflower Collective, Hamilton Stone Review, Welter Journal, Name and None, Young Poets NetworkUK including others. Recently, his poems were translated to Bengali by Harakiri Journal. He is pursuing M.Phil at University of Delhi.