Coronavirus: A Tajik Singer’s Afghan Song Explains Mankind’s Current Predicament

by Masood Hussain

SRINAGAR: An Afghan poem written at the peak of the turmoil has made a grand return to Central Asia. Sung by various Asian singers, it befits the current global situation and is creating waves on social media, in the subcontinent and in Central Asian countries.

Shehr Khali describes the desertion of the world and laments the loss of life, the disappearance of the love and emergence of a situation in which the doctors are scared of treating the sick. Written by the Aghan poet singer Amir Jan Sabori, open source  details suggest it was composed at the peak of Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The poem is a strong expression of the current situation.

It aptly describes the global predicament:

Oh, woe to the world where lovers fear one another,
Where thirsty buds fear gardens,
Where lovers fear the sound of the union,
Where hands of musicians fear instruments,
Where the chevaliers fear flat roads,
Where doctors gear the sight of the patients.

Read the full poem and understand the pain and the perfect representation of the twenty-first-century world.

The Persian to English transition of the famous poem


Amir Jan Sabori

The poem was composed and sung by Afghanistan singer Amir Jan Sabori in the past. Almost nine years back, the same song was sung by Tajikistan’s teenage singer, Nigora Kholova. After she choose to be a professional singer, she sang it again and the number became very popular. Sharing borders with Afghanistan, Tajikistan has strong cultural influences. The Tajik language is hugely laced with Persian.

But the people outside the two countries discovered the song quite recently when somebody in the frontier province translated the lyrics into Urdu and superimposed the current motion pictures and made the video relevant to the contemporary situation that got it a vast audience. In the last two weeks, there are multiple variants of the song available.

Nagora Kholava

What is magical is Nogora’s voice that adds an element of pathos to the lyrics. Nothing much is known about the Tajik singer though she has a lot of fan following on the social media. Open source details suggest the 1989 born singer is the daughter of an artist who started singing at a very early age. She has, however, been to concerts in Herat.

Crisis Everywhere

What is more interesting is that the Coronavirus pandemic has engulfed all the countries related to the poem, its language, the poet and the singers– Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan though Tajikistan is offering a different narrative.

Iran, where the poet rests in the magnificent memorial at Shiraz, had emerged as the second hotbed of the virus after China’s Wuhan. By now, it has lost almost 3900 people while around 32000 are gasping for breath. Iran, it is worth mentioning here, has not been able to source proper medicines or the personal protection gear for its health care workers from abroad because of the sanctions. Iran is the source of the Persian language.

Tajikistan singer, Nagora Khlova

Afghanistan, Iran’s its immediate neighbour has lost 15 individuals to the disease as almost 300 are struggling to survive. Interestingly, Sabori’s Herat home has the highest number of Covid-19 cases. A general impression is that the country trying to come out of the political crisis is not ready to fight the pandemic. The country got its first case from Qom in Iran – exactly on Ladakh pattern, wherefrom a resident had returned from pilgrimage. Now, more than 130 thousands Afghan residents have returned from pandemic hit Iran. Most of them are refugees who also work in Iran as well. This has added to the risk of the community spread. In mid March as many as 37 Covid-19 cases had fled from a Herat hospital adding to the fears of the people.

Nagora’s home, Tajikistan, however, is an interesting country as far as the Covid-19 goes. It is one of the dozen -odd countries with North Korea that have no reported of the pandemic. The country had earlier closed the mosques but has reopened. It is trying to show the life as usual as the local football league matches also started yesterday. Earlier, it had blocked the entry of travellers from various pandemic hit countries but the orders were soon reversed. World media has reported that the government is telling people not to give any credence to rumours of the epidemic. “The Coronavirus is not discussed in schools and universities, despite reader comments online describing school classrooms full of coughing students,” one report in an international media said.

Note: The poem was erroneously attributed to legendry Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi. However, various learned men said it is incorrect and the mere mention of Shirazi in its conclusion is the key mislaeding factor. We thank the scholars for this correction and we have changed the text of the story. We regret the mistake.  


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