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19 September, 2007

The Keh-Mukarni

The "Say-and-Deny" Riddles of Khusrau

Keh (say) Mukarni (denial) is an interesting genre of riddles played between two young women, where one of them describes something in a way that it is mistaken by the other girl as a reference to the first girl's beloved, but which finally turns out to be something completely different.

Here are a couple of examples from Amir Khusrau himself.

Lipat lipat kay wa-kay soyee,
Chhaati say chhaati lagakay royee,
Daant say daant bajay to taada.
Aye sakhi saajan? Na sakhi jaada!


(Cuddled up in his arms she slept,
Bosoms pressed against each other, she sobbed,
When the teeth started clattering, she saw.
Was it the beloved? No my dear. Winter!)

Oonchi ataari palang bichhayo,
Main soyi meray sir par aayo;
Khul gayin ankhiyan bhayi anand,
Aye sakhi saajan? Na sakhi Chand!


(Had my bed on the roof top,
and was off to sleep, when he came;
Could not sleep any further, it was such a pleasure.
Was it the beloved? No dear, it was the moon!)


© Manjul Bajaj.

Manjul Bajaj's "Modern Day Keh Mukranis."
David Raphael Israel's Keh Mukarni thread (open to contributions from other writers).

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