Punjabi Poet Syed Asif Shahkar Visits Sacramento
Report and photos by Ras H. Siddiqui

Sacramento , California is about to become the home of possibly the first public Punjabi Charter School in the United States (to be located in West Sacramento). This should come as no surprise since some of the Punjabi community resident here can trace its roots back over a hundred years in California’s Central Valley, especially in Yuba City, just a few miles from here. And when Punjabi poet and columnist Syed Asif Shahkar came to visit this area on June 23rd to the home of local community activist Khalid Saeed and his wife Nasreen, several people gathered to enjoy a fine dinner and to listen to him.

Shahkar is quite a unique figure. Originating from Pakistan, he has settled in Sweden where he is a practicing Judge at the Swedish High Court. He also happens to be amongst the most prolific Punjabi language writers around, one whose weekly column “Sanjha Punjab” in the said language is published and read in both the Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi (Persian-Urdu) scripts by Punjabis in both India and Pakistan and their Diaspora worldwide.

He also has seven poetry collections published and one novel to his credit. Although he speaks many other languages he appears to be most comfortable with communicating in his mother tongue, Punjabi. Interested readers can access his many writings at: http://www.sanjhapunjab.net/home/.

Justice Syed Asif Shahkar was quite articulate during his speech in Sacramento. Soft-spoken and open to disagreement he delivered a thought-provoking keynote in which he charted out his own “accidental” path into Punjabi literature instead of Urdu during his college years. Political correctness is not what guided his thoughts here as he stressed the need for Punjabis worldwide to project and protect their heritage irrespective of where they live.

At the conclusion of this very colorful evening Shahkar was presented a plaque by Samina Faheem Sundas of the AMV to recognize his continuing efforts towards bringing diverse people together.

 

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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