Chapter 4: The Old Dead Man – Pir

I wonder what she came to ask for…

Pir means wise old man in Urdu. And many other central and south Asian languages. Old man. Saint. People in many Asian cultures have a ‘Pir’ figure. Confucius for example, the ultimate pir. This song is written from the point of view of a rejected and abused woman, lamenting her fate at the grave of some Pir, probably in the Sindh province. ‘Oh Pir’, she cries, ‘this man he is committed to misunderstanding me. He doesn’t see my love, know what is in my heart. He does not listen. Oh Pir. I have lost my mind, my senses, myself.’

It was hard for me to sing, because the first few times I choked up. This happened a few times during the recording. Also, some of those guttural sounds can irritate your throat. Ok I’ll stop being stupid.

It’s a sad song with a very energetic percussive energy. The sort of thing you might listen to in a Dubai discotheque. Great rhythm and some lovely Zurna playing the lead in their as well. That’s a Greek/Eurasian woodwind instrument. Simple but versatile, it signified the woman’s lament. And it’s catchy as fuck.

Shrine of one of the OG Pirs, Sachal Sarmast in Khairpur, Sindh Province, Pakistan. Courtesy Discover Pakistan.

I am especially fond of the middle section where I switch from Urdu to Persian. Similar, but completely different languages. I worked with the lovely Sima to finesse my English sentiments into Persian, as Persian poetry seems to somehow capture pain like very few languages can. And it sounds beautiful.

‘My love you have brought me nothing but pain. Still, I wait for you. Still I would die for you.’

I am the spurned, scorned, lonely and abused woman in this song. But it’s also about her, her that I pushed away, so foolishly, not realizing what a treasure a woman truly is. Anyone you love really. Take heed. If you don’t want to end up at the grave of some old, long dead Pir, praying to gods you don’t believe in, take better care of the people you love.

Some pirs are just middle aged Pakistani men dispensing wisdom over a Subway sandwich…

Next: Chapter 5 – In The Box.