Surrounded by blank sheets, a bottle of black paint and a brush, Davinder Nagi (42), a calligraphist cum art teacher from Ludhiana sits on the ground amid protesting farmers at Ladhowal on Ludhiana-Jalandhar road. With the deft strokes of his brush, he gives his own twists and twirls to the Punjabi alphabest as he puts the words of the protesting farmers on paper.
Painting at least fifty placards on the spot, Nagi keeps moving his brush to bring out slogans requested by farmers — ‘Kisan di awaaz, Punjab di awaaz’ (Voice of farmers, voice of Punjab), ‘Kisan teri haqi kamaai, tere naal har maai bhai’ (Everyone is standing with you for your right, dear farmer), ‘Kisan di nasalkushi, Punjab di nasalkushi‘ (Genocide of farmers, genocide of Punjab), ‘Punjabi kisaani, Punjabi bhaasha, jehda saada raakha, Punjab da rakha‘ (Punjabi farmers, Punjabi language, those who will protect these two, will protect Punjab), ‘Jehda saada dhidh hai bharda, kyun laawe koi usnu vaadha’ (Those who fill our stomachs, no can dare touch them).
Speaking to The Indian Express, Nagi, a drawing teacher at Guru Nanak Public School, said: “I had to come here because it is about the rights of our farmers. Though we live in the city, we eat what our farmers grow in villages. Then it was also an appropriate platform to raise our voices for our language, which is dying. My calligraphy in Punjabi language was the best way to raise my voice both for farmers and our language. If our farmers and language are not protected, how can Punjab survive?”
The teacher, who has been doing calligraphy of the Punjabi alphabet for a decade now, said, “I don’t have any formal qualification in calligraphy but started it because in my own school, a lot of stress was laid on handwriting and Punjabi language. Also, my father writes beautiful Punjabi so it was passed on to me. I developed an interest in calligraphy and adopted it as profession. Now I also teach drawing to children at GNPS and provide tips to those who are interested in Punjabi calligraphy, which is a rare hobby,” said Nagi.
Nagi who also runs a cycling club, said, “When we go to villages for cycling, we see how hard farmers work. People in cities cannot see the hard work that they put to grow food for us. If there is inclement weather and crop is in fields, they cannot sleep peacefully. People say farmers are rich, they own large chunks of land, but do they see the hard work that goes behind it. Painting some placards was the least I could do for them today…”
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