ARTICLES: Balochi books of 2003: The lyrical tradition
By Abbas Jalbani
The Balochi language is very rich in folk poetry as it has lyrics for every occasion of life. The birth of a child is welcomed with the singing of soothing leelo, marriage is celebrated with that of cheerful nazaink and death is mourned with the reciting of heartbreaking moutak. Sipt is sung in praise of the beloved and zahirok speaks of the pain of separation from him/her or other near and dear ones. The fishermen sing their own songs while surfing the sea and peasants hail the harvest season at date palms with melodies.
Faqir Shad has compiled a collection of the folk songs and self-published it under the title of Duruj. Earlier he had published a collection of Balochi classical poetry, Meeras, and an anthology of Mulla Fazilís verses, Drupshokain Suhail. In doing so he has done great service in working on the preservation of Balochi folk and classical poetic heritage, which was pioneered by the British anthropologists in the colonial era and later taken up by local researchers including Khuda Bukhsh Bijarani, Mitha Khan Mari and Bashir Baloch.
Prominent among other poetic titles that appeared last year was popular poet Mubarak Qaziís second anthology, Shag Man Sabzen Sawar, published by Drad Publications, Gwadar. The book, which was quite well received, has poems as well as ghazals, several of which were sung by singers and were quite popular.
His poetry has a lyrical quality of its own which makes it attractive for the unlettered listener also. However, according to a critic, Qazi, who is one of the major contemporary poets, has fallen prey to repetition and his poetry reflects no sign of evolution.
As compared to Qazi, Fazal Khaliq, whose Koker was printed by Balochi Academy, is more thoughtful and modern. Manzoor Bismil, one of the young poets who had managed to leave their mark on the literary scene by exploring new vistas of poetry, produced Hushkain Kanaig (Aatrap, Turbat.) It is a collection of poems dealing with the current social and political scenario of Balochistan among other subjects. Other poetry titles include Garanch by Yar Murad (Gohar, Kalatuk), Jallashak by Inayatullah Qaumi (Izzat, Punjgoor) Nazboo by Hayat Shaukat (Machkadag, Turbat) and Bukcha by Siddiq Salimi which was printed in Iranian Balochistan.
Among the collections of short stories, Daar-i-Asp by Nagman (Legend, Karachi) Karkainak by Ghous Bahar (Balochi Academy) and Jannaten Zind-i-Dauzahen Drosham by Yasin Majrooh (Duran, Giwni) are worth mentioning. Nagman is one of the distinguished fiction writers who mostly writes narrative tales but also experiments by writing symbolic and abstract tales. His subjects range widely from the loneliness of the individual to the hypocrisy of society. Bahar tries to make a point by exaggerating a situation, like the sale of educational degrees by a jobless youth. His translation of a novel on the Algerian independence movement, Aajooi-i-Chirag, is in the pipelines.
The Academy of Letters has done a commendable job by publishing Shooting Star, a collection of the translation of Balochi fiction by Dr Nematullah Gichki, containing short stories of Amanullah Gichki, Hakim Baloch, Saba Dashtyari, Nagman, Hanif Sharif and the translator himself. The academy should publish more translations of the literature of the Pakistani language to introduce it to a wider readership.
Dashtyari published first volume of Balochi Zuban-o-Labzank, index of the contents of Balochi literary magazines printed between 1950 and 1994. He also revived efforts for the establishment of the Syed Hashmi Reference Library to boost research on Balochi language and literature. At a meeting recently held in Karachi, poet Azim Dahqan announced the donation of land for the library at his farm in the Landhi area, and a layout for its building and a strategy for fund raising was approved.
Another Balochi magazine by the title of Geewar was launched by Gohar Labzanki Caravan, Mand, under the joint editorship of Waleed Tahir and Asghar Wafa. Half a dozen quarterlies, including Drad and Chammag, continued to be published though not regularly. The first Balochi magazine in Roman script was launched by Wahid Dahani in Sweden.
The Balochi Academy organized a conference on Balochi language in Quetta which, according to a participant, discussed matters which had been debated as far back as the 1950s. Due to a striking difference between the Mekrani and the tribal dialects of Balochi language caused by a communication gap between the residents of two areas, the issue of standard Balochi script has not been resolved even after a debate spanning over half a century. Does it not reflect an apathy on the part of the Balochi people towards the development of their language?