Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee...?-John Donne
Folk and classical music survives in Pakistan but at a very heavy price. Musicians and singers live in most difficult times. The state institutions that are meant to promote art and culture ignore them. The art councils and other such institutions remain indifferent to the issues of artistes. Many artistes have passed away in abject poverty while others live in conditions that are not fit for an artiste who is protecting our rich cultural heritage. Some of these artistes survive by performing across the globe in different festivals and concerts. Few are not honoured in their native land but win accolades for Pakistan in other countries, and few goes out of the scene without being noticed.
Few days ago, I chanced to visit Lok Virsa (my ex-office, where I spend 3 years working on a project named “Pakistan Monument” as Reserch Associate and Sub-Editor), for an official assignment covering ‘Wakhi Festival’ organised by Lok Virsa.
I stayed there in front of Heritage Museum’s gate, where youth were enjoying with traditional dances, on the tunes of melodious native songs of all 5 provinces. Being a frank person and initiator of breaking the silence, I went closer to the artists trio, who were singing - and found that none of the troika members is the same I left at Lok Virsa- two years ago.
I asked one of the member, “Tuwada tay sara group e change ho gia ay- Kithay gay nay puranay log saraay,” and he responded with a sarcastic smile. “O aik patla jia banda hunda si, Chimta wajandaa si, nazar nai aa ria aaj,” I made another question. “O- mastana ustad? O saab gi … ohnu tay faot hoyay poora saal ho chalia aay”, the man wearing Sindhi Cape, not only broke the silence but broke my heart in a one go. “Hein… o yar o Patla jia banda- dhooti panda si- mera khyal ay tusi koi hor samjh raay o, I said with the hope that the diseased is not the one, I’m asking for. “O aho saab gi, may samjh gia waan, o tay saal pehlay faot ho gi si, balkay aithay daftar which e hoya si, os din ohdi tabiyat bohat khraab si, asi tay bohat akhiya, jao baba, aram kar ja kay, par o nahi gia. Sham nu ohnay cholay tay chawal khaaday san, ohday naal ohnu badhazmi ho gai,” he kept on to narrate the whole story. “Fair thori deir bad ohno dil da attack hoya tay, mokay tay ee chala gia wacharaa, tay aay apni nishani chadd gia aay saday kol,” he said pointing to Chimtaa lying beside him. “Inna Lillahi Wainna Ilahi Rajioon, bohat afsos hoya ay gi. Saday naal tay ohdi bari yaari si. May aithay takriban 3 saal kam kita ay, tay khoob gap shup hundi si sadi- may to ohnu Hamid Ali Bela keh kay cherna saan, tay o bara khush hunda si. Allah Bakhsay,” I said. “Bus g, Rab da hokum- 4 bachay nay ohday, Cosmos walay ohday ghar paisy bhej rahay nay, 4-5 hazaar,” the man in shabby shalwar Qameez said.
Khadim Hussain was one such icon (icon for me), who will long be remembered for his mellifluous vocals and skillfully handling of “Chimta” that soothed the spirit of listeners sitting on furniture at the wide courtyard of Lok Virsa (Heritage Museum) where his voice with the amalgam of Chimta give me the delight of Alam Lohar and Hamid Ali Bela at one go.
I remember, whenever I finished off my officially work, I ran immediately out of the office, that was just adjacent to the space, this three member group engrossed in singing folksongs and ghazals, sometimes by demand of visitors, sometime by their own. And I always used to request skinny Khadim for “MAA-AIN NI MAY KINNU AKHAAN- DARD WICHORAY DA HAAL NII”... and he kept on singining with the fusion of Chimtaa.
Born and hailed in Faisalabad, Khadim joined Lok Virsa in 2004 before working for Capital Development Authority (CDA) for quite some time. Khadim left 4 children behind him to mourn over his death. May God bless his soul in eternal peace & give his remnants peace of mind. (RIP).