I attended a folk music event arranged by Umair Jaffar of IPAC Pakistan at Kuch Khaas. More than twenty folk artists were invited for a discussion of the challenges they face in the pursuit of music – a passion, profession and tradition at once, for all of them as I could hear in their heartfelt and understandably grim accounts. They were mostly from Balochistan and Sindh, including Mewari speaking Hindus of Rajasthani background.
It was heartwarming to see them peacefully and intensively involved in ‘the one thing they are good at’, as they proudly profess. When the discussion ended, some musicians stayed back for an informal music session, and among them was the notable Saroz player Sachoo Khan, a Balochi artist who has received Pakistan’s Pride of Performance award.
Listening to these musicians and watching them play is a stark contrast to the violent outrages we are accustomed to witnessing on our television and computer screens. We live at different ranges between opposite phenomena in a multiverse of continuums and often forget that art transforms mute suffering into eloquent beauty – and transformation is not an ‘escape’. It is never easy to set our minds at ease in the light of incompatible perceptions – so I did what I could at that time: took pictures, recorded some of their music, and later tonight, wrote a little poem inspired by the limits of my understanding.
Sachoo Khan accompanied by sons – Afternoon, 11 June 2011 [download]:
The quiet noon roads are teeming with time
and the shimmer of poplar leaves has come
to know the sun full circle and I somewhere
between deciduous trees and the silence
of our summer stars am drawn to link
the substance of soul to the air
of carnal fact whose roots are rain
and sweep the ageless dust around.
Oh, unchanged musicians of our lands,
does it take long to always sound like love?
10:17 pm 11 June 2011