Today, April 28, there is a folk music program being organized in Kot Addu to mark teh 7th death anniversary of Pathana Khan. This is not the type of event that people talk about. But they should.
I remember, back in March 2006, when I heard that Pathanay Khan had died, my eyes had swelled up.
Maybe its because I am the emotional type. Or maybe it was because Pathanay Khan had introduced me to the beauty of Saraiki sufiana kalam and there are very few things, if any, that even remotely resembles the spiritual and musical power and prowess of Pathanay Khan singing ‘menda ishq vi toun, menda yaar vi toun‘ or ‘mera Ranjan hunn koi hour.’
I suspect, however, that it was the conditions in which he died that really got to me. Some years ago, the eqully spell-binding Muhammad Jumman (of the ‘yaar daadi aatish ishq nay lai aye‘ fame) had reportedly died in rotting conditions in the corridors of a Karachi hospital. A nation that should have been in awe of him had been unaware and uninterested in the conditions of the maestro. Pathanay Khan’s death came in a similar state of personal impoverishment and national neglect.
I was reminded of all of this when a reader sent me this news item from Dawn about the event today in Kot Addu:
Awards of Pathaney Khan to be auctioned
MUZAFFARGARH, April 25: Iqbal Pathaney Khan braves a scorching day going about from one office to another, one person to another, to give cards for the April 28 death anniversary of his father Pathaney Khan. Iqbal Pathaney Khan has arranged a folk music programme in his home town, Kot Addu, in which local singers will sing kafis and song of Pathaney Khan to pay homage to the great Seraiki singer. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThis time at the music function, I will announce a date for auction of the awards because my family is facing poverty and we never know what we will eat tomorrow.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚?
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œA few people give me some money for the programme and think they are giving me a charity,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? Iqbal told Dawn in an exclusive interview. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI never demand any money from the fans of Pathaney Khan. This is what I have learned from my father. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œActually my father died a pauper and left nothing for his four sons and three daughters except this six-marla house, fame as 79 awards.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚?
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œEvery year I hold kafi programme to mark his death anniversary, but no MNA, MPA, senator or senior bureaucrat has ever attended the programme,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? the son laments. Iqbal accused the PTV and Radio Pakistan of doling out laughable sums to his father. He had harsh words for firms marketing CDs and cassettes as well. The awards include the Pride of Performance President Award (1979), PTV Millennium Award, Khawaja Ghulam Farid Award, Rohi Award, Thal Award, etc.
But the singerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s son finds them of no use.
All of this leaves me sad and rather angry, without really anyone to be angry at. Why do we do this to those who bring us so much joy, I wonder.
As we remember Pathanay Khan I listen to this song clip (scroll forward to where the narration ends, if you want) which, more than any other, is his most famous rendition.
Further Reading: Dr. Manzur Ejaz’s “The Flower of Rohi.”