Naguman, a young and promising Balochi story writer, once wrote: “Urdu literature had produced its most brilliant story writer, Manto, within the first 25 years of Urdu story writing.” Balochi literature, unfortunately, could not produce even one good writer during the last 50 year’s history of the genre. This statement can be confirmed by the fact that not a single book of Balochi short stories was published in 2005. On the contrary, more than a dozen poetry collections, including at least four of unprecedented calibre, were published in the same year.
Modern Balochi poetry is in a way fortunate as great poets, such as Ata Shad, Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi, Munir Momin, Manzoor Bismil and Asif Shafiq have composed their masterpieces in Balochi. On the other hand, there isn’t a single name in Balochi fiction which can compete with these poets. Balochi poetry has had a glorious 600-year history of poetic tradition and convention. Fiction, an imported genre, hardly has a history of 50 years.
When a writer uses a literary genre for his creative expression, he also automatically sets his own rules and traditions which will be followed, reformed and modified by his successors. Balochi fiction has been unfortunate in this regard, as it hasn’t yet found a writer of such calibre. Until a writer uses prose as his or her major medium of expression, this form of Balochi literature is unlikely to develop.
Har Sahat Chakkas, a novel by Dr Fazal Khaliq, was the only novel published in 2005. Dr Fazal, a poet who has a few translations to his credit (most of which went unnoticed), has written a novel which may not even be taken as a novel if the form and structure of novel writing is kept in mind.
Last year, however, was quite significant with respect to Balochi poetry. Some great works were published. Most significant among these was Darya Chankey Housham Ent, Munir Momin’s second collection of poetry. The book contains both ghazals and nazms, including “Kapoot deewanagein murgey”, a long poem. This book is being regarded as a trend-setter by readers and critics.
Mir Umar Mir’s Pulley Gwat Andem Ent is another significant collection of poetry published in 2005. Mir regards Momin (as both are residents of Pasni, a coastal city in Makkuran) as his literary guru. In fact, so impressed is Mir by Momin that sometimes it seems difficult to distinguish between the two. Like Momin, Mir is a symbolist in the modern sense of the term. Nevertheless, Mir is, to a great extent, a poet of individual talent, with his own diction and tone.
Ambouhein Drout, a collection of ghazals by Zafar Ali Zafar, also came out in 2005. Zafar is regarded as the king of Balochi ghazal or, at least, that is how he likes himself to be known. Lovers of Balochi poetry have waited for this collection for the last four decades as Zafar wrote his first and most popular ghazal in the 60’s.
Lacha Taryak Shakar is Ambar Sameen’s first collection which was overwhelmingly welcomed by serious readers of Balochi poetry. Ambar is regarded as a pioneer of modern Balochi nazm. Ambiguity adds to the aesthetics of his poetry. He seems to be profoundly impressed by N.M. Rashid, one of the most respected names in modern Urdu nazm. Like Rashid, Ambar also enjoys experimenting with the techniques and form of the free verse.
The publication of late Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi’s Gisad Gwar in 2005 was a major event in the history of Balochi literature. Hashmi is known as the Father of Balochi. As a poet, novelist, critic, researcher, linguist, historian and lexicographer, he has written over two dozen books, nine of which are still unpublished. Gisad Gwar is a long poem of more than 1,000 lines, in which Hashmi has depicted his own version of Baloch history. The book is a unique experiment in modern Balochi poetry.
Chawtar is Anwar Sahib Khan’s collection of poetry which went unnoticed. Khan is a nationalist poet with a resounding voice in his verses. His poetry mainly emphasizes on the sufferings of his people. The present unrest among Balochis has been depicted in a straightforward manner. Recently, he wrote a poem (not included in the book) in praise of militant organizations, such as the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF). He is very popular among the Baloch youth due to his revolutionary verses, but somehow his book didn’t do well.
Isaq Khamosh’s Wahag-i-Tun was a best seller in 2005. Khamosh is a poet of the masses. His language is simple and his subjects are quite common. Wahag-i-Tun is his second collection of poems. His first collection, Guman, was published in 2004.
Shalinee Burfein Chadar is Lal Baksh Panwani’s collection, which has been compiled by Dr Fazal Khaliq. Panwani’s verses are composed in the traditional form and diction. Fazal Hayat’s Gidan-i-Sahag and Nadeem Akram’s Alhan are some of the other collections of poetry published last year.
As mentioned earlier, no major work of fiction was published in 2005. Namdiani Drout is a collection of letters written by many late literary personalities to Professor Saba Dashtiari, a notable name in Balochi literature and research. These letters have been compiled by Dashtiari himself. Ulfat Naseem’s Tibbi Lughat is a medical dictionary. Despite many weaknesses, it is an initial attempt to produce this kind of reference material.
Gulzar Marri’s Gwashtan, a book of Balochi proverbs and Haji Abdul Qayum’s Balochi Bomia, one of the very first books about Balochi grammar were reprinted last year by the Balochi Academy. This government-backed institution also published two significant works in Urdu: Wahid Buzdar’s Jadeed Balochi Shairi Ka Aghaz or Irteqa (the origin and development of Balochi poetry), and Abdul Saboor’s Warsa-i-Nasiriat, a book about the legend Gul Khan Naseer.