Slices from Life

The Matriarch of Hirronk

By Ali Jan Maqsood

A smiling Ganji Baloch. Photo provided from Facebook by Ali Jan Maqsood.

In a village of around five thousand people, one was Ganji Baloch. She was the only person left of her family in the village. Her husband had died. Their daughters were married and left to live with their spouses in other places. Their sons had left the village saying that they would permanently settle in cities to educate their children. They asked Ganji to join – some sixty kilometres away from the village – but she refused saying that she could not leave her ancestral land, her gardens and her people, and settle down in a distant town. And then, it was Ganji alone with her home, her garden, her people and her loneliness.

Ganji’s home was in the middle of the village. I remember when I was a child, we often used to pass through her compound to go to my uncle’s home. We always found her alone, sometimes inside the home, sometimes lying on her charpoy outside, under the open skies. As we visited the village on vacations only, I met Ganji when I was visiting my uncle’s new home.  I had asked my cousin why she was alone. He narrated the whole story. At the end, he said that Ganji had deep love for her land. I laughed and said she sounded crazed. “What exists here in this barren land? Who is here besides her own self? She is only looking for pity and nothing else.” I thought it would be better for her to move to the city and enjoy the rest of her life in ease and comfort.

We moved.

Today, after several years, I again saw Ganji’s smiling face – on Facebook. Someone had put it there. I was reminded of the past. I had moved out of my homeland too. And then I realised Ganji was not crazed but it was us — those who thought happiness can be found by pursuing dreams of comfort and ease. The comfort and ease to be had when you were on your own land and among your own people continued unbeatable. That day I realised Ganji was an ardent lover of her land, her gardens, her stones and her people. She had no greed for riches but a need for inner happiness and strong bonds with her people. Ganji was an honourable woman who spent all her life in her village. Even if she was the sole person left in her home, she still preferred being amidst her own land and people. Her smile had eventually become her recognition. She used to visit everyone in her village and was on good terms with everyone. She was an independent woman who fended for herself.

Akram Baloch, a lecturer and resident of the same village, said that Ganji had plenty of land which she could sell at high costs. She received many offers, but she refused saying that they were hers. “How can a person sell her lands? At least, I cannot.” she often echoed.

It heard Ganji had made a potable water spring at the end of her garden and provided water to any thirsty passer-by. She took charge of maintaining that watering system for anyone who needed it. I wonder if Hirronk, her village, would ever bear another Ganji Baloch in the years to come. Is she crazed or is she one for whom her land, her people, her stones, her gardens and her village meant more than the rest of the world?


Ali Jan Maqsood studies Law at University Law College Quetta. He can be reached at and tweets at @Alijanmaqsood12



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