Categories
Stories

Nazuk

By Syad Zahoor Shah Hashmi translated by Fazal Baloch

This is a chapter from Nazuk, the first novel written in Balochi language. It was first published in 1976 and has been translated into Urdu and Persian. It depicts everyday life and experiences of the people living around the coastal area of Makkuran especially Gwadar and its surroundings.

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The old man fell ill and stayed in bed for around eight days. He recuperated later, but remained quite frail and weak for a few more days. Nazuk looked after him like her father. Whenever she did him a favour, she would recall her father. But she was surprised to notice that sometimes the old man would slide into deep thoughts, and tears stream down from his eyes.

When he finally regained his strength, he expressed his desire to leave for his home but Nazuk did not let him go. She said: “Look uncle! I am a woman and alone with my two children. I don’t have anybody to chat with to while away the night. Ever since you have arrived, I feel like my father has returned. I would rather be glad to see you here. We would live like father and daughter and share our grief and sorrows with each other. From today onward you are my father and I am your daughter”.

The old man’s eyes welled up. He held and kissed Nazuk’s hand and broke out crying madly. Nazuk was astonished. After having consoled and comforted him she said: “Father! I am going to ask you something but don’t mince your words.”

“Come on my daughter. If I wouldn’t tell you the truth, then who would you think I am going to?”

“It’s alright. Whenever I speak to you, all of a sudden, your eyes well up. Why?”

“Yes my daughter. It is a long tale. I had a daughter whose name too was Nazuk. But she was pitilessly forced to die.”

“How did it happen?”

“Ah! I don’t know how to begin the story, daughter. Whenever, I look at you, I recall my poor daughter and can’t hold back my tears. I had never been as poor as I am now. Once I owned three boats. One I rowed myself and for the remaining two I hired two sailors. I was in fine fettle then. One night I was asleep when the anguished cries of a woman joggled me awake. It was coming from my neighbor’s house. I knew her husband had gone to fishing at sea. I jumped over the wall and found someone trying to make advances at her. It was dark and I couldn’t see his face clearly.

“I grabbed him from his waist and lifted him up and slammed him on the ground. He held his breath right there and I assumed he was dead but a moment later he beguiled me and sprinted out of the door. Some receding footfalls followed him. I knew he was not alone. I lit the lamp. The woman’s shirt was in tatters. I asked her about the man but she feigned ignorance. She also pleaded with me not to mention this incident to her husband otherwise he would divorce her. I assumed she knew the man but was afraid to disclose his identity. Till this day I haven’t shared her story with anybody.

“Six month later, one night, one of my sailors woke me up. He told me that he had docked my boat somewhere on the shore but it had disappeared. We went there and exhaustively searched for it but all our efforts ended up in smoke. Someone had stolen it. Six month later, they repeated the cycle and stole my second boat. Each time I went to village’s elder, Shugrullah. He was at a loss himself that nothing had been stolen from anybody but only me. His son Gazabek, who was sitting there, said: “You might have wronged someone and now they are paying you back.”

“I didn’t say a word. Nor I was offended by his remarks. But I lamented that I had been robbed of my two boats without any reason.

“A few months later Shugrullah’s brother invited all the sailors at the launching ceremony of his boat. One by one all the fishermen, were turning up at the seashore. Shugrullah’s son was lashing everybody with a whip to move quickly. He walked over to me and without any warning whipped me. And I without any delay lifted him up in the air and hurled him on the ground. For a moment he held his breath right there on the ground and a while later he sprinted off. I assumed he was the very man who had broken into our neighbor’s house on that distant night. When I grabbed him I felt the same plump body in my arms. His follow through further convinced me that he was the very man who had stolen my boats. Though I never accused him in public, between the lines I tried to throw hunches at Shugrullah. But as poor’s truth is always taken as a lie, everybody castigated me instead. Thus I kept quiet. It was followed by another tragedy. May God let nobody witnesses such doom. I wonder if you know, Gazabek enticed my young and innocent daughter Nazuk.”

“Father! Should I ask you something?”
“Yes daughter.”
“Well, what is your relationship with Zaruk?”
“Zaruk? Her aunt was my wife. But why are you asking this question?”
“It means your daughter Nazuk was Zaruk’s cousin who died at childbirth. It all happened because of Gazabek.”

“Yes, my daughter,” the old man broke into tears.

“Now I know it is the tragedy with your daughter that often makes you cry. From today onward I am your Nazuk, your daughter and you are in place of my father. No doubt God is great. Gazabek and his family will have to pay for the wrongs they have done to you.”

For a whole year the old man stayed with Nazuk. She looked after him like her late daughter. When the old man fell ill, he would anxiously grumble, “O God how long will it take your millstones to grind? The revenge you extract after I am dead will not bring me any relief.”

As luck would have it, the next day news spread that last night a thief broke into Gazabek’s house and cleverly left without leaving any trace behind. Next night everybody was on the alert yet he hoodwinked them and broke in again. When the old man received the news, he desperately called out Nazuk.

“Nazuk! Come on Nazal! Come on my mother!”

Nazuk hurried towards the old man and asked him anxiously: “Yes Abba I am here. Tell me what’s the matter?”

“Nazuk my daughter! I wouldn’t lament at all if God takes my life at any moment now.”

“What are you talking of? What happened?”
“Hey! Don’t you know what happened?”
“No. Tell me what is the matter ?”
“Daughter! Gazabek’s family has been dishonoured. A woman in his house is having a secret affair with a man.”

“That’s not fair father. The man who forced himself must have been only a thief.”
“No my mother! He was not a thief but a shrewd man and Gazabek was well aware of everything but lacked the courage to reveal anything. Indeed your millstones grind late but they grind fine. Thank you, O Holy Lord!”

A few days later the old man was summoned by God’s glory.

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Syad Zahoor Shah Hashmi (1926-78) is known as the pioneer of modern Balochi literature. He was simultaneously a poet, fiction writer, critic, linguist and a lexicographer par excellence. Though he left undeniable marks on various genres of Balochi literature, poetry remained his mainstay. With his enormous imagination and profound insight he laid the foundation of a new school of Balochi poetry especially Balochi ghazal which mainly emphasises on the purity of language and simplicity of poetic thoughts. This school of poetry subsequently attracted a wide range of poets to its fold. He also authored the first ever Balochi novel ‘Nazuk’ and compiled the first comprehensive Balochi-to-Balochi dictionary containing over twenty thousand words and hundreds of pictorial illustrations.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated several Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2017 and Silence Between the Notes — the first ever anthology of Partition Poetry published by Dhauli Books India in 2018. His upcoming works of translation include Why Does the Moon Look So Beautiful? (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Naguman) and God and the Blind Man (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Minir Ahmed Badini).

Categories
Stories

A Balochi Story: The Lost Coin

by Syad Zahoor Shah Hashmi

Translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch

It was a summer day. The sun was up in the sky. Early in the morning he left for the sea and sat on the shore. There was still a touch of coldness of the last night left in the sands. He cast a look at the tides generated by the wind that blew over the othernight.

The water was shallow and under the mud flat sea insects had dug their burrows. And if someone unmindfully stepped on the mud flat, he would sink knee-deep beneath the ground. Some sixty yards from the sea there stood a few trees, some date palms and a big neem tree. In the morning sun it would cast its shadow as far as to the sea-brink. But as the day began to unfold the friendship between its shadow and the sea would start to fade.

He came and sat by the very shadow. Later when he looked around he found the shadow had long left him. Beyond the neem tree there was a pyramid of sands. From one angle its top looked like the peak of a volcano. Like a dyke, it enclosed some date palms in its depth. Once a beautiful garden, now it lay in utter ruins. There was even no trace of the fence left there. It had become a sort of hideout from the surrounding world.

On the left, a narrow trail passed through the sand. As people continuously treaded on the sand, some of the grains attained cohesiveness and the others flew drifted in the wind. Thus it took the shape of a trail which appeared like the parting of a woman’s golden hair. On the left side of that trail there was a well where people would come to fill their empty pitchers and pots.

All of a sudden a whisper seized his attention. He lifted his eyes up and caught sight of a blind man emerging from the right side of the pyramid. He was led by a girl who held one end of his walking stick. He shifted his concentration to the blind man rather than to the girl. The girl led the blind man to the sea and an hour later they were back on their way home.

He too got up and made his way home behind them. Midway through he exchanged greetings with the duo. At last he was out of the sands. He found it quite difficult to move forward because the trail was littered with grains of sands.

When he walked past the well, his heart skipped a beat. It was the second old stone-walled well located at the farthest end or you can say at the beginning of the sands. He recalled something but soon jerked his head to cast that old memory off his mind but it refused to budge. He felt burning sensation in his head and eyes. He touched his body to determine if he had fever. He was not sick at all. He quickened his steps so that he could reach his destination at the earliest. Suddenly, he whispered to himself:

“It is nice that you go home but nobody lives there. You will be all alone there as well.”

He was right. Nobody lived at his house save himself. He had a good friend but he spent the whole day working outside. At night he would come and they talked together but he too couldn’t give him company for a longer time because he had to look after his family. Again he said to himself: “Loneliness is beautiful but only when one needs it. Likewise it is nice to have someone’s company when one grows sick of loneliness. Today I feel as if I’ve grown sick of my loneliness. I think I should feel such weariness only after the sunset but today it has happened otherwise. My mind has been stormed in the morning.”

He kept moving ahead, wondering. Midway through, an acquaintance ran into him and greeted him. He couldn’t recognise him. He moved fast as if someone had been waiting him for quite some time and any sort of delay would lead to a huge loss.

He slowed his pace and even halted for a while but soon resumed to move forward with quick steps. He was some hundred steps away from his house when his eyes caught someone standing at the corner of the boundary wall that enclosed his house. He bowed his head and began to move with rather slow steps. As he drew nearer, he raised his head and found a woman was looking for something by the wall. He recognised her. Every day she would walk past that way to fetch water. He thought she might have lost her nose pin or ring. He asked her:

“What are you looking for?”
“A rupee.”
“A note?”
“No, a coin.”
“So what?”
“I’ve lost it.”

He also began to look for it. A moment later he raised his head up and found instead of searching for her lost coin she was gazing at him. He ran his hand into his pocket but couldn’t found any coin there. He turned to her: “I’ve no coin on me. Wait I’ll get you one from my house.”
He opened the gate and she followed her in. He searched his coat pocket. She said: “Is there any water at your house?”
“What do you mean by water?”
“I mean drinking water.”
“Yes, there is.”
He picked up the glass to fetch her water, but she took it from his hand and said: “I’ll get it myself.”
She filled the glass, came back, stood right before him and said: “Please drink.”
“I haven’t taken any fatty food in the morning. So, I do not have the urge to drink water.”
“It is summer. And in summer days it feels refreshing to drink water. By the way what did you take in the morning?”
“A cup of tea.”
“What else?”
“Nothing else.”
“Alright. I’ll bring you some eggs.”
“When?”
“Tomorrow.”
He was about to drink water when she said: “Don’t stand and drink.”
He sat on the edge of the cot and said, “But you are standing yourself.”
“I’ll sit down.”
“May I know your name?”
“Mahal.”
“Mahal?”
“Actually my name is Mahatoon but out of affection my mother used to call me Mahal.”
“Are you married?”
“Yes.”
“Any children?”
“I’ve three children but it has been the fifth year since my husband went on a journey.”
“Is he angry with you?”
“No he is not. But once left he never turned back. Occasionally he sends us money but…”
“But what?”
“Nothing.”
“You didn’t ask me my name.”

“I know you since the day you came to live in our neighbourhood. I also noticed your friend who visited you and you kept talking to each other till the midnight. After midnight, you would go out. I wondered where you went at those late hours of the night and when you would return home.”

“But I think you don’t have to do anything with my routines.”

“One night I kept waiting for you and saw you come back at dawn.”

“So, you have been keeping a watch over me!”

“Do you enjoy being alone?”
“Why?”
“Just asking.”
“What do you think?”
After a brief silent she said: “You are not alone anymore.”
“Yes not at least at this very moment.”
One and half hour later she got up to leave. He said: “You didn’t even drink water.”
“You drank and I got my thirst slaked.”
She was about to strolled out of the door when he turned to her:
“But you didn’t take your coin.”
“Which coin?”
“The one I said to give you in recompense.”
“Oh you mean that lost coin?”
“Yes.”
“I got it.”
She scurried forward and at the door she turned back and said: “I’ll bring you some eggs at sunset.”
After she left he was amazed. He began to ponder and whispered to himself: “She found the coin? When? Where? In this house?”
A while later something struck to his mind and he smiled and spoke loudly: “Hmm! The lost coin!”

Syad Zahoor Shah Hashmi (1926-78) is known as the pioneer of modern Balochi literature. He was simultaneously a poet, fiction writer, critic, linguist and a lexicographer par excellence. Though he left undeniable marks on various genres of Balochi literature, poetry remained his mainstay. With his enormous imagination and profound insight he laid the foundation of a new school of Balochi poetry especially Balochi ghazal which mainly emphasises on the purity of language and simplicity of poetic thoughts. This school of poetry subsequently attracted a wide range of poets to its fold. He also authored the first ever Balochi novel ‘Nazuk’ and compiled the first comprehensive Balochi-to-Balochi dictionary containing over twenty thousand words and hundreds of pictorial illustrations.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated several Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2017 and Silence Between the Notes — the first ever anthology of Partition Poetry published by Dhauli Books India in 2018. His upcoming works of translation include Why Does the Moon Look So Beautiful? (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Naguman) and God and the Blind Man (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Minir Ahmed Badini).

Categories
Slices from Life

Notes from Balochistan: Volunteers for humanity

By: Ali Jan Maqsood

Blood Donation Camp set up by volunteers during COVID 19 restrictions

Pakistan, like many parts of the world, has announced a lockdown in most of the country. In some of the cities, however, there is a partial lockdown. The district Kech in Balochistan is partially locked down (from morning till five in the evenings with essential services still open like groceries, vegetables, banks, medical stores etc). However, all of the educational institutions will remain closed till May 31, with a warning that the date may be extended, depending on future developments.

Kech suffers from a great many medical services issues as the government gives very little attention to the affairs of the civil hospital. These have been further slowed down by the corona scare. On the other hand, Kech contains a number of — 286 — registered patients of thalassemia who need blood transfusion on a regular basis (some after every 15 to 20 days and the rest on monthly basis). The district does not own a single blood bank. Despite having three Members of Provincial Assembly (MPA) from the district with a Member of National Assembly (MNA), the need to build a blood bank in the district has not been addressed.

However, for the patients, a team of a social workers from Kech arranged a blood donation camp in the nearby tehsil of Buleda (about an hour and half of travel from Turbat) in order to collect blood for the needy thalassemia patients during the lockdown. Luckily, they got a good response from the locals of Buleda. The camp was set in Ruzhn School Mainaz Buleda under the support of Mr Zahoor Ahmed, the principal of Ruzhn school, and Mr Irshad Arif, a working faculty of Syed Hashmi High School Turbat and founder of Kech Blood Donors Team.

“A great many people supported us during the blood donation camp. I did not expect this kind of crowd since mostly people fear donating blood, but I am really amazed looking at such spirit from the people here, ” says Mr Arif in gratitude to the local people of Buleda. “I am wholeheartedly thankful to Mr Zahoor Ahmed for his kind help in our drive and all the people of Buleda for donating blood with high spirit.”

The principal of Ruzhn School Buleda was pleased looking at the youngsters doing their best to serve humanity. He said he was honoured to be part of the drive and had much hopes from the volunteers. “I was told they (Kech Blood Donors Team) were coming. I thought what would be more beautiful than to getting a chance to give your best to doing something for humanity in this very critical time,” Mr. Ahmed added

The blood camp got a huge number of donors. The team met their target only in four hours. However, many locals were rejected when they came forward to donate blood as they were considered unfit. They stood the whole time only in the hope they would be called back to give blood, added Murad Jan, a volunteer of the team.

The locals of Buleda have always helped when it came to do something for the people of the province. In such a critical time as the children affected by thalassamia are on the verge of death, they have showed their kindness by arranging the blood camps and supporting it to their best.

It is often said “Saving one human life is equal to saving the entire humanity.” The locals of Buleda proved it with their passion to help children fight death.

Despite the generosity of the residents, the government still needs to plan for a blood bank and a thalassemia centre in the district. Health is one of the basic needs that needs to be addressed. The people cast their precious votes and help politicians win elections, it is now their turn to pay back the community by providing basic facilities.

The writer is a student of Law at University Law College Quetta and a former teacher at DELTA in Turbat. He can be reached at alijanmaqsood17@gmail.com and tweets at @Alijanmaqsood12

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are solely that of the author and not of Borderless Journal.

Categories
Stories

Too Much Light, Too Much Trouble

A Balochi Short story by Ghani Parwaz

( Translated by Fazal Baloch)

The moment he stepped into the office he was astonished to see the distorted features of his colleagues. Someone’s eyes were bulging out of their sockets. Someone’s ears were stretched out. Someone’s tongue was sticking out. Someone’s lips had swollen. He stared at them with bewilderment.

Aftab, the clerk, raised his head and bulged out his eyes a bit further and said: “You are looking at us in such a way as if we are creatures from some other planets.”

Imdad, the assistant, raised his ears a little more and asked him: “Why are you looking at us with such wonder”?

Zaheer, the cashier, stuck out his tongue and remarked: “I think he is not feeling well today.”

Muzzamil, the clerk, puffed his already swollen lips and said: “We need to bring him back on the track.”

He strolled ahead, stood right in their midst and said: “But why do you all look so strange today?”

First they looked at each other and then directed their gaze at him and asked him: “What is wrong with us, by the way?”

He smiled acerbically and retorted: “Someone’s eyes are bulging out. Someone’s ears are unusually raised. Someone’s tongue is sticking out. Someone’s lips are swollen.” 

Aftab, the clerk, instantly pulled out a small mirror from his pocket and looked into it.

“You damn liar,” he mumbled.

One by one they all looked their features in the mirror.

Someone lashed out at him, “Why do you fashion such big lie?”

“Is this the way to make fun of your colleagues?” Someone else expressed his displeasure.

Muzamil was not satisfied yet. He strolled over to the bathroom and thoroughly scanned his face in front of a giant mirror.

“Lies wouldn’t last long.”

Azhar sat on his chair and looked around and said: “Truth and lies apart, but your faces do not look as usual.”

Ms. Farhat, the secretary to the Chairman, stepped in.

“What happened? Why are you looking so flummoxed?” she asked them.

“Azhar says our features look distorted.” Muzzamal said while looking at Ms. Farhat.

She looked at their faces and said: “No. Everything seems to be as usual.”

“Look at yourself, madam,” Azhar said.

“What has happened to me?” Farhat was puzzled a bit.

“Your cheeks are swollen.”

“O my God!” She covered her face with her hands and scurried to the bathroom. She returned in a moment and blasted at Azhar: “You are a duffer. You don’t even deserve the slot of a watchman.”

“He thrashed at us and even didn’t spare you.”

Someone suggested, “We must take up the matter with the boss.”

“Don’t worry. Let the boss come. I will do the rest,” Farhat assured them.

A while later the door turned open and Zahir Ali, the Chairman, stepped in. He cast a cursory look at the staff and made it to his office. Farhat followed him.

“What is the problem, today you all look anxious?” The Chairman placed his sunglasses on the table.

“Today Azhar has lost his mind,” Farhat replied.

“How?”

“He is talking nonsense.”

“Just relax yourself I will see him.”

The Chairman pressed the bell and asked the peon to call Azhar in.

“Sir! Have you called me?” Azhar looked at him anxiously.

“Yes. Why are you misbehaving with your colleagues?”

“No, Sir, I haven’t done anything wrong. I just told them whatever I saw with my eyes.”

“By the way what did you see?”

“They all have distorted faces.”

“How? Any example.”

“Bulging eyes. Elongated ears. Puffed lips. Swollen cheeks.”

The Chairman asked him, “And you are also staring at me with amazement. Do you see any change in my features?”

“Sorry Sir! I wouldn’t be that rude. After all you are my boss.”

“Go ahead and tell me if you see something unusual in me.”

“As you wish Sir — you have a protruding paunch today,” he revealed in a somewhat trembling tone.

The Chairman walked over to the bathroom. He returned in a while and blasted at Azhar: “You rascal!”

Azhar trembled with fear and pleaded: “I am sorry Sir.”

“You don’t deserve any relaxation.” He looked at him with anger and pressed the bell.

The peon rushed in: “Yes Sir!”

“Call the staff in,” he commanded.

All the staff gathered in the Chairman’s office.

“Do you see any change in your own features?” The Chairman asked them with great concern.”

“No Sir,” was their answer.

“And something unusual in mine?”

“Not at all.” They replied.

“Then why on earth, is this knucklehead insisting that we have distorted features?” He was furious.

“Sir something must be wrong with his eyes.” Muzammil pointed towards Azhar’s eyes.

“Muzzamil is right; you must have an eye problem.” The Chairman looked at Azhar.

“Yes, indeed I had an eye-problem, but I have had them treated recently.”

“The treatment has further ruined your eyes,” the Chairman looked deep into his eyes.

“Anyway, what was the problem with your eyes?”

“My eyes used to twinkle,” he replied.

“What? Do eyes ever twinkle?” The Chairman was amazed.

“Yes, they used to twinkle and I felt new and brighter eyes were growing inside my eyes.”

“What was the nature of the treatment?” The Chairman asked him.

“I had an eye surgery.”

“I feel the surgery went terribly wrong.”

“It went wrong?” Azhar was confused a bit.

“Yes, it did,” the Chairman affirmed his statement.

“But now I have a much better and brighter vision than ever, Sir. Now even I can see the invisible things.”

“What do you mean by the invisible things,” the Chairman shot back.

“I mean that I can see what the bulging eyes are looking for. I can hear what the elongated ears desire to hear. I know what the swollen lips want to say. I know what the puffed out cheeks seek. And what the protruding paunch…”

“Shut your nonsense!” The Chairman cut into the middle of his speech. “Had you not been an old employee, I would have kicked you out of the office.”

“Have mercy on me Sir,” Azhar pleaded.

“I accept your apology but only on one condition.” The Chairman dragged his chair a bit forward and pointed his index finger towards Azhar.

“I accept whatever condition you set.” Azhar bowed his head in respect.

“I will get your eyes operated again and its expense will be deducted from your salary in nominal installments,” the Chairman gave the verdict.

“What do you think now?” Muzammil quipped with a sardonic smile.

“What can I say,” Azhar replied in a state of utter helplessness.

A few days after the operation Azhar resumed his routine in the office. Now everybody looked normal to him. He didn’t notice anything unusual in their features. He was standing by the door when the Chairman burst in.

The Chairman asked him sarcastically, “How are your eyes now?”

“As usual, Sir,” Azhar replied.

“Remember, too much brightness of vision is always disastrous. It can land you in deep trouble.”

“I will never forget your advice Sir.” A meaningful smile appeared on Azhar’s lips, “because I cannot endure too much suffering.”

Ghani Parwaz is one of the most celebrated Balochi writers. He has been writing Balochi fiction for the past five decades. So far he has published seven anthologies of short stories and five novels.  Apart from fiction, he also writes poetry and literary criticism. He received several awards for his literary contributions including “the Presidential Award for the Pride of Performance”. He lives in Turbat Balochistan.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated several Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters in 2017 and Silence Between the Notes — the first ever anthology of Partition Poetry published by Dhauli Books India in 2018. His upcoming works of translation include Why Does the Moon Look So Beautiful? (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Naguman) and God and the Blind Man (Selected Balochi Short Stories by Minir Ahmed Badini).