While a Bollywood movie titled “Mohenjo Daro” is on its way of being released in cinemas worldwide on the 12th of this August, the first ever novelist penning the fictitious story of ancient culture and civilization of Indus
passes away. However, readers may not confuse him with the story writer of this film yet he was the first to write on this theme.
Sindhi drama writer and novelist Ali Muhammad alias Ali Baba passed away on Monday in Karachi. The 76-year-old was suffering from multiple diseases and died due to the brain hemorrhage.
Ali Baba was born in Kotri in 1940 and his father, Muhammad Yousuf Baloch, was a clerk in Pakistan Railways. After completing his secondary education, Ali Baba also joined the railways’ department as a clerk and later worked as an assistant manager at a textile mill.
He started writing short stories in 1965 and gained popularity after his dramas were telecast on radio and television.
The deceased political and Sindhi scholar Pir Hisamuddin Rashdi called him the ‘narrator of Sindh’s history’ in one of his books. Ali Baba traveled the entire province and depicted the essence of Sindhi culture in his dramas. His short story, titled Dharti Dhikana [Expelled from the soil], which narrates the plight of the mass migration [of Muslims and Hindus] after the partition of the Subcontinent in 1947, is one of most the popular works in Sindhi literature, along with his novel, Mohenjo Daro.
His story Kajla Tajla Manhu [the colored men] takes the reader to the ancient times when the city of Moen Jo Daro was flourishing along with its civilization.
One of his most famous dramas, titled Dungi Manjh Darya [Sailing boat in the river], got international fame and in 1981 won the award for the third best drama during the annual drama festival in Munich, Germany.
His writing style, selection of themes and plots was unique among his contemporary writers. His stories and dramas were mainly based on the economic and social conditions of Sindh and Sindhi people in which he focused the conditions of illiteracy and poverty of Sindhi folks. His writings were often considered as anti-status quo or against the ruling class, that’s why he was ignored by governments and died in the conditions of the social insanity, poverty, and ignorance. He remained close to veteran Sindhi scholar and politician, the godfather of Sindhi nationalism G.M Sayed and a strong supporter of Sindhi freedom movement till his last breaths and refused the efforts of aid by the Pakistani politicians.
The funeral prayers of the deceased writer were held in Yousuf Baloch village near Kotri Railway Station and he was laid to rest in his family graveyard. Sindhi writers, civil society activists, nationalists attended his funeral.
Mourning the loss
Sindhi nationalists, civil society activists, writers, journalists have mourned his death, criticizing the apathy and insanity of the state system of the country which deprived him of his true social status.
JSMM chairman Shafi Muhammad Burfat passed condolences to his family and termed him “a man of impeccable character, whose loss has left a big void on the literary landscape of Sindh.”
Taj Joyo, a present day scholar, writer and researcher, supervisor of Sindhiana Encyclopedia termed him as a “spiritual representative of Sindhi identity” and ranks him third in the line of Amar Jaleel and Naseem Kharl. “His demise is the big loss for Sindhi literature and history and is surely irreplaceable,” he added.
The Sindhi Adabi Sangat [Sindhi Literary Fraternity], an association of Sindhi writers, novelists, poets, and dramatists, has also announced three days of mourning. “Sindh has been deprived of a peerless playwright,” said the association’s secretary Dr. Mushtaq Phul, adding that “He promoted Sindhi literature all through his lives,” Phul informed that all the offices of Sindhi Adabi Sangat will mourn his death by organizing condolence references for the deceased writer for three days.