AN EXCELLENT WRITER AND HUMAN BEING
By Dr. Baldev Matlani
Beloved Sindh is abode of dervishes and god-men. Every nook and corner of Sindh is inhabitated by believers and the faithful. People nearer to God have roamed through its streets and bazaars. The graves of various Pirs situated at different places, like Rohri, Makli, Sewhan and Hala etc. are witness to the fact. If we embark upon writing on the lives of these saints who had been through Sindh in recent past, it would become a gigantic task and need a multitude of years to do so. Holy land of Larkana has also given us many saints, god lovers and litterateurs. Larkana has always been the centre of Sindh for its educational, cultural, political and literary activities.
To know some specific poet or writer, it is imperative for a reader to have adequate knowledge of his environment and the area where that litterateur had taken birth and indulged in his passion. Zenith in creation comes with the optimum mixture of talent and training. Indus valley has been fortunate enough to have given birth to a host of writers, poets and thinkers, who's contributions have enlightened the hearts of every Sindhi. Ram Pertabrai Panjwani can be counted as one among such creative minds. He had succeeded in putting forth complicated literary feats in very simple and easily understandable language.
Ram Panjwani was blessed with the company of Saeen Kishinchand 'Bewas', a unique poet of Larkana. His very first meeting with 'Bewas' was literally ordained by God Himself. In 1925, Panjwani was singing the song written by Kishinchand 'Bewas' somewhere:
“Sabh Kan Tunhnjee Sarah, Qudrat Wara!”
Wordsmith 'Bewas' was immensely pleased to hear his song, sung by Panjwani. Next day, 'Bewas' called him at his home and declared him his spiritual son and said, “You will give voice to my creations!” Later on, Ram Panjwani also acted on stage, in plays conducted by 'Bewas' initiated 'Chandka Amateur Dramatic Society'. There was also a programme held by Saraswati Mandal at D. J. Sindh College, Karachi, where Ram Panjwani spoke at length on 'Saeen Bewas - A Person & His Works'. Prin. Narain Butani was also amongst the audience who liked his lecture on 'Bewas' very much and decided then and there that Ram Panjwani would become a Lecturer, after completing his B.A. His accidental meet with Prin. Butani in 1929 changed his life for the better. He himself admits to it and says :
“Had I not met Butani, I would not have become this!”
Present era is created by illegitimate collusion of businessmen with feudal lords. It has demolished the very basis of humanity, love, sympathy, truth and every virtue which our fore-fathers have been propagating since time immemorial. Today, everyone is on his own and literally everyone has to take his cross on his own shoulders. We are the prisoners in our own personal shell and looking at the futile and frantic pace of life, through its cracks. No one is loyal and dedicated to anybody. No one empathizes with anyone. But Ram Panjwani has always been positive in his writings. He has emphasized in his writings - not to lose heart; have faith in God and ultimately truth and virtue will prevail. Even if, some-one has to face hardships in life, he should have patience and complete faith in God, the Almighty! He wants to say,” if you cannot achieve your goal, there might be some lacuna in your efforts”. The character Niranjan of his novel 'Ahe Na Ahe' wants to dispel doubts and suspicions:
“Don't lose heart! Don't cover up the sun of faith with clouds of doubts!”
Since 1943, Ram Panjwani has given us 'Qaidi', 'Sharmila', 'Latifa', 'Chandi-a-jo Chamko', 'Zindgi Ya Maut', 'Ahe Na Ahe', 'Padma', 'Dheear Na Jaman' and 'Maya Jo Moh' novels alongwith 'Anokha Azmooda', 'Vichtra Vaqia', 'Tunhnja Munhnja Tajurba' and 'Yaadgeeryun' memoirs; 'Ram Panjwani-a joon Choond Kahanyun', 'Godjamyoon' short story collection; 'Sat Rang' a collection of one-act-plays and English creation 'Sindhi and Sindhyat'. Commemorative volume 'Abhinandan Granth' was also published in 1981 which included his own writings along with inputs from other writers about Ram Panjwani and his works. His works were liked by all and sundry and many of his books have been published twice & thrice.
The characters of Ram Panjwani's stories and novels are not soul-less creations but with whom you and I can identify with, as people existing all around us. His novel 'Latifa' vividly describes the high handedness and atrocities perpetrated by police personnel, that even a police Officer himself was astonished to read it. He asked Ram Panjwani, “I wonder how you could describe such instances so vividly. It looks as if every instance has happened before your very own eyes.” 'Latifa' is a sterling example of his talent combined with great effort. He himself has admitted to the fact and said, “I was myself shocked to write some parts of Latifa.”
Through play-writing, Ram Panjwani has not only given a lease of life to various folk stories but some of his plays have portrayed the harsh realities of life, too. In 'Samaj Shewak', the salvos of Salamatrai, a journalist boomerang on his own self. A good lesson of life is taught through humour and satire in 'Ayo Nao Zamano'. His full length play 'Yaad Kanda' has celebrated many jubilees. He has poured the extract of his life long experience in his short stories. Though story writing needs only true portrayal of life, but Ram Panjwani has gone even a step further and many a times he has given out solutions to various problems in his short stories. He has also criticized our lethargic and corrupt bureaucracy and also reproduced the hardships and problems of our exploited poor people.
Ram Panjwani has written most appropriately and honestly about his times and tried to awaken our society from a deep slumber. His creations bear the typical stamp and the highlight of his stories is their climax. In 'Baroch' short story, when Mohd. Hassan is awarded death sentence even when he has not committed that crime; he admits to the fact that though he was innocent in that particular instance he had murdered another person earlier in his life. Mohd. Hassan says:
“This time I am an innocent, then too being hanged. God knows, real culprit may be present at this very time in the court and saying those words which I had uttered once earlier…..”
Ram Panjwani was an idealistic writer. He had un-flinching faith in God and believed that only God can save us from hardships of life. Panjwani says in a story 'Janhin Te Malik Jee Rakh, So Sar Mein Ghume Saraho' of his collection 'Anokha Azmooda':
“When He comes to your rescue, He can take you out from burning flames. If, He wants to end your life, He can burn you with a single spark. A hunter can kill thousands of birds in his hunting expedition but if the birds are fortunate, he may come back empty handed…..”
Though, the art of story-telling doesn't need any opinion of the writer on various problems and issues depicted in his stories, Ram Panjwani has gone a step ahead and indulged in this very practice. It is his unique style of writing. He has proved in his writings that people may make mistakes but they have to bear the fruit of all actions in their very own life. He has been hammering out the fact, that God is very much there and watching our good as well as bad deeds. He has acknowledged the favours done to him by many people in 'Yaadgeeryun' and this very trait raises his stature way above ordinary mortals.
In his sun-set years of 1987, he had written 'Sindhi and Sindhyat' describing the beauty of Sindhi culture and civilization, Sindhi mindset and Sufism. He has also introduced us to Lord Jhoolelal and written about various sufi poets of Sindh, uptil Saeen Kishinchand 'Bewas'. Fortunately, I got proximity to Dada's person during publishing of his book 'Sat Rang' as for two of its plays he used to dictate and I would jot down the lines on paper. There were many books buried in his mind but life didn't allow him bring those on paper!
(paper presented at NCPSL, National Seminar)