Legendary heroine of Sindh Jeejee Zareena Baloch

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For the last four decades Jeejee Zareena has remained a symbol of hope, revolution and struggle in Sindh.

Jiji Zarina always quoted Hyder Bux Jatoi, Jam-e-mohabbat piyay Sindh

Jeejee always sangs “Jieay Sindh aen Jieay Sindh, Jam-e Muhabat Pieay Sindh” and “paan khey haan azad ghurjey watan” the entire Sindh danced with her words, because what she sang, what she taught and what she wrote, came straight from her heart.

On Saturday the 25th October 2008 Sindh Culture and Tourism Department Govt of Sindh, Sindhiani Tahreek, Peoples Party Cultural Wing, Sindhi Adabi Sangat, Sindhi Hari Tahreek, JSQM, Sindh Research Council, Women Action Forum (WAF), Forum For Rights Justice & Peace, Nari Adabi Sangat, Sindhi Hindoo Sudhar Tanzeem, BSO and Sindh Graduate Association shall be organizing dozens of programs in memory of Legendary Women Leader, Revolutionary Artist, Writer, Teacher ad Political Activist Maader-e-Sindh Jiji Zareena Baloch all over the Sindh and Balochistan on her 3rd Death Anniversary. Sindhis and Baloch activists of UK and UAE will also host cultural and literary evenings in Manchester and Dubai. Cultural Department is organizing an exhibition of Jeejee Zarina Baloch’s photos and portraits and the Sindh University and Sindhology have announced the launching ceremony of Jiji Zareena Baloch CORNER at the Institute of Sindhology at

11-30 am on 25th in Jamshoro. FRJP

Brief Biography of Jeejee Zareena Baloch

The artist, teacher, writer and leader Jeejee Zareena alias Amina Baloch daughter of Mohammad Moosa alias Baba Porho and Amaan Gul Roz was born at Allahdad Chand Village, Hyderabad, Sindh on December 29, 1934. Her mother Gulroz died in 1940 when she was just six years old. At the age of 15 her family arranged her marriage with her distant cousin and after two children Akhter alias Zeena (born in 1952) and Asalm Parvez (born in 1957) she got differences with her husband on the issue of her further education and got

separation in 1958. She qualified her Final Exam in 1959 and joined Radio Hyderabad in 1960. She received her first Music Award in 1961. Her second marriage took place in Hyderabad on September 22, 1964 with leading Sindhi intellectual and writer Rasool Bux Palijo. Her 3rd and last child Ayaz Latif was born in 1968. She Joined School as a teacher in 1967 and taught thousands of student till her retirement from Model School Sindh University old Campus in 1996. She was arrested and imprisoned in Sukkur and Karachi Jails in 1979 for leading the protests against General Zia ul Haq’s Martial-Law and death sentence of ZA Bhutto. She was fluent in Urdu, Seraiki, Balochi, Persian, Arabic and Gujrati. She earned the title of JeeJee (mother) of entire Sindh due to her everlasting struggle against the Generals, Extremists, Feudals and Ruling classes of Pakistan and against gender discrimination, intolerance and martial-laws ad for the rights of minorities and oppressed nations. She was one of the leading founders of Sindhiani Tahreek, Women Action Forum, Sindhi Adabi Sangat and Sindhi Haree Committee. She visited dozens of countries and performed in London,

Washington, Delhi, Dubai, New York etc. She got several awards including: Shah Latif Award, Waheed Murad Award, Shah Sachal Sami Award, Lal Shahbaz Award, Sachal Sarmast Award, SGA Award, SANA Award, WSC Award, Ram Panjwani Award, PTV Award, Sindhi Sadaeen Gad Award, Faiz Ahmed Faiz Award and Pride

of Performance from Shaeed Benazir Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto in 1995.

She introduced the new trend of revolutionary and nationalist songs and poetry in Sindh and Balochistan. She was author of several stories and poems and her Book Tunhinjee Gola Tunhinjoon Galhion was published in 1992. She died due to Brain Cancer in Laiqat National Hospital Karachi on October 25, 2005 at 10-35 pm leaving behind her three children and grand children: Sassui Palijo, Bakhtawar Palijo, Pirah Palijo, Soonhan Umrani, Amarta Umrani, Sarmad Palijo, Zulfiqar Umrani, Asad Palijo, Azadi Umrani, Sahir Palijo, Sarbaz Palijo, Zaariney Palijo and her most favorite grand son Josh Palijo.

“Sindhoo R Bhatti” wrote: Legendary heroine of Sindh Jeejee Zareena Baloch While referring to Jeeje Zareena Baloch in a literary evening at National Centre, Leading drama writer Madam Noor ul Huda Shah once declared her as the rebirth of Marui and Baghal. She said I feel privileged that I m living in the era of Jeejee Zareena Baloch, a continuity, a resurrection of modern Marui, Baghal, Mai Bakhtawar, Qurat ul Ain Tahira and Lukholan. Jeejee Zareena Baloch is an enigma, more of a character than anyone from her own works of fiction and music. When Jiji Zarina Baloch sings, you must listen. There is little choice as you loose yourself to the timeless appeal of her voice. Her voice, you sense, has been wafting down the centuries over the

arid landscape of tiny hamlets in Sindh, lifted on the cool breeze caressing the sand dunes of Thar, rippling over the coastal waters, even as it blends with the song of the fishermen. Now the same unique and celebrated voice has been encircled in the marble blocks of red-mosaic in room No 202 of Agha Khan Hospital.

For the last four decades Jeejee Zareena has remained a symbol of hope, revolution and struggle for downtrodden and oppressed Sindhi and Baloch masses. Since the early movements of anti-one-unit and 4th March till the latest MRD, Bhutto Bachayo, anti martial-law and Anti Kalabagh Dam movements she has always been at the forefront, marching with people and facing lathi-charges, jails and tortures.

Jeejee Zarina Baloch is the only non-controversial national champion of modern Sindhi cause, who enjoys the support of PPP, Awami Tahreek, Jeaay Sindh Qomi Muhaz, STP, Sindhiani Tahreek, JSSF, SST, SPSF and even of Baloch and Seraiki nationalists, socialists and democrats. She has remained in Sukkur, Karachi and Hyderabad Jail for two years in General Zia ul Haq’s period and has also been given the Shah Latif, Sachal, Shahbaz, SGA, SANA, WSC,Ram Panjwani and other National and international Awards and Pride of

Performance in different parts of the World. When she sings, “Man chuk-e Balochani, Man hakim-e mulakni” and Gul Khan Naseer’s “Man aas aan grokan shamsheeran, Man tob aan bam aan bandooq aan, Man yagehan man yagehan” the thrill which Baloch youth feels can not be described in words.

Jiji Zarina has made a name for herself as a writer too. When she wrote her first story people thought “How can she become a writer overnight”. “I am an artists.” She replied to Daly Dawn, “If I can become a political activists suddenly, a singer suddenly and a teacher suddenly, so I can become a writer.”

She is a great believer in the rights of all nationalities on an equal footing. It was in this background that she took up the cause of Neelam Band Karyo, 4th March and anti-one-unit movement in Sindh. In the early 60s her songs became almost an anthem in every political gathering for the rights of Sindh and its people. Because of her songs the anti-one-unit movement, MRD movement and Anti Kalabagh Dam movement gathered such momentum that even politicians like G.M. Sayed, Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, ZA Bhutto, Rasool Bux Palijo and Mumtaz Bhutto emphasized upon the role of culture in national struggle. She is so averse to religious obscurantism, exploitation of the poor that she was castigated by some lobbies as a communist and a heretic.

But I know that sis a deeply spiritual individual. She tries to depict feelings of rural Sindhi masses, which are true and plausible. When Jeejee sings “Jieay Sindh aen Jieay Sindh, Jam-e Muhabat Pieay Sindh” and “Sindh hareeea jee Sindh Mazdoor Jee, Sindh kenhan Meer Ya Peer Jee keen Aa” and “Samraji kuta bhoonkanda bhal rahan, paan khey haan azad ghurjey watan” the entire Sindh daces with her words, because what she sings, what she teaches and what she writes, comes straight from her heart.

Jeejee Zarina wrote with the same abandonment that she sang with. She even drew plaudits from Shaikh Ayaz, “there is Ismat Chughtai in Hind and Zarina in Sindh.” Jeejee (mother), they call her from a six-year-old who breaks into “Mor tho tille” to the sixty-year-old who enjoys, ” Bee khabar nah per maran khan poi, tosan gadjan joon hasratoon rahindioon” But Jiji, the singer, activist, writer or teacher was not born overnight. With each moment of reckoning she took up the challenge.

She was born Amina Baloch in a conservative Baloch family. Her mother died when she was five-years-old and she says, “I grew up all of a sudden, as if I were twenty-years- old.” Her bond with her father was nurturing in many ways. Sensitive to the young girl, and guided by the her well-intentioned step-mother, he taught her to read the Quran. “He even read to me Latif’s kafis and Abul Hasan’s Sindhi Noor Namah and Ahad Namah. After the difficult Arabic, all learning seemed easier, besides Sindhi and Urdu are easier

languages to learn.” Once she cleared her exams (Class 7 in those days) she told Dadi Leela she wanted to work. Dadi Lila took Zarina to the Training College and had her enrolled. There was resistance but Dadi Lila prevailed, ” ‘sometimes in life one has to break rules and be flexible to help out’ said Dadi Lila to them. Maybe Hindus are more generous or it was the respect that she commanded..” Jiji Zarina trails off. Dadi Lila had swiveled open not one but two doors for her. Armed like Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning with a book in one hand and a musical instrument in another, there was little that go wrong. Some of the tunes are so popular like Mor Tho Tile, Utarto tho lagey, Pereen Pawandee San, Chalro, Dana pe Dana, Man tokhey geet dian aee dhartee, Yar Daadhi, kang lanwey, laila o laila, Tiree Pawanda Tarieen, Man bi goolioon halayan, Vashmalle, Saath Halando Raheey, Munhinja preen o banwara. These songs are in our regional languages but everybody wants to sing them. “When I hear these songs, images of people swim in my eyes” mother Zareena says.

“Molana Grami, Haider Bux Jattoi, Manzoor Ali Khan, Ibrahim Munshi, Ustad Jumman, Shaikh Ayaz, Imdad Husaini, SeeN Rasool Bux Palijo, Sarwech Sujawali, Tanvir Abbassi, Ustad Bukhari, Saeen G M Sayed, SaeeN Ghulam Mustafa Shah, SaeeN Joyo sahib.” The process of osmosis continues. Jiji Zarina also acted in the award-winning PTV play, Dungi Manji Dariya written by Alibaba and which made it to the third place at a festival in Munich. Playing the female protagonist, Jiji took to the role like fish to water.

The life-sustaining waters of Sindh were not alien to her. ” I lived in a fishing village for five days to observe the women.” The play was yet another door that Zarina pried open. ” I did fifty more than programs with

T.V. producers Ada Haroon Rind, Iqbal Ansari, Sultana Siddiqui, Mumtaz Mirza and Abdul Karim Baloch. Her famous T. V. dramas & serials include Rani Ji Kahani, Jangal, Karwan, Guddi, Chand Raheen Tho Door, Kedo Karoonbhar (written by Jiji Zarina), Anna, Banhi & Baleshahi.

The women activists in the Sindhiani Tehreek, Aurat Foundation, HRCP, Sindhi Naree Tahreek, Aurat Sabha, Shirkatgah and Asar seek her out to sing for their cause. “I am a fankar. I have kept myself free, I am a part of them because I am Palijo Sahib’s wife. They do the work, I am with them, I sing national songs like Jeay Sindh, Maan bi Goliyoon Halayan, Jahan Khe diyo Mubarekoon, Sindhiani Sindh Ji Jaee Aa, Kafan Mathay Saan Badhi Wadhan Tha, at their functions because I want people to be aware, to surge ahead.”

She loves peasants and proletariat of Pakhtoonkhwah, Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Seraiki and praises them in words of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Ahmed Faraz. Jeejee Zarina talks about Sindh with the same timbre that her songs carry. Of timelessness. ” Sindh azal se hai, Sindh hamasha rahega. She quotes Hyder Bux Jatoi, Jam-e-mohabbat piyay Sindh. (Sindh has been there since eternity and will be forever.) There is optimism laced with practicality in her assessments of how things stand. “Change will come. Revolutions come in a hundred to two hundred years, if they are not for us then they are for our future generations. ” She knows that the good people in upper classes of Pakistan are “like salt to flour,” that “the poor man is butchered like cattle,” that the “foundation laid in the last fifty years has been faulty,” that “army generals and their agent politicians push their scions and line their own pockets.” She says awareness is on the rise,” but in slow motion”.

The bane of karo-kari in Sindh she says exists more in upper Sindh as compared to lower Sindh. “There has been an anna reduction from a rupee, but there is concerted effort being made to raise the level of awareness. This curse exists in all parts of the country. In Balochistan, the N.W.F.P, you hear of women being paraded nude in the Punjab. “Bara hai dard ka rishta yeh dil ghareeb sahee,” she quotes Faiz Ahmed Faiz, “if there is one voice raised in protest in one part of the country then there will be two raised in unison in another. We share the same pain.”

She criticizes power greedy army generals and autocratic and fascist Punjabi Rulers. The feudal stranglehold she says stifles the progress of the country. She talks about “the wadera’s and Sardar’s exploitation and the

hari’s perspiration, the finger-in-every- pie politician. It is not like India where a Phoolan Devi makes it to parliament.” Ask her about the present lot of singers and she is very generous with her praise but spikes

it with an insight. “Sarmad Sindhi, Manzoor Sakherani, Shazia Khushk, Samina Kanwal, Taj Mastani, Bedal Masroor, Fauzia Soomro, Sadiq Faqeer, Shafi Faqeer, Allahdino Khaskheli & Ameer Ali have what it takes to click. The young writers should select good and realistic plots and singers should select good poetry, compose their own music. Abida Parveen she rates very highly. “There will never be another Abida, another Ustad Juman, another Mahdi Hasan, another Reshman, another Latta Mangeshker, another Mohd Rafee,

another Mukesh and another Pathaney Khan. A great deal of credit goes to them, their masses, their composers and their families”

Jeejee Zarina Baloch is an intriguing combination of mellowness and spiritedness. The fires may not be raging inside but at a just provocation they could burst into flames that would singe. And her voice, as she sings “Hum Jo tareek rahon men marey gayee” and Bulleh Shah’s “Kee janan main kaun” cuts through our skin and enters in our bloodstream. “My days are winging past. Time is just passing me by. I have not been able to discover my true self, neither my family, nor my colleagues. Who am I? No one knows”. She quotes Shaikh Ayaz, “If I go away, you will remember me a lot, then all you will do is bite your finger and miss me.” The world will do more. They will listen to her.

(Article Writeen in October 2005)

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/e-groups.

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