KHAIRPUR: He is a harmonium player and Sufi singer, but the times have changed and now he has diverted his attention to tuning and repairing musical instruments to earn his livelihood. Bakhshal Faqeer, a resident of this Pakistani city in the southern Sindh province, also makes new harmoniums and imparts training to play them free of cost to music lovers.
He says he does this work for the sake of earning his bread and butter because nowadays the mystic music is not being given its due importance. However, he still sings at shrines of mystic personalities and poets.
He is an expert in Ragas of Sindh, including those of classical and semi-classical. He is the devotee of the shrine of Data Shah Wilayat of Chak (Shikarpur) for three generations. Though known by many people in Sindh, publicly he is an unknown character.
Originally, Bakhshal is the resident of the village of Faqeer Ghulam Hussain Mahesar in taluka Gambat, but he keeps moving to different parts of upper Sindh in search of work.
According to Bakhshal Faqeer, he visits Dadu, Khairpur, Shikarpur, Larkana, Naushero Feroze, Nawabshah and other districts of Sindh to repair harmoniums at reasonable rates. He says that he can create notes of a variety of tunes including those of Germany, Paris and some other countries. Faqeer Bakhshal said he kept tuning and repairing tools in a bag to carry them to different places.
The railway police sometimes created problems for him because of the tools he carried with him, he said. He recalls an incident when police locked him up during checking on the Dadu-Moro Bridge and he had to pay Rs500 for the release.
He said that he is poor and cannot afford to hire a shop for his work or purchase modern tools to repair harmoniums, but he has never appealed for any financial help. Though he has many students in Sindh, he never claims it by their names.
He said that in his early age, he had developed interest in repairing and making harmoniums. He requested Ustad Loung Faqeer, who played harmonium with renowned Sufi singer Begum Faqirani and also used to repair and manufacture harmoniums, to train him but he refused.
Later, he went to Lahore and learnt this work. Nowadays people are interested in learning this work, he says, adding that he has been repairing harmoniums of many famous singers. He said that besides harmonium, he could also repair Tanpura, Banjo, Dholak and other musical instruments.
Faqeer Bakhshal said that after the recent floods, the number of people had decreased who asked for repairing or making new harmoniums for them.
Input from Agencies