Article by Sher Alam Shenwari
There would be hardly a Pakhtoon who may not know a verse or two of Khatir Afridi and would be difficult to find a Pakhtoon singer who might not have sung him. But Khatir ironically is the most sung unsung poet. “At the age 17, Misree Khan Khatir Afridi was introduced to me by Hakim Shah Basir at his Qahwa Khana at Landikotal Bazaar; he read out a portion of his verses, I made correction here and there. I encouraged him a lot. Khatir was a natural poet. I made him learn writing Pashto script. He was my first student. I loved him very much. He was a true gentleman and used to be very obedient to poets.
Khatir had a very sharp sense of humour. Khyber Afridi was his rival in poetry. The universal and mass popularity that Khatir gained after Rahman Baba could not be attained by any other Pashto poet. Allah had best upon him brilliant mind and mental capabilities. He was a very sensitive person. A fatal disease (T.B) attacked him and affected his health adversely, had he been alive a little longer, he would have contributed some more beautiful poetry. He would frequently visit the critical and mushaira sessions of Khyber Pakhto Adabi Jirga. Sometimes my advice to him to get proper treatment for his ailment would annoy him. Khatir met me a day before his death, when somebody conveyed the news of his untimely death to me the other day, I could not simply believe it because I had seen him a day before. His poetry has the kind of candour, which is not carried by other Pashto poet in his poetry.
‘Da Khatir rangeen ghazal ta hairanaigam, Pa dey kharr Khyber ke sa dee be la khhaorro,
His poetry is the mixture of public and scholastic tastes. Beautiful metaphors and similes can be found in his poetry.
‘Khalaq Che Nakha Walee goree warta, Ta che makh pat karro no gozaar dey okrro,
Bagh-e- Haram resident of Malikdeen Khel a popular rabab maestro lived very close to Khatir. He would compose verses to the tunes of rabab,” writes Lalzada Nazir Baba.
He was born in 1929 and belonged to Zakha Khel tribe subsection Sado Khel, he was a few days old when his father died but his grandfather and uncle reared him very well and raised him like son. Khatir unfortunately, could not even see the face of school. He took up job at Khyber Rifle’s camp as gardener but later on laid hands on private business. Qayum Kausar Afridi his closest companion told this scribe “One day I asked Khatir to hand over his manuscript to me so that I could preserve it. I kept it with me till his only son Javed Khan grew up and was able to publish it. Khatir wore simple dress, liked Warta (roasted mutton) very much. He would carry a pistol with him according to the then tribal traditions and would wear black turban but was a polite and calm person. His poetry is simple and spontaneous.”
Javed Khan Afridi while talking to the statesman said, “ large number of unauthorized and authentic editions of my father’s poetry have been published in Kabul and Peshawar, PTV and radio Pakistan, Peshawar have so far aired a greater portion of Khatir Afridi’s poetry but now I have intended to take legal action against them. No literary and cultural organization government or civil, has approached me for any kind of award for my father’s contribution to put the record straight,” Javed lamented.
Hamza Baba comments, “Although Khatir was unlettered in the beginning and did not even seem to be a poet from his very outlook but poetry was ingrained in his blood and Nazir Shinwari’s correction lit candles in his poetic mind. Most often Khyber Afridi and Khatir would pass poetical sarcastic remarks on each other in mushairas. Whenever he would begin reciting his verses, the participants would greatly appreciate him and would presume that colours are flowing out from his mouth. It pained me a lot to know about his serious illness. He was careless about his health, once I advised him to get treatment and he did it but alas the time was over.” Javed Khan Afridi informed that Khatir had got treatment from Dr. Yunas in Peshawar Saddar so it is wrong to say that he could not afford treatment or he was did not want to take care of his health. He added that he still has the medical reports of the said Dr. with him. When Gulab Sher sang ‘Sta manzal manzaloono ke yema, Rasedoo omaidoono ke yema, from radio Pakistan, Peshawar Khatir attained new heights of popularity.
Murad Shinwari says that the tunes of Bagh-e- Haram and the correction of Nazir Baba are two reasons behind his mass popularity. 80 percent of his Kuliyat has been sung and 90 percent Pakhtoons in every part of the world know about Khatir. Almost every Pashto musical concert takes start from Khatir Afridi’s verses. His every verse is full of pathos, romance and musicality. He started his poetic career at a very tender age with composing folk poetry including Loba, Tapa, Chartbeta, Geet and Nimakai but then switched over to ghazal. His diction is simple and easy flowing. Hamza Baba and Nazir Baba could not eclipse his poetic talent.
Dr. Raj Wali Shah Khattak maintains that the centrality of his poetry is his deep love and this merit takes him to the pinnacle of universality and sublimity. Khatir’s ghazal has all the qualities of the best romantic thoughts reflective of his in -depth observation and artistic vision. Dr. Salma Shaheen opines that Khatir is not only the pride of Khyber but also all the Pakhtoons love his poetry because Khatir is the representative of Ishq.
Every Pakhtoon singer takes pride to sing him. Khatir’s first authentic Da Khatir Kuliyat spreading over 605 pages came out in 1998, its second edition published in 1999 while its third edition brought out in 2004and every edition sold out like hot cake. Strange to say that provincial cultural department, Pashto Academy, Pashto Adabi Board, Academy of Letters, Islamabad, Peshawar chapter, more than two hundred so called Pashto Adabi Jirgas neither arranged a seminar nor brought out a special issue on the life and works of a poet who enjoys international reputation. Also a number of foreign radio channels which broadcast Pashto programmes having offices their in Peshawar including BBC and VOA never aired any programme on Khatir. Today Murad Shinwari and Qayum Kausar Afridi are alive to give us first hand information about Khatir Afridi but who knows about tomorrow? Who will help his son Javed Khan to get royalty from radio Pakistan and PTV, Peshawar?
A portion of his poetry has been translated into English, German, French, Russian, Persian and Urdu languages. Khatir Afridi, the John Keats of Pashto passed away leaving behind wife, two daughters and the only son Javed Khan Afridi on Sunday August 24, 1968 at the age 39 but he will always remain alive in the hearts of millions of Pakhtoons across the globe. His couplet on his epitaph ‘Che pa qabar mey teraigey khudai da paara, Lag sha maata khapa neewalei zaba marr yem’ shows our apathy towards our legendary heroes, poets and artists. The credit goes to the unflinching efforts of Qayum Kausar Afridi, Niaz Amin Niaz Afridi, Javed Khan Afridi, Kalimullah Kalim Shinwari and Aslam Taseer Afridi who presented Da Khatir Kuliyat to his numerous Pakhtoon lovers.
Last edited by Zahid Buneray; 08-19-2006 at 10:08 AM.
What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family. Mother Theresa
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