Remembering Jiji (mother) of Sindh

The history of Sindhi folk music would be incomplete without the name of Amina Baloch alias Zarina Baloch who gained popularity as Jiji (mother) Zarina across Sindh for her unconditional love and dedication to the subjugated class of Sindh.

She was not only a melodious singer but a symbol of revolution as well in Sindh and perhaps the first lady idealized by females of the remote areas of Sindh.  25th October marks the 17th death anniversary of the iconic lady who simply changed the dimensions of the thoughts of Sindhi women. Being a writer, composer, singer, educationist and poet she kept winning the hearts of people till her last breath.

Since Jiji had a keen interest in seeking quality education but the restrictions posed by her in-laws were becoming an impediment in her way following her first marriage ended in divorce. After her divorce, she continued her studies and also took part in human rights movement. Her second marriage with an eminent politician, jurist, philosopher and historian Rasool Bux Palijo gave multiple dimensions to her life and she emerged as a proactive leader who led movements launched for the rights of poverty-stricken masses of Sindh.

After her knot with Palijo, she extensively worked in the field of music and mobilized women to participate actively in anti-dictatorship movements set into motion during the regimes of General Ayoub, General Yahaya and Zia-ul-Haq. Recalling memories of childhood in an Interview  Ayaz Latif Palijo a seasoned Sindhi politician and son of Jiji Zarina Baloch and Rasool Bux Palijo said; “I and my other siblings struggled when my Amma and Baba-Mother and Father, were behind the bars during their struggle against the tyranny” adding that those days of hardship gave him inner strength.

Sindhi music gloomed further with the arrival of Jiji Zareen as she introduced the trend of singing Sahera- Songs sung during marriage in jubilation in chorus besides her revolutionary songs infused courage among the common folk to wage struggle against those who wanted to usurp the rights of the poor. She also had the ability to enthrall the audience by singing folk songs. Her duet folk song “Tiri Pawanda Tariyan Jade Gara” written by Sheikh Ayaz with legendary singer Alan Faqeer took her to new heights as a singer.

Jiji performed in front of renowned personalities of the world on different occasions and earned unparalleled accolades. She was one of the leading founders of Sindhiani Tahreek, Women’s Action Forum, Sindhi Adabi Sangat and Sindhi Haree Committee. She was fluent in Sindhi, Urdu, Seraiki, Balochi, Persian, Arabic and Gujrati. She visited dozens of countries and performed in London, Washington, Delhi, Dubai, New York etc. During the MRD movement she and her daughter Akhter Baloch were the first to be arrested while leading a procession of women in Hyderabad and were also subjected to torture.

As a singer she was esteemed by her colleagues such as Mahi Baghi, Mahi Soni, Fozia Soomro, Sarmad Sindhi, Alan Faqeer, Misri Faqeer and others owing to her significant social contributions. Her famous songs include Aseen Maro Laar Ja, Be Khabar Nahe Par Maran Kha Poe, Muhinja Piri Oh Banwra, Mor Tho Tile Rana and Sawn Rut Mein. In recognition of her peerless contributions in the field of music and education she was bestowed with Pride of Performance by Government of Pakistan in 1994, Faiz Ahmed Faiz Award, Shah Latif Award, PTV Award and Qalandar Lal Shahbaz Award. In an interview to Muhammad Qasim Makka in 1996, she said, “I rendered my contributions just to remain alive in the hearts of my people”. She further said; “My Husband Rasool Bux Palijo made me what I am”. After battling brain cancer this great lady passed away at Liaquat National Hospital on 25 October 2005.

Kamran Khamiso Khowaja is the district correspondent of Daily Minute Mirror From Thatta and Sujawal. He covers social, political, environmental and cultural stories. He can be reached on Twitter @ZaibSha1 and through email at kamran.khowaja338@gmail.com.

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