Atta Shad
Renowned Baloch poet Atta Shad

The twentieth century marks enormous evolution of the mankind. A number of anecdotes and events that took place during that era are considered important to human history. The world endured countless conflicts and wars through the century. But what can’t be disregarded are the scientific, political, economic, social, lingual and educational successes of human race.

As these changes were happening around the world, they also impacted the land of the Baloch nation. It is the same era when for the first time in history a number of Baloch youth hoisted their ensign in the fields of politics, education, literature, linguistics, business and economics.

For Balochi literature the twentieth century is documented as a fortunate period since it blessed this previously unwritten language with innumerable researches and literary works. No doubt the credit for such exertions goes to the unmatched and innovative literary devotees who contributed extensively. They wrote literature related to the Baloch land, the land of wanderers, the mountains, the oceans, the art, the warriors, the traditions, the music and the land of mysterious folklores.

When the previous century and Balochi literature are discussed, three names that burnish in the horizon of Balochistan are Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi, Meer Gul Khan Naseer and Atta Shad. They are not only the pioneers of modern Balochi literature but are also known for the innovation of classical and cultural reflections in their writings.

Since 1997, each February 13th reminds us of the renowned Baloch poet Atta Shad as the day marks his death anniversary. Having won multiple awards for his literary contributions, Mohammed Ishaq known as Atta Shad lived as a legendary figure with creativity in each poetic line he wrote.

Born in November 1939 in Kech, Makran, Atta Shad got his elementary education in Kech and Panjgoor. With a desire for higher education, he moved to Quetta for college which at that time was affiliated with the Punjab University.

Though the literary works of Atta Shad began with Urdu language but one would find the traces of Balochi culture and Baloch land while observing his poetic lines.

Atta felt the need of presenting the richness of Balochi language and culture in Urdu literature. This is why he translated a sizable portion of Balochi folk poetry into Urdu. He also wrote poetry relating to social aspect of the Balochs. For instance, he uses one of the famous Balochi proverb “Tas e aap Sad sal wafa int” (A bowl of water is worth the loyalty of a hundred years) which basically means to remain loyal for hundred years to the person who fetches you the water.

Atta says:

میری زمیں پر
اک کٹورے پانی کی قسمت
سو سال وفا ہے
آؤ ہم بھی پیاس بجھائیں
زندگیوں کا سودا کر لیں

[/urdu]Translation: On my land

a bowl of water

is Worth loyalty of hundred years

Let us quench our thirst too

And offer our lives

Atta was a believer of unique art, new techniques and diverse thoughts. Although we often find him bound with his land but when it comes to art of literature, we find him free from prior forms of poetry used in Balochi influenced by Urdu or Persian.

In fact his original style of poetry that was criticized during his time has been one of the most preferred styles amongst today’s young Baloch poets. His life-transforming ideas, conceptual illustrations and genuine literary exertions influence every reader’s thoughts and takes them to the journey of deep expressions that he solely possessed.

Atta weaved his poetry with the popular anecdotes from Baloch history. This enabled him to reach out to the common man.  In the midst of the socio-political awakening of his nation, he presented his concerns through metaphoric and abstract tactics.

As he says:

“Tao pa sarani guddaga zind a hayalana kush a

Pa sindaga dasht kan a pula cha bu talania”

Translation: With notching the heads you will slay the thoughts

With splitting blossom from stem can end fragrance to spread

His high definitive thoughts build the readers’ interest and grab their attention not only through poetry but also prose. His contributions include several books such as:

  • Rooch Gir (Balochi Poetry)
  • Shap Chirag Andeem (Balochi Poetry)
  • Singap (Urdu Poetry)
  • Barpag (Urdu Poetry)
  • Balochi Naama (Balochi Linguistics)
  • Gicheen (Balochi Deewan)
  • Dareen (Balochi folk poetry)
  • Balochi and Urdu Dictionary (Atta Shad and Meer Mitha Khan Mari)
  • Haft Zubani Lughat (Seven Languages Dictionary, Attad Shad Worked for the Balochi portion)
  • Jawan Bughti (Collection of selected Poetry of Jawan Sal Bughti)
  • Balochi Geedi Shairi a Urdu Rojank (Translations of Balochi folk poetry into Urdu)

Atta Shad was interviewed by the late Urdu poet Parveen Shakir for a PTV show called ‘Adabnama.’, asking him about his name, his poetry and his works:

Besides presenting his great works in writing, he also worked for Radio Pakistan in Quetta from 1962 to 1969. He later worked for several other government departments: he remained the Information Officer in department of Information and Production Pakistan, Director of  General Affairs for Government of Balochistan, Director and executive director in Arts Council, Secretary of Information and Production for Sports and Culture Balochistan, Secretary of Forest for Government of Balochistan, Director General for Archaeology. Throughout his career, he served 34 years and 11 months as a government officer.

Along with his service and literary works, he got several opportunities to travel and present Balochi language. He traveled to Iran, Saudi Arabia, America, Australia, Germany, Thailand, Italy, China, UK, Denmark, Turkey, UAE, Oman and Singapore.

His great literary efforts for Balochi language bridged the gap between Balochi and Urdu literature. He is indeed not among us today however his thoughts are eternal and will remain immortal.

Courtesy: The Balochistan Point

Image courtesy: Samaa TV

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