With a lasting heart-warming smile on his lips, he always used to make silent introductions to those he met. He left indelible memories for his friends and colleagues.
By Yasir Qazi
“The soft tone of the natter, the affable manner and the sympathetic demeanor were the hallmarks of Azad’s personality. With a lasting heart-warming smile on his lips, he always used to make silent introductions to those he met. He has left indelible memories for his friends and colleagues. His short journey into journalism is an example of hard work towards a grim goal.” This is how Shamheer-ul-Haidry, noted poet and scholar of the Sindhi language portrays the personality of Huzoor Bakhsh ‘Azad’ Jatoi, a banker by profession, but a fiction writer and journalist by passion, who departed 13 years ago on this day. While Dr. Suleman Shaikh, the prominent social reformer and intellectual of Sindh, says about Jatoi: “Azad rose up like a Precious Pearl and a bright star, who continued to fight for his life with a constant struggle and unparalleled honesty. It was his dream that may Daily “Moomal”, the newspaper published by him, be able to attain the status of the queen of ‘Kaak Mahal’ (The ‘Kaak’s palace, as per a Sindhi legend) of the arena of Sindhi Journalism; and with this desire, Azad became ‘Azad’ (free) forever.”
Whereas Agha Khalid Salim, an eminent scholar, fiction writer, researcher, translator and broadcaster defines Azad Jatoi as: “Whatever other virtues Azad Jatoi had, they all had their place, but his greatest worth was that he was an affectionate father as well as a loving and devoted husband.”
Due to his creative services to the literary and journalistic scene of Sindh, the name of the personable “Azad” Jatoi is respected and loved in Sindh, who passed away on August 26, 2009, and we are completing 13 years without him, this year.
Azad Jatoi was born on March 4, 1956, in ‘Mehrabpur’ a small town in Larkana district in the house of Allah Bakhsh Jatoi. His family name was ‘Huzoor Bakhsh’, but he came to be known as ‘Azad Jatoi’ in the literary and journalistic circles. Azad opened his eyes in a family with an academic and religious background. Huzoor Bakhsh’s grandfather, Maulvi Ghulam Rasool Jatoi, was a renowned religious figure of Sindh as well as a noted religious poet, who used his poetic ingenuity for the promotion of religion Islam, very effectively. Maulvi Ghulam Rasool Jatoi is familiar to almost everyone in Sindh because his written sermons (Khutba’as) in the Sindhi language in the form of poetry, are still read in Friday congregations in most of the mosques of Sindh. When local people hear the message of God in their mother tongue Sindhi in an easy form of poetry, during the first Standing (Qaya’am) of the sermon (Jumma Khutba’a), it makes it easy for them to understand. The books of Maulvi Ghulam Rasool’s these poetic sermons are widely available in religious bookstores across Sindh.
Born in such a cultivated family, Hazoor Bakhsh Jatoi was given religious education from very young age and was admitted to a local primary school in 1961 for acquiring formal education. From Mehrabpur Primary School he completed his primary education in 1966 and got the boon of knowledge from Dokri, a slightly bigger town in the surrounding, for his secondary education; from Government High School Dokri, District Larkana he passed his matriculation examination in 1971. After obtaining his graduation in science (BSc) from Government Degree College, Larkana, he went to the University of Sindh Jamshoro for further education, where he studied in the department of journalism due to his penchant for writing and literature. Successfully, he got his master’s in Journalism there in 1985.
Azad Jatoi began his practical life by serving as a clerk at the ‘Rice Research Institute Dokri’. His first association in the field of journalism was with the daily “Nawa-i-Waqt” a leading pro-state Urdu newspaper, which lasted for a short period of time. After that, he became a clerk in the board of Sindh Madrasat-ul-Islam, the historical school of Karachi, and the alma mater of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. After doing a few menial jobs, he chose the banking sector as his permanent source of livelihood. In this regard, he got a chance to join ‘National Development Finance Corporation’ (NDFC) and acquired his first posting at Quetta as the manager of NDFC’s Quetta branch. After that, the sky was the limit for him, in the banking sector. In 1991, he became the Senior Vice President (SVP) of Pakistan’s former private “Picic Bank”, after which he joined another erstwhile private bank of Pakistan called “NIB” in the same capacity, with which his association remained till his death and at the time of his demise, he was the serving Senior Vice President of the said bank.
Azad Jatoi, along with his full-time employment, also served on the boards of various organizations on honorary basis. He served as a member of the same Sindh Madrasat-ul-Islam board from 2005 to 2008, in which he once served as a clerk. Being its member, he continued to give his valuable advice and suggestions regarding the various administrative matters of the institution, to its management.
Though he chose the banking sector as a source of his bread and butter, his passion for journalism never faded. He proved his dedication to journalism by publishing a Sindhi magazine called “Diyatiyun” (Beacons) during his childhood. Then ages later, after his aforementioned brief association with the Daily “Nawa-i-Waqt” newspaper, he took his second remarkable step in the arena of journalism in 1998, when he launched a monthly magazine titled “Moomal” in Sindhi, which contained qualitative and healthy literary content. But perhaps his journalistic thirst could not be satisfied only with this monthly magazine that he launched a daily from Karachi with the same name (Daily “Moomal”) in 2008, exactly ten years after the publication of the monthly “Moomal”; which he watered by giving his blood and soul and continued to edit it till his last breath. It is a matter of satisfaction that the daily “Moomal” is being published regularly till date and after completing 14 years of age, is now about to grow young. Since Azad Jatoi passed away, his life partner Hasina Azad Jatoi has been publishing it for the last 13 years. It is an acrimonious fact that late Azad could take care of this plant (Daily “Moomal”) only for one year, since then till now, Hasina Azad has been taking care of it and is determined to stay, despite several obstacles. Azad was married to this illustrious lady Hasina Memon (now known as “Hasina Jatoi” after marriage), in April 1984, with whom he had three sons and two daughters. Haseena Azad Jatoi herself is a talented writer and journalist and she has made her mark in Sindhi journalism by editing and publishing the Daily “Moomal” newspaper for the past 13 years.
Hazoor Baksh “Azad” Jatoi was also a gifted Sindhi fiction writer. His short stories became the adornment of well-known newspapers and magazines of his time, in which the setbacks and sufferings of society were depicted by him effectively. Twenty seven of these Sindhi short stories were compiled by his wife, Hasina Azad, and published in 2011 under the title “Dukhiyo Deh’u… Sunder Sapna” (Difficult World – Beautiful Dreams). This book was well received in the intellectual and literary circles of Sindh.
As a distinguished writer, Azad regularly participated in various radio and television literary programs of his era.
Hazoor Bakhsh Azad Jatoi was an active person being in his own right and he did not learn to sit idly. He was actively allied with several literary as well as social organizations in Sindh. He also served as the Finance Secretary of ‘Sindh Graduates Association’ (SGA), and a member of the working committee of its’ Karachi branch for some time.
This cheerful soul and distinctive writer and journalist departed on August 26, 2009, at the age of 53 only. It is said that one fine evening while working in the office of daily “Moomal” as per routine, his health condition deteriorated, suddenly. After which he himself rushed to the emergency of a private hospital located in Clifton Karachi, near his office, but could not survive and met his true creator within no time. Perhaps this cheerful, sociable (and apparently healthy) being, who kept sharing peals of laughter with everyone, had been suffering from a disease for a long time, which he was not aware of and which suddenly became the cause of his death; and “Azad”, following the principles of nature set off on his next journey. But it is strongly hoped that Azad Jatoi, by virtue of his sincere literary services and the light of his burning beacon in the shape of daily “Moomal” will be remembered in the literary and journalistic circles of Sindh for a long time.
The author is a freelance radio and TV broadcast and print journalist, poet, prose-writer, researcher, columnist, blogger, translator, media Expert, and author of 12 books in Sindhi. He writes regularly for esteemed English, Urdu and Sindhi papers and websites. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org