SRINAGAR: Aijaz Ahmed Ahanger, has a melodious voice despite the fact he is blind by birth. He lives in a small but picturesque village of Manzgam in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
He plays the musical equipment Sarangi (small violin) like any other trained expert and sings like a true, trained and committed singer, mesmerizing hundreds of people in his village and around with his sweet and soothing voice.
In his native village Manzgam and a few adjoining villages, Aijaz is favourite of many people who invite him to sing traditional sufi songs in marriage parties and also on the occasions of annual anniversaries of revered sufi saints. He is an inspiration for many blind people who have quit begging on streets in Southern districts and have choosen their own way of earning a living like Aijaz.
“I was a kid when I lost my mother. Before that, I had lost my father too,” recalls Aijaz, while speaking to news agency KNO, holding Sarangi, his lone equipment, in his hands. “I am blind by birth. I belonged to a poor family and never got a chance to see a good doctor. Blindness became my destiny.”
Aijaz says he was lucky enough to find a good music teacher and a spiritual guide well within his native village.
“His name was Gul Muhammad Shah and he trained me for 15 long years. He is no more now but he trained me like a true guide and a teacher,” he says.
Over the years, Aijaz has compiled 45 songs majority of traditional sufi songs praising nature, prophet and sufi saints. “With the help of my friend, all 45 songs are ready in written form but I have no resources to get the same published in the form of a book. I sing same songs in marriage parties and other occasions especially during the annual anniversaries of Kashmir’s revered sufi saints,” he says. Aijaz says he preferred not to loose hope and instead work hard with whatever talent he had. “This is hundred times better than begging on the roads. Though this is full of challenges like at times I have to walk miles to reach the venue for singing. Sometimes, hosts send vehicles for me and for them I pray always,” he says.
Aijaz has changed lives of many people in his village who were born blind or with other physical disabilities. “I earn very less but I am contended. At marriage functions, people pay me Rs 500 or so with their own choice. I don’t force anyone,” he said. “I saved money to buy Sarangi and today this is my companion.”
The 30-year-old hasn’t been able to marry due to financial constraints. He, however, is a trained artist, a singer with a melodious voice and dreams of setting up a musical school to train other people who have physical disabilities or are like him. “My appeal to the J&K government is to provide me a little financial assistance so that I can set up my own musical school. I want people to learn from me before I die. School would primarily be for those having various issues like the one I have but that’s not the binding, others too can come and learn from me,” he says.