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“I was born in Spintan, Balochistan, in the Marri tribe. My father was married three times and has three children – we are two brothers and a sister. He was an expert at playing the sarangi, his name was Ustad Mehran.

He forced to learn how to play the same instrument as a child but I was not interested he enrolled me into a nearby school, but I also was not interested in classes, so I left school at a very early age.

When I was a teenager, my father would take me to concerts where he played the sarangi, and he told me I should learn how to play it because it would help me in life. The instrument is called the sareenda in Urdu and the khingra in Pashto, but in Sindh it is also the sarangi.

When I first began learning how to play the instrument, it took me six or seven months to learn how to handle and grip the instrument, where to pick and to learn the chords.

Then it took 10 years to learn how to play Balochi, Brahui and other kinds of music, and I tried to learn music in other languages, such as Pashto, Sindh, Seraiki and Punjabi as well.

At the time I bought cassette tapes of these kinds of music and learned how to pick up the beat and taught myself, and it took me seven years. I have spent 25 years in this field and I have played across Pakistan.

Now I live in a rented house near Faizabad, in Rawalpindi. I have five children – three sons and two daughters. All my children were born in my native village, which is a very backward area with no basic necessities and it is 250 kilometres from Quetta.

Since moving to Rawalpindi the main problem I have been facing is trying to admit my children to school because the schools want birth certificates, which I do not have.

This instrument is very difficult to learn, it takes a long time. In Balochistan, I have very few students that are my apprentices. Six of them are women, but all of them only learn the basics, for six months to a year. In my family it was only me and my cousin who learnt how to play the sarangi, and my other cousin chose to play the flute instead.

I am asking my younger son to learn it from me, otherwise no one in my family will be able to carry forward this legacy.”

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2017

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