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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

This is where it's at …

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gaé Dinoñ Kaa Süraagh Lay Kar …

Musadiq Sanwal — known to many as Musadiq and to others as Sanwal —was named Muhammad Musadiq Iqbal at his birth. Sanwal means pyaara (loveable) in Seraiki and (probably) has the same roots as Sañvali (which means dark and delightful in Urdu/Hindi).

We met him years ago when he was performing a play under his group, Baang … and we chatted and talked and discussed music that he loved and I listened to constantly. We became close friends. He said to me that among his favourites was Munshi Raziuddin. That brought us even closer.

I used to have programs every month at our house with people sitting in the garden and Writers, Poets, and Musicians performing on different days. Musadiq came to sing there once and stole everyone's heart. We sat after the event in a small group and he sang a few more songs. Amazing.

One day he came to my office and I asked him to sing a song for the 20-odd people there. We moved into the room (which, eventually, became The Second Floor — or T2F). He sang my favourite piece from Mirza Saahibaan. That was without any music … and even people who couldn't understand the words cried! Here it is for you all, but not recorded that day. Sad — because I loved his voice even more without any musical instruments. It was powerful and carried me into a heavenly abode..

Tehrik-e-Niswan decided to perform Jinnay Lahore Naeeñ Vaykhia. Sanwal did the music and sang the songs. His performances were unbelievable. Many of my friends attended the play again, just to hear him sing.

Nuzhat was in the play, too, and during the partition scene Ragni (about 6) was among the 'little girls' who travelled with the migration group. Ragni loved Musadiq's singing and always wanted him to sing theNasir Kazmi ghazal: Udaasi Baal Kholay So Rahi Haé.

One night, later in 1990, Sanwal and Khalid Ahmad (a friend who is a beautiful Director, Actor, and Reader …  and plays the flute beautifully) came to my house. A small group gathered in our den and heard them sing and play. Ragni, feeling slightly sleepy, woke up fully as Musadiq began to sing her favourite. This is his recording from that night.

A CD of his recordings, called Aajzi, was released and sold at the original T2F. He performed there and at T2F's newer spot.

A few months ago he asked me to come over to his office (DAWN - The Web Edition) and to talk to his staff about Urdu Poetry and recite a few verses for them. I prepared the program but when I phoned him he was ill and was rushing off to the USA. Cancer had gotten to him and he seemed to be in a dangerous position.

After months of treatment in USA, he recovered fully and came back, working at his office again. One day, a few weeks ago, he came to T2F at a program and he was all smiles. I asked him if his voice was back. He smiled and said, "Tho∂i si, but I can sing again at your place". We decided that Khalid and he would come and sing-play again … but he was rushed to the hospital the next week.

He smoked all the time and I felt that that is why his lung had to be removed. The surgery was successful. Doctors celebrated his return from his Cancer. He was cured. I phoned and was told that he'd be home in 2-3 days. He was in the ICU so I thought I wouldn't go there, but see him at home when he got back.


That night (Friday, 17th January) I saw a message on Twitter saying blood was needed for him at the hospital. This was followed by more such messages. Sabeen wanted to go that night to give blood but was told that she should come the next day.

In the morning we received a message that Jehan Ara's father had passed away … so Nuzhat, Sabeen and I rushed there. On the way we received Nadeem Farooq Piracha's message that Musadiq had passed away.


I went to his funeral after Mushtaque Sahab's janaaza prayers, and saw Musadiq's body being put into a casket and made ready for a flight to his home in Multan. His wife, Shehla, told us that he had recovered from Cancer and was going to go home in 2-3 days … but a bug in the ICU killed him! Damn!


On Sanwal's soyem his friends Khalid Ahmad and Mohammad Hanif read out his verses. We all shared his stories. Shehla's mamooñ came over and said he always felt he was Musadiq's mamooñ for that's how close Musadiq was to everyone in their family. Actually he loved everyone who became his acquaintance.


There's little one can say about a friend after he has died. Sanwal was a constantly smiling individual (even until he passed away), a sahaafi, a brilliant poet, a loving person, a great musician, a delightful film-maker, a talented Director at plays. Perhaps Hasan Zaidi's lovely column may help you understand him more.

This evening I will attend A Celebration of Musadiq Sanwal at Karachi's Arts Council where friends, his students, his office staff, and fans will all be there.

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