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Darvesh of Larkana

Forty years after the 1977 coup, it is perhaps fitting to remember Jumo Faqir, a colourful character and a friend of Bhutto

Darvesh of Larkana

Jumo Faqir was a darvesh of Larkana whose utterances were philosophical, witty and meaningful. He neither bowed before anyone nor accepted dictation. He used to leave his house early in the morning, ride on his donkey and reach the fish and meat market to collect bones, remnants of fish and other meat for dogs and cats. Some of them accompanied him to the market while others waited for him at a particular place to get their share.

Jumo used to wear torn, ragged clothes. He wore a coat even in the summers, kept his head shaved and covered it with a muffler. He kept a stick in his hand and rode his donkey at a slow pace. He generously applied surma (antimony) in his eyes and mustard oil on his face.

He was not a beggar but a darvesh who told people to lead a life of love, peace and brotherhood, to serve the ailing humanity and have mercy on other beings created by God.

The first time Zulfikar Ali Bhutto learnt about Jumo, he asked the revenue officials to convey his message to Jumo that he wanted to see him. Jumo told the officials he had no time for him and if Bhutto wanted to see him he should come to him. Bhutto did so. He went to him, made an offer of friendship that Jumo not only accepted but also promised to come to his residence Al-Murtaza.

One day, Jumo went to Al-Murtaza on his donkey and refused to take the police with him. Bhutto, welcomed him enthusiastically. As per the promise, there was no other person in their kutchery (meeting). Police and revenue officials were always scared that Jumo might complain about them which he never did because he was humble and disliked arrogance. He never displayed hatred for anyone except perhaps General Ziaul Haq. He had immense love for beauty, birds and animals. He was a man of secular values. When Bhutto offered him a car as a gift, he refused, saying his own transport, donkey, was good enough since no one could snatch it.

When Bhutto was hanged, Jumo became acutely sad. He could not sleep for many nights and continued to weep, cursing Ziaul Haq and praying to God to keep him alive till he could see the horrible end of this vile person who killed his beloved. When he heard the news about the crash of C130 and death of Ziaul Haq in August 1988, he raised both his hands towards the sky and uttered: “Of course God! you have done justice. Now I am ready to die.” He passed away soon after.

The first time Zulfikar Ali Bhutto learnt about Jumo, he asked the revenue officials to convey his message to Jumo that he wanted to see him. Jumo told the officials he had no time for him and if Bhutto wanted to see him he should come to him. Bhutto did so.

Jumo was a well-known person in the district. Everyone respected him and never retorted to the utterances of the darvesh who was acquainted with Bhutto, Qazi Fazlullah, Ameer Ali Lahori and all influentials and poor citizens of Larkana. He accepted alms from the people he deemed generous and right, never from the police.

When asked why he took the stray dogs home, he replied that dogs are faithful who do not leave his door even when they are hungry, and protect him and his family, “while if men are allowed, they would steal my belongings and eye my wife.”

Jumo Faqir was a barber by profession in Qamber which was a taluka of Larkana (before it became the part of Shahdadkot-Qamber district) whose elders migrated to Larkana city in 1948 due to severe floods.

Once he was sitting on a wooden plank in the bazaar of Qamber to run the shop when a customer came and asked him to quickly shave him. It was morning time and he was still setting up his shop. When the customer insisted, he took the shaving brush, dipped it into the nullah running down the plank and started brushing the beard of the customer. In anger, the customer made the payment and left the shop, saying “Jumo have you become mad!”

When Jumo saw the customer leave, he tied his kit into a piece of cloth and ran after the customer who went to the railway station on a tonga. Juma too caught the train and sat beside the customer, took out his kit and started making his shave. When he was done, he told the customer that he had come after him “because you paid and it was my duty. But keep in mind you are angry that I applied dirty water. Do you know the humans are a product of bad spot of semen”.

His wife once told that her husband Muhammad Juman was the son of Abdullah Soomro, and belonged to the Soomro clan. The story of Jumo is known to few but, according to his wife, once when he returned from the urs of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, they noticed a big change in him. He started calling himself as Jumo Faqir and started travelling to various places of Sindh. Later, he bought a donkey, and started asking for alms that was a surprise for his family.

When he passed away in 1988 aged around 75, a good number of people came to attend his funeral, weeping and sobbing. He was buried in the Abubakar graveyard in Larkana city. It is a matter of sorrow that the people of Larkana and Pakistan People’s Party have forgotten this darvesh faqeer who was a friend of Bhutto and the citizens of Larkana.

None of us have paid attention to his grave, neither have we arranged any seminar on his life or established any library or monument in his name. A little park was named after him by an administrator of Larkana Municipality but it’s in a pretty bad state now. Some friends have brought out books containing articles written on his life. A picture once taken by (Late) Ikramuddin a Larkana-based photographer, which he exhibited in his shop, is now an asset for us.

Liaquat Rajper

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