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Reshma Ji - Daughter of the Desert

Updated: May 23, 2023


Reshma Ji

Born in the city of Bikaner near the desert of Rajasthan, India, in 1947, Reshma Ji was a Pakistani folk singer also known as “The nightingale of the desert” and “The daughter of the desert”. She was born into a family of banjaarey meaning gypsies in the English language, also known as “the ones without a home” or “the ones who keep wandering” in Urdu. When her family migrated to Karachi from India, she was only one month old. People also used to call her pathaani lovingly, for she was unusually fair for her ethnicity. She grew up travelling and switching homelands, which greatly impacted her songs filled with yearning, an inexplicable sadness, nostalgia and longing.

For instance in her song Lambi Judaai, “A long separation”, she sang:

Baag ujar gaye khilne se pehle, Panchi bichad gaye milne se pehle
“The gardens were destroyed before blooming, The birds were separated before even meeting.”


In an interview, she said:

“When I used to go to melay (carnivals) as a kid, I would see women and men singing songs and it would wake up an urge inside my heart that later forced me to sing aswell.”

She started by singing off at darbaars and mazaars (shrines) of sufi saints and in no time made the local audience her fan. Large crowds would gather around that little girl, singing in the most melodious voice that had ever fallen upon their ears.


On one such fine evening, at the mazaar of the Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar when she was 13-14 and singing to compensate for the mannat (vow) that she had taken for the wedding of her brother with the usual crowd around her, a local radio producer’s gaze fell upon her and he was mesmerized by her voice. He invited her to his studio to record her first ever song “Laal meri” which later on became a big hit. Who knew that one evening of her life was going to turn her into a very well-renowned icon in the world of music.


During her performances, she could be seen with kohl-rimmed eyes and a traditional Sindhi chaddar draped around her shoulders. She always held her identity and history close to her heart. Even though she was just a baby during the time of partition, she went to visit India after the Lahore-Amritsar bus was introduced along with her family to see the land where she was born.


Her famous songs include Laal meri, Lambi Judaai, Akhiyan nu rehn de, Kithay nain na jorin, Hayo rabba naiyo lagda dil mera, Sun charkha di mitthi mitthi hook, some of which were later used in Lollywood as well as Bollywood movies.



Reshma Ji was also well-known for her cheery and witty personality on television. She often used to make jokes during interviews. Her voice knew no borders and travelled countries, uniting people divided by differences together.

She fell ill due to throat cancer and left this world on 3rd November 2013.

In her song Kithay nain na jorin she sang

Mainu jhalleyan banaa ke aap mall laye kinaare, din langgde ne mere teri yaad de sahaare.
“You made me mad and went off towards the shore; My days now pass by holding onto your memories.”


Over the years, her voice intoxicated many and made everyone clutch their hearts with the pain that it carried. Her voice hit like a fresh wound. She turned her sadness and grief into music. Reshma Ji gave the deserts and the wanderers a voice. I hope her legacy keeps breathing on, and may the people of this country never forget her.

 

This blog has been contributed by Rida Fareed Baloch.

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2 Comments


h.noorbrar.13
Aug 17, 2022

🤍🤍

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Azeem Amir
Azeem Amir
Aug 16, 2022

Amazing 🤩

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