Meet the visually-impaired Sarangi player and Sufi singer who brings joy across J&K
Fayaz Wani profiles Aijaz Ahmad Ahangar, who was born visually impaired but went on to get training in playing the Sarangi and be a singer. Today, he is an inspiration for others like him
JAMMU & KASHMIR: Adversity is one of life’s greatest teachers. This quote fits well for Aijaz Ahmad Ahangar (40) from Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district, who despite being blind from birth, used his inborn qualities of grit, determination and hard work to earn applause from people for his exceptional musical talent.
Aijaz not only plays the musical instrument Sarangi but mesmerizes people with his sweet and melodious voice, becoming an inspiration for many other visually impaired persons in the Valley.
Aijaz’s life has been full of hardships. He was born blind in a lower middle-class family and lost his mother during childhood itself.
“Since I belonged to a very poor family, I could not afford proper medical care. Being blind became my destiny,” Aijaz says.
This disability, however, could not break his resolve of following his passion for singing and playing musical instruments.
“I had an interest in singing right from childhood. When I was about 10-12 years old, a function was held in our house wherein a local singer Gul Mohammad Shah played musical instruments and also sang some local traditional songs. Since I had an interest in music, I asked him whether he would keep me in his company to allow me to learn more about singing,” Aijaz told The Sunday Standard.
“He agreed after seeing my interest in the music. A year later, he brought a musical instrument, Sarangi (small violin), for me and began teaching me about how to play it,” he recalls.
It took Aijaz six years to learn to play the musical instrument, but now he plays it like an expert.
Besides playing the Sarangi, Aijaz has also been composing ghazals and songs in the local language and singing them.
“I have so far compiled a collection of 56 songs, primarily Sufi compositions. I had lost many more compilations because being illiterate, I could not write or remember them,” he said. Being visually impaired, Aijaz is unable to take advantage of technology. He still has to bank on compassionate persons to write his compositions in black and white.
“I am not that tech savvy. I cannot record my compositions on my own. I need somebody to write it in black and white so that I can preserve my work,” he said.
Aijaz performs in different functions including weddings and anniversaries of Sufi saints etc during which he not only plays the Sarangi but also sings the songs in his melodious voice. His voice carries the essence of Kashmir’s cultural heritage.
He has so far performed in over 200 functions and has received acclaim from people for his exceptional musical talent. Due to his melodious voice, he gets offers for performance in functions from the people.
“Although I don’t earn much, I am satisfied that I am not dependent on others for alms and am living a respectable life,” he said.
Aijaz wants to compile his work in a book to save it for future generations and is looking towards the government for help, which, he bemoans, has so failed to recognize his talent or extend any support to him.