Pathane Khan was a true son of the soil. Once he and I were to record some Kafis in music producer Mushtaq Sufi’s programme at Pakistan Television Lahore Centre and we were rehearsing in the rehearsal room when he politely asked me to meet him separately. When I did that, he apologetically corrected the pronunciation of a few Saraiki words, which I was pronouncing wrong. I was grateful as no other senior singers I came across in my five decades singing career, bothered to guide me. Pathane Khan was an exception and I found him a big-hearted person. Remembering his kindness enticed me to explore further about his background. Pathane’s real name was Ghulam Muhammad. He was born in 1920 at a Village called ‘Basti Tambu Wali’, in the middle of “Thal” desert, near “Kot Addu” in Muzaffargarh. Everybody knows that he was a great Saraiki folk singer specialising in singing Kafi preferably those of Khawaja Ghulam Farid and occasionally sing ghazal also. His teacher was Baba Mir Khan. His devotion to Sufi Kalam was so intense that he would invariably shut his eyes and dip into the ocean of transmitting the message the Sufi poetry through his resonant voice. When Ghulam Muhammad was only a child, his father remarried a third time. So Muhammad’s mother took the child to Kot Addu to stay with his maternal grandfather. The boy fell seriously ill. His mother took him to a spiritual leader’s house. The Syed’s wife looked after the child and advised his mother to change the boy’s name because it seemed ‘spiritually too heavy’ for him. Syed’s daughter commented that he looked like Pathana and so from that day onwards Muhammad started getting known as ‘Pathane Khan’. Though Pathane’s mother took great efforts to get her son educated but he quit his studies in seventh class to follow his father Khameese Khan art of singing Kalam of Khwaja Ghulam Farid of Mithen Kot. His singing had the capacity to bewitch his listeners, and he could sing for hours at a stretch. Pathane was a devotee of Khawaja Farid. He gave a deeper meaning to Khawaja Sahib’s poetry through his typical style of spirited singing. Unlike his contemporaries who rendered ‘Pilu Palian Vei’, a Kafi by Khawaja Sahib, Pathane’s version brings a deeper intergalactic meaning to it. Wikipedia reports that in 1976, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan, invited Pathane to Islamabad for a private performance. When Pathane sang “Jindarri Lutti Tain Yaar Sajan, Kadi Mor Muharan Tei Wal Aa Watan”, Bhutto burst into tears. After the programme, the prime minister asked Pathane Khan three times if he had any ‘wish’ to make that the prime minister could then fulfil. Each time the singer’s reply was, “Bhutto Sahib, aap ko gharib awaam ki parat ho” (Bhutto Sahib, take care of the poor). At this, Bhutto hugged Pathane and said “I will surely take care of the poor”. Such was the Darwaish character of Pathane. Pathane was awarded Pride of Performance in 1979. Zaigham Khan and Nadir Ali report in The Herald – April 2000, “Pathane Khan was introduced to the media when Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar was Punjab’s governor. Pathane belonged to his constituency Kot Addu. On November 2, 1970, Radio Station Multan was inaugurated, Pathane was brought out of wilderness to the newly set up studios by its first station director Shamsuddin Butt and was requested to sing Khawaja Farid’s Kafi “Meda Ishq Vi Tu”. Radio Multan eventually fixed a monthly stipend of Rs 20,430 for him, which he had to perform for half an hour every month. His appearance at Radio Multan made him a household name in South Punjab. In the late 1960’s he was called to Lahore by the Arts council and then by the Punjab language faculty of the Shah Hussain College”. The most famous Kafi sung by Pathane is ‘Merra Ishq Vi Tu’ apart from ‘Pilu Pakisan Ve’. Pathane died after a protracted illness at his native town Kot Addu on March 9, 2000 at the age of 74. His funeral was attended by a large number of people including poets, intellectuals, lawyers, educationalists and district officials. He was buried in his native graveyard in Kot Addu. Because of the way of life, wandering in the wilderness, he used to look much older than his actual age. Published in Daily Times, July 8th , 2017.