Dada Ali Bakhsh
I was chuffed to bits to witness a Tom Hanks of Forrest Gump at Shahpur Chakar, Sanghar, Sindh. Dada Ali Bakhsh, as he is known to people, aged 70, grizzled, bachelor, without any kith and kin, just a free soul moving from place to place where passion of traveling on FOOT pulls and pushes him for over several decades.
The old man’s stories reveal a passionate soul, who like Forrest Gump’s Tom Hanks, indeed with different reasons, have lived his life since his early youth as a free walker, by that it is explained that he has been traveling throughout the country on foot. He never used or uses any vehicle. It is also said that he has never been inside a vehicle, be it a car, bus, wagon or even a donkey-cart, throughout his life. Without any friend or relative, he just moves from one place to the other. If he knows you and finds you in another city or town or village, he will put very innocent demands before you: one cloth or plastic bag, a few cassettes of Ghazals by Ghulam Ali or old songs by Rafi and Lata. Interestingly, he would take those cassettes to a shopkeeper somewhere in a secluded area or wherever he finds a relevant fellow to help him play his cassettes on their players, as he doesn’t own even a player. He does not seem to have visible means of subsistence. However, working for a few hours at one place and the other, especially as a farmer, apparently known as expert in onion farming, he just collects his wage and leaves for his usual passion—walking.
I was told that a team of Canadian travelers, who visited Sindh and came across this old man—Dada Ali Bakhsh—invited him to Canada, which he refused for unknown reasons. Nevertheless, those Canadians promised him to get his name registered in the Guinness Book of World Records, because, as per their understanding, he was the only known man on earth to have lived his whole life ‘walking’ and doing nothing, not even tying the knot or getting a permanent abode anywhere. Presently, there seems to be no such record on the list of the Guinness Book, but posterity may think on the idea.
Like a gypsy, his soul moves from spot to spot, who knows what pursuit or curiosity engages him fancifully.
© M. Syre