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DERA GHAZI KHAN: Seraiki poet and lexicographer Akbar Makhmoor Mughal died of a heart attack here on Saturday.

He was 61.

He was born near Jhoke Uttra, Dera Ghazi Khan district, on Nov 29, 1956. A self-taught scholar, he never went to any college or university.

He joined different professions to earn livelihood and worked at a tyre repair shop, fixed tiles in construction sector and wrote deeds on the court premises. He lived in Saudi Arabia for 10 years (from 1984 to 1994) where he worked as a labourer.

Makhmoor’s magnum opus is the unique unpublished Seraiki dictionary he had compiled. He collected and added at least 115,000 words of Seraiki which were missing in other available dictionaries. He had titled it as Seraiki Akhar Pothi.

In an interview published in Dawn in January 2014, Makhmoor had said about his dictionary: “I researched on several dialects of Seraiki in Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and came across several such words which were unheard of or sparsely used in other areas. Several words are on the verge of extinction because their users are a few old people.

The dictionary contains ‘deehawn’ which means eyelids, ‘draab’ for roti, and ‘doondy’ means an announcement. These words made up everyday conversation until 40 years ago.”

Makhmoor had got the inspiration to compile the dictionary during his stay in Saudi Arabia when he heard about the revival of almost extinct Hebrew by the Jews and he started collecting words of his mother tongue, Seraiki. He had spent more than 30 years collecting and compiling phrasal verbs, idioms, proverbs, synonyms and their usage.

It’s sad that Makhmoor’s hard work is going to waste as it could not be published despite his efforts. At this time of his death, he was still looking for government or private sector’s help to get his work published.

Makhmoor is survived by six children, namely three sons and three daughters, and a widow.

Funeral prayers for him were held at College Ground at 8pm and he was laid to rest adjacent to the graves of his parents in a graveyard near the general bus stand of Dera Ghazi Khan.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2017