LAHORE: The Seraiki Study Circle of the Forman Christian College arranged a discussion on the contribution of women writers in the preservation of Seraiki language on Wednesday to mark the International Mother Language Day on the college premises.

The room where celebrated Seraiki writer Musarat Kalanchvi was to speak as the chief guest was brimming with diverse cultures. Those who spoke on the occasion included Seraiki, English, Punjabi, Pushto and Urdu speakers. The theme for 2018 is ‘Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development’.

Ms Kalanchvi, who is among pioneers of the modern Seraiki short story and play, said she had started writing when she was in primary school.

By the time she reached matriculation, her father Dr Dilshad Kalanchvi urged her to write in Seraiki. Once she started writing in Seraiki magazines, she felt she could narrate the voice of her heart and mind more passionately in her mother language. This was in the mid 70s.

She said though she was regarded the first female Seraiki writer, she came to know that one female writer under a male nom de plume of Ghulam Hasan Haidernai was writing on the issues of women in Seraiki magazines. She remembers Haiderani’s story ‘Roti muft nai mildi (No free bread)’ which tells that how women are forced into body trade for their basic necessities of life. This proved to be the writer’s last story as her family might have stopped her from writing for breaching the red line.

She said Seraiki women poets were yet to be heard as poetry by women was still a taboo in Wasaib. From here the talk trended towards taboos preventing the promotion of regional languages in Pakistan. The participants agreed that early classrooms with instructions in native language could help children acquire the concepts more clearly than in other languages.

Dr Nukhbah Taj Langah, FCC Humanities Department chairperson, highlighted the lack of women’s role in regional politics, especially in Wasaib.

When one of the participants asked if there was any Seraiki word for feminism, there was a brief silence. Dr Langah came up with ‘traimitism (‘traimit’ stands for the woman in Seraiki).

The audience seemed not convinced with the word.

“Let’s coin a word for feminism in Seraiki,” she suggested.

Such thoughts occur when people talk about the importance of mother languages.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2018