Folk singer Zeenat Shaikh dies
By: Iqbal Khwaja
THATTA: Zeenat Shaikh, a popular folk singer and drama artist, died after a long illness on Tuesday morning at the age of 73 in the house of her adopted daughter in Tando Mohammad Khan.
Her body will be brought to her thatched hut in Thatta’s Mangarhar Mohalla and will be buried in her ancestral graveyard in Makli on Wednesday.
Over a year ago, the singer had suffered from a brain haemorrhage after the death of her husband and had since been partially paralysed. Zeenat Shaikh was born in 1940 in Mirpur Bathoro, a town known for art and culture, to Fatima Shaikh and Khan Saheb Saleh Mohammad Shaikh, who were also popular folk singers of their time.
Growing up in a musical household, Zeenat often used to accompany her mother to Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad and other events. It was not surprising that she took up singing when she was only 10 years old and emerged as a melodious voice in Saraiki and Sindhi music.
She also acted in a play produced by Pakistan Television, ‘Mai Kalachi’ which was based on Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai`s work ‘Sur Ghaatu’. Later, Zeenat also acted in a play written by Abdul Qadir Junejo, Rani Ji Kahani, which was also adapted in Urdu titled ‘Deewarain’, and another play by Noorul Huda Shah titled ‘Jungle’.
However, in the years before her death Zeenat Shaikh faced severe adversity and was forced to beg in the streets of Thatta district. A story published in Dawn about the singer’s plight caught the attention of the director general of the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), Ghulam Murtaza Solangi, who announced a monthly stipend of Rs10,000 for the singer.
She received her first and only cheque in January 2012 in a fundraiser organised at the PBC’s Hyderabad station. Zeenat Shaikh leaves a son, Babu, and an adopted daughter.