By Fazal amin Beg(based on a telephonic interview in 2014)
AfzalKarim son of Indijek (IqbalHussain) was born on February 2, 1979 in Shimshal valley of Hunza in Gilgit-Baltisan Region. He has two brothers and one sister. AfzalKarim belongs to the Bakhti lineage group within Mamu Sing clan.
AfzalKarim got his middle level education from the Government Middle School, Shimshal. Afterwards, he left for Karachi and did his matriculation as a private (external) student in 193 (needs to be confirmed according to the certificate). He then took admission in Government IslamiaCollege, Karachi and pursued his intermediate level education but he could not get his F.A certificate (in 1997? Not confirmed). as did not appear in the practical examinationof Geography as he had to prioritize his financial needs as he was working in a hotel in Karachi. Later on, heis also seen working as tourist guide in Gilgit-Baltistan Region.
Having his interest in related international languages and a need for tourism companies, AfzalKarimtook also admission in National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, where he pursued certificate course in Japanese Language in 2001.
In 2002, AfzalKarim got a job opportunity with the Emirate Airline in Dubai. He worked as Ground Cargo Clerk from 2002-2006.In the meanwhile, he also got a chance to move to and work in Canada. By living in Vancourver, since 2007, he has been working with different employers. Currently, he is serving Grouse Mountain.
The poetry composition initiative of AfzalKarim is interesting. He started it when he was probably in class 7 after getting a shock of a death of his elder brother’s son who passed away. He composed some lamenting verses but could not share with anyone as there was a conservative society, he adds and instead of any encouragement for such creativities, one would expect discouragement.
When AfzalKarim was in Karachi in his early ages, he also tried to keep in touch with his poetry creation. He was very impressed and inspired by the way of life of the elderly members of his village, especially the agro-pastoralists, and the way they expressed themselves. He would always prefer to sit with talk to those elders and listen them.
Of equal importance was AfzalKarim’s personal experience of interactions with and inspiration he has from the Nature. He would observe the way the community of Shimsahl opt for local philanthropy called Nomũs, when the people will go for constructing physical infrastructures like pony treks, suspension bridges over the rivers and the like. Resultantly, it is seen that there are some people in the community who would preserve, promoteand expose their good deeds, skills, power,bravery, and other positive communal contributions in the form of poetry. This itself was also a point of stimulus for AfzalKarim as he would evidence how such creative people were rewarded by the community in terms of appreciations and even somehow financially as well.
Afzal Karim is of the opinion there may not be any specific timeframe for falling in love with someone. At any time, anyone could steal one’s heartHe however fall in love when he was about 21 (years old He has composed his poetry around various themes. However, it is also noteworthy that between 2001-2009, there comes up a shocking period in his poetry life when his paternal first cousins all in sudden disappeared (in 2001) in Shimshal valley. Some people said, he might have drowned in the river; some would argue something else, he laments. During this timeframe, AfzalKarim got away from his poetry. After 2010, he enabled himself to re-track himself on this line.
AfzalKarimuses very typical Wakhi words in his poetry in addition with his highly metaphorical verses. Due to conservative environment for love songs and poetry in his valley, he could not expose them in public in the beginning. There came up a time in his life (probably in 1997), he had to throw a diary of his poetry in the river after his father scolded and discouraged him for composing the love songs. In the later phases, with the course of time, some of his verses his friends brought in public such as DoulatWaliBaig of Shimshal, a well-recognized musician (multiple instrumentalists and multi-lingual singer) and a music composer. Another good friend of him is Noor Khan, a melodious voice of the valley, sung the songs and made albums.
Although, AfzalKarim, showing his modesty, doesn’t weigh himself a poet of any high caliber, his audience like his poetry very much and rank him by elevating his poetic position as one of the Wakhi poets with deeper ideas.
AfzalKarim thinks that the Wakhi language has its own way of expressions coming into it traditionally. We need to sustain such types of expressions and styles. These days, we are influenced more by the Urdu, English and other languages and ways of expressions, he adds.