Jodhpur, Oct 20: For the past 30 years, Afghan rubab (string instrument) player Daud Khan Sadozai has been living in Germany. He remembers his homeland with nostalgia, but has no intention of returning. The country he left no longer exists, he says.
“It is no more the city (Kabul) I was brought up in. It has changed completely and is no more safe for me. I feel if I go there, they will perceive me as a danger,” Sadozai told reporters here after a performance Saturday at the ongoing Rajasthan International Folk Festival.
“The Afghanistan I knew doesn’t exist anymore. It is perhaps not my ‘kismat’ (fate) to return there,” he said.
For almost four decades, the land-locked, mountainous Afghanistan has witnessed turmoil, with civil war, Russian invasion, the Taliban’s strict conservative Islamic rule and US-invasion, bringing sorrow and destruction.
Sadozai learnt to play the rubab, a musical instrument native to Afghanistan, from Ustad Muhammad Umar who was the most famous rubab musician in the classical style. Umar was a strict teacher, as the 58-year-old remembers. He would push Sadozai to practise at least five hours each day.
“If I didn’t practice for five hours a day, he would ask me not to come. He was very strict and disciplined, a virtue extremely essential in this field,” the musician said.
Sadozai is not new to India – he performed for the first time in India in 1981, in New Delhi’s Kamani Auditorium.
“I was very nervous,” he recollected.
“But in the audience was Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (classical musician who plays the sarod), and he was very encouraging,” he said, adding that the interaction led to learning to play the sarod from the Indian maestro. (The sarod is believed to have descended from the rubab).
Even though Sadozai has performed all over the world with many musicians, including jazz players and flamenco artists, he finds comfort in the Indian musical heritage, which shares many things in common with Afghan music.
“We have the same taals and style. There is the same musical system, so it is easy to connect and understand your music,” he said, adding that for the performance that day, he underwent mere two hours of rehearsal with the Indian folk artistes.
The musician also hailed the “guru-shishya parampara” in Indian classical traditions, and said it ought to be nurtured and preserved, for it has no equal elsewhere in the world.
“A country is rich only when it is able to preserve its cultural heritage. India is doing that wonderfully,” Sadozai said.