Recently, as I opened my social media account (Facebook), I came across a post, written in Balochi language, by a renowned Baloch photographer, Kamanchar Baloch, announcing exhibition for his portraits in frames in different cities including Karachi, Shaal (Quetta), Turbat and Hub, after this Eid. Along with the announcement, he had shared the reason for ‘thinking of the exhibition of his works after fourteen years’ which was heart-wrenching in itself. His sickness is deteriorating day after day and the only belongings he has are his portraits. If he does not sell out his portraits, what other options he has to get himself treated?
“For last 14 years of my career, I never felt like putting my portraits for sale or exhibition,” says Kamanchar. Now that he needs money for treatment, he has no other option but to keep his portraits on sale which are exclusively his property. “I am suffering from stomachache, and my eyes are not fine as well.” The photographer is also going through diabetes for last two months, which is increasing his concerns for his health. He needs to visit a good doctor and hospital for which expenses are the foremost concern.
During his career as a photographer, Kamanchar has left no stone unturned in portraying the actual image of Balochistan. From Makuran to Koh-i-Sulaiman, he has saved every stone of Balochistan inside his camera. As Ngugi, in his book Writers in Politics, narrates that a national literature consists of collections of images or words based on a nation’s tensions and conflicts, contradictions at the heart of being or becoming a process of becoming. Kamanchar has done everything to become a perfect representative for the Baloch masses who has not left any place unexplored in Balochistan.
“Previously, I did not think of such a thing as exhibition or sale: I only captured pictures and uploaded them on social media,” he writes on Facebook. Even his arts were used by people from different walks of life, including students and professionals. He never refrained anyone from using his portraits and even if he was asked, he permitted. He says he will still permit anyone to use his portraits even today. “But the thing is, I am in need now and I want to be dependent on my own efforts to help me in generating revenue for my treatment,” he says.
However, for making this decision, he had to face criticism. “Many told me that I, too, like others, prioritise money these days. Some said people (Baloch) do not read and buy books of RS. 300, how they will buy my portraits worth 5 thousand rupees per frame. Plenty suggested me not to sell my portraits.” But no one offered any help to him so that he may get himself treated. If not the portraits, what else can Kamanchar do to get paid for?
When someone has dedicated his whole life to bring the entire Balochistan in his lenses, why don’t we back him in return in what he had done for us? Apart from financial assistance, why are we so degrading in moral support? But thanks to Kamanchar himself who is moving ahead without a second thought. Because they are his belongings and he has complete right over them. “The more I get to sell my portraits, I will enhance my exhibitions in other parts of the country as well and simultaneously get myself treated,” he narrates.
Kamanchar is a national asset. He deserves due support from the entire nation in any form. Now that he has announced exhibitions, it becomes our collective responsibility and duty to materialise our support for the Baloch photographer. If we don’t, who will come forward to support him in this realm?