Mashkulgi

What does ‘mashkulgi’ mean? That’s right, you guessed it. It means conversations.

Kal’as’a Mashkulgi was published in April 2007, by Kal’as’a Kitap.  It was printed in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, by Pan Graphics.

The text for this book originated about 16 years ago, when I asked Faizi Khan of Kraka’, Bumburet, to try to write a set of simple stories. I had handed him a list of phoneme frequencies in Kalasha. Could he create the texts around those sounds, in the order of the most often occurring phoneme first, so the texts would be suitable as a basis for a structured primer?

A few weeks later Faizi quietly handed me these stories, just before my family and I left for a few weeks in Australia.

The texts germinated for several years, as we struggled to come to terms with my ensuing illness, our grief over suddenly not being able to return, and more so because the orthography had not been finalised.

Greg kept working on the orthography, at a distance, in Australia. He eventually found himself working on a thesis, with rigorous supervision. By 2000 it was almost finalised.

A pre-reader and an alphabet book, both in Urdu-style script, had been published in 1994, but the books just sat in the shelves of the then newly-founded Kalasha schools. The teachers didn’t understand what the books were really about, with no one to introduce them to the new script, and show them how to use them.

At the end of the 4-day Orthography Conference Kalasha teachers and elders voted for Roman script for their orthography.

So the original alphabet book, with superb, culturally relevant drawings by Ken Hall of New Zealand, was transformed into a Roman script one, and eventually published in 2003.

After this, in 2006, there followed a song book, Kal’as’a Gho3’, a wonderful collection of 60 Kalasha songs, many of which were actually sung at festivals, and recorded, then transcribed.

Then in 2006 came a new project by Lakshan Bibi, a modern Kalasha woman living in Islamabad at the time, who, published a new alphabet book, with our permission and assistance, based on our Roman script one. The plan was that this example would persuade the government to grant funds for a full literacy program in Kalasha. So far we haven’t heard news of any progress of the grant.