An intoxicating tale from mystical Sindh– Mokhi and Matara
The first vintners or wine makers of Karachi were two women, Mokhi and Natar, whose story is 300 years old.
“All the Central Asian caravans had a trade route that passed through an area in Sindh called Konkar,” Gul Hassan Kalmatti, amateur researcher and historian, said, “Natar opened her liquor store on this route and ran it with Mokhi.”
Poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, narrates this folk tale in one of his poems, Sur Yaman Kalyan, first of the several poems published in his poetic compendium, Shah Jo Risalo.
Natar, one of the women bonded by Momal Ranu, left the mansion she lived in and settled in Gadap. Here she opened a liquor bar which was later taken over by her daughter, Mokhi. She successfully ran the liquor bar and got good business over the years.
Ancient Sindh was popular for its production of liquor and there were several liquor houses in Sindh. Author, Lok Ram Dhadoja, under the title ‘Liquor Kilns and Drink’, wrote in his book Mera Watan, Mere Log (My Country, My People):
“The liquor of Sindh was famous locally and internationally due to its quality. Britons used to prefer Sindhi liquor over European liquor.”
Mokhi’s wine bar was popular throughout the region. Thus, people visited her from far fetched lands. One day, a group of eight friends came to her bar. Unfortunately, that day, all of Mokhi’s matkas (urns) were empty and she had run out of liquor. The visitors insisted, however, on being served. Mokhi served them some old wine. Her customers left the bar satisfied with their drinks. Later when Mokhi was cleaning, she found snake bones in the urns. Mokhi was certain that the men would be dead by now having drunk the poisonous wine.
Few days later, those eight men showed up at Mokhi’s shop again. She served them the best from her stock, however, the men insisted on being served the same wine they had had last time. Mokhi told them the truth. Hearing the news, all of the eight men died from shock.
These men, who are called Matara according to the folklore, are buried in the middle of the Kirthar Mountains in Gadap. Few kilometers away is Mokhi’s grave which is called ‘Saaki ka Mazaar’ by locals.