Names might have vanished from my memory but not this one
NOSTALGIA BY Z. G. MUHAMMAD
It was a lampoon. A nauseating poetic composition that first introduced me to the popular political leadership of undivided India, our own leaders, top political workers of the Muslim Conference and the National Conference. My elder brother, who was then reading in C.M.S. Tyndale Biscoe Memorial school, I think in class nine had heard it from a Pandit boy in his class. He had remembered it to the dot.
The lampoon started with, ‘Hind Walay Gandhi, Gandhian Chow Dodha Khos, Tatte Darow Subash Chander Bose…”. In this long poem there was mention of every important leader of the Congress, the Muslim League, the National Conference and the Muslim Conference. The composition hailed Gandhi, Nehru, Subash Chander Bose, Sheikh Abdullah and Sula Galadar and lampooned Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Liquate Ali Khan, Abdul Rub Nishtar, Chawdary Ghulam Abbas, Mirwaiz Molvi Muhammad Yusuf Shah, Allah Rakha Sagar, Mistri Muhammad Yaqoob, Sardar Gowhar Rehamn, Muhammad Yusuf Qureshi and many others. The composition was so rhythmic that I instantly remembered the poem on hearing it from my brother… I neither understood the poem nor realized that it was a biting satire by some ‘poetaster’ to paint towering leaders of the region in murky colors. I took this composition as good as the nursery rhyme, “Hukus Bakus Tala Wan Chi Kus”. I might have recited this nursery poem also thousands of times in my childhood without understanding its meaning. In Kashmiri language we have very powerful tradition of exciting and heart throbbing children rhymes- much more powerful than that in English language. Most of them have now vanished from the public memory. Some of them that were compiled long before by Naji Munawar a poet from Kulgam, are preserved in two small booklets.
Like many other childhood Kashmiri rhymes that I loved to recite louder, I recited this newly learnt poetic composition also at home. As I was parroting this satirical poem, I could see grin on the chubby face of my uncle. I marked rage in his eyes- in rage his eyes often turned blood red. In rage he roared like a lion that would instill fear in not only in children but would make many elders in neighborhood to shiver. No moment I mentioned the name Yusuf Shah, he lost his temper and asked me to shut up. “Where from have you learnt this rubbish” he asked. In terrifying voice he asked me not ever parrot this ‘non-sense’ again. ‘The names that have been lampooned in this rhyme by some diseased mind’ he told me, ‘have been brave and steadfast people, consumed by conviction ‘possessed by the magnificent radiance of the earnestly humble.’ ‘They have not been hoodlums that have been hailed in this rubbish. They have been eloquent speakers and wonderful writers. They bade adieu to their fortune to take out teeming millions out of servitude and bondage. There story is not from rags to riches.’
He was sentimental about ‘Yusuf Saib’, as he called Mirwaiz Molvi Muhammad Yusuf Shah. ‘He was a beacon in a world beset by darkness’, my uncle thundered, “And in this nonsensical composition he has been placed against Sula Galadar’. When I was born Yusuf Saib and entire leadership of the Muslim Conference along with bunch of intelligent, promising and brilliant young men that included Aga Showkat Hussain, Abdul Gani Rentoo and Muhammad Yusuf Buch had been deported and sent across the Ceasefire Line.
I did write some time back how I learnt my first lessons in contemporary history on shop fronts. But it was much before receiving tuition on contemporary history from unlettered darner, tailor and coppersmith in my locality that I had heard the name of Yusuf Saib. My grandmother, Khair Ded, her friends Saja Appa and Haja Masa often discussed about missing his sermons. As I grew up, in my imagination I started weaving image of this man that my grandmother and her friends admired and missed most till I saw his black and white picture in the drawing room of a neighbor. The man with long flowing beard, in white turban and black closed button coat had an aura about him. Those days his picture along with picture of Quaid-e-Azam and Liquate Ali Khan adored the walls of many houses in our locality. Those days, I have very vivid impressions in most of the house in our part of city radio sets mostly remained tuned to Azad Kashmir Radio. Listening to Azad Kashmir was not only a pastime but a passion for many people. My grandmother and mother was not much interested in the news but I think immediately after the news or somewhere around eight the radio station a program on Quran teachings started. My mother would suspend her domestic chore and listened to this program along with all other family members. In this program, which I think was for half an hour; Molvi Muhammad Ahmed would recite the Holy Quran with translation and commentary by Mirwaiz Molvi Muhammad Yusuf Shah. The soft voice of Ahmed Saib, as he was popularly called still echoes in my mind. This program that continued for many years retained its interest in our family.
There were lots of stories about his piety, simplicity and spirituality. Squatting on the lawns of the grand mosque, I often heard stories about clarity of his political ideology, steadfastness to the cause and his too much trusting people becoming his tragic flaw. My uncle valued him as greatest man of his times in Kashmir not for his religious scholarship and political beliefs but for his not nursing hubris that many contemporary small time religious preachers, peers and mendicants suffered from. In those days of ignorance and illiteracy, it was a popular tradition in cities and villages to approach a peer or a mendicant for naming of a new born. It is ironical that they often named the children of the aborigines by distorting Arabic names such as Mumma for Muhmmad), Ama for Ahmed, Phata for Fatima, Khaja for Khatija and so on. Castigating these mendicants my uncle would often quote the greatness of Yusuf Sahib by naming of my elder brother by him. He often said that despite our being an educated family, on the birth of first child in the family my grandmother had approached Molvi Sahib Yusuf Sahib for suggesting a name for him. He instantly said that Muhammad Yusuf suits him the most.
My uncle remained his admirer till his last day in life.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 Sep 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 Sep 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 19 Sep 2010 00:00:00 IST
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