Some intimate reminiscences
When Hajni asked Sadiq to make him the Governor of the state…….!
HAJNI: 95th Birth Anniversary
DR. JAVID IQBAL
Prof. Mohi-ud-Din Hajni (1917-1993) was in word and deed a literary icon of 20th century Kashmir. It was a privilege to know him; the master of linguistics. Though he was a professor of Arabic, he mastered other languages—Kashmiri being his special field of study. The way he expounds Shams Faqir, Rasul Mir, Wahab Khar, and Mahmood Ghami gets in the feeling of having had the ilk of Byron, Wordsworth, and Shelly in our midst in the ages gone by. Especially so for the majority of us, seeped as we remain the occidental literary lore. A generation older though, personal remiscences spring from his close association with my father…Prof. Saif-ud-Din. They were mates right from their student days in Aligarh, later they shared a sacred enterprise—teaching. Their careers ran almost parallel, only that my father accepted administrative positions quite early in his career while as Hajni Sahib refused any elevation in his career graph. He chose to remain a teacher right from forties when he joined the profession with my father until the day he retired in seventies. Prof. Hajni would walk into our quarters within S.P.College premises for a few steaming cups of ‘Nun-Chai’. My father was then the principal (1963-70) and we were residing in the building which is now the abode of superintendent of college hostel. In sixties, one way of taming his anti-establishment stance was to offer him principalship. It was his due, a due he continued to turn down. Therein hangs a tale, I got to know out of our intimate contact.
Chief Minister—Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq sounded my father to ask Prof. Hajni his preference of the college, he would choose to head. As they strode one afternoon into our lawn, father asked him, only to draw a derisive laughter from one who was what we in Kashmiri love to call a ‘Malang’ (a spiritualist with care of no authority except that of Allah (swt). My father knowing him bore it, and in a serious tone said that CM wants a reply. “Reply he shall have” said the professor, “but from me”. Father knowing his ways tried to reason it out, ultimately he gave in and informed CM’s office that Prof. Hajni is insistent on talking to CM himself. An hour or two later, my father was informed that CM would soon be on line.
In a last minute attempt, my father asked him to name his preference, so that he could convey it. I remember my father telling him that even if it is S.P.College, he would leave the post for him. Principalship of premier educational institute in the valley was a prestigious position, half a century back. Prof. Hajni would not budge. He would talk to CM himself, the derisive laughter had turned into a mischievous smile. My father feared the worst. Soon another tinkle announced the CM on phone. My father exchanged pleasantries and handed over the telephone to Prof. Hajni. It was dramatic, as I recollect the scene of yesteryears.
“Sadiq Sahib, Asalum-Alikum” I vividly remember Prof. Hajni telling the CM (known to be thorough gentleman in personal interactions) “Thanks for the offer conveyed through Saif Sahib, but I have a serious problem, you may not be able to solve”. There was a pause; perhaps CM asked him the nature of the problem. “I consider two positions suitable for me, either I stay where I am…a teacher or I should be named the Governor of the State in place of Bhagwan Sahai (the incumbent) obviously the other option you may not be able to exercise, so leave me where I am…a teacher pure and simple”. CM otherwise a serious person must have had a good laugh. My father couldn’t suppress one and as soon as Prof. Hajni put down the phone, father and Prof. Hajni laughed their hearts out.
Only Prof. Hajni could do it, he commanded respect, not because of an exalted official position, but because of being a literary icon. Another incident related to CM Sadiq merits mention. A junior education minister— person with nasal accent- strode into office of principal S.P.College. It may not be fair to name him out, as the incident is unsavoury, though old timers would not fail to place him. He wanted to see Prof. Hajni. Father politely asked him the errand, while trying to dissuade him. The minister looked to be in an ugly mood and father tried his best to avoid confrontation. The minister couldn’t be persuaded. Finally Prof. Hajni was ushered in. The minister demanded to know the reason for pronouncing anti-establishment views in class. Prof. Hajni had not seen the minister until then, and asked my father—who the hell is this man? ‘Hon’ble minister, my father replied, perhaps coyly. The minister had a nickname. Prof. Hajni without a moment’s hesitation called him by his nickname and served him with some invectives. Prof. Hajni could be rustic in a moment, and a serene scholar the moment following. I wouldn’t expect the father to repeat the invectives, as he narrated the incident to Shamim Ahmad Shamim…a Hajni fan, who would on occasions drop in to share the afternoon ‘Nun-Chai’. The minister had rushed to complain to CM Sadiq. Shamim said that he had been advised not to touch the ‘live-wire’.
Shamim once noted of Hajni—two persons in Kashmir are known for choicest invectives…Prof. Hajni and a minister of yesteryears (name withheld). When Hajni gets into an invective spree, noted Shamim in his trademark ‘Aiana’ it sounds like ‘Jal-tarang’ (a sweet sounding musical instrument) while as the minister’s invectives sound as hoarse as that of a tortured soul.
Lighter side apart, I stand witness to the depth of his knowledge and the expanse of his literary reach. As Indira Gandhi nationalized banks in sixties, he questioned a group of professors in our lawn on banking. Over the next hour or two, he answered his own question on banking history and Jewish control of international banking cartels…the maneuvered inflations and then cooling down periods to suit international Jewry. From Adam Smith to Marx, from free market economy to rigid control, there was hardly an aspect of economy, hardly an economic theory, he left untouched. Coming from professor of linguistics, the dazed audience got a treat to cherish. He finally labeled Indira Gandhi’s decision ruinous for India, a decision India would have to reverse, if it means to come out of its miserable 2-3% growth rate. He was right, as later day governments worked on business incentive banking.
There were occasions when he would announce his overnight stay and ask my mother to add chilies to the extent she may for ‘Gham-e-Buoy’ (brother from village). He would on such occasions occupy my bed. I would sleep on the floor. Once as the servant got the ‘Hookah’ after he had his dinner and got on to the bed to enjoy a smoke, he spotted a book on embryology. I had joined GMC Srinagar and the book was a part of our curriculum. Asking me to sleep, he got engrossed in the book. I didn’t know when he slept, but in the morning he took the book with him, as he and father walked to college. I got my book back the same day. A few days later, he surprised me with his grasp of embryology. He asked me to study a few more books that he had studied on the subject during the past few days. Tongue tied, I couldn’t even ask him, where from he had collected the books.
On another occasion, I was surprised to see him answer a central home ministry questionnaire on ‘Vision India’. Knowing his anti-establishment views, I asked ‘Uncle, doesn’t it sound strange for GOI to ask you, as your reply could be nothing but harsh”. Before he would answer, father said that harsh views may reveal the truth, nations like to know. Uncle Hajni concurred. I did have a peep into the answer provided, I may admit without the permission of the great man, a violation of decent norms, I have rued in my moments of reflection. It was a scathing comment on India’s class structure. With a rider…India would have to do away with social discrimination, if she wants to be classified as a civilized nation.
I wonder, I do, why wasn’t he ever considered for Vice-Chancellorship of Kashmir University? If ever anyone in Kashmir deserved it, it was Prof. Hajni. He would have added grace to the office, but then he wouldn’t listen to anyone except to the dictate of his own mind. And there are severe restrictions on listening to your inner voice in the social set-up we are living in. So someone like Prof. Hajni gets ruled out, smaller persons walk in to be dictated and carry out the dictate.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi (Reunion is subordinate to survival)
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Lastupdate on : Wed, 20 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 20 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 21 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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