Remembering Father, Dear Father
He was a poet, a broadcaster, an intellectual, an orator, a musicologist, a composer, an officer, an acquaintance, a friend, and a well wisher
SYED HUMAYUN QAISER
How should I describe one who made my existence possible; someone with whom I broke bread till 17th May 1998; the one who guided my unsure steps through rough roads of the world; the one who rewrote the script of my life.
It is easier to write or talk about an eminent figure from a distance. Also describe a literary figure whom you have heard or read about, met or held in awe. Rather comfortable to praise your benefactor, mentor or guide. Not difficult to compliment an astute administrator or honest man, also quite natural to be in gratitude of an affectionate self sacrificing parent. But how on earth can I describe someone who had all these (above) qualities and do justice to him – my dear father Sayed Qaisar Qalandar – always Abba to me.
Today after so many years without him I bare some facts about the man you knew as a poet, a broadcaster, an intellectual, an orator, a musicologist, a composer, an officer, an acquaintance, a friend, a well wisher et al.
Qaisar Sahab had a strong overwhelming tendency to be frank and his comments and reaction just happened – as if he had no control over them. He never cared for consequences- when he was Director of Amritsar Television (which later became Jallandhar Television) he downloaded his feelings about rampant corruption in official media on then Minister of Information and Broadcasting Mr. I.K.Gujral at a reception. Consequences could have been disastrous but Mr.Gujral observed it all for he knew how to respect righteousness.
Another incident which father remembered was when as Deputy Director General of AIR, Delhi, he went to record the Prime Minister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi. She had to record a message for the people of Maldives. Mrs Gandhi had the quality and humility of inquiring, while recording a message “Am I doing alright?” She repeated “Am I doing alright?” Here Qaisar Sahab interrupted and said “Madam, I think not”. He informed that Maldives had 70% Muslim population while PM was regularly quoting Hindu Mythology and this may not go very well with the Maldives. This comment received sharp reaction from PM’s staff but Mrs. Gandhi thanked Qaisar Sahab and requested for half-an-hour break. She came back and recorded a message directed towards majority populace of Maldives.
Father was usually a man of few words. Even with family he was less expressive type-never expressed his feelings in a calculated dramatic way. He could never side with hypocrisy and deception. This quality was rather well understood by us and offended quite many and created detractors. For the benefit of later I may confess –“You never bothered him”. He lived life on his own conditions and left it on his terms. One could never take him for a ride. Many thought they did, he let them be but always knew what they were up to.
In his youthful days father acted on stage, played football, indulged in poetry, bunked classes to see films (with money he got as merit scholarship) and smoked 30 to 40 cigarettes a day. As he grew poetry became serious, football was forgotten, films lost importance, out went cigarettes, music invaded his life and family became his most cherished possession – his fortune.
During early part of 1990’s almost all renowned and even pretty average poets, writers, professionals and administrators avoided participating in Radio Kashmir programmes. Even then he never ever denounced Radio Kashmir and his faith in radio could not be shaken by momentary lapse of reason of some.
When a son follows the path illuminated by the fragrance of father comparisons are inevitable. Although in my case they are not even worth thinking about. Father was made of stuff which ceased to exist long back and I am product of a very common denominators. Yet if and when I requested Abba to write for a radio programme he would complete the script and hand it over to me with these words” Correct wherever you find necessary and tell me, you’re in charge of the programme”. Whether I was qualified enough to correct his script is secondary.
My father researched for well over thirty years to produce a distinctly unique book on Indian music ‘Hamari Mausique’. This book was fulfilment of a long cherished dream. I believe a time will come when this book will become most revered Urdu book on music. His collection of poetry ‘Burg e Arzoo’ is hailed as the finest collection of Urdu poetry by a kashmiri by contemporary poet and critic of repute Rafiq Raaz.
Qaisar Sahib’s outstanding contribution to production of Kashmiri music is all too well known and accepted. But a lesser known is that he wrote as well as produced Radio Operas. His collection of operas in urdu ’Saaz e Jamal’ was published way back in 1960s.
Here I am reminded of an incident about the highly acclaimed radio opera ’Veyth’ written by famous poet Dina Nath Nadim and produced by my father. Nadim Sahab had indicated in the script the final song of the opera ‘Vyeth Aye Maharin Souneyea’should be a Roeff song. Without giving any hint of his disagreement Qaisar Sahab composed the song as Wan Wun instead of Roeff – his logic being that a bride is received at grooms place with the sounds of Wan Wun and not Roeff. His sense of lyrics and music blended the song so very well that Nadim Sahab personally came to our house, kissed his hands and thanked him with these words “If for nothing else people will always remember me for ‘Veyth Aye Maharin....’Later our Cultural Academy had heart to amalgamate same tunes and release a record with another gentleman’s name as music director. Today even Radio Kashmir Srinagar does not have original opera in full.
Abba could be seen till very last on his 1956 BSA cycle. The fact of the matter being - the cycle had hardly any original part left but for the name and all the repairs to it carried a stamp of self esteem which he never bargained for even a second .He rode his 1956 BSA cycle with proud.
He remained in bed, with mild chest congestion, for two days 15 and 16th May 1998.Since he was an extremely mobile person resting in bed did not go well with him. His face conveyed this message loud and clear “If I have to remain confined to bed I don’t want this life, I give up.” With the first rays of the Sun on 17th May 1998 he silently left never to return and I continue to miss him.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 17 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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