Looking back is not being weirdo-it is not being crazy. It is cathartic. Allow me the liberty, to say nostalgia is an ‘elixir that heals the hearts’ and soothes the fatigued nerves. It is loveable. Passing through the lanes that cradled us is loveable even today. They resonate with lullabies and sing songs of love, “That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude.”
The skyline of my birth burg makes me tizzy and tipsy. If you ask me why, I will fumble for an answer-, it is inexplicable. The shimmering golden spires of the minarets sometimes make me trance and mysteriously take me on a spiritual voyage and everything around in rapture sings hymns like “whirling Dervishes” of Egypt.
On every visit the quartet minarets of Jamia Masjid, open up like pages of history. Every minaret becomes a narrator incarnate and recount told and untold tales of the past seven centuries – stories about the glory of the great Sultans, their capitals around the grand mosque humming with wise cracks of courtiers, eloquence of scholars and kings waxing lyrical.
The minarets dominating the skyline have been mute witness to the galloping horses of the marauders whipping and lashing Iqbal’s ‘nation of intellect and deft hands. These have been witness to people rising in revolt against the brutal rulers and even ‘men- of- rosary’ mounting on horsebacks unsheathing swords and declaring a war against the cruel rulers. The grand mosque during our childhood largely lived to the tradition of the Sultans – when entire city with the setting up of schools and universities had become a great seminary where hundreds of scholars from many parts of the Central Asia learned Quran, Hadith, Fiqah and logic. Many a time I realize that, after the shop fronts, the grand mosque was yet another open university for children not only of our locality but also of my alma mater offering noon prayers in it.
These were the times when turban was still in fashion but it had started facing threat from the astrakhan cap. The expensive cap was becoming fashionable with the neo-rich contractors, forest lessees and bus permit holders that had stood in witness box against once their leader. However, turbans dominance remained with both Muslims and Hindus. Muslims generally wore white turbans; I remember only two of my teachers who wore light green turbans, names of both were suffixed with Shah. Our Pandit teachers generally wore pink and yellow turbans. During our childhood it was not only the turban that had survived tides and times but even Persian language retained its dominance in religious and elite discourses. It was not only Rumi, Hafiz, Jami and Iqbal that embellished their discourses. Pithy and satirical quotes from our Persian poets including that by Sultan’s enlivened the atmosphere.
Those scholarly oldies in their own right had become legendry for all of us. Here I remember yet another legendry a turbaned man not white or pink turbaned but Khaki turbaned middle age man Ghulam Muhammad a postman. Like many other ‘commoner-legendaries’, he was not only familiar face for us but most sought after person in our locality. I do not know when he arrived in post office at Maharajah Gunj for collecting the post. Maharajah Gung was second largest post office in the city. For being suffixed with our address, it had almost become synonymous with individual living in ward four. Draped in Khaki uniform, with a bag slinging from a shoulder and cardboard holder with torn edges in his left hand looking kept close to his chest he arrived in our locality by eleven. In bag slinging from his shoulder, he carried letters and small parcels. In cardboard holder, he carried registered letters and money orders. Scores from our locality during winters hawked handicrafts in many Indian cities and sent money orders to their families. Therefore, during winters he was more sought-after. Many of my friends whose parents worked outside closely watched his arrival and often made queries from him if there was not post for them. He hardly wrongly delivered a letter or a parcel. What was great about the man that he even knew children of locality by first name… the children looked at him as an iconic figure.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 20 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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