Of Morning Assembly



Should, I forget ‘the past and wish it a farewell as no longer in the past present dwells’. Should I agree with a poet who says? : 
 ‘There is no need relive the past
for to do so is in vain . . .
Yesterday's gone, today is here
why relive the pain . . .”
Notwithstanding my believing   past is a  lodestar,  that guides one in right direction when caught up at cross roads these verses haunted me while sitting through a daylong seminar on ‘moral decadence in our society’  in a hall dedicated to a renowned educationist of the sub-continent, MD Taseer. Listening speakers after speakers on the falling standards of education contributing to the decay in our society and   destroying our age-old moral fabric, I was taken down the memory lane on two tracks.  One, I remembered the tales, I had heard from my teachers about the man called M.D. Taseer and two, the scenes of morning assemblies at the school started rolling before my eyes.
The small black stone memorial embedded in the building reads, “in memory of Dr. Mohammad Din Taseer, an outstanding scholar and litterateur-founder principal of college Sept 1942. In 1941, he joined S.P. College as principal. He influenced many eminent contemporary poets and men of letters of Kashmir- some of them living even after seven decades remember him for his contribution to the literary scene of Kashmir and his commitment to the students.
Born in 1 June 1901, in a village in Amritsar and after the age of three he grew up in Lahore. His connection to Kashmir dates back to his association with Allama Iqbal from childhood. ‘After entering college, he used to call on Allama almost on daily basis and attended his sessions with his friends late nights. ‘Whenever Allama wanted any of his verses translated into English he used to do it. Taseer working closely with Iqbal knew many Kashmiris visiting the poet of the East an in a way associated with Kashmir freedom struggle. He wrote the proceedings of the Kashmir Committee and was close witness to how Iqbal’s relations with head of ‘Qadani party successively deteriorated.’  For his association with Kashmir as an educationist and at the crucial juncture of 1947-1948 even during our childhood his name and role resounded along with larger Kashmir narrative----.
True,   our generation born after the closure of the Jhelum Valley Road did not benefit from as scholarly teachers as M.D. Taseer but we were fortunate to inherit the great legacy through a number of dedicated teachers. Our teacher cast us into a mould. Many of them were embodiments of austerity and high moral values. In this column, I have written about commitment of my teachers towards the students and how they disciplined the students. In fifties and sixties, our school was one of the biggest schools in the city having 1500 to 2000 students on its rolls. I remember, the morning assembly that was then called as the “morning prayer” was our first class in discipline and moral education. At the first strike of the gong by a student or a peon, the students assembled, class and section wise in long queues in front of the main building- a piece of architecture.  After recitation of verses from the Holy book, three boys with good voice led the morning prayers.   Most of the Urdu and Kashmiri poems we recited at the morning assembly still live in my memory.  After the prayers, headmaster or other teachers would lecture on human values, morality, righteousness and duties. The lectures by teachers left an indelible imprint on our minds.  The form teachers checked nails, haircut and cleanliness of each boy. The boys with long nails- would receive a cane or two on their palms.  The long unkempt hair- was nicknamed as “bu’chur” .  And   “bu’chur’, was totally unacceptable. The boys with “bu’chur” were pulled out of the queue and directed to go the dais. On the dais, in full view of other student a teacher would scissor his long unkempt hair…this sent shivers down the spine of other boys and none dared to keep “bu’chur”  I remember, for cleanliness the teachers would often check the necks of the students and uniform. The unclean boys were taken to a big tap in the school compound and washed with a local soap used for washing Numdah’s … This kind of schooling, I believed played an important role in moral upbringing.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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