A Person of Manifold Shades

The mist of memories hangs heavy over my heart
A Person of Manifold Shades

Asmat Hajini


Daddy you taught me to be strong, but I am terribly sorry that I am letting you down. I can never be strong enough to accept that you are not here.

My hands are trembling and my heart is pounding while writing a tribute for you. What will I write about you, how much can I write? How much will my grief permit me to write? The mist of memories hangs heavy over my heart as I write this. Whatever I write will do no justice to your illustrious personality.

I am proud to be the daughter of a person whose absence is not only felt by his family but also by the people of the nation. Such was his endearing nature. Even as a child, I could see how he would shed aside his scholarly self and be one with children, and deferential towards elders. No one who met him will complain that they were treated disrespectfully; he would acknowledge everyone. He would treat daughter in laws as his own daughters and sons in laws as his own sons. To me he was a friend, beloved, father, mentor and guide all rolled into one.

People talk about my father’s love for poetry, art and literature and they will continue to talk about his pioneering work in the field of poetry, art and literature especially for promotion and preservation of Kashmiri Language. He was unflagging and untiring in his quest of literature and art, always consumed by the anxiety to fulfill the mission he had undertaken. Countless times he would stand up in the middle of a meal after a long tiring day to attend to some chore or person related to the work of conservation. His food, his sleep and his rest were Kashmiri language, art and literature.

I have heard my father while he spoke at various literary and cultural functions and notice how he left audiences spell bound by his oratory. He could speak at length at any forum impromptu keeping the audience engaged all the while. However, he never sugar coated his words or shied from taking a stand. Nothing could steer him away from speaking his heart out, and yet he never veered to rudeness. Even with his staunchest critics, he was polite and respectful, agreeing to disagree, and resolutely avoiding imposing his opinions on them.

While delivering his duty as secretary Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages from June 2015 to March 2019 the academy was abuzz with activities and events. Record number of cultural, literary events and seminars were conducted during his tenure in Jammu as well as in Kashmir. Tagore Hall in Srinagar and Abhinav Theatre in Jammu were jam packed with art and literature lovers. I have heard people saying it was the golden period in the history cultural academy. This was possible only because of his will to do more for the cultural heritage of Jammu and Kashmir.

In March 2020 when Covid-19 pandemic broke out, my father, unaccustomed to sitting at home for long hours, was severely troubled from being confined to home. It impacted his work and health far worse than others. He kept himself busy in writing, attending online seminars, online meetings and spending quality time with his grandchildren. However, catastrophe occurred soon. One evening in July 2020, he was sitting in the lawns of our house with my mother sipping tea, when she noticed that his eyes were rather pale, and he was not looking quite himself. On her insistence, he reluctantly underwent a medical examination and some diagnostic tests were conducted. The news about the dreaded disease that had afflicted him came as a bolt from the blue. We were devastated and everything turned topsy turvy. But yet again he rose to the occasion. Not only did he accept it calmly, but also advised us from day one to reconcile to and accept the impending reality. To him it was the will of Allah and it was his duty to submit, and accept what had been ordained – anything else would be blasphemous and unacceptable to him. Accordingly, he never betrayed any sign of pain or distress, but patiently counsel us, and every visitor who came to inquire of his health to be patient. When the illness ran amok through his body, and the reality drew closer, he withdrew from the world and set his heart upon the afterworld. Yet, when a delegation from Adbee Markaz Kamraz – one of the premier literary bodies in the valley, came to pay a visit to inquire about their patron’s health, he made sure to extract a promise from them that they will leave no stone unturned to continue his legacy and mission.

Despite the illness, he mustered energy to appear one last time in public at our native place Hajin on “Mohi ud Din Hajini Day”. He spoke as if he were perfectly healthy, with not a discordant note, his voice full of passion and love for the place. He said and I quote “Whenever I visit Hajin I feel like a daughter visiting her parents' place”. Such was his love and affection for the place and people of Hajin. He was strongly connected with his roots.

Despite my grief after his demise, I couldn’t help myself from feeling pride and joy that my father was known by so many people and loved by people from all walks of life. So many well-wishers consoled us during these tough times and one needed no assurance to notice their grief was genuine and heartfelt.

The bond I shared with my father was unlike any other connection. Daddy, I love you for an infinite number of reasons. I feel so blessed to have you as my father and I’m thankful for the wonderful upbringing you have given me. You were a magnificent man, a loyal, loving husband, a devoted father, and a true friend. Please know that my gratitude is endless and continues to grow with each passing day. Thank you for being an overprotective father from the time I was an infant until present day. Thank you for teaching me the importance of humility.

Thank you for showing me what it means to be a good man, a great teacher, an extraordinary husband, and an outstanding father for the past years of my life.

I seek magfirat from Allah for you and may you find the highest place in jannah.

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