If I am a ripple in the pond, he is the glitter of the lake. If I have the gush and furore of a stream, he has the steadiness and flow of a river. If I have the sparkle of waves, he carries underneath the force of currents. If I have the depth of a lake, he has the fathom of the sea. This is how I would describe him, if I am to draw a comparison between myself and him. Having said that, I would never claim of absoluteness or perfection either for me or for him. No one is perfect or without beloved faults. So is he. A human being with ordinary energy level and limitations that could be a great deterrent to any man. But he overrides it with forbearance of a sea and calmness of an ocean.
Just have a look at him, despite his falling physical features and drooping shoulders, he is the reminiscence of a robust physique. Tall and wide. Eyes reflecting wisdom of words and experience, eager to drink and drown in the fathomless sea of knowledge. He has a look of a sage, a square face
His hair is intact, hanging sideways. If I guess right, in his prime and purple days, he must have been fond of long hair falling wave like around his shoulders. But the most moving characteristic I found in him, even in an age when one is past the glow of youth like dying dusk, is his focus.
Yes, you got it right. He has physical ailments, the debility of physique, coupled with kidneys on the painful routine dialysis with eighty per cent loss of eyesight, yet he is miltonic in grandeur, forbearance and loftiness of ideas. Like him he is lead and read by his daughter in this dark world to the pages of knowledge and light. Despite his feeble health, he moves on and keeps abreast with the heart and matter of this world. He wants to be sure to be updated and well informed.
He talks about academic audit to keep the teaching learning moving and flowing unlike a stagnant pool of inactivity that results into a sense of complacency and brings lassitude in the system. He favours dynamism and activism: unpreparedness is a fatal blow to a teacher so he never allows unpreparedness as a teacher, and never had been to his class in half measures. A classroom is a sacred place for him and teaching is like worship. This is how he is remembered by his students who see to him as inspiration and fountain head of illumination. A teacher must be known by his teaching and there can be no yard stick other than this to measure his competence and contribution.
I had the opportunity of hearing him out when he came to my college in connection with NAAC SSR preparation. He preferred to be with us like one among us and straight away switched to the business without beating about the bush. His method is objective, approach scientific, belief idealistic and application pragmatic. He being an exemplum of simplicity and store house of updated accurate information. Despite chronic health issues, he had travelled to HKM Degree College Bandipore without any honorarium or reward other than his own commitment to light upon darkness. Ḥe never did mind his age or his strength but only moved on like a spiritual giant on an odyssey to help a neglected institution to get accredited. But for the bad luck of the college, his effort would not have been in vain and because of his guidance we had qualified the first cycle. Throughout his stay, he was a thorough professional with seriousness of purpose and integrity of teacher unlike false gait pomp and show. His meticulous calculation of time a great lesson to me.
I made a dramatic introduction with him, when I challenged him for upbraiding me while I used the word “summon” for my students. He was cross with me and wanted me to withdraw the word. I held to my word and quoted I A Richards and his four types of meaning. For a while, I felt I had won the argument. However, very soon, I felt the impertinence of my belief. He had taught me moderation, accuracy, etiquette and exactness unlike approximation, haughtiness and ambiguity.
Along two of my colleagues, I fell prey to a vicious conspiracy but for some honest and truthful people in the department of higher education saved our career when everything was going contrary. He stood thick and fast with us especially with Dr Asif, and through him I got a glimpse into his personality. Not even does one’s own father shower such care and caution. “Have a good breakfast, stay in a comfort zone, never lie to anyone, keep your spirits up, speak soft and low, but never give up truth and confidence, don’t get beggarly”. His advices helped us a long way. On an occasion, we lied to director colleges about our location just to win some easy sympathy. He was upset with us as he came to know about it and wanted from us a quick apology. There he was teaching us that there can be no substitution for truth.
He had, as a principal, done a great credit to his faculty by awarding them immaculate excellent grade. When someone tried to pull him back, he said, “I am heading the cream of a society not the ewes. Why shouldn’t I mark them excellent when they are”, what a pep talk!
It is a reward to be with him. He is speedily ageing, yet he is celebrated in hearts of many. An unceremonious man, dead honest, overcoming his poor health and energy like Hemingway’s Santiago who knows man can be destroyed but not defeated. He is a great academician. He is as he taught us never to use his name in abbreviated form N. A. but in its full form Nazir Ahmad Gilkar, former principal of SP college, Srinagar, and Controller Central University Kashmir.
Author is working as Assistant Professor at Govt. Degree College Bandipore.