It is the morning of 11 October 2020. News has just arrived from Madinah al-Munawwarah that G M Waiz is no more. Everyone who breathes has, on the appointed hour, to breathe his last. But there is a breath that wafts around light and grace, and one wishes such a breath to last as long as it can. The inevitable, however, cannot be wished away:
We belong to Allah and to Him we have to return.
Ghulam Muhammad Waiz was one of the greatest human beings whom I have had the honour to know closely. We generally tend to compute greatness in terms of reputation. But reputations may sometimes be misleading though at times they are rightly earned. In the present age of media dominance, particularly the mushroom upsurge of social media, of discourses, of machinations to frame narratives and counter-narratives and to make unreal pass for the real and vice versa, reputation has become a relative term indeed.
Waiz Sahib was quite well known in the intellectual circles of Kashmir though he did not attain to nor, to my knowledge, did he perhaps care for a sweeping kind of mass reputation. His greatness lay in his rare human qualities. He was a paragon of natural human virtues and values deeply imbued with spiritual grace. Humane, merciful, caring and generous to a fault, he would naturally make you fall in love with him once you made his acquaintance. Barriers of age, background and social position would crumble as his graceful behavior would strike an uncanny equation with you. Waiz Sahib would never flaunt his virtues, they would naturally flow from him as light does from a luminous object or as fragrance spreads from a rose – a fragrance which you cannot help but smell.
Mushk aunast ki khud buyad
Na ki ‘attar guyad
Until, in this hapless land of ours, circumstances permitted, Waiz Sahib actively participated in social and humanitarian work. Gifted with a rare sense of literary sensibility, he also associated himself with literary bodies like the Iqbal Academy. In all such activities his enthusiasm and devotion was worth watching and imitating. Whatever responsibility was given to him, you would rest assured that it could not be entrusted to better hands. In all dealings in such situations Waiz Sahib’s behavior would exhibit a rare combination of justice, wisdom, care and humaneness. Sweet memories relating to so many events come crowding in but…
For me personally Waiz Sahib’s passing away is a grievous loss. Having been a beneficiary of his love and affection and generosity for long years, I feel orphaned and find myself at a loss to come to terms with the bereavement. Our contacts had become less frequent after the disastrous turn which the situation in Kashmir took in the nineties of the last century. Conditions became indescribably horrible after August 2019. We however maintained our contact telephonically. Concluding one such conversation he wanted me to complete a verse of S‘adi one of whose hemistichs he had forgotten:
Basey nadeedani ha deedeam mun
Mara ay kashkey madar na zadey
Too many a thing not worth seeing have these eyes watched;
Would that my mother had never given birth to me!
This immediately recalled to my mind Sophocles:
“The best of fates is never to be born and the second best is to hasten from hence as soon as one is born”
Which Kashmiri, I wonder, can help not to recall S‘adi and Sophocles these days.
For the past few months, Waiz Sahib had been living in Saudi Arabia where his daughter and his two sons work. A few days back, just on the eve of his departure, he had shifted from Damam to Madinah al-Munawarrah for treatment of his eye ailment. It was there that he breathed his last.
Pohonchi wahin pe khak jihan ka khamir tha
The dust finally mingled with the soil where it belonged.
Rest in peace noble and pious soul. May Allah shower on you His forgiveness and mercy and bless you with an abode of honour in Paradise. Certainly you deserved a place of rest in the holy soil and not a soil meant for blood and tears and gore. Alwida!
Sab kahan khutch lala-o-gul main numayan hogaeen
Khak mai kia suraten hongi ki pinhan hogaeen
Not all but just a very few as roses and tulips bloom;
What wondrous shapes lie hidden in the earth’s lap of gloom.
A known academic of Kashmir, Professor G R Malik was Head Department of English, Kashmir University