Languages is a measure of the evolution and development of a culture. Born, young, and they die too; they surely mimic the organic basis of their identity/being. Many languages have become extinct. In the course of this evolution and pattern of language ‘status’ there have been numerous dedicated and devotedly conscious souls who understand and subsequently work on the development of the language. In this league Muhammad Ahsan Ahsan forms the epitome of selfless service to the promotion of Kashmiri language. He relentlessly worked to make Kashmiri a subject in the curriculum and he made it his aim of life, and followed it religiously.
Such a thing demanded immense perseverance and resoluteness, Ahsan had it all in his veins. He started it from the lowest; he started Halqai Adab Hajin in 1962 and furthering along with being one of the founders of Adabi Markaz Kamraz, translating his intent into more pronounced and visible dynamism which has been the benchmark in the history of Kashmiri language activism.
Born in North Kashmir’s riverine town of Hajin known for its treasured contribution towards Kashmir language, with Professor Mohi-ud-din Hajani, the encyclopaedic wizard of Kashmir as its literary identity. Highly inspired by Professor Hajni, Ahsan dived into this domain knowing what it would beget in the course of events.
Muhammad Ahsan Ahsan remained unfazed by all the baggage of being in the environment of syndicate and organisational hazards, his unwavering spirit in making Kashmiri accessible to every home of Kashmir remained his only cause of his life. He was known for his compassionate, accommodating and calm conduct. Moti Lal Saaqi remarking on the benevolent and warm attitude of Ahsan writes in his book ‘Gaashir Manaar’ that “Though I haven’t seen angels in the sky but I have seen one (living) in the face of Muhammad Ahsan Ahsan”. Ahsan during his lifetime groomed and mentored many with his beguiling intellect, and most of the times with his kind-hearted personality. Professor Zaman Azurdah, recalling his times with Ahsan says, “I met him in 1962 …whatever I am right now it’s all because of his timely guidance and mentorship. I have learned the fundamentals of Kashmiri script-writing and always had some brilliant takeaways in his company”. He termed him as‘behind the curtains’ litterateur. While remembering Ahsan. Shujat Bukhari –another flag-bearer of Kashmiri language recalled, “When I glance at a priceless treasure I have preserved in my portfolio, I come across a signature that authenticates not just my merit but the passion I have for my mother tongue – Kashmiri. The treasure is “Kamyabi henz Sanad” (Certificate of Success) a testimonial, in fact a few, I received in mid 80s after I appeared for yearly Kashmiri examination, Adbee Markaz Kamraz would conduct in schools and colleges throughout Kamraz (North Kashmir). And the laborious job of connecting people from one corner to other and make it sure that the examination process culminates efficiently and transparently was taken up by an able organizer named Mohammad Ahsan Ahsan. He was the controller of examination, hence his signature was on the certificate to testify that the students have successfully passed the test”.
He had never been in the controversies while working with AMK from its beginning, vocally supported and advocated for the protection of Kashmiri language. Ahsan always took the path of uprightness and never compromised while speaking his mind.
He was a teacher, writer, researcher and above all an unassuming fighter in the vanguard of Kashmiri language activism. His role in protecting Kashmir language still makes him the foremost champion and linguistic activist. Likes of him are rare now in the structure of different Kashmiri language groups.
While remembering this doyen of Kashmiri language it’s time to review and revive the efforts Ahsan stood for in making Kashmiri language popular and accessible at grassroots level. Though his ideals and ideas are being unique to his saintly temper it may be difficult to imbibe his thoughts, but we should aim and strive for making his conduct and personality, both individual and organisational, as the guide for our life. May his soul rest in peace
Mir Sajad is Researcher, Department of Geography and Regional Development University of Kashmir