It’s all agonising

A story of a teacher and his taught capturing the bigger story, called Kashmir

Kashmir tragedy has taken huge toll on matured persons as well as budding promises. The conflict worn out brilliant minds inside the valley, or displaced disheartened out from the valley, have left us untimely or disillusioned about the promises of this order. They could not get what they deserved during their lifetimes. Their potential remained unfolded. Here are two individuals, who I know did not spread out substantially, which they deserved by any measure. Pt. Ved Lal Kaul Razz and Gulam Qadir Wani, both from Bandipur. One was budding and growing intellectual, another matured saint-poet-teacher. One was taken to the course, wherefrom there was no return, the other was displaced and willfully ignored in literary circles. Both were respected and loved by the people of Bandipur. Razz Sahab had taught Ghulam Qadir in his school and also as a private disciple of Urdu literature; talk about Persian poetry of Allama Iqbal to him during 1960s and early 1970s. Theirs was an ideal  teacher- taught relationship. Razz Sahab, after 1980s would come out of Kashmir during winter to his two sons, who were outside the valley for their employment. In that fateful year of 1989, before that upsurge of militancy he had already left valley and was in Varanasi. All his books, including prose and poetry that he complied over the years were left in his house at Bandipur. His eldest son along with his family had to leave in January 1990; empty-handed to escape the peril. The home was left behind, unattended. Razz remained a sad person without his own   works. His son had kept a copy of his earlier poetry in Urdu, and Kashmiri that got published during his close years of life. The displacement had made him blank. He had lost all his interests in his creative works. He stopped poetry or prose writing. Instead he would spend his time in teaching needy and worshiping most of the time. It was painful to see the substantial loss of his literature left behind in that ransacked house, back home. It had been a continual self belligerence. He would not like even to mention about his poetry. Though, he is no more with us, some of the verses in Urdu or in Kashmiri reflect  his muse, and our being:

"Joom kar uthhi gata, aye basuye Gulistan,

Ya ilahhi khair  ho, bulbul hui  hai Nagmakha

Barq ki mashal liye kya talashe Ashian,

Char tinkoo kay liye kya intiqame Aasma"

Again, a verse from Kashmiri poetry:

 Zool jigruk kur achhav chait, chieng reh kheith  ruez path

Lol chunenen kar shumar aamut, magar tus kiya khaber"

What we  miss more about Razz sahab, were his letters that he had written to his friends and co-poets. The letters they had exchanged were jewels of literature, left in the boxes in his house. I remember a post card that was from late Gh Rasool Nazki Sahib,whom Razz sahib would keep  in high esteem. Nazki Sahib had sent his own poem, which was like this, perhaps opening verse, if I remember correctly:

"Ik furste gunaeh voh be tu ik raat,

Voh raat be kab faragat key sath guzri hai"

Bandipora was rich in intellectual atmosphere. It was a town having cluster of villages known as khuehma. Poetic sessions and intellectual gatherings were common in schools and public–private realms. Since it did not have orchards, its educated middle class emerged with organic evolution from the upsurge of 1930s. It was a sturdily institutional middle class, unlike its neighboring town Sopore, where  a section of neo-rich class emerged quickly and gained identity in  dissent politics. The grooming and nourishing institution of Nadim Higherm Secondary School was full with bright students and erudite passionate teachers, both from Muslims and mostly Kashmiri pandits during 1960s and mid 1970s. Ghulam Qadir was a distant village boy, full of God given talent. He needed a brushing up, which was provided by this school. He was immediately identified by the principal M. Usman Fazli, very competent God fearing religious person, an efficient English teacher, teaching grammar and treating school like a disciplined family. Bandipura School was then hub of activities – from academics, curricular to extracurricular presentations, booming with energies and full of promise and potential. Principal Usman Fazli Sahib after morning prayers would give a classified news item starting with world news and then ending it with moral messages, a daily one hour cherished engagement. He had a strange way of reading student's forehead.

He would say you have 'line straight', means the boy had academic future and to some unfortunate, he would not hesitate to tell  'a line curved student.' Ghulam Qadir was a brilliant student, with spell bound oratory skills. A son of poor peasants and that too from a far off Village Arin, Bandipur. He was out from the crowed. Yet Usman sahib would say to him he can have line straight, if he goes straight to study Arts and learn Persian poetry from Razz Sahib. Gulam Qadir did learn Persian and understood the subtleties of Urdu literature from Razz sahib, but did not continue his education straight way in the college after qualifying his  school examination. The college education was in nearby town Sopore, the Government Degree College. Instead of joining college, he was persuaded to be a teacher in a Darasgah at Sopore. It dismayed Principal Usman Sahab and he would say that Gulam Qadir's 'line is kaput'.

Perhaps that was his departure and a distance from his school teachers and school mates. Principal Usman sahib, even after his schooling would remember him in anguish. He would say that he was not pleased with the decision of Gulam Qadir, who according to him should have been a professor of eminence in any university, had he listened to him. Principal Usman Sahib would often tell that Gulam Qadir's forehead reveals 'spilt curve'. After many years as Darasgarh teacher, Prof Bachha of Philosophy forcefully, or by persuasion made Gulam Qadir to join Degree College Sopore for his degree course. He was perhaps late. The three year break had changed his world view and moorings. Gulam Qadir was senior to me in our school by two years, while in the college he became junior to me by one year. I was in Sopre College in 1973-1974. In my second year, I found Gulam Qadir joining Sopore College, a year junior to me in 1974. He was again identified as a brilliant student. In an open debating competition he was selected college secretary and I got second position to be the  the joint secretary of the college. It was a wonderful academic engagement that both of us would carry on. Time passed on, I went to Banaras Hindu University. In 1980 early March, I had been to JNU for my research material, I found Gulam Qadir in the library. It was a pleasant meeting after years and I understood he had to complete some papers for degree in M.phil in Urdu and instantly, we talked about the premonition of Usman Sahib. But instead he should have been happy; he turned pensive and grim in expressions. I did not clear it from him, but it astonished me to find him not focused. Years went on, in late 1990s, I received a call from somewhere that my friend of JNU, Gulam Qadir desired to meet me. I got excited. It was a university telephone. There was no mobile those days. We waited, but there was no news. He did not come to see us. After two days, there was a news item in local dailies that a hard core militant of Kashmir had come from Nepal to Varanasi and escaped police enclose in Viabhav Hotel.

This surprised us, knowing Gulam Qadir's bright past, we sensed all was not well with his life journey. Perhaps he did not come to meet us for he was our well wisher. He did not want us to be in trouble, for he was under surveillance. Principal Usman was never categorical in his assessment whether to put Gulam Qadir in 'line curve' or in 'line straight'. We remembered the great old man also. Ghulam Qadir was from Bandipur. He knew perhaps our paths were different and he preferred not to meet us. We never met again. Razz Sahib felt gloomy that he did not meet Ghulam Qadir and he did not see him rubbing shoulders with top academicians of any university.  It was a sad contemplation, how unfortunate we have been. Bandipora misses both of them with reverences, the teacher and the taught.

Ashok Kaul, Professor Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Banaras Hindu University,

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