BASIC, COBOL, FORTAN and WORDSTAR were the languages that were common before computers became the part of everyday’s life. While studying some computer’s beginner’s course at HTT College, Oxford Street, London, I’d an opportunity to befriend a bright colleague from Portugal – Manuela Coelho.
Most of our class-fellows leave good memories and she was no exception. However, she knew more about Indian history and Goa, about Vasco da Gama and Salazar, about Gandhi and Nehru. These were enough common topics that kept us often busy when she didn’t complain about the rents and bad manners of paying guest facility she was staying at Stamford Brook.
For years, after leaving England, we had been corresponding with each other. She was frank and honest even on paper about her setbacks and achievements; her breaks and new turns of life and the ups and downs of life. A decade passed and we lost touch and I don’t know what is happening to her life while I’m showing all the symptoms of slow down.
However, she taught me a Portuguese word Saudade that has no direct translation to English. May be in Urdu it would be near to Izmahal. It describes a deep nostalgia or profound melancholic longing for something or someone absent that one loves.
It also often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. It can be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, or who has gone away or died. Saudade is “the love that remains” after someone is gone.
It is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now trigger the senses and make one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings all together, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.
Come August and I begin to feel ‘Saudade’ as it was the month my mother had died in 1999 on 14th August; it was the month when my wonderful son Imroz Adeeb was born; my loving daughter Abida Naheed, the journalist, Script writer, documentary film director of Famous “A Road to Nowhere” had brought cheers for us with her birth. Fortunately or unfortunately, it is also the month when I’d vouchsafed the planet earth.
Yesterday, a new excitement, a sad event has been added to the joys of Independence Day – the death of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. I used to read his speeches in newspapers as a child. Radio was the only means of electronic communications in those days.
It was only in mid 1970’s when I’d personally seen Vajpayee Ji in Bombay. He had come as a known leader of opposition then, to address a gathering at Mastani Talav (popularly known as Mastan Talab also) that was a Muslim populated area near Byculla. One of my AMU friend, Abdul Rab, from Saadullah Nagar Gonda, who was my resident colleague at Ziauddin Hostel, was teaching at SabuSiddique College suggested that we participate in the gathering.
We went together that evening and Vajpayee ji didn’t disappoint us, He was at his oratorical best with his chaste and polished Urdu. After his speech, he was surrounded by the crowd of admirers. What I heard of him and I can still vividly recall is as follows:
“Are mohatram, hum ne to kitini bar in Congress walon se kaha ke Shah Zafar aour unki begum ki qabron ko poori taran ehtram se takniki etabar se mumkin ho wapas Hindustan laya jaye. Magar yeh log sunne ko tayyar naheen………Pata naheen kab badshah ka koo-e-yar men do gaz zameeen na milne ka shikwah sukoon paye ga….”
Sir, how many times we’ve asked these Congressmen to bring back the graves of Shah Zafar and wife back to Hindustan. However, these people are not willing to listen…….No one knows when the emperor’s sorrow of two yards of earth in his friend’s habitat would me assuaged. …
I had fallen in love of Vajpayee Ji that moment. I know he was a smart and cunning politician and master of political gymnastics and his was not far behind his myopic colleagues of extreme right who had razed the Babri Masjid. He played his cards well. However, the first impression that Vajpayee Ji had created dominated over all his tricky errands.
He went the same day but 19 years after my mother died. I was in Hyderabad when I got the call of my younger brother that Mom had met a severe heart attack. I returned to Delhi by the earliest flight. We got her admitted in the hospital of well-known Muslim Heart Specialist and those few days were the most painful, according to her, of her life.
I used to sleep in the gallery of the hospital at night as it was ill equipped for the care she or patients like her needed. She was assigned a boy-nurse and that was the first time that she cried in her life. There was no female nurse near her. Early in the morning when she was taken for the natural call, she refused to go with the male-nurse. After coming back from toilet she refused to allow all the pins and needles and told me to take her back home – no hospitalization any more.
Somehow, the whole family persuaded to go to another hospital – Metro Heart, Noida. She was relieved and felt happy over there. We saw the serenity and satisfaction on her face. We thought and so the doctors that she would recover. After many days we all took our lunch in peace.
By the evening her condition took the turn for the worse. By 10.30 pm doctors called us that pray for her. They suggested to put her on ventilator if we so desire. As her obedient children we asked the doctors to do what they felt good. They put her on ventilator and after half an hour they announced the end of her journey.
By 11 pm she was gone, for ever. She died in peace and honour with all her children grieving at the hospital. By 1 am, as it was now 15th August, they handed over the body. She was, for us, everything in life – a pillar of our existence. Thank God, she was not a politician and there was no confusion in her death.
Let me share the sincerity of the heart specialist who had first admitted my mother at Rohini: He had apologised every time we met in any social gathering about the negligence that my mother had met at his place. He had also sent verbal messages of regret also through common friends.