As it appeared at “We are Aligs” wall…
It was the first Shab-e-barat of my father away from home at the portals of ‘Khan Zaman Hostel’ Minto Circle, AMU Aligarh. Yes, it was Minto Circle and not ‘Syedana Tahir Saifuddin High School’ then. He was very fond of fireworks. Unfortunately my uncle who was a very tall handsome boy, very popular among all segments of society including the aristocratic Pardanasheens died young and my father, the only son ipso facto became the ‘apple of the eye’ of the family. He was much sought after and pampered child. His absence at such an auspicious festival was deeply felt by everyone in family, near relations and the Mohalla. He has left a few days back for Aligarh and my grandfather didn’t feel it prudent to give his affection the upper hand and call him back. It was if all by history and maths working in tandem, in the year 1927.
Discretion is better than valor and where there is will there is way. A rich collection of fire-works was gathered that included Anar, Falak Shigaph (batasha), Nar-al- Surra (narhi) and Raqqasa (chakai that flares upon flour in swift rouds). An attendant was arranged with a horse to take these Shab-e-barat Atankwad material to AMU. He arrived the AMU via Khurja as my grandfather had instructed him to buy some “Gajar ka Achar’ for my father from there. This whole story was narrated to us by my father, his friends and it’s a part of our family’s treasured history. Please forgive me for any exaggeration which is unintentional.
The hidden agenda of my grandfather, as the Sayees was told, to leave the horse at the hostel at the disposal of his son. Sayees tied the horse to the tree still graces the compound of Khan Zaman with some water, chane and fodder. The guest relaxed and waited for the warden. When the warden, as name referred vaguely was some Haseeb Saheb, arrived in the evening the messanger paid his respects and expressed the purpose of his visit and revealed the intentions of my grandfather. He said the warden – “Agar whan jagah ne ho mere dost Aftab ke doluat kadey par chale jana……….”
The soft and sophisticated warden got the first shock then relaxed. He gave a great smile and called the Monitor. First he confiscated the ATISHBAZI and gave it in the safe custody of monitor and instructed him not to give it to my father till the night of Shab-e-barat. “The fireworks would be played in my presence.” About keeping the horse and attendant at ‘Khan Zaman’, he appreciated the idea and wrote the following letter to my grandfather. The letter said:
“Janab Qiblaey Hajat wa Kaabeay maradat Syed Aley Ahmed Saheb dam Inayat-o-kum. Bad salam-o-niyaz ke wazeh ho keh harchand barkhurdar Ata Hussain ba-adab, munkasir mizaj aour honahar talib-e-ilm hain magar afsos taghaurryat waqt ne un tamam besh baha qadron ko pamal kar diya jo hamaraey azeem bahadur-o- dana peshrau qaim kar gaye the. Yaqeenan buzurg-e-mohatram ke ali zehan men dour-e- ‘Jamia Khiljiya’ aour ‘Madarsat-Kamali wa Jamali’ waqey Mehrauli, Delhi ke rayej dastoor rahe honge. Wahan talib-e-ilm Iran-o-Tooran-Faran se warid hote the aour Asp (horse) wa Khaddam unke saath hua karte the. Afsos woh riwayat sab ab dastan-e-parinah ho gayeen aour aaj ki haqeeqat yeh hai aksar nawabbin ke roshan chiraghon ko hostel ki jagah ki qillat ka saman hai. Mai mafi chahta hoon aour aapke namabar ko ba-halet-afsurdah wapis karta hoon. Ummeed hai huzur duaon men yad raken ge.
Khuda Nigehdar, Ahqar Haseeb ba muqam Khan Zaman Aligarh.
And now I add…………“Dor peechey kee taraf ay gardishe ayyam too