Dor Peechey Ki Taraf Aiy Gardish-e-ayyam Too

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

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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The Bridge Over the River Sot

Once upon a time, many years ago, in fact around fifty years ago, Amroha was a beautiful town of  mango and guava orchards, lush green fields, holy dargahs, ancient temples, caravan sarias, takias, khanqahs, wonderful lakes and enchanting pools. People used to enjoy their morning and evening walks at Lipton Road known as Thandi Sarak (Winter Street). The life was simple – no big frills attached. You would see a lot of  amateur fishermen sitting patiently by the lake side with their fishing rods dangled in silent water, waiting for the catch. Now, all those pastimes are gone forever. As the generations pass their stories and memoirs can no longer be heard. Only a few stories of human interest, bits of wisdom, family histories and humorous happenings are left for future generations to enjoy. However, two lines are common in all of them: Amroha is situated at the banks of River Sot. Amroha is located near the River Sot. Unfortunately that river does no longer exist. There is no water; the river bed is a parched dry land. There stands a lonely bridge that reminds a gruesome old story.
Hundred years  back a train fell into the river as the bridge caved in. All the travelers were killed.

Several images conjure up when someone asks you to remember the childhood. Every one of us has too many wonderful stories and memoirs to narrate if someone touches the emotional cord. According to individual psychology people don’t recall the events that happened to them correctly but they recall them in a way that best describes their subconscious state of mind. As a child we wanted to grow up but now we realize that broken toys and lost pencils were much better than broken heart and lost friends.

This one is a blast from past.

I can still vividly recollect the distant sound of train gracefully passing over the solitary bridge of River Sot in the dark nights. The trundling sound was gentle and often furious. I would get up in my bed and ask my father, “Why the whistle of the engine is so strident? Why the train makes so much sound when it passes over the bridge?” My father was a systematic man who would never get irritated with my most idiotic questions. He would promise me to give the answer in the morning and instruct me to sleep.”

“The train moves against the wind. First, it’s the wind that generates the sound. Second, the sound is due to stress which is created between the wheels of train and iron track. Third, the vibrations of the compartments also create noise. The combined effect is that intensity increases aided with the water below the bridge. Vibrations are absorbed by the earth when the train moves on track on the land. I don’t have to explain the noise of the whistle.” Since my childhood the technical explanation often helped me in winning appreciation of my peers and the admiration of elders – a reason to remember my father in difficult times.

Drina River, Serbia

Drina River in Serbia.

Tower Bridge spans over River Thames in London. It is the only bridge in the world which could be raised from its middle section to permit the large vehicles to pass through it. There is another bridge which always brings back the memories of distant past – “The Bridge On the River Drina.” It was built  by Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic. Construction of this bridge began in 1566 A.D. and it took five years to finish it. It connected Sarajevo pashaluk (the territory of present day Bosnia and Herzegovina) to rest of the Turkish Empire. He was a Serbian child and was taken away from his mother as a part of levy by the Turkish rulers. His mother followed him wailing until they reached the river where they parted and the boy boarded the ferry. This boy, in the years that  followed, showed extraordinary talents. In due course of time he became the Grand Muslim Vazir. He assumed the name – Mohammed Pasha Sokolovik. Yet, his childhood memories had always haunted him and he ordered to build a bridge at the specific spot where he was snatched away from his mother.

Sot River has no such rich past to boast. The bridge over the River Sot was built by Britishers.

Come Shab-e-barat and groups of believers would walk down the river front, early in the morning, to plop into the water an AREEZA from the bridge – a kind of written supplication to Living Imam. There would be lots of fireworks by the river side and prizes were often awarded for the best firework. All is gone now into folk- lore. Now, no one visits Sot for spiritual reasons. The story of ‘tragedy- of-Sot’ had been kept alive by stray Dastango – the traditional itinerant story tellers.

Long before the advent of theaters and films, the minstrels used to practice this medieval art of story- telling. They would engage the public at street corners with stories of adventures, romances, tragedies, djins, fairies and prophesies. A baton in the right hand and a wrist full of iron bangles was the instrument to provide the background music. “Dastan Ameer Hamza” was one the favorite topic.

The narration of the tragedy of River Sot was so impinged upon my memory screen that I have carried it all thorough my life. According to Dastango, the river looked best at dawn. It was the time the train met its preordained  fate. Sit down under the bridge even today and you couldl hear the cries of unfortunate travelers. Listen to the faint whistle of train and you won’t miss the last shriek of Hameeda – the unfortunate groom who had rebelled against society to marry a craft- man who was lower in ranks. The first time she was going her Susral. The couple had put on their wedding dress. As the train slipped down every traveler including the newly wedded couple  disappeared into ocean and with them died the dreams and ambitions of that great caravan.

The story had some unbelievable segments but it was always listened in pin drop silence with awe and agony. Absolute concentration was the name of the game.

I can recollect just one couplet of dastango:

“Sot naddi pa mehshar bapa ho gya,
Bhai se bhai juda ho gya.”

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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