BY AVTAR MOTA
She will be missed for what she was; positive, straightforward and sympathetic. She belonged to the school that believed in inclusiveness ,human values and peace .I had some interaction with her and I found her wise, kind ,warm and always conscious of the commonality of our cultural identity. She was always for building bridges.
Born at Mattan town in Kashmir, she studied at various places including Jammu and Srinagar where her father ( who happened to be DIG in police ) was posted. She did her post graduation from University of Kashmir .
As writer and a literary critic who attended many national and international seminars, she authored some profoundly critical and analytical papers relating to Urdu literature. .Her book “ Payami Shairi Hali, Akbar Aur Iqbal “ was well received in Urdu literary circles.
From her ,I came to know that she had studied under Prof.Ale Ahmed Suroor who had unknowingly influenced her thought process imparting it a fearless clarity . Once or twice I also found her interacting on social media with Rakhshanda Jalil ,noted author and translator, who also happens to be granddaughter of Prof Suroor. From the exchange of communication, I could understand the closeness of the families and the regard that she had for Prof Suroor.She was a great admirer of Maulana Azad.
A connoisseur of Urdu poetry , she had a wide circle of friends and admirers within J&K and outside. As principal of Women’s college ,Maulana Azad Road,Srinagar ,she endeared herself to a vast section of students . She joined the college in 1968 as lecturer . She was also associated with Red Cross, Waqf Board and National Commission for Women ( J&K ).
She was a fearless and fiery orator who never minced words in calling a spade a spade .A woman who did commendable work for education and empowerment of women from poor and economically backward segments is the society.
Alongwith Narinder Safaya, we organised a programme on the centenary celebrations of poet Dina Nath Nadim in Jammu . Many well known poets ,writers , musicians and cultural activists joined that event. We had Farooq Nazki, Arvind Gigoo, T.K.Jalali ,Ayaz Rasool Nazki and many more . She was there for full day with her purposeful interactions . For Radio Sharda, we organised a special programme on Ghulam Rasool Santosh sometime in August 2020. She was more than happy to join it and telephonically record her impressive comments and anecdotes about the poet /painter who was like a brother to her.
Once she spoke about her childhood that she spent in Mattan , Kashmir where her close friends happened to be girls from Kashmiri Pandit or Sikh community..
She has told me this :
“During childhood, we were very close to a Pandit family in Kashmir . It was like extension of my own family. The children rarely found any difference and played together ,ate together and studied together. A boy from that family would drop into our room when food was served and he would ask my mother to serve him food as well so that we ate together. Then the Mekhla ( sacred thread ceremony ) was performed for that boy and he wore a janew for some period. Wearing the janew, he would come to our room at lunch or dinner time and ask my mother to serve him food . My mother held him in her lap and told him affectionately , ‘Beta now you have a janew . You have become a Brahmin . Janew is very sacred thing . It imposes certain restrictions .You have to go for Aatchman before eating your first morsel . Now you must seek your mother’s permission to have food outside your family .”
Her husband ,Prof Amin Andrabi was a scholar in his own field. Iqbaliyat was his arena. He also died of a sudden cardiac arrest.
I am told that she died of cardiac arrest while offering her fajr prayers. I am convinced that her selfless noble deeds led her to the other world with grace and in total peace. Her sudden death has come as a great shock for her family and her well wishers.
In her death , I feel a personal loss. She was an avid reader of my posts and would comment apart from inboxing blessings and good wishes to me . I will miss that . May her soul rest in peace.
Avtar Mota is a blogger and writes for local and national newspaper and magazines.