By Hina Rahim Baig
Mujtaba Hussain, my Abba (paternal grandfather), was a great Urdu satirist and humourist who had a shining career. He is known over the world and was awarded several honours including the Padma Shri from the Government of India. It has been a year since he left us – he breathed his last on 27th May 2020. Many understand this as the end of his life, a conclusion to his story. On his first death anniversary, I wonder if that really is the case? Is his story really over? Or is he still around us in some way? If yes, what can we learn from his life about going on living, even after death? To answer these questions, let us look at some stories and instances from his life which will provide some insight, and hopefully some inspiration to us all.
Help people in making their lives better
Many years ago, an acquaintance approached Mujtaba Hussain for help. He was struggling financially and desperately needed some help setting up a better life for himself and his family. Abba did not hesitate and used his resources to provide financial aid and helped him set up a shop at a good location. He believed that supporting and genuinely helping people establish their lives was way better than just providing some money. That shop now has many branches and is very popular in Hyderabad. When a close member of Mujtaba Hussain’s family visits the shop, the owner expresses how grateful he is to Abba, long after Abba has gone. I suppose this is one way in which Abba lives on.
Value relationships and be there for family and friends
Abba had a small telephone diary which was completely filled with contact numbers of friends and family. He knew a lot of people, of course. Every day, he used to go through his diary and make phone calls to them, regardless of how busy Abba was. He called to celebrate every small success, or to console on every small loss. He was good with names and even remembered whose kid was doing what. He always offered guidance and help in any way he could. His way of maintaining relationships was such that each of his friends felt that they were probably the closest to him. His friends and family still miss and remember his warm presence. This is perhaps another way he lives on.
Propagate your values to make a better society
Abba was a person with principles and had values that were very important to him. He strongly believed that everyone must work hard to achieve something. He never differentiated between boys and girls and wanted the women of his house to make significant contributions to society as well. Education was a top priority for him and he focused on getting the best education for his family. Integrity was a core of his existence. He had many contacts in influential circles, but he never used them to benefit himself or even his family members. These values are embellished on the hearts of his next generations. Consciously or subconsciously, they will continue to propagate these values and pass them to their next generations. Abba will live on in this way as well.
Make your mark on society
With several books, columns, scores of awards – there is no doubt his name will last in the world of literature. He has influenced many and through them his style and art will continue. His work has been translated into many languages and reaches readers around the globe. In this digitized world, his name is now present in hundreds of newspapers, articles, tributes, books – offline as well as online. He has made his impact, created a name for himself and has a body of work that will now outlive us all. Abba’s contributions and his name are surely immortalized.
So, did Abba really die and is his story over? Far from it!
It is evident that Abba continues to live. He lives through his work which has immortalized his name. He lives through the values he has passed on to his future generations. He lives In the hearts of the people he has helped improve their lives. He lives, nested deeply, in the hearts of friends and family for whom he was always there. And I hope he keeps inspiring us to do better and be the best versions of ourselves – another way he keeps on living.
Therefore, I correct my opening sentence – Mujtaba Hussain is a great figure of the Urdu literature world and a great friend, mentor, father figure, and an excellent human being. He will continue to live forever.
(Hina Rahim Baig is the granddaughter of Mujtaba Hussain. She resides in Berlin, Germany)