Khalid Ansari, ex-owner-editor of Inquilab and Mid Day returns to Mumbai for charity work

Over three decades ago, I knocked at the office door of Khalid Ansari’s son Tarique Ansari (Tarique Bhai) in Mumbai. Then Khalid Ansari Sahab was too big for a young Bihari boy like me in a big, strange city desperately looking for a writing job to get an audience.

A friend of Tarique wrote him a letter recommending me to him to give a reporter’s job in Mid Day, then a hugely popular English morninger in Mumbai. Tarique whom I began calling Tarique Bhai later gave a look at the letter, telling me his office would get back to me. It never happened. No complaints. No regrets.

Perhaps his editor did not find my CV impressive. Perhaps they did not have a vacant position.

MS Education Academy

I kept my fight on. There were many moments of dejection and disappointment; and humiliation too. I took them in my stride.

But I regretted when Khalid Ansari sold his newspapers (Inquilab and Mid Day). He had inherited Inquilab from his freedom fighter father Abdul Hameed Ansari. But Mid Day was his baby which he had launched with Behram Contractor (Busybee) one rainy day decades ago and took it to the dizzy heights. I never went to Khalid Ansari Sahab or Tarique Bhai for a job again.

The Ansaris had to sell their papers as Khalid Ansari, at the launch of his memoir at Mumbai Press Club replying to my question, explained that he was never a good businessman and took some bad decision while he launched other ventures. He burnt his fingers there and had to incur losses. Father and son couldn’t carry the Mid Day flagship on. They sold their papers to the Jagran Group.

Khalid Sahab and his second wife Zeyna settled down in Sydney (Australia) while Tarique took residency in Bali. “I never gave up my Indian nationality though Zeyna and I for many years lived in Sydney where we had a house near Sydney Harbour. Since we run a Foundation to help underprivileged, especially girls, we decided to move back to Mumbai. Now if we are not traveling, we stay here,” Khalid Sahab told me recently.

In his memoir, Khalid Sahab details the hardship his father underwent. “He was an orphan but a man of action. I had inherited a trust that he ran. We dissolved the trust and started a private Foundation through which we do whatever little charity work we can,” he added.

Khalid Ansari is perhaps the only surviving sports journalist in India who has covered 8 Olympic Games. A globetrotting, enthusiastic and passionate cricket journalist, he had even launched a cricket magazine in the 1970s. Among many living cricket legends, Sunil Gavaskar, is perhaps closest to him. “One day Sunil (Gavaskar) came home and sat exactly where you are sitting on the sofa. While he went down to take a stroll in the garden in my building (it faces the sea and had a beautiful view before the under-construction coastal road played a little spoiler), Sunil’s wife and I signed a deal through which Sunil became editor of my magazine. We are very close and meet regularly,” he told me. I requested help of Raju to capture me sitting at the sofa which my teenage years’ hero Gavaskar had occupied once.

Khalid Sahab is very proud of his Indian heritage. My friend and ex-journalist at Inquilab Javed Jamaluddin did a yeoman’s service to the Ansaris and to the world of Urdu journalism. While researching a book on Khalid Sahab’s father Abdul Hameed Ansari, Javed stumbled upon a letter from a reader in Pakistan written to Inquilab’s owner soon after Independence. The reader had appealed to Ansari to move his Inquilab to Pakistan as, according to him, there was no future for Muslims or Urdu in India. A staunch nationalist and freedom fighter Abdul Hameed Ansari felt like being stabbed. He replied that neither Inquilab nor he would migrate to Pakistan. And both prospered while staying back in India.

So, when Khalid Sahab asked me to meet him at his home to discuss the works his Foundation is doing, I remembered that scorching afternoon over 30 years ago when I had gone to his son’s office looking for a job; an anchor that I so desperately needed.

As I said, I have no regrets, no grudge against Tarique Bhai. I narrated this story to Khalid Sahab and told him that when I discussed this episode with my daughter Sara, she exclaimed with joy: “Daddy your dedication to your work and patience has earned you respect from some good people. I am proud of you,” I wept and cried.

Khalid Sahab carries a gentle heart. When I asked him why he doesn’t give lectures at different fora across the world sharing his experiences, he said:”I am not a newsmaker. I am purveyor of news.” He is more comfortable writing, reporting than giving gyan through lectures.

Say that to some of our sold out souls in Indian media today who behave like spokespersons of the powers that be. The presstitutes.

I am fortunate to have known Khalid Sahab. It means a lot to me when he tells me he likes my stories. That is when he is not traveling–Sydney to Singapore, Bali to Bradford, Srilanka to San Francisco.

May you stay fit, sir.

Back to top button