Rahnuma Editor Vicaruddin loved Mukesh over Rafi, recalls his classmate Tariq Ghazi

Muhammad Tariq Ghazi

Vicar – and friends. Upon hearing the sad news about Vicar I remembered many friends. Vicar. That is how he spelled his name, even though he was not a deputy bishop, nor associated in any way with Rome or the Vatican. He is a lucky Muslim Indian, free of all worries that crores of Indians and billions of worlders are facing involuntarily.

Mir Ayoob Ali Khan Saheb has recorded details of the end of Syed Vicaruddin’s journey. PRO of the Aligarh Muslim University has issued a brief obit on Vicar’s demise, together with a condolence message from Vice-Chancellor Dr Tariq Mansoor. Vicar deserved condolence from his alma mater, even if briefly, denoting that he has not been ignored or forgotten by us. However, the present generation Aligarians does not know much about Vicar or about AMU generations of the 1950s-1960s.

Let me start with my association with Vicar.

MS Education Academy

We were class-mates in political science and batch-mates during the 1960-63 class. Long time ago!

Vicar was a sportsman first and foremost. Journalism was his family obligation. As owner-editor of historic Hyderabad daily Rahnuma-e- Deccan, he groomed some good journalists in Hyderabad like Hasan Farrukh marhoom and Fazil Husain Parvez.

Vicar played cricket and would spend evenings in the ground behind the university masjid on Anupshahr Road. He was member of AMU cricket team under captaincy of (I think, M A – Muhammad Ali) Wadi in 1960, if I remember correctly. Next year Vicar was chosen AMU Cricket captain. In that capacity he was allotted a full room in S S Hall, where he was privileged to stay in the backroom and using the coir-carpeted front room as his “Durbar Hall” – as both Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas. Memories as old as six decades are failing me. I think that room was in S S East. In those years S S Hall-ers had the honour of having law Prof Dr Hafeez-ur-Rahman as Provost, immediate successor to Al-Ghazali fame Prof Muhammad Umaruddin of philosophy.

Vicar would spend most of his time with varsity sportsmen of different playfields. However, sometime he would join us in the dusty Madras Café – or Minim, Aligarh angutha (people call it thenga) to Maxim – in the dusty depths of Shamshad Market over a cup of Green Label tea and a bite or two on a rhombus named barfi, as dry as the brain of a scholar, and a similarly shaped but more pronounced elongate salted mayda-cuts-and-crumbs called namak-para.

Vicar was a Madras Café nationalist in his own way. Once over a cup of tea, he announced that Mukesh was a greater singer than Rafi – ’47 in tinsel cry-more- than-hue. In his view, some songs were sung by Mukesh because Rafi was unable to sing them. But in the female singing hall he had no choice because Lata tyranny would not allow any female singer to survive in the woodywood except her sister Asha. So, nationalist choice was nonexistent in argento harem. Incidentally, Vicar remained single all his life.

Our batch was known for sportsmen, some of them of world fame. Vicar, Basharat Husain, Ali Saeed, Inamur Rahman and Sultan of Bhopal – the last three playing hockey. Ali Saeed (Gold in 1968 Tokyo) and Inam (Bronze in 1972 Munich) both were Olympians. The two were among the best hockey players Aligarh and India produced. All the five sports stars were in the batch which graduated in 1963. In later years Ali Saeed played hockey for the State Trading Corporation (STC) and spent some time as STC zonal manager in Jeddah where we used to meet and share old memories. Sultan had joined one of the major Calcutta soccer teams (it was East Bengal of Mohan Bagan). I was editor of Asr e Jadid Calcutta. Sultan rediscovered me and often would have weekend lunches with my family. He was an unassuming, soft spoken, cultured guy, from one of our cultural capitals, Bhopal.

Basharat of Monghyr, Bihar, was my first friend in Aligarh. We lived in S M East (now lower) – he was in 129 and me in 138, later in 134 backroom. We shared classes in political science and history. Basharat played lawn tennis and became lawn tennis club secretary, thus he quietly escaped the s(ch)olar-system and hurtled into Vicar’s orbit.

Basharat was born with a silver mine in pocket. He would spend most of his AMU share of his abba’s income on films. He had honoured every single cinema theatre in Aligarh with his presence in the stalls. Literally in spite of film critics, all he wanted was to glue eyes on the screen for three hours in order to sharpen visual system. Every week he would not miss Juma prayer in the afternoon and a movie in the evening. He did MA in economics and LLB. He earned the law degree because in Monghyr town only the Bar Association had a tennis court. Going back to the pavilion he started his medical generic serum and distilled water production factory. I met him last time when he visited Bombay for business, en route from Hyderabad where he was Vicar’s guest.

That batch, Class of 1960-63, had produced some scholars as well. (Prof Dr) Kabir Ahmad Jaisi is a renowned scholar of Persian literature. He was a respected member of our batch for his being a mariner of the two stream of knowledge. He was prominent in AMU faculty. Last time I met him was in an extension lecture I had given in the Islamic Studies Department on changing geopolitical equations and future possibilities. For some time he was editor of AMU flagship magazine Tehzeebul Akhlaq. In him Aligarh and Azamgarh lost a renowned scholar.

(Prof Dr) Taufiq Ahmad Nizami was younger brother of Prof Khaliq Ahmad Nizami. We were classmates in political science. Taufiq did masters and then doctorate from a US university and retired as professor and head of department of political science – a worthy successor of professors Chaudhary Sultan, Anwarul Haq Haqqi, Syed Nasir Ali, A P Sharma, Abul Fazl Usmani.

(Dr) Naushad Husain of Lucknow, is another scholar in the batch. I met him couple of times in Aligarh when he was still serving in the Philosophy Department. We would meet in English literature classes of professors Mausdul Hasan, Tariq Aziz and Syed Zainul Abidin, Dr Muhammad Yasin. Naushad continued rowing the boat, like Taufiq, wrote doctoral thesis on Ghazali and retired as reader (modern day Americanism is Associate Professor). In a highly politicised atmosphere, a simple honest Naushad could not become a professor before retirement. He did not know how to manoeuvre for promotions. Yet he carries the legacy of such stalwarts as Prof M M Sharif, Prof Umaruddin, Prof Zafar Ahmad Siddiqui, Prof Ishrat Husain Enver (Iqbal’s metaphysics). Unfortunately he did not use pen as much as was required to educate those outside the varsity. I met Naushad in Lucknow in 2017 at a sumptuous dinner hosted by our Farangi Mahli “Ansarn Behen” Farzana Ejaz and Ejaz Khan Saheb. Tayyaba Qidwai, Shehnaz Kanwal Ghazi, Salman Ghazi, together with Prof Abdus Salam Siddiqi and his wife Ayesha Behen – sibling of Wali Aasi ibn Maulana Abdul Bari Aasi Uldani – we filled the spots of honored guests of the evening.

Ehsan ul Haq Fahmi was my classmate in history and perhaps in political science. In history we had parted ways. He remained in the main group, reading world history, I had moved to Islamic history where AMU patrons believed that Islamic history, including the Seerat and Khilafat Rasheda, are good for students’ faith and belief only if they consult books written by and ilk of Bernard Lewis, the coiner of the term “clash of civlizations”, and by an ordained padré William Montgomery Watt, etc. Fahmi was fortunate to have studied namak as namak without shakar-lapeta. Fahmi was one of the most studious of us all. Last time I met him was in the Sir Syed Academy where he sits in a high position. He was the second person in Aligarh who could still remember me after a hiatus of more than 30 years. The first was Singhal Saheb of Singhal Book Depot at Shamshad. Naushad took me to Fahmi. Do you remember him? Yes. Sure. We would always clash for topping in our sessional long essays, together with Solomon of Zambia or Kenya. Someone told me that Solomon, with whom I also shared a seat in political science, had become foreign minister of his country. In the S S Academy we came to the office of a person I knew for ages. Naushad asked him who was I. “Ghazi Tariq”, came the answer with a smile. Then he took me to the picture gallery. Look, here people are saying Janaza prayer of Sir Syed, and your great-grandfather is leading the Janaza-prayer. Fahmi knows history. Maulana Abdullah Ansari had led the Janaza prayer.

M H Zulqarnain (our dear Nain) was/is yet another Alig associate. He served in WAMY (World Assembly of Muslim Youth) secretariat, Riyadh, in a senior position for several years. He regularly exchanges messages with me through email and on some Net-groups. He is a learned man having a keen eye on social issues especially concerning Muslims of India.

Bloomfield James was with me in English and political science. Later he did a degree in library science. I met him once in Aligarh in 1965 then lost contact. Naushad once informed me that Bloomfield had become librarian of a college in Muzaffarnagar. He gave me a pocketbook copy of the New Testament which I still have in my nomadicized library.

Qazi Syed Zaheerul Hasan of Gorakhpur did masters in geography. We shared classes in English literature. He is also a poet. He has retired as administrator of Karachi University’s Engineering College. His daughter Narmeen who lives somewhere in the United States, helps the two dinosaurs remain in contact on phone. Allah bless her. Qazi has stopped visiting me on email.

Arif Qazi – full name Qazi Syed Arifuddin – from Akola, Khandesh region of Maharashtra, was in the batch but we did not share any optional. He was second son of Qazi Syed Ghayasuddin, an Alig who served as a cabinet minister in Maharashtra. I spent good time with Arif in Bombay and then in Jeddah. From there he went to the United States. He got US Green Card for the family, moved to Chicago where his younger engineer brother Mumtaz was already settled. Arif did not like the snowy-windy city and moved to Florida. Even that state was not as warm as home and he decided that America was not the country his dream. So he returned to his dreamland India. A heart patient, he passed away a few years ago, although Dr Mohsin Raza, his Alig colleague, not academically though, wanted him to come to Aligarh for a heart-op under his supervision. Arif did not agree and moved to a permanent dream world.

دیکھا اس بیماری ء دل نے اخر کام تمام کیا

And there was one Abidi. I fail to recall his name. He was with us in English literature. After graduation he did B Ed, moved over to Bombay, became principal of Imambara Municipal Urdu Teachers Training College. Abidi, from the Naugawan stock, married Rafia Shabnam Manchari, daughter of Shakir Manchari, a teacher by profession and author of some Urdu textbooks. Rafia Shabnam Abidi teaches Urdu in a Bombay college. She is known as a serious poet outside the mushaera theatres and theatrics.

Abid Naqvi was in English class, One day he disappeared never to be seen or heard again. He did not complete his study – at least in Aligarh.

ڈولتی ہیں سوچ میں اک دور کی پرچھاءیاں
آج   تنہایی   میں   طارق  یاد  کیا  کیا  اگیا

Muhammad Tariq Ghazi, SS Hall. BA. 1963, Whitby. Ont. Canada. He is a veteran journalist and writer with vast experience representing both and English and Urdu. He has worked, among other news outlets, the Times of India, Mumbai, and the Saudi Gazette, Jeddah.

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