Mohammad Ahsan Ahsan was known and respected in all the literary circles of Kashmir. Born in 1930 at Para Mohalla Hajin, Ahsan sahib passed away on September 9, 2017, leaving hundreds and thousands of literature lovers mourning the loss. As Ahsan Memorial Foundation is being launched on 9th of September this year at Hajin Bandipora, this column is an attempt to remember this great literary figure, teacher, and administrator.
When I talk to literary figures of Kashmir about this great cousin of Professor Mohi ud Din Hajini, I am told that Ahsan was really a doer of Ahsan (favour) in his conduct, attitude, and work. When he was in the teaching profession, he would not only help students and fellow colleagues but would also encourage them to pursue higher education. He would counsel students from rural areas and help them in reaching different colleges and universities. He was known as the teacher of all the teachers of Sonawari area and had earned high respect for his qualities as a teacher.
Ahsan sahib fell in love with Kashmiri language and literature due to his association with one of the stalwart figures and intellectuals of Kashmir, Professor Mohi ud Din Hajini. Being his cousin, Ahsan sahib would be always with him in different literary and socio-political missions. He stood by him through thick and thin. When Professor Hajini founded Halqa e Adad Sonawari and Adbee Markaz Kamraz, Ahsan sahib was not only among the key members but also among the policy makers of these two of the oldest literary organisations of Kashmir.
Ahsan sahib shifted to Art and Cultural Academy as the editor of the Kashmiri section of its publications. He never compromised on the quality of work that the Academy was carrying out in terms of research and publications in Kashmiri language. He was one of the key members of the editors committee that published the Encyclopedia of Kashmir and the Dictionary of Kashmiri Language. During his tenure at the Academy, Ahsan sahib continued to work for the promotion of Kashmiri language and literature officially as well as non-officially.
However, despite his administrative and official business, Ahsan sahib would always find time to help and guide poets from different villages of Kashmir. Since he was a good poet and prose writer, many poets would approach him for guidance in technical aspects of poetry. Ahsan sahib would sit for hours with these poets and explain to them in detail how they can develop competence in the correct use of prosody and other such things in poetry. Many a good poet from north Kashmir acknowledge that but for Ahsan sahib’s encouragement and guidance, they could not have proved their mettle in the field of poetry. He, therefore, continued to be a good teacher even when he was in administration.
After his retirement from government service, Ahsan sahib became the Principal of MD Hajini Memorial Public School. He also remained a social and linguistic activist. He performed many roles at the same time and he was respected and loved by all sections of society. He even acted as the Convener of the Kashmir Chapter of Sahitya Akademy twice before he passed away. His friends, colleagues and even critics respected and loved him to the extent that nobody could ever question his credibility.
Now when a literary foundation is being launched in his name at Hajin Sonawari, his friends, colleagues and companions have attempted to do what was long overdue to him. On this occasion, as I talked to his well-wishers at Hajin, a collection of his prose writings titled Ahsan un Ahsun is being released. The foundation is also releasing a journal titled Shihej Boni in the loving memory of Ahsan sahib. This journal contains articles and papers about Ahsan sahib and his contributions to Kashmiri language, culture and literature. Earlier, the founder of the association and nephew of Ahsan sahib, Ab Ahad Hajini, had released a collection of poetry of Ahsan sahib titled Achar Katchi Taam Aaabas Peth from the platform of Halqa e Adab Sonawari.
Ahsan sahib was not an ordinary poet. He could have been in the league of legends like Rehman Rahi in poetry if he would have taken it seriously. But since his was a multi-tasking personality, he would write only occasionally and was even averse to publishing it during his lifetime. His nephew, Ab Ahad Hajini, would say that Ahsan sahib would flare up at hearing him talk of the publication of his poetry and would say that “only after my death you can do what you like”. Nevertheless, Achar Katchi Taam Aabas Peth is a monumental piece of work that students of Kashmiri literature should read for understanding the dilemmas of modern man, the psychological fragmentation of contemporary Kashmiris, and other such interesting themes.
Apart from being a poet, a teacher, an administrator, a social and cultural activist, Ahsan sahib was a great editor and translator. He has edited dozens of books of Kashmiri poetry and has translated Urdu and English poetry into Kashmiri also.
While he is being remembered at Hajin on the launching ceremony of Ahsan Memorial Foundation and two important publications in his name are being released, I would say that Tathi was a great human being, always available for all, and full of love and care for one and all. This is why he commands love and respect in all the hearts and eyes that knew him in Kashmir. May Allah grant him Jannat ul Firdous!
—The writer is a doctoral fellow at University of Kashmir. [email protected]