I along with Dr Sajjad Bhai went to Ibn E Sina Academy which is at a distance of some 2 km from the main campus of AMU (Aligarh Muslim University). We were looking for a rare but key source, the works of Sir Ross Masood, but had no idea about the presence of such an academy in Aligarh that has preserved rare documents. After a brief introduction at the reception counter, we were guided to a room where I saw an elderly man sitting silently and reading a book. After we introduced ourselves to him, he called one of his employees and told him to take us to the museum.
The moment the employee threw the doors of the museum open, I literally staggered at the wonderful sight of the museum. There were several chambers and each was filled with objects related to art, history, culture. I saw crockery from the times of British India, coins made of stone, swords used in 18th and 19th centuries. There was a collection of sofas used by Rajas, precious stones, and even postal stamps from the British era. At the end, when we enquired about the person whom we had seen sitting and reading a book, he turned out to be Padma Shree awardee Prof Zill ur-Rahman saab. The employee further told us that “Sir” out of his own capacity had gathered all this historic treasure. It includes a library where students have free access to more than 20,000 books.
The point of jotting down all this is that we Kashmiris have hardly spared a thought for how civilizations are built, how history is preserved, and how we can teach others. We are led by our narrow self-interests which do not let us look beyond a prescribed border. Have we ever taught our children to leave a legacy behind? The truth is that we have been motivated towards superficial things. What we think as essential components of life are a government job, a posh house, and a coveted car.
Unless we cherish things of long-term value and broaden our vision, we won’t grow as a civilised nation. The attitude of having sufficient in life (bohat kuch hai) needs to be avoided. Prof Zill ur-Rahman saab has been chairman, dean, and held many positions, but nevertheless he didn’t prefer the comfort zone and continues to work even at the age of 81.
—The writer is a student of BA (Hons) Political Science at AMU. [email protected]