One of the most beautiful languages in the civilisation of mankind would be Persian. Though i don't understand a word in Persian, i used to listen to my friend Kamaal Mustafa Ansari from the Centre for Persian Studies in the School of Languages at JNU, recite a few ghazals from the poetry in Persian langauge. It used to be sonorous and rhythmic. In fact, the cadence of all the classical languages makes you feel that the conversation of human beings at some point of time in the history of human civilisation would have reverberated in the atmosphere with musical tonality. It is only after the advent of post-modernity that human communication has become a collective cacophony.
It was my dear friend Kamaal who gave me the basic introduction to the rich tradition of Persian poetry. Hailing from Ranchi & staying at Periyar Hostel in JNU, he used to be give me some of the English translations of Hafez. It was from him that i came to know for the first time about my eternal muse ~ Jalaluddin Rumi. When i visited JNU a few months ago, before this recent visit, i stayed as usual with Shanaa in Brahmaputra Hostel. After having a couple of rounds of Black Dog with Suresh and Shanaa, i read a few translations which Megha and me have been attempting of Rumi from English to Tamil. It was then that i suddenly got this urge to speak to Kamaal.
In life, you miss out some wonderful friends with whom you would have spent the most memorable times in the prime of your youth. Some can be traced out thanks to the social networking sites of the internet. Some will suddenly pat on your back at a totally unexpected locale. Some will trace out your mobile number and will ask you to identify the voice, much to your embarassment. With some others, you feel that you should not have met, for the memories of him or her were much better than the agonising reality of what that person would have become. It is only with a few friends, you start off the conversation from where you had left years and years ago.
That evening with Suresh and Shanaa was beautiful. It was more b'coz of getting drunk with friendship and poetry than out of any stupor created by the Black Dog. Shanaa had put the CD Abida Kafian which his Pakistani artist friend has gifted him and which he does not even allow to touch, forget lending! Abida Parveen was singing Rabba Mere Haal Da from the 16th century Urdu poetry of Hazrat Shah Hussain. And it was then that I impulsively wanted to renew that snapped conversation with Kamaal and rang up Rahman to know about his whereabouts. I thought he must be teaching with all his eloquence and brilliance somewhere in Delhi after completing his Ph.D. and he will be quite happy to meet me after more than a decade.
Rahman said that he was sorry that he had forgotten to inform me that Kamaal had passed away a couple of years back. It seems Kamaal was travelling in a train to Ranchi from Delhi in the peak winter of 2006 without wearing adequate wollen clothes and he died of severe chillness and cold in the train itself... My hands tremble while typing this now..
How shall i ever meet Kamaal again? When shall i thank him for having introduced to the splendour of Persian poetry? What curse had made me to lose touch with him? And why should he wilt away in such an unbelievable manner?
The breath of so many intimate persons have been inhaled by our lungs which contribute to whatever we choose to do and whatever we continue to become. Its all a complex chain in the kaala-chakra. There are plays within plays that you cannot see. We can't do anything but only what Aristotle says in his Nicomachean Ethics ~
Let us meditate for our lost friends..