Friday, February 26, 2010

Kamaal Mustafa, My Friend Who Introduced Persian Poetry ..

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..


  1. I was so intent when i read about your wonderful friend Kamaal Mustafa. But I didn't expect his vulnerable death. It makes me horrifying when i read that.

    Friendhip is a wonderful gift which is given by god for us. whatever you have said about friendship is very true. It shows your true friendship with him. sure,your tears will convey your thanks to his soul and his blessings always be with you only.

    I was engrossed while reading about that persian language. I had a pleasant time..

  2. After I got your letter about your stay at Chennai, I became enthusiastic, waiting for the day of your arrival.

    Waiting for a friend closest to your heart in railway always interesting for me.

    I waited for you in Central railway station - chennai. It was 10 o'clock in night. You got down from the train. I was very happy to see you. Your first comment after getting down was about a book "Meenukkul Kadal" by Pathasari.

    We came out of station, walked upto Paris bus stand, caught a city bus and reached my room.

    The entire period you stayed with me was so great, I couldnt get back such moments in my life so far...

    I came to know about a lot happening around me. I learnt the meaning of little things. Most important of all, I laughed with open mind and enjoyed the moments... there was no inhibition...

    Walking with a close friend... Eating with a close friend in mess, Sitting with a close friend in a bus journey..Enquiring about a place to some one when you walk along with your close friend.. (I tried to enquire in English with some difficulty, you said, "You can ask in Tamil only"). Great!

    I remembered you telling me..."For solving all your problems in your life, there is one solution, I can get you Chittukuruvi Legiyam, You eat it, and all your existential problems will be over!!"

    Remember the discussion about JK by a group of people in a hall, we knew about this program from the news paper..went to the discussion, came out bursting in laughter, everyone there was telling about something about JK (read from books and vommitted there to show that they also know about JK).

    Went to JK school, saw a person hiding his chapel , comment by you..."Such persons, why they come to JK school?"

    One important thing you said "Enjoy the music of nature, casettes,CDs are monotonous".

    I commented that four things are very important to me,...Beauty of a child, Beauty of nature, Beauty of a women, Greatness of music. You laughed at this comment...

    Last day, when you left chennai, I accompanied you to station, there we found a person restless, though his ticket was confirmed, you said, "He will now run to the engine driver to urge the driver to start the train immediately, otherwise he will lose his reserved seat!"

    Great moments, forever for me.