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Farooq Nazki: As I know him

He has left. We all will go as well. Our decades up-close personal association with him remains
12:00 AM Feb 07, 2024 IST | Ajaz Rashid
farooq nazki  as i know him
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In the autumn of 1989, I secured admission for masters in mass communication and journalism department of media communication research centre, Kashmir University. It was there I heard about him the first time. He was staton director Radio Kashmir Srinagar. Then a few weeks later he was invited to the department to deliver a lecture on radio production. A first-year communication student sighting the pantheon.

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In that early winter afternoon, he spoke for an hour. And that is when I saw him. Rich face. Medium height. Assured walk. And those eyes. It is his faun overcoat I remember the most. To this day. He took it off and placed on the table, correctly. Then he spoke.

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There was a silence in the room and his words. No one was breathing. The history of production, content, storytelling, woven in poetry and prose told over half a dozen languages, quotes and narrative from many worlds to ours. A promise. He mesmerised everyone. In an hour of that day, I knew whatever I do or do not do with my life one thing was clear. That afternoon I felt I had come to the right place. He made me feel safe. That feeling continues even when he is no more.

In a few months 1990 changed us forever. Our world and everything about it. In a mater of a few weeks Kashmir a home became a problem and an issue. This has continued to this day. Problem for some, issue for others. For three decades and counting the one common thread that has remained for me is him as a friend, philosopher, and guide.

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We remained in the department till 1993. During this period and for at least a decade after that anyone associated with media was directly connected to him. He was the media during the period. Then he was transferred and moved to Delhi.

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His world and friendships from a fantastic in Kashmir taken to another world. Unequal among equals. The many people, places, and things he made happen during the worst of times in the media of Kashmir for the country holding on steady to his own value system and secular credential were neither accounted for nor counted. In another fair political system that role, his knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence would have made him a governor or permanent policy maker and sane voice from Kashmir. In the one we are he was promise of something that never came.

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I will not be wasting even a word to introduce him to you. He needs none. I will also spare the details of how wonderful a poet, broadcaster, and thinker he is. We all know about it. In our world everyone knows Farooq Nazki. What I want to seek, see and share is how through his work and life a new generation of writing and storytelling emerged.

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One that is dispassionately objective and human in character and form. Universal in its theme and inherently Kashmiri in essence. His love for the past stood in line for our present. Then his ability to laugh at himself. He romancing every situation. Never a word of negatives. What I want and take liberty about here is celebrate his life and not mourn his death. To his secular and Sufi temperament, we should continue to shape our universe.

In the world of violence and mayhem around during the 1990s and beyond he sheltered a few like me under the meaning of his word and world, both, spoken and written. Reading what came from him. Doubt everything evolved on our conversations. Faith within but beyond the visible rituals. What is a global citizen even without taking any physical journey. The world came to flower within and then the word play, he crated.

A humour to die for. Sarcasm, raw. Anecdotes, apt. Metaphors galore. Emotions. Childlike innocence, and that sot temper associated with little anger and all those expectations promised with full intention, failed, or delayed. As the violence of our world within scarred the world around us lost its relevance and meaning he prevailed. The society was dead never counted. He made us live in the refuge of his make-believe and survive.

During our partnership for long drives, and longer conversations we discussed personal and professional failures. Hope. Many what next. He spoke his heart out to me. I listened. Then he did, too. From 2005 onwards we connected in a complete world of our own. No more professional conversation. During this time, he also introduced me to someone who lived alone in Rajbagh with his books. Prof. Agha Ashraf Ali.

In a few days on I will probably ask myself and wonder, sheepishly, who and what is let of and in Kashmir. The best amongst us gone. Farooq Nazki sahib’s death is not an ordinary loss. He is not a news or a story. Neither a poem. He is a river. Death is too small a reality to kill him. He lives on. Forever. Te veth rouz pakaan... Rest in peace.

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