Lahore, 1992: Dr Syeda Hameed with Dr Mubashir Hasan, uncle, comrade and mentor. Photo by Reza Kazim.

A poetic tribute to Dr Mubashir Hasan in Lahore by Dr Syeda Hameed, his niece, protegee, and comrade-in-peace, in Delhi

Woh dekha jaye kab ye zulm dekha jaaye hai mujh se
(How shall I bear to see this, this injustice)
— Ghalib

Who was he?
Statesman poet writer ornithologist visionary?

His tall frame
Strode across South Asia
Rose to pinnacle of power
Rose and rose
Then easily gently
Let the power go into the void.

Soldier for peace
I saw him in halls and streets
Of Lahore Delhi Karachi Kolkata Bangalore
Amidst women and men who
With banners and songs
Asserted the longing of masses
For a world free of concertina wires and bloodied borders.
People whose voices usually are drowned in war
Until someone blasts that lethal noise

I saw him on Kolkata Esplande on Karachi stage
In Lahore Islamabad Madras Hyderabad Dhaka Kathmandu Columbo
He gathered South Asia in his embrace
In his long arms, his hands, his eyes,
His words were carefully chosen
Before Prime Ministers, Presidents, Students, Peasants
His voice was gentle, firm
His message unequivocal
Demanding the raising
Of the banner of humanity
Above all national flags.

Soft speech, kind touch, cluttered room uncluttered life
He guided our vessel
And left this earth with markings everywhere

I see him
Somewhere in the dark depths of unknown
Raising a salute to comrades left behind
On the parched terrain of South Asia
Knowing they will not let go
The plough and the furrow
Until the earth relents and dead land is torn by new sprouts.

*Mubashir Hasan lived and breathed the poetry of Mirza Ghalib

Dr Syeda Hameed is one of the founding members of the Muslim Women’s Forum India, a former member of the Planning Commission and the National Commission for Women, writer, activist, and educationist, and Padma Shri awardee.

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