Khan Saab ne ek budhdhe ko laaya…

A prelude to my post…

We were all gathered in the school auditorium, a while after the morning assembly. The Principal had told us that we would be having a guest among us that day, a freedom fighter, who would be talking to us…

A while later, Baba Prithvi Singh Azad, the freedom fighter came in, accompanied by our Principal and the Education Officer, Mr. Khan.

Baba Prithvi Singh Azad, who was perhaps in his 90s, shared his memories and thoughts with us; he also elaborated on the importance of staying healthy and what all needed to be done for achieving and maintaining good health.

I was, as far as I remember, impressed. Here was a man who had associated with the likes of Chandra Shekhar Azad and who had met Mahatma Gandhi and many other prominent people about whom we had read a lot.

That was a time when I would borrow from the Zonal Library, Car Nicobar books written by Manmath Nath Gupta and based on the freedom struggle. We would also read stories (Amar Chitra Katha and others) on the lives of those who fought for the freedom of the country- names like Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Shivaji, Nana Sahib Peshwa, Tantia Tope, Netaji Bose, Rash Bihari Bose, Lokamanya Tilak, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Rani Lakshmibai, Tanaji (the list would go on…) etc, plus of course the stalwarts like Bapu and Nehru, were part of our childhood.

We adored Manoj Kumar for making patriotic movies and for playing the patriotic hero, aptly named Bharat, in Upkar, Roti Kapda aur Makan and Purab aur Paschim. We’d sing “Mere desh ki dharti…” from his Upkar and also discuss as to how Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Shatrughna Sinha, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini etc fought against the British in Kranti.

After watching Shaheed, based on the life of Bhagat Singh, I remember us kids placing our little hands over the flame of a candle (just as Bhagat Singh, played by Manoj Kumar, did) and singing “Aye watan, aye watan humko teri kasam…”.

So back to Baba Prithvi Singh Azad; he meant a lot to a boy like me, as he was so close to those many people of whom we had only read or heard.

Before leaving, he reminded us that we should go home and discuss with our parents what all he had told us, especially about staying healthy etc. He added, with a smile…you all should go home and tell your parents that today “Khan saab ne ek budhdhe ko laaya” (Khan Saab brought an old man)…

I did discuss it with my parents, especially my father that very evening….

Now, on to my post!

Well, this post is not about Khan Saab or Baba Prithvi Singh Azad…

This post is about my father, a person who influenced me greatly and whom I miss a lot…

This post is about how good a writer my father was in comparison to me, though he never wrote anything!

This post is about the importance of thinking out of the box and its relevance…

The day Baba Prithvi Singh Azad visited our school, my father suggested, “Why don’t you write something based on his visit, and titled ‘Khan Saab ne ek budhdhe ko laya’?”

I was perplexed; though I had written two or three pieces in The Students Forum, which was published from Port Blair, I was used to wording my headlines like the titles of school essays. ‘Science- Boon or Bane’, ‘The Role of Newspapers’, ‘My Ambition in Life’- that’s how titles should be, I thought. How could you ever write something titled ‘Khan Saab ne ek budhdhe ko laya’?

“Why not?”- asked my father when I hurled the question at him.

Years rolled by…I moved to Kerala, and from school to college. I wrote some pieces in a couple of manuscript magazines in college.

My years in Thiruvananthapuram, during and after college, influenced me a lot, but I’m not going to dwell on that aspect here. I was drawn towards literature (to an extent) and movies (to a great extent!). I also started teaching and did my P G Diploma in journalism.

It was almost a decade since Baba Prithvi Singh Azad had visited us in school. The veteran freedom fighter was no more…

My father, who had then suggested the rather unconventional title once again surprised me with a very different kind of suggestion. The SSLC (Class Xth) results in Kerala were out, the newspapers focused on the rank holders and the schools that came out with 100% success rates. My father asked me, “Why don’t you write something on the schools that got zero percent results?”

The idea seemed good. I checked the papers. Two schools- one in Thodupuzha and another in Thalassery- from where not a single student had passed the exams.

I got some money from my father, travelled to Thodupuzha and to Thalassery, interviewed the headmasters, got lot of information (and ‘englightenment’ as well), and came back home. I didn’t know where to get it published, so I didn’t write anything on that…

A couple of years later I started out, as a journalist, writing for a rather unknown law journal. I was dreaming of getting some money from my father and going to Delhi, to try my luck in mainstream journalism.(Little did I know, at that age, that I lacked the kind of knowledge and attributes that a mainstream journalism would need to have!). However, even before I could think of trying it out, my father passed away, in 1997, leaving a void in my life…

Two decades have gone by. I have worked as a film journalist (Not sure if I should call myself a ‘journalist’ or a PR guy!!!); I have penned the script for some talk shows on TV, I have written for many web portals, I have written scores of reviews (if at all they could be called ‘reviews’), I have written some stories, which are still to be published, I have written many other unfinished things (stories, scripts etc), I have written scripts for short films that are yet to be filmed/completed, I have written some short plays, I have written content for search engine optimization (SEO content) and almost over a year ago I was earning my pay by writing blogs on internet security, as a content writer in an IT company.

Over the years, I have realized that the way my father thought, the out-of-the-box thinking that he seemed to have, the many small things that he had told and taught me in life- all betrayed the writer in him. Agreed that he never wrote anything, except in the official files and such other stuff that was part of his professional life, as a government official, plus the many letters that he would write to me when I was staying in Thiruvananthapuram. Still, there was a writer in him, the writer whom he could never perhaps bring out. It was the writer in him that made him think of the title ‘Khan Saab ne ek budhdhe ko laya’ and suggest doing a story on the schools with zero percent result.

Today, when I begin my own website, I feel it’s my duty to write this very first post with the title ‘Khan Saab ne ek budhdhe ko laya’ and pay tributes to my memories of my dear father, the person who perhaps influenced me the most…

I have missed you a lot, Achcha…I still miss you…

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