His wit has been extraordinary and his response to events has been quick . When Syed Zahoor Qasim, the legendry scientist and marine biologist ,was sharing his experiences and his findings from Antarctica he said that Penguins are a disciplined lot and don’t break lines while walking. The witty man instantly retorted taking a pot shot on the student community ,” that is due to lack of university education, Prof .S Z Qasim.” This made the whole audience burst into laughter. In another incident when the then Chief Minister S M Abdullah asked, “what is the relation between mathematics and poetry ?” he responded politely “same sir as Chemistry and politics.” targeting the educational qualification of the politician.
Filter less Cavander cigarette were his first love, Mathematics his obsession, Poetry his passion, colloquial language from south Kashmir his infatuation and anything that is Kashmiri including mutton, chicken and even eggs of local breed were his fascination. He managed to get Cavander cigarettes carried to far off land where he lived last part of his life. My friend Aziz whom he kept very ‘Aziz’(dear) student was almost banished from approaching him after he passed KAS examination when he was expected to pursue doctoral studies in Mathematics. Great scholars of Urdu and Persian language are of similar opinion that he contributed more to the poetry despite being an acclaimed mathematician. He did not hesitate to talk in his colloquial language rather enjoyed conversation like that with his city dwelling colleagues. For local breed of mutton and poultry he travelled many Kms extra.
And he became a household name when he wrote parody like below;
Kya ab bhi wahan har ganja sar
scholar samjha jata
Kya ab bhi wahan ka har MA Ghalib
pe kuch fermata hai
Aur jahal ki zulmat main kho kar
Iqbal say bhi takrata hai
O deis say aanay walay bata
(Do still bald headed persons there are counted as scholars. Do still M.A educationists analyze Ghalib. And those drenched in arrogance try to engage Iqbal. You the traveler from the native land ,speak out.)
He is Qazi Ghulam Mohamad well known mathematician ,poet and critic.
He needed a big storehouse above his shoulders to make space for mathematical jargons, poetic treasure to remember and analyse , sense of humour , witty one liners , literary criticism and naturally the Almighty had the complete knowledge .So He created a big sized head and placed it on the shoulders of the man known among masses and scholars as Qazi sahib. His wider forehead is the representation of the store house of knowledge that is amassed within. Wide frame spectacles placed above the taller nose bridge are enough to depict the man as an intellectual. And sporting long and thick moustaches depicts the man been a tough guy. Prof. Qazi has been accepted as a tough guy who lived life on his own terms. He was not subdued in any aspect of life .
This tough guy did not budge an inch from the liking for local mutton or poultry products. So was his love for a special brand of cigarette which he kept close to heart till final overs of the inning. Cigarette and tea in unison had a special effect as ‘with tea taste of smoking became double and with smoking tea tasted like dual fermented wine.’ In the matters of dress he again exhibited his toughness. There would be hardly anyone who did not change from parallels to bell bottom or baggy but for Qazi the dress shape and the colour did not even show a microscopic alteration. While some call it Brand Loyalty but for Qazi the mental toughness was the only source not to get influenced by any brand ambassador from films or sports. His mental toughness can be explained with the following stanza which he recited on death bed.
Pehlay kuch mabhoot phir naachi saath
Main nay mout kay ghar jakar raqs kiya
(Initially it got perplexed then danced along. I pranced in the abode of death.)
Many aspects of Qazi’s life have become very popular . One is his humour and second his instances of creating and extracting humor out of nothing. It is known to one and all that he liked filter less Cavander cigarettes .Prof Amin Andrabi writes in one of his biographical essays about Qazi that when asked to smoke filter tipped cigarettes he would retort ‘its like miss world proceeds on a cat walk with a veil on.’ In another incident he was made the staff representative for purchase of coal.
Interestingly Qazi visited the dealers personally collecting samples, getting quoted rates and above all subjecting the samples to chemical testing. This was reportedly followed by loading /unloading of coal in his presence. No complaint of poor quality was reported that season. He showed the intensity of his humour in parodies and other comic stanzas . Few outstanding humorous poems have been published with critics claiming Qazi could have become a name to reckon with had he continued with writing such poems. Excerpts are as under;
Jo khadi thein bus kat beechoon beech machli walian
Seat par baithay huwoon ko day rahin thien galiyan
Manchalay jo thay bajatay thay wo milkar taliyan
Deed kay qabil then hum ashraf ki bud haliyan
(Along the aisle stood fisher women who abused the seat occupiers. Naughty boys clapped and condition of civilized people was worth seeing)
Aap ka intizar kaun karay
Shave ab bar bar kaun karay
Zabt e tawleed ka zamana hai
Pyar mardana war kaun karay
(Who will wait for you , who will shave of and on
Birth control is in place ,who will make love the masculine way)
Prof. B A Nehvi recollects an incident of 1986 when poetry reading session was on in SKICC and the then governor Mr. Jagmohan was present. Prof Ale Ahmad Saroor ,who conducted the proceedings, invited Qazi for recital. The announcement made the hall reverberate with claps and laughter. Qazi addressed Jagmohan with following stanza;
Main teri salgirah par kya pesh karoon
Jo meray pass hai aie dost wo sarkari hai
Dalda juz w rag o pi to hawa hai lekin
Ab to jazbat say bhi ghas ki boo aati hai
(What kind of gift can I present ,O friend, on your birthday
Whatever I own is actually the government property
Dalda running in veins actually is air
Even the emotions reek of grass.)
Few stanzas from his sarcastic poem Bus ka safar are simply extra ordinary.
Bus say main utra to mera haal tha
Mera hulia dekh kar kutoon main
Manzil Maqsood tak pooncha tha
qismat ka dhani
Chal main thi ladkhadahat aur qad
Jaan kar min jumla khasan e mykhana
Lay gayey police walay jaanib e thana
( As I alighted down my condition was not worth mention
The dogs went under sensation upon my sight
The lucky fellow had touched the destination
The gait was unbalanced and the height experienced curves
They thought of me as a visitor to tavern
And the cops led me to the police station.)
While some critics give credence to Qazi as a humourist but those who analysed him in totality have experienced different shades of his life , knowledge and intellectual stature. Beyond literature and poetry he made himself known in the circle of mathematical pursuits. Prof. B A Nehvi in one of his articles writes, ‘ Qazi’s tremendous intelligence is revealed when he seeks ,in geometry , the solution of cubic in the secrets of Omer Khayam’s poetry. His paper titled Omer khayam and solution of the cubic is representative of the mathematical genius’s intellectual status.’
Qazi’s another feat accomplished is his Persian poetry. Critics and analysts of his poetry in Persian believe that technically and thematically his poetry is of excellent standard. In one of his articles Ayaz Rasool Nazki wishes if Qazi had taken keen interest in one genre or language we would have produced the representative character of international standard. In support of his claim he talks about Qazi’s Persian Ghazals, nine in number. He writes, ‘I sent these to my Afghan friend Rahid Quraishi who teaches nowadays in Hyderabad .He himself is an ace Persian poet and abreast with present poetic scenario. Quraishi is of the opinion that on one hand these ghazals reflect Indian threads and on the other Iraqi style is prominent. “ In the context Nazki believes that Qazi had widespread study .
Post Script :Qazi’s wit and humour has been acknowledged by one and all. When University buses took the employees to and fro. One day Qazi purchased roasted gram seeds for few rupees and distributed among the passengers. He then threw the empty paper envelope out . Some one asked ‘Qazi sahib you purchased but distributed whole, taking not a grain yourself ,any reason ?
Qazi sahib unassumingly replied, “Is chana worth eating ?”
Er.Shafi Ahmad is a writer and columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org