|Prof. Hridainath Durani |
..."I've had my innings, its time to move on" .
he tragedy of life is that we all have to suffer each other’s eventual separation. We know we are mortal and yet when it happens, it hits like a bolt.
He was known as Bab and his real name was Prof. Hridai Nath Durani. His oldest nephew called him Baba when he was a kid and that eventually changed into Bab. There were people in Srinagar who knew him as Bab and didn’t know his real name. Born in Srinagar to a well to do family, he was the third of 7 children. His father was a tehsildar and he provided a quality upbringing. However Bab always wanted to be with the masses. As a student instead of using his father’s horses and servants, he along with a friend went on a bicycle trip for many months and toured around the rural parts of various districts in Kashmir. His father had a transferrable job and Bab ended up travelling all over Kashmir in his early years.
He was a brilliant student, topping in school and college. He studied Economics for his Masters at the Lucknow University and completed his Law degree. He developed a very strong interest in literature during his college years. Death of his younger brother at the early age of 17 was a huge shock for him. This tragedy stayed with him throughout his life. As a young adult, he was an ardent follower of Marxism and had pictures of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin in his room. He would host people at his house and pay their bills to support the movement. When he learned about the purges, exiles, and concentration camps in the Soviet Union he was completely disillusioned and down came the pictures from the walls. He started reading Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn and many others. He embraced a more practical life style that suited his persona. He did have the ability to change his philosophy when he saw that it was fundamentally flawed.
Gandhi Memorial College had just started and they were looking for someone to teach English literature. Even though he had a degree in Economics he had read enough literature to become a very popular and effective English professor for almost 30 years in the college. He was very popular with students and was admired by the faculty. He was the architect of a major facility extension of GM College.
He was a teacher at heart, not just merely by profession. He grew up in a joint family and had influence on the young offspring of the family. He taught them how to write - literally - on a DOOJ with a Narkaen Kalam and SepiMeel and later KhoshKhut with a Farsi Kalam. He would teach any neighborhood kid who came to him. A neighbor once remarked: “tohi duranian ha chew huyin ti angreez paeth wof wof karan.” He had a significant impact on people’s thinking. He inculcated an interest in literature in the young and old. He would often introduce school kids to their first fictional books like “Treasure Island”, “Robinson Crusoe” and the young adults to literary works and authors like Herman Hesse, Dostoevsky, Outsider, Kafka and his favorite character in literature, Godot.
He was an intellectual with an artistic bent of mind. He would often pick a piece of paper or cardboard and fold it into a beautiful bird or animal and give it to kids. He loved gardening and was the master gardener in the family. Besides being a connoisseur of good Kashmiri food, he was also a great cook. He was well known for his “anchaar” (pickle). He loved to knit and would gift knit wool caps to young and old. He used to knit a trademark sweater like a jacket and gift it to near and dear ones. This jacket was popularly known as the Durani Brand among the relatives. He would create beautiful binders for books for kids that would stand out in the classroom. He actually built a “daan” (Kashmiri stove) in the family kitchen of the ancestral home in Rainawari.
He was a voracious reader. He would always be the first to read a new book. He would love to discuss and argue about books at length. He knew more about critical appreciation than you could even dream of and so invariably won the argument when he discussed books. He read about existentialism, philosophy, literature, art, science and everything else that was interesting. Some of his favorite authors included Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Dostoevsky, Samuel Beckett, Herman Hesse, His Urdu /Kashmiri favorites included Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ghalib, Nadim Sahib, Azad, Mehjoor and more. He was known for reading multiple books at a time about the same topic, tracking different plots concurrently. His favorite gift from any place in the world would be books from that place. He would often say “I want to get old with a good book in my hand.”
After leaving the ancestral house at Rainawari, he built his own house in Karan Nagar. He actually drew out the design and architecture plans himself. In 1973 his 15 year old daughter Anjali died of cancer. A disease that was very rare in Srinagar at that time. This event was the beginning of a lifetime of tragedy for Bab. He never reconciled with this loss.
This section is devoted to remember those who have left us. An excellent way to pay homage to those who leave us in sorrow is to keep their memories alive for ever. This section of our journal is devoted to remember our near and dear ones after they pass into Eternity.
We request family members and friends to provide us information or update about any such happenings along with the picture of the departed souls at firstname.lastname@example.org
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A beautiful write up and an excellent way to keep the memories alive of your loved ones.
Added By Ashok Kaul