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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Poet Saraswati Saran Kaif dies: At least his sons know Urdu

Renowned Urdu-Persian poet and freedom figher Saraswati Saran Kaif, who wrote over 52 books, and was a close associate of Firaq Gorakhpuri, recently passed away.

But unlike many prominent Urdu writers*, who happen to be Muslims, and their children can't read or write Urdu, Kaif ensured that his sons--one a scientist and the other a chief general manager with the Reserve Bank of India, and the youngest, a daughter, learnt Urdu.

In fact, one of his sons is proficient in Persian as well. Kaif was 84 at the time of his demise. Apart from poetry, novels, stories, Kaif translated works from Sanskrit, Russian, Arabic, French and Persian.

He was busy writing his autobiography. He has left behind a rare collection of thousands of precious books, which his sons plan to give to Aligarh Muslim University, where it will help research scholars and would also interest the literature lovers. I have seen

Sometime back I had met Kaif and was discussing how a person can still be romantic at the age of eighty. 'The other day I woke up in the middle of night, suddenly remembered a scene when I was 16 and wrote the ghazal'.

He had recited the ghazal to me. He had spent most part of his life in UP, Delhi and Punjab,working as journalist. Maulana Zabih brought him to journalism and apart from working for Tej, Ansari and along side Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, he also got actively involved in freedom movement and was jailed.

He retired from The Tribune in 1982. He was living a life of solitude in Benares and later at his daughter's house in Bhopal where he died.

Khuda Hafiz Kaif Sahab.

*The children of umpteen Urdu poets can't read Urdu. Even past legends like Kaifi Azmi and Sardar Jafri couldn't teach the language to their children though they may speak it.

7 comments:

Ye manzilen !! said...

Wow....those were the men...the real ones...

indscribe said...

ya...but sad that almost all the greats of the old generation area now gone...almost...except a few

Kagaz ki kashti said...

My condolence to the departed soul. It seems u were close to him, have courage.

Anser azim said...

Its a great loss. I believe that Urdu and its future in India is uncertain. Luckily the language traveled to Pakistan with the immigrants at the time of partition and is not doing that bad. Though the elite class has English as the language of power, dominance and prosperity. I hope this beautiful language can be brought at par with other langauges of the subcontinent where it is not only used for love, romance, poetry but also becomes a means of bread and butter, science and technology etc.
I also believe that world does not know what will happen to other languages that used to evolve in every part of the world when the world was not this small as it is in todays time of TV, inetrnet. There has been a total domination of only one language!!!English.

Ewan said...

I once met him on a train from Delhi to Varanasi and happened to be reading my diary tonight when I cam across his card. I googled his name and was very much saddened to read of his passing.

He was a lovely man to meet on a train journey. Fascinating, intelligent, witty, questioning were just some of the impressions he made on me in a short time from Lucknow to Varanasi. He made a huge mark on me and has lived in my memory for the ten years since that day.

We exchanged letters for a while after that, but I would have loved to have met him again - however, I count myself lucky I met him once in my life.

My condolences to his family, but joy and pleasure in the memory of the few hours I spent in his company.

Ewan, Scotland

indscribe said...

Thanks Mr Ewan for sharing your experiences.

MuslimaticMuslimah said...

I'm a 17 year old British Pakistani Muslimah. I am fluent in Urdu, know how to read and write it and am currently learning Arabic and Farsi. Urdu is simply a beautiful language and its stories and literature far surpass anything I've seen. I plan to pass on the legacy of this language to my children, and my children will, insha'allah pass on the language to theirs. Lets hope this language stays around for many hundreds of years to come.