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.