If I am a ripple in the pond, he is the glitter of the lake, if I have the gush and furore of a stream, he has the steadiness and flow of a river, If I have the sparkle of waves, he carries underneath the force of currents, if I had the depth of a lake he has the fathom of the sea. This is how I would describe him, if I am to draw a comparison between myself and him. Having said it, I would never claim absoluteness or perfection either for me or for him. No one is perfect or without beloved faults: so is he. A human being with ordinary energy levels and limitations that could be a great deterrent to any man. But he overrides it with forbearance of a sea and calmness of an ocean.
Just have a look at him, despite his falling physical features and dropping shoulders, he is the reminiscence of a robust physique.. Well built.. Tall and wide, eyes reflecting wisdom of words and experience, eager to drink and drown in the fathomless sea of knowledge, he has a look of a sage, a square face.. Chocolate in tinge coming out of a purple glow like the sun behind the haze of membrane thin clouds. Asking for retrospection as well as introspection that youth is fleeting, time tuning like a chariot and bright colour is one of the shades of the long day that would get into russet before a dark blanket drops as the night does in the plains. His hair is intact, hanging sideways, if I guess right, in his prime and purple days, he must have been fond of long hair falling waves around his shoulders. But the most moving characteristic I found in him, even in an age when one is past the glow of youth like dying dusk, is his focus.. His straight pug nose balances as an eel as he is read out. !
Yeah, you got it right. He has physical ailments, the debility of physique, coupled with kidneys on the painful routine dialysis and eighty percent loss of eyesight yet he is Miltonic in grandeur of forbearance and loftiness of ideas. Like him he is led and read by his daughter in this dark world to the pages of knowledge and light .Despite his feeble health, he moves on and keeps abreast with the heart and matter of this world. He wants to be sure to be updated and well informed.
Not only contend with mere reading he skims to get the cream of ideas for uplifting the education system that is on the last legs and on ventilator. He talks about academic audit to keep the teaching learning moving and flowing unlike a stagnant pool of inactivity that results in a sense of complacency and brings lassitude in the system. He favors dynamism and activism: unpreparedness is a fatal blow to a teacher so he never allows unpreparedness as a teacher and never had been to his class in half measures but fully loaded and prepared. A classroom is a sacred place for him and teaching is like worship. This is how he is remembered by his students who see him as inspiration and fountain head of illumination. A teacher must be known by his teaching and there can be no yardstick other than this to measure his competence and contribution.
I had the opportunity of hearing him out when he came to my college in connection with NAAC SSR preparation. He preferred to be with us like one among us, and straight away switched to the business without beating about the bush. His method objective, his approach scientific, his belief idealistic and his application pragmatic. He is an exemplum of simplicity and storehouse of updated and accurate information. Despite his broken health, he had travelled to HKM degree college Bandipora without any honorarium or reward other than his own commitment to light upon darkness. He never did mind his age or his strength but only moved on like a spiritual giant on an Odyssey to help a neglected institution to get accredited. But for the bad luck of the college, his effort would not have been in vain and because of his guidance we had qualified the first cycle. Throughout his stay, he was a thorough professional with seriousness of purpose and integrity of teacher unlike false gait pomp and show. His meticulous characteristics and calculations of time are a great lesson to me.
I made a dramatic introduction with him, when I challenged him for upbraiding me while I used the word “summon” for my students. He was cross with me and wanted me to withdraw the word. I held to my word and quoted I A Richards and his four types of meaning. For a while, I felt I had won the argument. However, very soon, I felt the impertinence of my belief. He had taught me moderation, accuracy, etiquette and exactness unlike approximation, haughtiness and ambiguity. Along with two of my colleagues, I fell prey to a vicious conspiracy but for some honest and truthful people in the Deptt of higher education who saved our career when everything was going contrary. He stood thick and fast with us especially with Dr Asif and through him I got a glimpse into his personality. Not even does one’s own father shower such care and caution, have a good breakfast, stay in a comfort zone, never lie to anyone, keep your spirits up, speak soft and low but never give up truth and confidence, don’t get beggarly such and such stuff and advice that helped us a long way. On an occasion, we lied to Director Colleges about our location just to win some easy sympathy. He was upset with us as he came to know about it and wanted a quick apology here he was teaching us that there can be no substitution to truth. He had, as a principal, done a great credit to his faculty by awarding his entire faculty immaculate excellent grade. When someone tried to pull him back, he said, I am heading the cream of a society not the ewes. Why shouldn’t I mark them excellent when they are; what a pep talk! It is a reward to be with him. He is speedily aging, yet he is celebrated in the hearts of many. An unceremonious man, dead honest, overcoming his poor health and energy like Hemingway’s Santiago. Who knows man can be destroyed but not defeated. He is a living inspiration and a great academician. He is as he taught us never to use his name in abbreviated form N. A. but in its full form Nazir Ahmad Gilkar, former principal of SP College Srinagar and Controller Central University of Kashmir.
The article has been contributed for Kashmir Dot Com by Naseer Khan Assistant professor at Degree College Bandipora, who can be reached at [email protected]