by Shujaat Bukhari
When I glance at a priceless treasure I have preserved in my portfolio, I come across a signature that authenticates not just my merit but the passion I have for my mother tongue – Kashmiri. The treasure is “Kamyabi henz Sanad” (Certificate of Success) a testimonial, in fact a few, I received in mid 80s after I appeared for yearly Kashmiri examination, Adbee Markaz Kamraz would conduct in schools and colleges throughout Kamraz (North Kashmir). And the laborious job of connecting people from one corner to other and make it sure that the examination process culminates efficiently and transparently was taken up by an able organizer named Mohammad Ahsan Ahsan. He was the controller of examination, hence his signature was on the certificate to testify that the students have successfully passed the test. On both sides it was a voluntary effort to keep the spirit of connect with the language going. Ahsan Saheb as I came to know him later was not just doing it as a member of AMK of which, he was a co founder but as an avowed activist whose heart and mind was in the struggle to protect and preserve the language.
When I used to sit in the examination as a student at middle and secondary level, I never had even thought of joining the AMK as a member and not to think of reaching the top most position in the organization. In 80s the organization, which eventually became the biggest and most vibrant one in the field of literature and culture was almost in every home of north Kashmir, as these certificates would slip into those homes since thousands of students would voluntarily take part in the examination. The credit for making those examinations a credible and most sought after platform to get recognition would go to Ahsan Saheb.
A poet, researcher, translator and a good manager, he had all the skills that would make him someone to be looked upon. For all those who worked with him he was a guide and mentor who would never lose his cool. AMK now in 46th year, is a big institution and running its affairs has become an uphill task with each passing day but people like him made the journey of this literary sanctuary easy. Managing the finances without even telling others as to how the crisis could be dealt with was a virtue, which we will miss. Ahsan Saheb was a man behind the show but would always prefer to remain on the sidelines avoiding the photo-ops. His connect with members (AMK has hundreds) was real and forthcoming. He was a man of intricate details who would never compromise on the quality and never let the guard down vis-à-vis the movement for preserving and protecting the Kashmiri language.
Ahsan Saheb had a great sense of humour and that too subtle. Even as I was just like his son, he would always make me comfortable by adding humour to conversation. And that was the way to keep things going. When I was reluctant to contest elections for the post of general secretary for the second term in 2012 Ahsan Saheb forced me to seek another term saying, “you cannot be so cruel to leave an organization you have cherished”. He added, “though nobody is indispensable yet you are needed at AMK”. He also made late Prof Rasheed Nazki to speak to me whose word was just a command for all of us. The point here is that he was deeply involved in working towards making AMK a sustainable institution that had grown as a giant tree from a sapling he had planted with others. He wanted to see it turn greener every day.
On August 27, when Halqa-e- Adab Sonawari of which he was the president organized a memorial function to pay tributes to AMK founder Prof Mohiuddin Hajini he was on tenterhooks, since he could not attend it due to a death in the family. But his fingers were on phone and he was calling people about the progress the whole day. When I spoke to him he was felt sad and said “this is perhaps first Hajini day in last 20 years which I have missed”. It was actually the sense of responsibility driven by passion that made him an inalienable part of the biggest linguistic movement in the state.
Not only did Ahsan Saheb play a glorious role in shaping up organisations such as AMK and Halqa-e-Adab but his contribution to Kashmiri literature is immense. As an Assistant Editor at Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, he pieced together a huge amount of research thus documenting some important aspects of Kashmiri literature. Himself being a writer and poet he made a difference by treading on a path that was creative but simplified the expression of thought. For many young writers he was an inspiration who would guide them to the right path.
For all of us at AMK and particularly for me as a person his departure is a great loss. Kashmiri language lost a great benefactor. To go to the other world is part of the destiny, which no one can challenge or escape but some losses are unbearable and have hardly any replacement. Ahsan Saheb belonged to a class of writers and language activists and they have gone one by one. We are losing a cover of elderly wisdom and that is a handicap in many ways. We will feel the vacuum for long time as it is difficult to fill in. As we accept his parting away, he will remain in our spirits and will continue to guide us in our endeavour to work for our language and create a credible institution that serves as a platform for discussion, dissent, argument and counter argument. We are committed to take the legacy of Hajini, Nazki, Ansari and Ahsan forward with same zeal and zest. May Allah have mercy on us and He be pleased with our coulleague whose going is painful.