If Only An­war Bhai Knew

Slogan - - Cover Story - By Gul-e-Rana Jaf­fri

That I grew up in awe and ad­mi­ra­tion of the world sur­round­ing him... but then, did I .... ?

So when my friend Jawed Iqbal asked me to pen down a full length ar­ti­cle on the great supremo of our tele­vi­sion, stage, art and en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try... the multi faceted and the iconic An­war Maq­sood...I felt ex­cited and happy, yet ex­tremely hum­bled and ner­VOUS 7ITH OTHER DIS­TIN­GUISHED PER­SON­AL­I­TIES pay­ing trib­ute and cri­tiquing An­war bhai’s larger than life per­son­al­ity, who was I to say much, that too with any lin­guis­tic fi­nesse and do jus­tice to it? So I started to pro­cras­ti­nate, not to­tally giv­ing up, as deep down, it felt friendly, it felt good and an hon­our to do so .... yet noth­ing struc­tured was com­ing up. I called up the ed­i­tor to back out, then called up again to check the dead­line. 2 days!!

All along, I’d been speak­ing to the Slo­gan staffer at length, very fondly rem­i­nisc­ing, touch­ing on anec­dotes, events and as­so­ci­a­tions with An­war Bhai’s fam­ily and life and she so in­no­cently said, ‘But Gul, just please send what you’ve been telling me.’

So dear An­war Bhai, here I am...yes Gul Jaf­fri...to whose earnestly ab­sent-minded ques­tion dur­ing your ses­sion at last year’s KLF, in front of a packed au­di­ence, you so rightly said, “..Janay na janay gul hi na janay, bagh tou sara jana hai...”

It’s my turn to pose a ques­tion (rather a per­sonal one) .... and feel proud of it...” Does An­war Bhai know?”

That I grew up lis­ten­ing to his sis­ter Zehra Ni­gah Apa re­cite her po­etry in her lilt­ing melo­di­ous voice late into the starry nights at many of those huge Indo-Pak mushairas.

That my early mem­ory from col­lege days takes me to the home of his brother, dash­ing charis­matic Ah­mad Maq­sood Hamidi and his equally stylish and at­trac­tive wife Rukhsana, on many oc­ca­sions, ac­com­pa­ny­ing my uncle Kazmi, for their bridge ses­sions, din­NERS MU­SIC SIT­TINGS 7HERE *UGINDER "AKHSHI (later to be my very dear friend) would be belt­ing out some ghaz­als and geets in her pow­er­ful voice.

That a de­sire to pos­sess a piece or two of exquisitely hand-crafted, richly steeped in tra­di­tion, line of cloth­ing brought me to the doorsteps of the cre­ative and inim­itable Sughra Apa and her iconic bahu Banto Kazmi.

Fa­tima Sur­raya Ba­jia, el­dest of this il­lus­tri­ous brood, a mother-like sis­ter to An­war bhai .... who im­pacted one and all on many counts than one... in­clud­ing the in­signif­i­cant me. Like a mousy fan of Ba­jia as a per­son, of her lit­er­ary, so­cial and cul­tural work, I’d cher­ish giv­ing an adaab and re­ceiv­ing a hug OR A PAT IN RE­TURN 7ITHOUT FAIL

That Zubaida Apa and I hit a so­cial, sub­tle warmth and friend­ship...mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion. She en­joyed my de­tailed in­ter­est in all her sar­to­rial tastes and choices of adorn­ment and she en­joyed my fun and laugh­ter and party an­tics.

That Amra, his cousin sis­ter and I worked to­gether in cur­ricu­lum de­vel­op­ment and struck a cor­dial friend­ship.

That Strings was, is and will re­main the favourite Pak­istani band for me and my daugh­ters.

That Uzma Mu­nir, his niece, is a very close friend from Sin­ga­pore, that his bahu Aye­sha’s phuppi (aunt) Khur­shid is a dear friend from Riyadh... the list goes on and ON 7HAT AN IL­LUS­TRI­OUS FAM­ILY !NWAR Ma­sood has!

Last but not least, that his ex­tremely tal­ented, witty, smart, well-dressed, dar­ling Immo who is my dar­ling too.

Had he known ..... both Azhar, my hus­band, and I would have con­tin­ued to en­joy the scrump­tious food, the charm­ing hos­pi­tal­ity and the supremely bril­liant col­lec­tion of mu­sic that we so cher­ished.

An­war Bhai has an amaz­ingly var­ied and rich mu­sic trea­sury... to sit and lis­ten with him as he un­folds the ca­dences and nu­ances of clas­si­cal ra­gas, geets, ghaz­als with un­der­stand­ing, is an ex­pe­ri­ence unto it­self. One would’ve loved to have more of it.

I’ve harped long enough on my walk, mem­o­ries and jour­ney into the world of those around An­war Bhai, not know­ing their ex­act prox­im­ity to him... hav­ing joined face to face the teem­ing hordes of ad­mir­ers of the en­ter­tain­ment gi­ant An­war Maq­sood .... just like the ‘piece de re­sis­tance’ is how he walked .... or rather... drove him­self into our life, our home and our hearts. Yes, I mean it lit­er­ally. He drove the bride­groom Zia Mo­hyed­din’s car as driver-des­ig­nate to pick the pretty, young charm­ing bride, my youngest sis Azra, as her fam­ily lined up to wel­come him. It was as if An­war Bhai was some­how part of the ro­man­tic play, bring­ing in the comic re­lief in his inim­itable, style... And as they say... they lived hap­pily ever af­ter.

May you, An­war Bhai, con­tinue writ­ing the best satire/scripts with your uniquely pun­gent, sharp, po­lit­i­cal in­sights and ob­ser­va­tions and con­tinue your in­dul­gence in art .... for a long, long time to come.

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