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This week Dr Mir Nazir Ahmad passed away on 7 November in Srinagar at the age of 80. Born on November 4 , 1936, he was the son of the close associate of Sheikh Abdullah, Mir Ghulam Rasool who had been arrested and imprisoned in the Kashmir Conspiracy Case… And though Dr. Nazir turned a recluse but that rebellious look in him had never really faded away. I had first met him in the 1990s when he was the medical superintendent of the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Medical College (he retired as the medical superintendent in 1994). Militancy in the Valley was peaking up and with that there seemed tension all  around, even in the corridors of hospitals. And though I’d gone there with prior appointment but I couldn’t get to talk to him in detail. He was in the midst of a meeting with the hospital staff and when I persisted with my queries, I was asked to leave… But few years later I met him again at the Tao’s Café. Nah, not a fixed meeting but more along the destined strain. I was at the Residency Road and stopped by at the Tao’s Café for chai and toasts. Dr. Nazir was seated with one of his friends, Gulzar sahib (No, not to be confused with Bollywood’s Gulzar saab) at the next table. And yes, this time he spoke. Tucked in him was a wealth of philosophical wisdom. He came across less of a medical doctor and more of a philosopher-artist- thinker.

When I was researching for my book on the Kashmir Valley, I had visited his home. He had shown me the sprawling garden stretch, complete with trees of all hues and forms (including fig trees) and a water fall. As we sat at one end of the lawns on that unusually hot afternoon, I’d looked around, in the hope of spotting a table fan, he’d smiled, “Nature sure to intervene …it will rain before evening sets in.” Within a couple of hours it had rained, with he quipping, “When things get unbearable we human beings become impatient and don’t wait for Nature’s interventions to play the vital role.”

Dr Nazir had so much to offload and he spoke with such detailing that each little anecdote or happening or incident became so memorable. I recall he’d detailed one incident after another. This particular one relays so much of our traditional ways of handling crisis phases: Upset and depressed at things not moving at the pace he’d wanted, he had dragged himself to a peer sahib living on the outskirts of the Valley. As soon as he entered the peer’s humble dwelling, where several others sat, the peer looked straight in his direction. And even before he could say why he was there, the peer gestured to him to come closer…. he went closer to the peer who leaned forward and took off the watch on his wrist. Almost certain that the peer had taken a fancy for that expensive watch, he was surprised to see that the peer simply was putting the hands of the clock-face ahead by several minutes. Having done that, the peer put the watch right back on his wrist… No words were exchanged. No opportunity was given to him to ask questions or seek explanations. Confused and rather rattled, he returned home, only to realise how, from that very evening, his life went through an altogether different phase - where things moved on at such pace that he found it difficult to keep up. The peer, it seemed, had reset the pace of his life!

During recent years, Dr.Nazir had turned not just a recluse but was saddened by the situation in the Valley. A loyalist to the Kashmiri masses, he seemed burdened with sorrow.. .He didn’t come across as an ordinary person; equipped that he was with a tremendous personality. Blunt and outspoken and forthright, he was one of those good lookers who could have passed off as a film hero. In fact, by his own admission he had led a rather colourful life but then turned to religion. Around 2002 when I had interviewed him, he told me, “Now I pray five times a day, fast the entire month of Ramzan and even plan to write a volume on the revival of Islam. …Today I call myself just a Muslim - no, don’t add any prefix to it. I don’t follow any leaders of the day; my leader is the Prophet of Islam. “

He’d spoken of the painful sorrow spreading out in the region …Now, of course, he has gone to a better place! Resting in peace.

Humra Quraishi

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 November 2016 on page no. 12

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