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In Loving Memory of Dr. Haider Shamsi

Mr. Sajjad H. Shamsi

 

Our father had migrated from the former British India to Kenya. He went back home in 1933 after his retirement from the service of the Kenya government.

Following his footsteps, I joined the Kenya government service. I visited the family on several occasions . In 1952, I decided to bring the family back to Kenya for sake of a better future. My two younger brothers joined the Kenya government service. Haider was only 14. He joined the Duke of Gloucester School. After his High School, he proceeded to Pakistan to pursue his medical studies. Later my parents and three sisters also joined him there.

I followed his progress with keen interest. After his graduation, Haider returned to Kenya for his internship. Meanwhile, I had retired from Kenya and moved to England. However we were always in touch via telephone. After his internship, Haider too moved to England for his postgraduate stud-ies.

In 1969, He was married to Dr. Adiba Khanum who was also from Kenya. A few years later, they decided to pursue their careers in medicine in the United States. That was some twenty-five years ago; As luck would have it, I never set my eyes on them again since I lost my sight in a road accident after they left. Although my wife and I visited them several times in the states, yet I never could see him in the bloom of his career. His colleagues, acquaintances, and friends in America had seen more of him than I myself had.

Adiba and Haider very kindly undertook to publish my anthology of English verse in 1995 and later, a final collection of Urdu poetry in 1999. Soon after he had sent my manuscript to the publishers in Lahore he suffered a fatal heart attack. My wife and I rushed to be with him, but we could only attend his funeral. Alas, he never saw my last publication, Paya-e-Arsh, which he had pursued with so much passion.

Haider died on April 21, 1999. It is a strange coincidence that Allama Iqbal had also died on the same date; both died at about the same age. We were surprised at the number of persons who came to pay their condolences amongst whom were teenagers, his colleagues and friends. Everyone had different memories to recount, and we wondered that if all of these tributes were put together they would form a surging sea of affection, love and esteem. We learned about the great philanthropic and charitable contributions he had made for education, such as a Foundation, Library project, a publishing house, all for the benefit of his community. He has left a last monument of work in the form of his books And the Message of Islam Continues and biographies of the Twelve Imams in English. Unfortunately this book too was published after his departure.

Adiba has undertaken the task of continuing her dear husbands projects. This is a noble task and we wish her every success in her work. Haider was a man of simple habits and charming disposition who had respect and love for my wife and myself. He always considered us as his parents. I remember him sitting next to me on the sofa; he held my hand and was caressing it affectionately.

When I turned my face towards him, he said Bhaijan, these hands remind me of the hands of our father. I turned my face away to hide my tears.

Haider was a keen gardener. He specialized in propagating rare species of roses. One of his friends told me that Haider has brought happiness to so many families by bringing forth into this world a progeny of beautiful roses, like babies, in his garden. He used to take me around the garden and make me feel the velvety texture of the petals and smell the newly opened buds. At the rear of his newly built house he had a small pond where he had a colony of geese and swans; upon returning from work each day, he would go to the pond and feed them. After his death other people took over this task and the birds, I am sure, must have felt the absence of their loving master. Haider was instrumental in introducing me and my poetry to the readers in the sub-continent, by having a special edition of the celebrated magazine Chaharsoo from Islamabad, dedicated to me and my work. He himself contributed an article about my life, his first and the last writing in Urdu.

 Other erudite scholars also participated in the effort, and as a result I became known in a part of the world which was virtually unknown to me. My wife and I shall always be grateful to him for this and for making the last days of my life so happy and productive.

 Haider had a very loveable personality that endeared him to everybody around him. He was always sensitive to the needs and sufferings of others and never hesitated to helping them to the best of his ability. The people with whom he spent a quarter of a century were well aware of his sweet disposition and efforts for the community.

 After all what one leaves behind are the good deeds and the love and affection that last forever.

  Haider was a beacon of light that emitted its rays far and wide and offered the way-farer solace and comfort;

I am sure my readers would join me in offering our prayers to Allah to grant Haider a place of honor in His Kingdom of Heaven.

 My Allah bless his soul.

 

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