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Back to the Roots

By Manas Ranjan Mahapatra

Many of my friends have suddenly become critical of Javed Akhtar after a crook journalist asked for some money and Shabana refused to pay. The idiot disgruntled fellow published a news that Javed Akhtar has reportedly said that he feels insecure in India. Fact remains that nobody feels secure after pseudo nationalists occupy the centre stage in any country,be it Germany,India or Afghanistan.

I was a regular visitor to Azamgarh from 1987 to 2007 for works of NCERT and NBT.The more I think of Azamgarh,Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar often come to my mind for many good reasons .Azamgarh has many great sons so far as literature is concerned.Sajjad Zahir’s place is not very far.But,the most illustrious in the recent years have been Kaifi Azmi.

Aabid Surti’s train reached almost in time at Allahabad.We moved on the way to Azamgarh after lunch as scheduled .Vibhuti Narayan Rai was telling a story. Kaifi Azmi towards the end of his life came back to his town Azamgarh after four illustrious decades as the most successful lyricist of Bollywood after Shahir Ludhianvi. One day he went to the office of electricity department for a work of his village.He had the hope that people will recognise him.But nobody did so and he was disheartened.He was to wait outside the room of the Section Officer.

Suddenly,somebody sitting there switched on his handset cassette player for listening to music.And ,to his dismay,a remix of song based on his lyrics came in the air.

‘What a rubbish remix…’ Kaifi Saab expressed his anguish.

‘How could you know it..’, the person asked.

‘This is my lyric,the pronounciation was wrong.’ Kaifi said.

At once the crowd understood that the legendary Kaifi Azmi is amongst them.And,the Section Officer also came out of his room to find the legend at his door.And then what happened,if Kaifi’s work was done or not,nobody knows.But fact remains that Kaifi Azmi’s name was known to many in Azamgarh.The Section Officer himself came forward to see that the work is done.

Alas,in my hometown Puri I once introduced that I am from NBT and the people understood that I am from MBD, the publisher of help series books ! Nobody bothers for Art and Culture as some vested interest people are managing the show everywhere.

It was almost sunset when we reached Azamgarh.We had another friend Prof Paliwal with us.And,outside the India’s first ever Rural Cultural Centre cum Library at the village Jokehara ,Azamgarh had many great sons so far as literature is concerned.The legendary
Sajjad Zahir’s place is not very far.

Suddenly we noticed that,outside the Library,
a group was playing Volleyball in the nearby field.I thought of coining the words ‘Paliwal’ and Volleyball’ in a poem and composed a few lines.It was lije this..They wanted to play Volleyball and we told them to shout the word Paiwal.They did not listen and went on playing.And at last,we told them to shout ‘Volleyball’ and pat came the response of the blind followers:Paliwal,Paliwal…

Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi have donated in Crores for literature and Culture in Azamgarh and these days,useless people make stories on Javed believing fake reports. I have promoted many authors and organisations for promoting literature and culture in Odisha and I am lost in transit in Odisha.That is the national misfortune.

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