On the stage of the classroom you stood –
addressing the aficionados of literature,
who’ve been invited to pay their homage
to the well-known departed Hindi litterateur:
along with professors and batches of students
who shared with him their Alma Mater –
the Udai Pratap Autonomous College,
where we’re all – now solemnly gathered
after you brought us to listen to your tribute –
as you’re being profiled, in this book, on Benaras.
The deceased was your senior, friend and mentor;
also you’re a friend of Kashinath Singh – his brother:
So Gaya Singh – yourself a reputed Hindi professor,
who’s revered in this city that pride’s it’s men of letters –
also that you’re a strong upholder of Benarasi culture;
have been called upon with other literary stalwarts
to speak at this afternoon’s bereavement get-together –
of those, the Hindi language scholastically nurtured.
As an essayist, poet, and a short-fiction writer,
also a literary critic, linguist, and commentator –
the late Namvar Singh has had a progressive career:
A long-term academician – as founder and chairman
of the Delhi based Jawaharlal Nehru University’s –
Centre of Indian Languages; also as a professor
of Hindi literature in several reputed colleges
including Banaras Hindu University –
where he completed and received his doctorate,
after matriculation and higher secondary education
from this college where we’re now assembled –
to pay venerations, reacquaint with the departed soul’s
magnanimous contribution to nationalist literature –
for which he received the Sahitya Academy Award.
The attentive audience seemed amply morose,
even as the speakers droned in monotonous tones –
keeping their voices and sights bent low
in reviving memories of interfaces with the deceased:
for didn’t he also belong to them as to Banaras –
though in Delhi his remains still await to be cremated.
But a posthumous honour in his college, he’s accorded –
for as its illustrious scholar he’s brought upon it credit,
that will inspire batches of students currently tutored:
who’ll take back the day’s involvement with them
and never fail to evoke – hard work pays rich dividends,
not just in this lifetime, but also after one’s death.
And in recognizing, that life opens many more doors
in one’s childhood and throughout youth –
but starts to close them beyond the age of twenty-two:
Students may be inspired in creating a vision for life
which they feel free to update from time to time –
to also pursue short term goals and desires,
so their cruise of life may be more significant.
As long-term goals need patience, steadfast purpose –
for only with a sustained body of recognizable work
and not just bursts of fading out streaks of genius –
as fleeting trails left by large shooting stars that fall:
Can you earn devotion not only of benefactors,
but vie to be the pride – even of mere acquaintances.
PS: Dr Gaya Singh, second on the left of the photo on top, has been profiled in the Nov 2018 Bollywood film ‘Moholla Assi’ starring Sunny Deol…from the Hindi novel – ‘Kashi ka Assi’ – written by reputed Hindi novelist Kashinath Singh. You can watch the trailer here on this link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4949324/videoplayer/vi2566699545
🙂 Also …after reading my previous posts on Benaras here…You can watch the full film “Mohalla Assi’ – if you’d like, from the link below: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6xnYRxU_V2syp2ZvNSYdMw
‘A Banarasi Thahaka(laughter)’
An elderly gentleman with gravitas to his name –
fit and agile, over seventy – flaunts a sturdy gait;
is much respected, but also feared in Banaras
for his forthright and strict instructional ways.
These, define his professors personality traits,
of a lifetime of upholding values and principles
prescribed in several books in Hindi to his name –
while retiring as principal of a reputed college.
Gaya Singh, is revered in Assi by young and old,
for he possesses a robust heart, of pure gold –
helping the poor, an auto driver acquainted me,
concluding – “I have to keep his word, at all cost!”
Meeting him officially, yet Gaya-ji escorted us,
showing us his Banaras, hosting several meals:
but what he carried always was his simplicity –
deep throated, soul deep laughter of a Banarasi.