The Cornerstone of Petaro Mukhtar Siddiqui (A humble eulogy)
By Sohail Malik, 83140/Qasim
The 2nd page of ‘Ramz-e-Sukhan’ is inscribed with a
sentence “dedicated to my students”. Mukhtar Sahib not only
dedicated this book but also his life to the same students he
honors in his book. He gave every iota of his being,
committed himself to what he considered his divine duty to
inspire and mold his students to realize their true potential.
Today the Petarian family has suffered an immeasurable loss.
Our beloved teacher, an institution in his own right and the
one you touched many left us on his final journey.
Donon sirhon pay shama jale aur kitni dair
Mukhtar kiya batayen andhaira hai kis liye
I have in my possession two books penned by Mukhtar Sahib.
Both inscribed in ink with a special message for me. Gifts I
would cherish my entire life. More profound are the memories
of being his student and the lasting and poignant discussions
I had with him as a mentor. It would be an understatement to
say he has played an instrumental role in molding my
personality and who I am as an individual today.
I was young, curious, rebellious, inquisitive and most
certainly lost in trying to find my own identity. Mukhtar
sahib did not simply give me the answers. He wanted me to
discover my own path, a journey he later said is best if
traveled under one’s own volition. He would guide by
imparting his wisdom when needed and became the source of
reformation and challenge as my thoughts evolved over the
years. Reading – he advocated – is one addiction one must
acquire. He recommended topics and areas of interest and
handed me books from his collection. He introduced me to
Russell and Keats, to Renaissance and Greek philosophy. He
explained Nietzsche in language a young student would
understand. He inspired the love for knowledge and emphasized
the importance of proficiency in expression. He stoked the
fire of inquisitiveness. His parting message was “be the best
you can be and pursue your passion”. In my last meeting he
asked me how I viewed myself. I thought for a while and
replied “ I am content”. He smiled and said you finally have
become the best you can be.
It was winter of 2012 when
and I arrived at his house. Wrapped in a shawl he was waiting
for us in his living room, a book at his side and the walls
adorned with art he cherished. We spent a few hours in
contemplative discourse. Two academic giants engrossed in
discussion about faith, education, life, morality, passions,
love, Petaro, teachers, poetry, history and a host of other
topics. He asked Farhan if he remembered the verse he had
written for him. Farhan replied the one in 9th
grade or the one after finishing Petaro to which he just
smiled. To give you a glimpse on how he reached out and
inspired here is the first one written for Farhan when he was
just one of the ordinary cadets “Yak lahza ghafil gushtam
wa sad saalah raahum door shud” (meaning "I was not paying
attention for one moment and my journey became a hundred years
longer”). Later when Farhan had set all sorts of records in
HSc and was planning his career pursuits in US universities we
went to see him and he handed him a paper with this couplet.
It still sits framed on Farhan’s desk.
Yeh bazam-e-mai hai, yahan kotaah-dasti mein hai mahroomi
Jo barh kar khud uthaale haath mein, meena usi ka hai
there as witness, nudged the discussions into deeper realms,
and tried to absorb the wisdom that poured in that room. It
was one gathering I wish I had recorded so that I could relive
the experience. In it were life lessons and an unfiltered
glimpse into a brilliant mind. This reaffirmed my belief that
individuals like him are born once in a century.
Sahib's methods were considered iniquitous for the environment
in Petaro. He was not accepted by all his peers. He was
considered toxic by the religious inclined professors who
viewed his beliefs and methods of teachings to be morally
detestable. In the politics at Petaro he was considered an
outcast. There was concern perhaps out of envy how young
minds gravitated towards him and the risk of young
impressionable minds adopting his unconventional views. This
judgment is undeserving for an individual of his caliber, for
Mukhtar sahib only tried to inspire individuals to form their
own views and opinion. That’s what made him great and that’s
the reason why students gravitated towards him.
deeply saddened that he is no longer with us. He lived a
great life and hopefully is in peace. Mukhtar Sahib's legacy
shall remain alive in his students and his children. May you
forever be blessed…..
Har ek khaar meri ungliyon ne chooma hai
Hare ek Phool se mera khoon ka rishta hai