How sad, we forgot Maikash Kashmiri !

Squadron Leader Anil Sehgal
Seventy days after her formation, Pakistan attacked the independent State of Jammu and Kashmir, on 22 October 1947, to annex it. To secure sovereignty of the State and get immediate military help, Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, acceeded to India on 26 October 1947, through an instrument of accession.
Further, to connect with his people and counter the propaganda leashed out by Pakistan, Hari Singh started a broadcasting station, from First December 1947, at Jammu. He named it Radio Kashmir Jammu ( RKJ).

Jammu Jottings

The radio station RKJ started working from a makeshift location, which consisted of three classrooms of Shri Ranbir Higher Secondary School !
Sometime in March 1948, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel paid a visit to the State. As he was proceeding to the airport after the visit, he noticed the signboard of Radio Kashmir Jammu, midway on the road. He asked the driver to stop.
Patel paid a surprise and casual visit to the newborn radio station to enquire how things were working. The first person who confronted the Deputy Prime Minister of India, was Kailash Nath Kaul. When asked by Patel if they were being looked after well, Kaul informed him they were not paid salaries for three months !
Patel did not go to the airport. He returned to the Government offices run from the Mubarak Mandi complex and gave his piece of mind to the concerned culprits. In the next two days, services of Kaul were terminated by an angry Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed who was looking after the information and broadcasting portfolio. This was a punishment for telling the truth.
This courageous man served the Radio Kashmir Jammu for 34 years, as a contracted artist. All along, he was not made a permanent employee.
After retirement, he never went back to the radio for any assignments offered. So much was his resentment and anguish. We know Kailash Nath Kaul as the famed Urdu poet Maikash Kashmiri.
This self respecting poet spent the rest of his life giving tuitions in English language to scores of children, from his ancestral house in mohalla Mast Garh, Jammu.
He earned love and respect from his students and their parents alike. Also, he made enough money to marry off his five well educated daughters with grace. His only son became an engineering graduate and joined the Army as an officer.
In his own words:
Charagh-e-rah agar bujh Gaya to kya gham hai /
Charagh-e-dil to farozaan hai roshni ke liye //
( So what, if the street lamp is extinguished
Lamp of my heart burns to lit up the path )
I knew Urdu poet Maikash Kashmiri from the late sixties when I started broadcasting from Radio Kashmir Jammu. To Seema, my better half, he was an uncle who was a colleague of her father at the RKJ.
Broadcasting was just a small portion of my multifarious activities as a student, but I loved it dearly. It introduced me to some of the finer writers, poets, and broadcasters of our times in Jammu. One such person was Maikash Kashmiri.
Maikash sahib was almost like a wafer-thin figure, draped in dark sherwani and matching Gandhi cap with Aligarhian pajamas and lace-less shoes, with a thin and rather long face sporting a parrot-like nose.
Unassuming demeanor, all emanating traditional Indian tehzeeb, comes alive in your mind as you think of ‘Maikash’ sahib. He was a man of few words. Seldom I found him indulging in usual banter or discussions with his colleagues. He appeared to be a no nonsense and serious person
Ours was a simple and affectionate relationship of a city elder with a youth young enough to be his son. I recall him as one of the few honorable members of the broadcasting fraternity I have come across.
This relationship developed into an informality where Maikash sahib would insist I have a cup of tea with him each time I visited the radio station ! This is how an elder could show his affection to his juniors.
I think the year was 2004 when I last met ‘Maikash’ sahib. Seema and I were visiting Jammu. He came over to bless us at the residence of his close friend and fellow broadcaster, eminent Dogri poet Yash Sharma, in Gandhi Nagar, at Jammu.
On my request, he recited a few of his poems that were very impressive. I complimented him for the sustained quality consistent elegance of his poetry and observed that his poems richly deserved a much wider pan Indian publication. He was very pleased to hear that.
Sometime towards the last days of December 2005, I got a call from this well known Urdu poet from Jammu and Kashmir. ” Main Navi Mumbai se bol Raha hoon. Yahan apne bete Sanjeev se milne aaya hoon. Aap donon se milne ki badi tamanna hai”. He was staying with his son those days in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, some 35 kilometres away and wanted to look us up .
I requested him to come and stay with us for a few days. Also, I offered to go and fetch him, should he have any problem in arranging a suitable vehicle. He said he will manage to reach us, which, unfortunately, he could not.
A few days later, our friend Rakesh Mohan Kaushik, another Jammuite living in Mumbai, called up to say that Maikash sahib had departed from the mortal world.
It was like a bolt from the blue. I felt my heartbeat missing. How could that be ? Seema and I were shocked and stupefied. Only a few days ago we spoke and he was planning a visit to us. We rushed to attend the cremation and pay our respects.
It transpired that Maikash sahib was insisting with his son Sanjeev, a retired Colonel from the Indian army, to take him to us. But, somehow, the son could not find time to drive him down. Procrastination cost him dear. Alas, the crestfallen father could wait no longer !
After his sudden illness and demise, his son was full of remorse. He suffered guilt pangs. An intense feeling of guilt troubled him that he could not fulfill the last wish of his father, which was to visit us.
Sanjeev Kaul came home and sought our help that could give him freedom from his guilty conscience. He wanted to publish the poetry of his late father as an act of atonement.
Seema accepted the request and agreed to work out a music album for the late poet who had so much affection for her.
She composed five ghazals and a nazm of Maikash sahib, which she herself sang for the music album Yadon Ke Chirag.
Maikash Literary Society was formed by his son and the music album was released at a live concert of Seema, at Jammu Club, Jammu.
It may be put on record that the celebrated singer-composer Seema Anil Sehgal charged no money for composing the poems or singing them for the music album. Not only that, she did not charge a single penny for the live concert she sang for the Maikash Literary Society. All for the love of poetry and music as also as a tribute to her “Maikash Uncle” !
The hope that the literary society was formed to keep the legacy of Maikash Kashmiri alive, has since been belied. After the inaugural concert sung by Seema, there have been no known activities by the Society.
Maikash carries a deep influence of Allama Iqbal, which is clearly visible in his poetry. For example, the following couplet reminds you of the poetic irreverence of Iqbal, but in a mild ‘Maikash’ mould;
Yeh bhi hai jab meri tarah,
gardish-e-javida mein qaid /
Mujh ko darayegi bhala, gardish-e-subh-o-shaam kya //
( How can I be afraid of the rotation of day & night ?
This itself is a prisoner of eternal rotations, just like me )
‘Maikash’ refers to God as an absconder, in the following couplet, a usage that gives magical dimensions to the poem:
Woh kahan hai, kis jagah rooposh hai
Kis se poochhein, har koi khamosh hai
( Where is He, where is He hiding ?
Who do we ask, everyone is silent )
Maikash’ was born Kailash Nath Kaul, on 17 July 1926, in a well-educated family of Kashmir. His father Jivan Nath Kaul was fond of literature and in particular poetry of Allama Iqbal. Maikash breathed his last on 19 January 2006, at Navi Mumbai.
A post graduate in English, ‘Maikash’ led a simple life, most of it in the City of Temples, Jammu, braving hardships of life with grit in a very unassuming Sufi way, which is best described in his couplet:
Saare Jahan se beniyaaz,
mast hoon apni zaat mein /
Mujh se kisi ko kaam kya ?
Mujh ko kisi se kaam kya !
( Devoid of any desires,
I am happy within myself /
Whoever needs me ?
Who do I care for ! )
World wide, in almost all languages, poems have been written in praise of the rivers. But, the poem on river Tawi that flows through the city of Jammu, included in the album Yadon Ke Caragh, is unique.
This nazm is a tribute to the numerous round stones that adorn the banks of the river Tawi. In the eyes of poet Maikash, these stones are the first hand witnesses to the times gone by.
Tawi is venerated as the daughter of the God Sun. She is called Suryaputri. This haunting rendition by Seema is, undoubtedly, the highlight of this album. Readers may enjoy this nazm through this link
The nazm is unique in its construction. It eulogises the millions of round stones you see on the banks of river Tawi. The poet traces the history and glory of the Dogras as he adores these round stones. Happy listening, if you love your language, history, culture, poetry and music. Enjoy the profound poetry and soulful singing !