Long after it was closed for the day, the Oxford Grammar School in Himayat Nagar came alive last night. A small group of men and women were seen talking animatedly and breaking into laughter.
No, it was not a class in progress. They were just recalling and relating things gone by. Of late, a few concerned citizens have started reminiscing old memories under the banner of ‘Hyderabad Deccan – Yaaden-Baaten’. No, they are not stuck in the past. They are simply remembering the days gone by to give power to their present.
The whole thing is the brainchild of senior advocate, Ghulam Yezdani, and educationist, Anand Raj Verma. They are concerned, rather pained, to see people forgetting their rich and varied past. “We want the vibrant cultural heritage of Hyderabad to be remembered and passed on to the posterity”, says Verma.
The Yaaden-Baaten forum formed by them is an earnest attempt to remember the good, bad and beautiful of Hyderabad. Off and on, interested persons meet to recount and narrate events and moments they cherish. It could be an interesting anecdote or incident one is personally witness to or heard from parents. Anything concerning Hyderabad is welcome here.
The other day, Ram Nivas Prashar, a businessman, sang a Hindi poem to recall the great Musi floods. The ‘lavani’ written by Hari Ram Shekhawat gave a graphic account of the tragedy which claimed hundreds of lives. To the accompaniment of a ‘daf’, Prashar recreated the grim events of September 28, 1908. With the city experiencing torrential rains in the last few weeks, everyone could easily relate to the horrors of ‘tughyani’.
Karke himakhat jo reh gaye the andar
Beh gaye wo Musa ke dhaar
Jo bache so unka bhagwat karde beda paar
Vinod Bhure Lal Yadav, a milk vendor, surprised everyone with his maps of the 15 darwazas and 12 khidkis of Hyderabad. Verma enlightened the gathering about the importance of these ancient doors and windows which were shut at dusk everyday and opened only at the crack of dawn. Another participant, Nanak Ram Nashtar, threw light on the Sikh community in Hyderabad. Sikhs came to Hyderabad from Punjab not in search of livelihood but to help the Nizam in collecting revenue.
They were a privileged class and had representation in different government bodies, he said.The 80-plus Yezdani underscored the need for people to meet and exchange ideas. The Yaaden-Baaten is the platform where one can talk anything about Hyderabad. He suggested a guided tour of interesting places in around the city to know the little known things. The ‘Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb’ of Hyderabad encompassed everyone irrespective of religion and faith. Yezdani recited a couplet to drive home the point:
Chaman main ikhtelafe rang-o-boo se baat banti hai
Tumhi tum ho to tum kya ho, hami hum hain to hum kya hain
Many like Mateen Ansari, Rafia Nausheen and youngsters like Akram were excited by the things they learnt about Hyderabad. Memory is a slippery thing — slick moss on an unstable slope. But, some Hyderabadis want to cling on to the precious memories. They want to remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm and look forward to the future with confidence.