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My Late friend Yashwant Argare, editor of the Hitavada, once a flourishing English daily of central India, knew more Urdu verses than any modern-day Urdu professor. He always greeted me in his inimitable manner: "Zamir Sahab Aaadaaab". The vocal graph shot up and stayed there without decrescendo, but there ws a genuine ring of friendliness and warmth in his salutation.
Adaab, which means 'I pay my respects', was till recently a secular greeting with which the old timers, of all communities accosted one another. Namaste and Assalamalaikum were confined to sectarian and in-community salutations. I have, like most of the Muslims, reciprocated Namaste with Namaste without even bothering to know its real connotations. For me it is only a friendly social greeting. But of late when some of my friends (an insular microscopic minority) reciprocated my Adaab with a guarded and calculated Namaste, I was unhappy.
Before I pronounced judgement on this sudden shift in the attitude of my friends, I decided to check first my own secular credentials. In retrospect, I have participated in all Hindu festivals out of sheer joy and brotherhood. On Holi, I was always the first to get out of the house (no more, blame it on varnish, paint, buffalo-dung and rowdiness) calling Hindu friends to begin the day. When a cleric objected to my playing Holi, I assured him that my religion was not so vulnerable as to be washed away by a bucket-full of coloured water thrown over me by friends in holiday revelry. Earlier, as a student in Maharashtra, it was my job to collect funds for Ganesh Utsav, which we spent on cultural festivities like Kavi Sammelan, Mushairas or on inviting Talat Mehmood, Manna Dey, Asha Bhonsle and Van Shipley, the popular guitarist. As a policeman's son (corruption among government servants was unheard of then) I cashed on my father's goodwill among the malguzars, patels, social elites and the urban shopkeepers.
When I joined college as lecturer, my father presented me with three suits -- two were tie-suits, and one was a buttoned -up Jodhpuri suit, which he advised me to wear on the Independence Day and the Republic Day (how many parents can honestly claim teaching such a practical patriotism) In 1994 I had sent 500 Rakhees to the UN Secretary General pleading that they adopt Rakhee, the best festival of India, as an International Brotherhood Day. I can go on and on with the list. But I am sure this self-assessment shall give a clean chit to my secular credentials.
As a young boy, I often accompanied my father on his rural inspection tours and watched the country life and the ways of the simple village folk very closely. I often noticed the villagers greeting the Imam (the Muslim cleric who leads the Namaz) of the local mosque with their, " Moulvi Sahab, Ram, Ram ". The Moulana, emerging from the mosque after saying his prayers, would reciprocate affectionately: "Bhayya, Ram, Ram. Acche Ho?) This bonhomie accompanied all greetings; Adaab and Ram, Ram formed part of that composite culture which did not belong to any religion. It saddens me that these days people (only handful of them) are trying to demolish that composite culture with open aggressive gestures. I wish they stop meddling with the social main stream and leave all such fine things of life to the good sense of posterity, and let the national, cultural psyche decide the secular vocabulary. In the meantime, I wish Yeshwant Argarey's legacy and mine endure.

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About The Author


Zamiruddin .


Madhya Pradesh ,  INDIA

Former professor of English Hon Sec The International Byron Society London President Guardians Guild wrote articles for The pioneer, The National Mail, M.P. Chronicle former Columnist for Hindustan Times Columnist Urdu daily Nadeem wrote Byron and the Drama of Ideas (Salzburg University Austria) Smile Please Chalte Phirte (M.P. Urdu Academy) In Stride satisfied with being a Social activist and member of the Bhopal Citizens Forum; edited Shakespeare's Dictionary and Compendium of His Complete works.

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