It was Saturday evening on 3rd of January 2015 when my dearest grandfather Haji Habibullah Kumar left this mortal world for all times to come. You were quite fine during the sunny daytime of that particular day of Chilliakalan the harshest spell of forty days winter in Kashmir. Suddenly you developed the slight pain in your thoracic region and trying our best to rescue you, our all efforts proved to be all in vain because death keeps no calendar. Within minutes all our near and dear ones, especially those dwelling in our immediate neighbourhood, thronged our home after hearing the lamenting cries of our family members.
I still remember my father had gone to SKIMS Srinagar along with my dear mother who too is suffering from a major ailment for the last seven years. Fortunately they had arrived some two hours earlier when this unfortunate incident happened. Without wasting much time I telephoned almost every relative in order to inform them about the sudden death of my grandfather. Our close relatives arrived within a short span of time with an intention to participate in his last rites. But it was later unanimously decided that the burial would take place next morning on 4th of January. So the burial and his last rites were performed next morning.
Director Meteorological Department Kashmir popularly called as the ‘weather man’ of the valley Mr Sonam Lotus had predicted a strong wet spell of seven days on that fateful day but to our utter surprise weather remained quite pleasant and kind to us and it didn’t displease us in performing the last rites. His funeral prayer was lead by Zakir Hussain the Imam of our grand mosque while the ‘ghusal’ was performed by Master Ab Majid Wani, his lifetime friend to whom he was attached most and whenever he faced any issue or developed an ailment he would straightaway tell me to call Master Ji.
It was Master Ji’s selfless quality and nature that he informed my father about police recruitment some four decades ago at Srinagar and advised him to appear in the said recruitment process because he knew that he had cleared the matric exam few months back. When I applied for the post of teacher in Ganderbal district in 2008, I too received the application form from Master Ji who had kept it reserved for me. I remember he was the first one to congratulate me on the day I was selected as his son had seen the list from Jammu.
Born in a middle class family at Kewa, a village one kilometre away from the Tehsil headquarters and main town of Qazigund, his father’s name was Karim Kumar. In his early childhood he lost him. Then he was raised by his uncle till he reached the marriageable age. Due to meagre sources at his ancestral place, he was married at Berigam to Khatija D/o Ahad Kumar a saintly person because he had only two daughters – the elder one Ashia was already married to Muma Kumar of Larkipora Anantnag. So it was decided that Habibullah would settle here at Berigam to look after both his spouse and parents in-law.
Initially he couldn’t adapt to the changing environment of Berigam and most often he would return back to Kewa. But one of his close associates Late Haji Habibullah Dar took him to Syed Meerak Shah Kashani (RA) the legendary poet and spiritual saint of Shalimar Srinagar. Meerak Shah Sahib (RA) gave him a piece of white sweet candy and thereafter he never turned to Kewa the way he used to turn earlier. While settling in Berigam he developed cordial relationship with his relatives, near and dear ones irrespective of the caste and status.
He was much dear to Rather/Muqdam family of Sopat our neighbouring village. He used to spend hours with his friends of this family. Worth to mention some among them are Shamsudin Rather, Gh Muhammad Rather and Haji Aziz Sahib. He was much dear to them for his simplicity, God-fearing nature, down to earth quality and above all a humble background.
Since pottery has been our background and almost all our forefathers were associated with this profession which is the man’s earliest discovery after fire and wheel since his existence on planet earth, my grandfather too occupied this profession he had already learnt from his elders. He was a skilful pottery professional and I remember in my childhood he would always prepare the clay toys like clay top, clay horse and clay bank (Bigwour) for me. He was gifted by three daughters – eldest one Shahmali married at Pehroo Anantnag, lone son my father Ab Aziz and two other daughters Rafiqa and Zareefa both married at Redwani village of Kulgam district. He was strictly offering five-time prayers and fasting and on Fridays he routinely prayed at Anantnag. In his youth times when a couple of predictions proved true, people especially Berigamians began calling him as Peer Sahib and till his last breath they called him by that nickname.
Dada Ji, I strongly feel your absence and it is this absence which has taught me your stature, kind attitude, loving and caring behaviour and above all your humbleness. Though illiterate you were a rational advisor, a better guide and a good counsellor. Because of your visionary look almost all our relatives were seeking your guidance before tying the nuptial of their dear ones. You have arranged the wedlock of tens of sons/daughters and most of them married at Redwani where your own dou daughters are settling.
Distinguished physician Dr Naseer Ahmad Shah was his health consultant for decades. Since my childhood I had been hearing about the God given curative skills and better diagnostic abilities of Dr Naseer from him which prompted me to accompany him and take the glimpse of Dr Naseer in 2003. He never allowed any attendant in his clinic of Brain Nishat Srinagar but somehow I managed to get in. When he asked me why I entered in the room, I begged, “Doctor Sahib he doesn’t hear clearly so I accompanied him to hear your diagnosis and preventive measures.” Dr Naseer wasn’t satisfied with my trick and he uttered the words, “Yaar isko main pachaas saalon se janta hoon aur muje pata hai ki usko kya problem hai.”
Dada sahib if I continue to write about the virtues and humanistic qualities you were bestowed with, it would expand like rubber. So amid tearful eyes I conclude my tribute to you with this prayer…
May your soul rest in peace and may Almighty Allah grant you a highest place in Jannah. May Allah erase all your sins, bad deeds and may on the Doomsday you be offered the sacred drink of Hauz-e-Kausar by our dearest Prophet (SAAW).