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Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Very Special Evening

I have just returned from an evening of Sama'a, rendered amazingly well by Abdullah Niazi and Party. Although the group goes by this name, it is the presence of 85+ years old Manzoor Niazi Sahab (whose children and shaagirds make up the party) that makes it what it is.

This form of nomenclature seems to be a tradition in the family. Manzoor Niazi Sahab's illustrious and greatly admired cousin, Munshi Raziuddin Sahab, occupied a similar position - performing until his death, at 90+, couple of years ago - in a group named (after his eldest son) Fareed Ayaz Al-Hussaini and Party.

Incidentally, both the groups have received the Presidential Pride of Performance Awards this year, in recognition of their lifelong service to a genre they have kept alive in its most traditional form.

The evening provided excellent food for the ears and the soul - the quality of the listeners and the presence of Manzoor Niazi Sahab imposing a discipline upon the younger performers that kept them from veering into the commercially enforced style that other mahfils demand of them. Their melodious and soulful rendition of Naseemah Jaanibe Bat'ha was, as usual, exquisite and has always been considered their almost exclusive domain.

However, the real reason this evening was special was that it was the first one being held at the house of Haider Karrar since his sudden and early demise stunned many friends and colleagues over a year ago. The death of Haider - a great lover and patron of sufi sama'a and qavvaali, greatly respected and loved by the qavvaals, themselves - affected me intensely, despite my all too brief acquaintance with him. Surprisingly, given the limited number of encounters, Haider had found a place in my heart (and those of my wife and daughter) that seems almost inexplicable. A warm man, with a smile that showed him to be at peace with everything around him, he exuded a gentle quality that - at first glance - seemed strange for his large build. But it took only the briefest of moments for it to shine through.

In my 65 years, I can recall only one other person that elicited similar feelings from people at the first meeting. That man was the poet, Suroor Baarahbankvi. And, strangely, it was a couplet of his that had crossed my mind after my very first encounter with Haider, and one that repeated itself in my thoughts as we buried Haider in the shade of the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Clifton (where his spirit, many felt, would continue to enjoy an eternity of qavvaalis held every Thursday at the mazaar). I know no one who can be better summed up by the first line of Suroor Bhai's couplet: Jin se mil kar zindagi say ishq ho jaae, voh loag … Aap nay shaayad nah daykhay hoñ, magar aésay bhi haeñ!

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Anonymous ghazala said...

Dear Zak what a beautiful response to such a magical and emotive evening and ofcourse so succinctly written (but thats taken for granted) Due credit must be given to Azra Haider Karrar, who despite her personal reservations -because they brought a flood of memories of a loving husband and caring father. Haider bhai touched all those whom he met - made every one feel special. It really was a special tribute to the man

24 August, 2005 14:11

Anonymous Hasan Karrar said...

Thank you for your kind comments; I shared them with everyone in the family and we were all deeply touched.

17 October, 2005 21:53

Anonymous yasir said...

I really appreciate your discussion.keep it up!!!

08 December, 2009 16:09


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