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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Remembering Chacha Jania


Thanks to my delightful niece, Sahar Zaman, I got this book brought to me by her friend (and now mine), Saif Mahmood.

Been listening to his songs all day.

Chacha Jania (TM) was one of my favourite uncles. He was my father's first cousin and, like his elder brothers - Khusro and Farrukh (known to many as Hayat and Kamal … they were Ammu Jan and Jan Ammu to me) - he spent a lot of time with my father. Ammu Jan was 20 years younger than my father and I was twenty years younger than him.

TM's singing was appreciated heavily by my paternal grandmother, Mahlaqa Begum … who insisted that he sing. One must't forget the fact that her younger brother, CJ's father (Manzoor Mahmood) didn't like it when CJ became a playback singer.

I spent a part of my childhood with him in Calcutta. Had always loved his voice, since I was a child. Ate a lot of Chapatis with Sugar and water, like he did, hoping that my voice would end up like him, Haah!

•••••

He got married … a story that I cannot forget!
But let's leave that for another day.

Chachi Jani was a wonderful aunt. My mother loved her!

•••••

CJ came in the early 60s to Karachi and I took leave from my ships to be with him. It was a wonderful time. I also met his fan and friend, Rashid Latif (of EMI) and am very close to him even today.

His concert was colossal. It was held at a big park next to the Pearl Continental, now renamed and altered. Thousands of people appeared for it and several who couldn't buy tickets sat on trees outside to look at the concert. The famous Mukhtar Begum (MB) sang, too, and mong the things was a song that my father requested of her: Chori Kaheeñ Khülay Nah Naseemé Bahaar Kee.

Rani, who was staying with MB, also accompanied her and sat in the audience at the feet of CJ (as instructed by MB) throughout his sitting there. Singer S. B. John performed, too, at that mahfil, singing several songs, including Tü Jo Naheeñ Haé Toh küchh Bhi Naheeñ Haé

•••••

I met CJ again when he and his family came for his nephew Shahzad Mahmood's wedding in Karachi. He was accompanied by his wonderful wife who has now passed away, his son Khalid and wife Reena, as well as his daughter Sabina with her husband, Riki.


•••••

Several times in Bombay, when I was on my previous career in the Merchant Navy, I met him again. One day while my ship was in the harbour I got a call from him. He was in tears because Roshan Ara Begum had just died. I went over and spent time with him and we talked about his great love of classical music — although he always sang ghazals and film songs.

•••••

I remember that while I was coming back from a ship I had signed off from, I was taken on a long plane route that took me to Russia, from where we came to Bombay - where I would take a plane to Karachi. The Bombay Airport had just had a fire so all the passengers were taken to another room to board their flight. Mine was about 8 hours later and, thanks to the Indian Officials, I could not go to the other lounge since I was a Pakistani. I was hustled into another room. No chairs except one … and a Police Vaala (sitting on that chair) looking at me while eating food from his naashtaydaan.

I was hungry and thirsty. No water or food for me. Shit! 

After about two hours the police chap asked me if I needed food. I said YES, I did. And wanted some water, too. He said he can't get it for me but I could buy it from a young man he'd bring in. So he left and came back with a teenager who wished me 'Assalaam-o-Alaeküm' in a rather loud voice. He asked me if I had Indian Currency. I didn't. He said he can take $s and change them. I gave him a $10 dollar note and he left to get a bun with aaloo. (Never came back! I guess he and the policevaala shared the money.)

•••••

Much later the police person told me I could go to the loo and drink the water from the tap. I did. Filthy it was, but it helped. Came back and the policeman had left and a Sardar Ji was sitting there. He asked me if I knew Punjabi. I said very little, because I had studied in Lahore. He said his grandparents were from Lahore. Since he was chatting I said can I use the phone and call my uncle. He said, "And whose is him?". I said Talat Mahmood. He said. laughingly, "Not singer, no?" … and I said yes he is. 

The world changed. He said I should follow him. I followed him out of the gate. No papers allowing me to go out. Just my handbag. We got into a cab. He said CJ was his favourite singer and he would love to be introduced. So off we went. Landed at CJ's house. I had food, too. Had a marvellous time. Sardar Ji spoke to CJ and loved it and got his autograph. Took me back in to the Airport. And we landed an hour and a half before the flight. I asked him what if we could have been caught. He laughed and said he asked me to go the WC and I had wandered out so he caught me and was bringing me back. I don't think anyone would have believed him … but, anyway, it went well.

•••••

Chacha Jania and Chachi Jania:
I miss you, both!






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