Finding The Roots

Abir Bazaz is a passionate learner and an avid follower of his convictions. He symbolises how determination converts ideas into reality. Ikhlaq Qadri profiles the lover of Kashmiri literature and philosophy.

He was compelled by his family to opt for medical stream, but he left it mid way for his love for literature and pholosophy. At an early stage Abir Bashir Bazaz found a great mentor in Aga Shahid Ali, the renowned Kashmiri American poet. Abir is now pursuing his doctorate on ‘history of Kashmiri thought’ in the University of Minnesota.

Born in Srinagar Abir went to Green Vale Schoolin his own neighbourhood of Barzulla. “There were some great teachers and they imparted some of the life’s earliest and most serious lessons,” recalls Abir. The school was closed down after many Pandit teachers mograted outside Kashmir and Abir went to New Era Public schoolto complete his Matriculation.

Passionate about philosophy and literature Abir quit science stream mid way when he was in 12th standard in Tyndal Biscoe School.“Our parents often oppose unorthodox modes of study. They discourage for being more experimental,” said Abir about the compulsion he had from family.

His love for writing and fondness for poetry once led him to search for works of Vikram Seth that finally led to someone who mentioned Aga Shahid Ali’s poetry. “ I was surprised to know that we have a writer of such a calibre as I had never heard about him.” Abir went to Shahid’s and home and met his parents in Srinagar.

“His mother is full of love,” says Abir. The poet’s parents referred him to Shahid and the two started writing to each other.

One dayhe heard about Shahid’s visit to Delhi and he straight went to see him. “He was generous with his time and help,” says Abir. Agha Shahid Ali had been instrumental in shaping his future with his encouragement and timely support. “He gave me ten books out of his shelf and did my counselling which I really was in need off,” acknowledges Abir.

Being in touch with Shahid helped Abir to regain his vigour and in the same year he appeared as a private candidate for examination in philosophy. “I was the only student in the whole examination appearing in the subject of philosohy,” says Abir.

After getting through 12th standard, Abir went to Delhi for pursuing higher education. He was not eligible to get admission as his marks sheet was yet to be issued by the state board of school education. Frustrated, he went to department of English Jamia Millia Islamia and showed his collection of poems to teachers and narrated the whole detail. The head of the department, Professor Anees-ur-Rehmantalked to vice chancellor and an exception was made for Abir- his admission was secured. He completed his BA in English with honours and topped his batch. During his course he did well and was also the editor of university journal.

Abir cleared his way to join JNU but preferred to take up MA in Mass Communication in Jamia Millia. Immediately after completion of his course he got job in Tehelka. Abir did not like it. “It was investigative type of thing and I was not comfortable.” He thought of making a film about Kashmir. After many hassles he got the required funding from the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) for his filmwell received ‘Paradise on river of Hell’.

Later he secured himself a place inUniversity of Chicago for masters program in humanities with special focus on cinema studies. “I worked with great scholars of world like Thomas Gunning and Miriam Hansen. After completion of this he applied and was selected for PhD program in University of Minnesota.He is pursuing his doctorate on “History of Kashmiri Thought’.

 “I am largely looking at intellectual history of mysticism in Kashmir. I have come to conclusion that Sheikh Ul Alam, Sheikh Noor ud Din Noorani (RA) and Shahi Hamdan , Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (RA) has laid the foundation, we need to follow their teaching.”

Abir is sad to about losing his mentor Agha Shahid Ali at a young age. He also regrets the way he was treated in valley when he(Shahid) wanted to contribute. “Shahid was desirous of being the visiting professor, but nobody wanted him to work. Now people respect him when he is no more,” grieves Abir.
He said it was a pitty that Shahid is being taught in all the major universities of  United States but not in Kashmir university.
“He was a great soul, a great teacher.”

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