Syed Sajjad Hussain
(1954 – 2013)
Rahiba R Parveen
Syed Sajjad Hussain, one of the known literary figures of Kashmir breathed his last on December 12. Hussain, an Urdu novelist, poet and politician was suffering from diabetes for the last 11 years but his death was due to a sudden cardiac arrest. It has brought shock and grief to all the corners of valley.
Born in June 1954 in the small town of Doda, Hussain struggled through his life. His first novel ‘Udaan’ is set in his hometown Doda and the river Chenab which flows through it. He held a Post-Graduate degree in History and Urdu, and had also taken a diploma in Mass Communication from New Delhi. He authored seven novels in Urdu and also held the honour of scripting 350 dramas which were stage-performed and broadcasted on Doordarshan.
Shakeel Shan, the Assistant Cultural Officer who knew Hussain for a decade, said that he was a multi-dimensional personality. “He had a vast knowledge of almost all subjects ranging from religion to poetry. He believed in the standard of work for whatever he wrote or directed, he gave his 100 per cent,” he said. Shan who is a poet and writer himself credits Hussain for guiding him. “He was my mentor. He always stressed on the fact that humanity was the base of everything.”
Officially Hussain retired last year as the Formal Assistant Director of the Information Department. He had joined Information Department in 80s as Assistant Information Officer. He served the department on different positions including Field Publicity Officer and Cultural Officer. As he performed his duties, he left no stone unturned in promoting the art and culture of the region and also introduced the Opera form of theatre in the state. “He has written first colored film for DD titled Aisa Bi Hota Hai,” said Khalid Bashir, secretary cultural academy Kashmir.
Hussain admired Ibn-e-Safi, a prolific fiction writer and Urdu poet from Pakistan while his own poetry reflects the pain of people. His writings are influenced by Safi, Kashmir and his hometown which is proof of his love for them.
“He was at par in all his respective positions which not only involve him as a professional but in personal relations as well. We were five brothers and he was the eldest who not only excelled in his life but helped us to achieve our goals as well,” shared Syed Khalid Hussain, his youngest brother who works with the Indian news channel IBN7.
As soon as the news of his demise came people from all walks of life poured in their condolences. Be it journalists, writers, politicians from all sections like the mainstream party National Conference (NC), the opposition party Peoples Democratic Party and also the Separatists of Hurriyat faction assembled to pay their last respects.
His political connection was formed during his college days at the Sri Pratap Singh College, Srinagar where he joined the NC’s youth wing. He was close to the founder of the party Sheikh Abdullah. The deceased had formally joined the party in 2011. Given his political connection, even during peak militancy when it was life threatening for locals to join politics, he never received threats from anywhere. Khalid proudly credits Hussain for this. He said his character was of such a magnitude that he attained respect from all thus no one ever felt any animosity towards him.
Everybody knows about his contribution in the society but now when he is no longer among us his associates share that Hussain was a great humanitarian who always stood by the destitute. “He did charity with utmost secrecy. Once he was offering namaz and a destitute woman handed over a list to me. I happened to read it and I was stunned to see his contribution for her daughter’s marriage,” added Shan. On the other side, Khalid said apart from the big shots who poured in to condolence his death, there were poor people also. Some were unknown to us but astonishingly they said it was a personal loss for them.
He has left behind his wife, three children who include two daughters and a son.
“He didn’t have an idea that death would knock on his door so soon,” said Khalid. But ironically the last lines he read to his son were, “waqt jab karwat badalta hai tou sher bhi fisal kar makdi ki jaal mein fasjata hain– (When time plays its trick even the lion can get trapped in a spider’s web).”