Workshop Wonder

The journey of an old city boy from his father’s mechanic workshop to Kashmir University’s Arabic department is pregnant with pain, passion and perseverance, reports Shakir Mir

Tariq
Tariq Ahangar

His youthful years were spent trying to mend the damaged cars at his father’s workshop. With no clear foresight how to make ends meet, Tariq Ahangar worked as a turner for a substantial part of his life. Hailing from a humble background, Tariq grew up as an ardent student of mathematics but later opted for Arabic.

Today he is an influential board member in Kashmir University’s Arabic Department. As a fulltime Assistant Professor, Tariq writes and translates poems and short stories in Arabic language.

But his successful career has not come without enduring his own share of hardship and straitened time. Born in 1972 in old city, Tariq grew up in a poor milieu. He studied in a local school before migrating to Chanapora locality. He joined government higher secondary school Jawahar Nagar as non-medical student.

Across Kashmir, back then, the socio-political order was seething with unrest. “Due to turmoil, I couldn’t concentrate on my studies,” Tariq says. “I would go to college twice a week because things were not conducive.”

His three sisters studied while father toiled hard at a motor workshop in Batamaloo. His homemaker mother would manage the household chores. It was therefore difficult to eke out a living. “Even genealogically we are very hard-working people,” he chuckles. It was thus he left the need to earn money.

Tariq finally decided to get apprenticed to his father at the workshop—welding snapped metal, and fixing spear parts. The daylong slog fetched him a frugal 400 rupees. All his income would empty out for domestic expenditure.

Today, sitting across the table at the departmental library in Kashmir University, Tariq speaks at length about his remarkable journey. He is dressed immaculately; brown leather tuxedo and black pants. He jabs away at the air, trying to explain things while occasionally caressing his thick beard with hand.

“Later I developed interest in Arabic language,” he recalls in retrospect. “But I couldn’t get direct admission in MA Arabic because it wasn’t my subject during graduation.”

Tariq enrolled himself in a diploma course in Arabic, necessary to gain admission in post-graduate studies. “Diploma was sort of a bridge course,” he says. “Back then at KU, there was a depleted staff. But under the stewardship of Prof Peerzada Bashir I grew up as a consummate student of Arabic.”

Tariq secured 80% marks in his exams. He was later rewarded with a gold medal. “All these achievements boosted my confidence,” he says.

Years later, in 2000, Tariq got a whiff about the National Educational Test (NET) that would have made him eligible for lectureship. In cold December morning, he appeared in the exams. “Only two persons from university passed the test,” he says. “…me and another student from the English department.”

His serendipitous moment came a year later when Kashmir University’s Arabic Department advertised a post for a teaching assistant. As many as 10 candidates appeared for the interview. “Some of them were PhDs while many MPhils,” he says.

In a sheer luck, Tariq got selected for the only one vacancy that University had advertised. For the next two years, he faced two more interviews – and then even passed them – in order to retain his job as a teaching assistant.

Later, he applied for the permanent post. Out of 17 candidates vying for the single post, he was selected. “I could not rein my happiness,” Tariq says.

Since then he has been since serving as assistant professor in the department. Tariq has translated many poems and short stories from Arabic language. He wrote many short stories of his own. His first short story was published in 2001 entitled Da-ul-Kalb (Heartache).

He has also written a litany of research papers published in many reputed journals. Currently he is a member of Board of PG studies, Board of UG studies and Incharge Students activities. “I am thankful to my mother for all the achievement I have had,” Tariq concedes.

His aging father has now relinquished his mechanical job. Evers since he secured a job at KU, all the responsibility has been rested on his shoulders while father rests at home. And workshop? “It was sold out long ago,” he gleams.

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