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Talking cricket, science and poetry

Recently our cricket team played a series of matches in the UAE against Australia and New Zealand. They played well against Australia, but the New Zealanders forced losses on them.

I have always been an ardent supporter of cricket and hockey. In the olden days – about 65 years ago when I was a student – it was always a treat to watch cricket and hockey matches. In those days, cricket was considered a gentlemen’s sport. Our heroes, A Hafeez Karder, Fazal Mahmood, Khan Mohamed, Mahmood Hussain, Hanif Mohammad, Vazir Mohammad (Mushtaq and Sadiq came much later), Imtiaz Ahmed, Wiqar Ahmad, etc played against many foreign teams.

It was a real treat to see the aristocratic Hafeez Kardar, flamboyant Fazal Mahmood and unassuming Hanif Mohammad in action. To top it all off, there was the charming, heart-catching commentary by our late Omar Qureshi and Jamsheed Markar. What wonderful events those were!

In Bhopal city, we had two high schools, Alexandra High School (where I was a student) and Model High School. Both produced excellent hockey and cricket players who later shone at Aligarh Muslim University. Among hockey players we had Ahsan Muhammad Khan, Major Shakoor, Anwar Ahmad, Khan Aziz, Habibur Rehman, Lateef, Farooq Ali Khan, etc. Most of these players went on to play for Pakistan in World and Olympic tournaments.

The hockey and cricket matches between these two above-mentioned high schools were always as interesting and emotionally laden as later matches between India and Pakistan. Matches were played all out and often lasted for 5 or 6 days.

All this nostalgia because I recently received a book from a dear friend, Mr Najum Latif, an author, cricket commentator and historian par excellence. His monumental books, ‘Wounded Tiger’ and ‘The History of Cricket in Pakistan’ are a treat to read. The book he sent me now is titled ‘Beyond the Boundaries’ and is written by Younis Ahmed, the younger brother of our famous prolific batsman and captain of the Pakistan team. It has been fully revised and edited by Mr Najum Latif and is published by Jumhoori Publications, Lahore. It contains tributes to Younis Ahmed by world-famous cricketers.

Another book I recently received is ‘Textbook of Microscopic Anatomy’. It is written by our own able Dr Arbab Abdul Wadood, professor of anatomy, Quetta Institute of Medical Sciences. The book is published by Paramount Books (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi and Lahore. It contains well-written texts and clear colour illustrations. It is an excellent text for medical and biological students. What makes this book different is the fact that Prof Wadood, with almost 40 years of teaching experience to his name, has quoted from Western medical sources and tied in his text to quotations from Tibbe Nabvi and the Holy Quran. This has made it an extremely interesting and informative learning experience.

Unfortunately, text books written by our own educationists are rare, with students more likely to go for Indian texts, where far more research and writing is done. I wish Prof Wadood all possible success with his current and future work.

My love for poetry does not go by unnoticed and many people send me poetry related books. A few days ago I was visited by our famous Urdu poet, Mr Murtuza Berlas. He was accompanied by Ms Ayesha Masood, a prolific writer who regularly writes in an Urdu daily. She is the wife of the late Masood Malik, who had a beautiful voice and sang some memorable songs.

I have known Mr Berlas since 1991 when I went to attend an international conference on pathology at Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur as chief guest. It had been organised by another dear friend, late Lt Gen Iftikhar Malik, a fellow of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences. I liked Bahawalpur very much for its natural beauty, especially the greenery and date palms. I was staying in a guesthouse there and one evening Mr Murtaza Berlas, then commissioner of Bahawalpur, came to see me.

He was a thorough gentleman, highly knowledgeable with a first class Masters degree in mathematics from the famous University of Agra. (Incidentally, he was the only Muslim appearing in that examination.) He came to Pakistan in the mid-fifties, taught for some time and then became a CSP Officer, rising to the rank of commissioner.

In one of my previous columns I once quoted a free translation of one of his famous verses: “You are venturing to tell the truth in these days of hypocrisy; hope you are not punished for telling the truth!” Sometime later I received a letter from Mr Berlas informing me that he had meanwhile retired and was enjoying his life writing poetry. He published a collection of his work titled ‘Kulliate Murtaza Berlas’. It is beautiful, heart-warming, romantic and charming and a must-read for lovers of Urdu poetry. You won’t be able to put it down before finishing it and the work has been highly acclaimed by well-known Urdu poets and authors.

One of his verses refers to our political scenario of dictatorship and democracy. It reads: “Naamm uska aamriat ho keh ho jamhuriat; Munsalik firauniat mansab se tub the abbhi he.” (Whether you call it a dictatorship or a democracy, the dictatorship was related to the office and it still is). During his visit, Mr Berlas presented me with a copy of his most recent book, ‘Laal-o-Gauhar’, another jewel of a collection of single verses.

What an honour that he dedicated this book to me. It contains beautiful verses but, unfortunately, translations don’t justify its beauty. The official launch will be at the end of the month, most probably on December 28, at the Pakistan Academy of Sciences. (The Academy of Sciences is right next to the office of the Chief Election Commission). Hope to see many of you there.

Dr A Q Khan, "Talking cricket, science and poetry," The news. 2018-12-24.
Keywords: Social sciences , Social aspect , Medical Sciences , Teaching experience , Olympic tournament , Democracy , Dictatorship , Sports , Literature , Hanif Muhammad , Hafeez Kardar , India , Pakistan