A DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF LAHORE MAJOR JOHN CLARKE – AND MIAN RAHEEM BAKSH MIMAR, LINKS ALL NEW IN WORK – A STORY OF CHANGE AND THE COMING OF THE NEW AESTHETICS
Somebody was in possession of three letters. Major John Clarke. Deputy Commissioner of Sheikhupura in 1851, Deputy Commissioner of Gujranwala in 1855, and DC of Lahore in 1856. And it goes further when n 1862, he is Engineer in Chief, of Lahore Railway Station Works. He is getting the Railway construction work done, and in that respect, he is giving a certificate to Mian Raheem Baksh Mimar, alias Haemoo, related to his supervision of construction of the Railway Station. He says:
“I have pleasure in testifying to the detailed knowledge possessed by Haemoo of Masonry and Bricklaying. He has acted as Foreman of Mistrees at the Lahore Passenger Station and other buildings, understand a Plan thoroughly and is a very valuable person to have about building operations.” Dated 1st November, 1862.
A chance reference revealing a valuable truth. All envelopes had the original letters in them but now in some worldly collection. The most interesting fact is that Punjab is under the Bombay residency, as the address clarifies in depth. A different era of Lahore.
A CONCEPT KNOWN AS IQBALLIAN KHUDI OFFERS OF DONATION FOR CHUGHTAI MUSEUM
Five offers in 46 years is a record in itself
The house of M.A. Rahman Chughtai was not an easy one to grow in any way, for Iqballian principles flowed in the house. The artist was a student of the Quran and the permanent values of the Quran he understood very well. For us in the house there were plenty of dos and don’ts, but we were never afraid of them. We followed them to the letter in full spirit. An artist who could mutter Iqbal’s verses many times in the day would certainly have people listening to him. He always lamented about TERAY SADA BANDAY QIDAR JAHAIN, YAHAN SULTANI BE AIYARI HAI AUR FAQEERI BE. After taking his bath, he would spend some time in reciting such verses. One thing we were told again and again is that US RIZK SAY HAI MOAT BAHTAR JIS SAY ATI HAI PARWAZ MAY KUTAI. Yes, we understood difference between money which can lower your head in shame. That was the reason that I never learnt to spread my hand in front of anyone. I could never ask my father for any money., Any need of mine I would tell my mother and she would get the money from my father (who also never carried money and would ask my uncle). That attitude continued in life. I could never raise my hand in front of anybody. I learnt to give and give and I gave whatever I could and thousands can bear testimony to this, who walked in our museum anytime in life.
I remember Imran Khan used to collect donations and did not account them in the initial years. People took him to court and I thought how embarrassing it was, for someone to be asked to explain his finances. Pakistanis are not easy on artists or museums. They are in the habit of TAKING EVERYTHING FREE without BUDGING AN EYE. LIFE!. I know that and I experience that. But five times in 46 years, we were offered donations. The first was from a British Couple who were interested in knowing where the DONATION BOX was and wanted to drop a Ten Rupee note in it. It was very embarrassing and I told them WE DO NOT TAKE DONATIONS. Utterly surprised at my saying this to them. Second was a Pakistani lawyer who wanted to donate 100 Rs for ten small cypress trees to be planted on the premises. I could only laugh at that. Museums abroad receive millions to give this service to anybody, so our guy here was not only clever but also a first-rate miser. Third was a DESI MAIM from England, who was forcibly trying to give me a thousand Rs. The thing went to actual harshness when after refusing her again and again, she insisted on same. So finally, I told her to give this to some beggar walking outside the museum, if she wants to satisfy herself. Otherwise, I will not accept same. The fourth was an American Airline pilot from Saudi Arabia who offered me TEN DOLLARS and when refused, he made it TWENTY DOLLARS. It also led to unpleasantness but I refused him again and again. He would not understand how people can refuse money.
The fifth one was very recent. A dear friend Nusratullah Shah walked in with a WAD of Rs 5000 currency notes with a letter from his son in law, as a donation gift to the Museum. It utterly surprised me but made me feel good and humble. I told him how can we take a thing for which there is no account. When I cannot account for it, how can I take it? As a gentleman, he understood me well. If irritated he did not show it.
Not a single paisa taken from anyone in 46 years, a record in itself. On our own, for even the Government, federal or provincial had never even offered a single paisa to us. Curse be on that money which hampers your flight! We want to be falcons not greedy politicians who we cite every day in our life. Yes, we have survived on our own, with our abilities. My father gave me HAQ HILAL to eat and I have given HAQ HILAL to my children to eat. There is nothing to equal that. I walk tall. I know what KHUDI is in all ways something to pursue in life. I am grateful to my father for his lessons of life.