REMEMBERING A NERVE SHATTERING DAY IN OUR LIFE
17TH JANUARY 1975, THE DEATH OF CHUGHTAI ARTIST
There were four persons in the house on 17th January, 1975. One the wife, Begum Kishwar Iqbal Bano, the brother Abdur Raheem, Chughtai; a servant Arshad Sadoqi Bangla and myself. Abdur Raheem Chughtai died in 1992, Begum Kishwar Bano died in 2006, Arshad Sadoqi Bangla died in 2017 and only I am left to recount that terrible day in our life. So some feelings should always be recorded for posterity.
Those days were tension ridden. Chughtai was sick and rather there being some known sickness, it was a double edged weapon of hope and hopelessness. The artist had literally lost hope. He could not sleep in the night. Much to our annoyance, he would ask his brother for a sleeping pill to sleep at night. The pill had lost effectiveness. He was awake in the night, sleep in the day. I used to be terribly frightened that he would get up in the night, not seek any help from his wife and could fall down and injure himself. And that is what actually happened one day. He lost consciousness for some time and we were in a state of panic. But with him awake, I too was literally awake all night. A noise from his side and I would call my mother to beware that he is awake and trying to get up. My father tried this best to get up noiselessly so that both of us should not be disturbed and always got amazed that with little noise of the slippers, I would be awaken to sound a warning. Those were that kind of days.
On 17th January, in the morning he sent for me. He wanted to shake hands with me and he would not let go of my hand. It took me a while and I understood. He was sure that he was dying and was saying good bye to me in his own terms. This is a term used by Dr Allama Iqbal on 20th April, 1938, midnight with him, and Dr Allama Iqbal would not let go of the hands of Chughtai artist. I literally reprimanded him, not to lose hope. I asked him to get some coffee and he would feel better. But he was not feeling well.
In the evening my uncle and I went in my car to Multan road, to fetch the doctor son in law of artist Sardar Muhammed, a dear friend of the artist. The doctor was busy and taking his time. We hurried back and when we were near the house, I saw a light on in the verandah, which is never on. Arshad the servant was standing there and rushed down. MIAN SAHIB HAS DIED. My uncle rushed up and I calmly locked the car, and went to my room, and sat down, with my back to the wall. Thinking about what has happened and what we are going to do now? No money with my mother, no money with me and all the property and things in utter mess. A kingdom had fallen down, and carving a new kingdom was not a joke. All night I was awake and quivered with fright. The artist had left a responsibility and I could only wonder about the future. But that is another story for another time.