R.I.P Ruqaiya Hasan: A life well lived

Ruqaiya Hasan, Hong Kong, Feb 2015. Photo by Lexie Don

Ruqaiya Hasan, Hong Kong, Feb 2015. Photo by Lexie Don

Ruqaiya Hasan: Born -1931, Pratapgarh, India; studied at Allahabad University (1953); Government College Lahore (1958); Edinburgh University (PhD in Linguistics, 1964). Retired as Emeritus Professor Macquarie University. Passed on: June 24, 2015, Sydney, Australia.

She seemed to be getting progressively better since the life-threatening respiratory infection she’d contracted after receiving radiotherapy for her advanced stage lung cancer (she survived rectal cancer in the 1980s). I had rushed over to Sydney to be with her, not knowing whether she’d still be there when I landed. If she’s still around, I’ll get to see her, if not, I’d be there for my cousin Neil and Uncle Michael, I reasoned. We knew, as did she, that it was a terminal disease but the rate she was improving led the doctors to add a chart to her hospital room stating her expected date of discharge as: “(?) 07/07/2015. Destination: Home”. We knew she wouldn’t be with us long, but at least some months seemed assured.

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An Ozzie update, and thanks

Sydney, Feb 17 2015: Christian Matthiessen, Ruqaiya Hasan and Michael Halliday at a symposium in honour of Michael in his 90th year. Photo by Lexie Don, courtesy Frances Christie.

Sydney, Feb 17 2015: Chris Mathieson, Ruqaiya Hasan and Michael Halliday at a symposium in honour of Michael in his 90th year. Photo by Lexie Don, courtesy Frances Christie.

A quick update from Oz: my aunt Ruqaiya Hasan is improving, slowly but steadily. She was discharged from hospital and is now in another to receive palliative rehabilitation care until she is strong enough to return home, which the doctors hope will be in a couple of weeks. This really is nothing short of a miracle given the condition she was in last week. The other good news is that my mother Zakia Sarwar in Karachi has just got the visa and should be arriving on Sunday. Many people worked to make that happen in days rather than the month it usually takes. A multi-effort led to Ammi’s pre-visa medical exam being moved from July 4 to June 17. A heartfelt thanks to the friends in Islamabad who kept calling the Australian embassy, the linguists who appealed to the Australian government, and those who used their contacts in the Australian foreign office to expedite the visa.

Personal Political: Faiz and ‘Anthems of Resistance’

Published in The News on Sunday yesterday: The power of ideas

Andy McCord responding to a question at the Faiz panel. Photo: Beena Sarwar


by Beena Sarwar

I am no great expert on Faiz but his poetry speaks to me, touches my heart just as much as it does every other liberal, progressive, secular-minded person I know. Perhaps his poetry, with its universal messages about truth and justice, sorrows and joys that are just simply human messages, also touches some hearts that are not progressive and secular.

There’s also a personal connection that was put in context last weekend at a discussion on Faiz at panel organised at the Left Forum (formerly the Socialist Scholars Conference that became an annual event starting in 1981). I was roped into moderating it after the original moderator David Barsamian, the well-known radio producer and journalist (and fluent Urdu speaker), couldn’t make it at the last minute. Continue reading

‘And there shall be more caravans of passion…’

Title for documentary 'Aur nikleiN Ge Ushhaq ke Qafley' - design by K.B. Abro

Several items uploaded to the Dr Sarwar blog over the last month:

1. Learning from history in an age of bombs
– my article based on research done for the 30-min documentary on the 1953 student movement directed by Sharjil Baloch, that I produced (we are making some final changes after which it will be available for distribution upon request).

2. Articles specially written for the Jan 9, 2010 Event Book on the 1953 student movement:
Keep the fire burning – End Note by Zakia Sarwar
Continuing Stories: Social Action and Change – by Ruqaiya Hasan
The High School Students’ Association and my rite of passage – by Ghazi Salahuddin

3. Scans of the Event Book, Jan 9, 2010 – Copies available upon request

Happy 25th Spelt, and good luck with the conference

Suhaee and Babar perform at Spelt's 25th birthday celebrations. Photo: K.B. Abro

Suhaee and Babar perform at Spelt’s 25th birthday celebrations. Photo: K.B. Abro

Spelters raise candles to celebrate 25 years - and counting. Photo: K.B. Abro

Spelters raise candles to celebrate 25 years – and counting. Photo: K.B. Abro

DIWALI GREETINGS TO ALL. Here are some observations on the silver jubilee of Pakistan’s first volunteer-based, professional English language teaching organisation, based on my comments at the 25th birthday celebrations of the Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers (Spelt) on July 31 this year. Spelt’s annual international conference begins today in Karachi – an event they have been holding every year since they started and which involves a ‘travelling conference’ at which key plenary speakers address similar conferences in other cities. I think this must be some kind of record.

July 31, 2009

‘I never knew I could teach without hitting the students’

Beena Sarwar The Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers celebrated its 25th birthday in July this year. This is a milestone, noted the respected linguist Dr Tariq Rahman at the event held to mark the event, not just for this particular organisation but in the history of Pakistan’s voluntary organisations. Whenever he tells his colleagues in Islamabad about Spelt, he said, they are confounded by all that it has achieved, and the number of dedicated professionals it draws in and involves. Continue reading

Remembering those who have passed on

Minal and Maha with Dr Sarwar (Zakia in background), Jan 2009

Minal and Maha with Dr Sarwar (Zakia in background), Jan 2009

Post on Dr Sarwar blog, Sept 21, 2009 (Also posted recently there – photos of Dr Sarwar & Zakia Sarwar, 1980s, with Ali Sardar Jafri and Ismat Chughtai in Karachi, Sehba Sarwar’s poem Doc 101… and more):

As we celebrate special occasions like birthdays, Eid, Christmas or Navratri, we especially remember those who have passed on. Here is a note from Sehba in Houston relating a conversation with her daughter Minal who turns five years old on Sept 21 (happy birthday Minal, and thanks for your words of wisdom and love):

Right now, we’re in the car doing errands. Minal had a busy morning playing with one of my friend’s kids. Suddenly, she says: “Every one dies no matter what.”

Reně and I nod.

She adds: “I miss Nana. Sometimes I stay up at night and cry for him.”

“You do?” I ask.

“I wish I’d talked to him before he died.”

This just came out of the blue. We hadn’t talked about Babba for sometime. But maybe she was thinking about him because we skyped with Beena this morning.

Dr Sarwar Reference, Aug 8, Lahore

Final-Dr Sarwar reference-flyerYour presence is cordially requested at a
REFERENCE IN BELOVED MEMORY OF
DR. M. SARWAR (1930-2009)

Founding member, former President
Democratic Students Federation (DSF);
Former Secretary General (Central)
Pakistan Medical Association (PMA)

Related articles and photos at: www.drsarwar.wordpress.com

Saturday, August 8, 2009
5:00-8:00 PM
Programme:
5.00-6.00 pm: Formal Reference
moderated by Hussain Naqi, former General Secretary NSF & President Karachi University Student Union

Speakers:
Hameed Akhtar, writer; Abid Hasan Minto, advocate; Prof. Afzal Tauseef, writer;
I.A. Rehman, Secretary General HRCP; Zaman Khan, activist; Farooq Tariq, Labour Party leader; Salima Hashmi, artist; S.M. Naseem, former editor ‘Students Herald’;

Dr Haroon Ahmed + Dr M. Ilyas, former PMA office bearers; Dr. Izhar Chaudhry, Secretary General PMA Punjab; Ammar Ali Jan, activist; Dr Farrukh Gulzar, follower; and Dr Sarwar’s wife Zakia Sarwar, educationist

6.00-6.30 pm: Tea

6.30-8.00 pm: Discussion, deliberations and other offerings
Facilitated by S.M. Naseem, Beena Sarwar, and Ali Cheema
Venue: Dorab Patel Auditorium
Aiwan-I-Jamjoor, 107-Tipu Block New Garden Town, Lahore – 54600
Tel:(92) (042) 5838341-5864994-5865969

Web site: www.hrcp-web.org

Email: hrcp@hrcp-web.org

PUNCTUALITY IS REQUESTED – we aim to start on time
Organised by friends and admirers of Dr M. Sarwar and his legacy

For more information, please contact Dr M. Farrukh Gulzar 03004818390

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