Monday, March 30, 2020


                                   (Kaifi Azmi )
                             (Chetan Anand)


Chetan Anand  was a connoisseur of Urdu poetry. He was  also associated with IPTA  whereat  he  developed close friendship with  Bal Raj Sahni, Ali Sardar Jafri , Prem Dhawan , Kaifi Azmi , K A Abbas, Mohan Sehgal  and others. He remained close to  Kaifi Sahib and his family. Chetan Anand once   heard Kaifi reciting his Poem ANDESHE at a Mushaira in Mumbai . After the Mushaira was over , Chetan   came to the  dais and told Kaifi Azmi
“  Kyaa Nazm Likhi Hai ! jawaab nahin aap Ka . Kaifi Sahib iss nazm pe  Poori  ek   film ban sakti hai “
The poem was something like this ..

Rooh bechain hai iss dil ki azeeyat kyaa hai
Dil hi sholaa hai to yeh soze Mohabbat kyaa hai
Woh  mujhe bhool gayee iss ki shikaayat kyaa hai
Ranjh to yeh hai ki ro ro ke bhulaaya hoga .......

Jhuk gayeee hogi jawaan saal umangon ki jabeen
Mit gayee hogii  lalak doob gyaa hoga  yakeen
Chhaa gayaa hoga dhuvaan goom gayee hogii zameen
Apnay pehlay hi gharondhey ko jo Dahya hogaa
( Kaifi Azmi )

And when Chetan Anand signed Kaifi Sahib as lyricist for his 1964 movie HAQEEQAT based on Chinese war, he asked for Andshe to be included as a song in the movie. Kaifi Azmi changed many lines in ANDESHE for the  immortal  song that went like this..

Ho ke Majboor Mujhe uss ne bhulaaya hogaa
Zehar chupke se dawaa jaan ke khaaya hoga

Chheid ki baat pe aramaan machal aaye  honge
gam dikhave ki hansi ne na chhupaaye honge
naam par meray  jab aansu nikal aaye honge
sar na kandhe  se saheli ke uthaaya hoga
..............hoke majbur mujhe usne bhulaya hoga

zulf zidd  kar ke kissi ne jo banaai hogi
aur bhi gam ki ghata mukhade pe chhaai hogi
bijali nazaron ne kayee din na giraai hogi
rang cheharay  pe kayee roz na aaya hoga
...................hoke majboor mujhe usne bhulaya hoga
( Avtar Mota )

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Winter would not be winter without its pièce de résistance -- snow. And snow has been a great inspiration for the creative people  .Snow painting by itself has come to be regarded as a genre in art.

Generally  speaking , a   snow landscape  gives the feeling of uniformity , solitude and silence  to the  viewer  apart  from conveying  beauty as well as complex emotions and ideas.However, a  snow painting turns speaking and more  lively should the artist add scenes from life to it  .

I have seen some snow  paintings done by  great masters  in  some museums and art galleries of the US   . These paintings are  highly impressive and rare especially masterpieces like  Pieter Bruegel' s "The Hunters in the Snow" or  Camille Pissarro 's  "Road to Versailles at Louveciennes (The Snow Effect)" and  works of some  masters like  Vincent Van Gogh, Edward Munch , Claude Monet, Aldro T Hibbard etc.

 Apart from creating nostalgia  and   becoming reminiscent of something that the onlooker has lived through , quite often,  these snow  paintings  are speaking frames created  with  skilled use of colours and  guided by  profound observation and  sensitivity. Kashmir's Masood Hussain (born 1953)  is also a  painter of this style and genre. His snow  paintings  are speaking frames of culture and life  .He  brings Kashmir specific inputs in  his  frame making  it speak about culture and life . He makes you to see smoke emanating from the kitchen even under abundance of snow and freeze.You can see  people with a Pheran and Kangri  keeping pace with life's movement even under falling snow . Trapped under overwhelming  snow,  life makes limited demands; nothing  except warmth, shelter and food . His work makes you to feel so  .

In his work you can see  life's movement inspite of snow , chill and monotony. He makes you to see how snow collects on electric wires , how it makes the umbrellas heavy and how it creates impediments on roads and highways . But this in no way stops  life's   movement forward . Possibly  poeople  know that the spring's greenery is to follow  the snow  and  chill .People  know that  just one sunshine and this snow shall   wrap up its white blanket  .

Masood Hussain’s  snow paintings  appeal to a wide spectrum of viewers  especially those who are connected with Kashmir in any manner.The negative space in these painting is wonderfully filled up with total   winter haziness , so real and so close to kashmiris . This filling evokes mystery and  emotions of longing or loss.

Next time more on other segments of  Masood Hussain's Art .

(Avtar Mota)

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By  Aldro Thompson Hibbard (1886 - 1972).

Vermont is  a state of the United States, one of the six New England states lying in the northeastern corner of the country.Vermont is like Kashmir. Lakes, hills, rivers, greenery,  snow ,flowers ,fruits and birds. I was there in 2019. I also saw some snow paintings of Vermont landscape by well known American artist Aldro T Hibbard .

Trained at the Boston Museum School, Hibbard carried forth the tenets of traditional academic art into the 20th century.Aldro T Hibbard  was from Falmouth, Massachusetts (USA).Hibbard belonged to the Boston School of Art.  The founders of the Boston School explicitly rejected modernism  that travelled to America   with the force of an explosion in New York and Chicago. In   Boston , it elicited little more than a shrug.

Hibbard's  work is on display in  Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C., Currier Gallery of Art, New Hampshire, Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts, Museum of the National Academy of Design, New York City , Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia and many more art galleries and museums.

Simply  beautiful ....

(Avtar Mota)

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Thursday, March 19, 2020


                             ( Renuka Devi)

             (Sheikh Abdullah with his family )
                    ( Sheikh Abdullah or Papa Mian)
                              ( Renuka Devi)



Thakur Dass was a Kashmiri Brahmin who's father had embraced Sikhism. The ancestors  of Thakur Dass  had moved out from Kashmir valley and shifted to Poonch during the Pathan rule or even earlier .

The ancestors of Thakur Dass were Raina Brahmins from Kashmir. During my research ,I came to know that his grandfather was a landlord .Those Kashmiri Pandits who moved out  from valley  and settled in remote  or  far flung villages in Poonch and Rajouri or even Kishtwar and Doda  district during  18th/ 19th  century , gradually   lost link with their roots .I found a man with Tikoo  surname living in a remote village of Bhalesa /Gandoh in Doda district. He told me that his ancestors were Kashmiri Pandits and beyond that he knew nothing about Kashmir or Kashmiri culture. He looked typical Pahaadi . In contrast ,a  sizeable number of Kashmiri Pandits from Zutshi , Misri, Kar, Dhar ,Raina and Razdan clans who  had settled in Poonch town,  retained some link with their roots.  The Kashmiri Mohalla known as Mohalla Panditaan  in Poonch town has still many old Kashmiri Pandit families . I also came to know that some Kashmiri Pandit families had  also settled in Surankote and Thana Mandi areas . Infact Bakshi family from Srinagar had sizeable land in Thana Mandi.

It is quite pertinent to add that Sikhs who had a substantial presence in Muzaffaraba,Mirpur, Baramulla, Poonch, Rawalkote and Kotli were Brahmins who were converted to Sikhism either by 6th Guru or during the rule of Raja Sukh Jeevan Mal .These Sikhs write Bali, Issar, Dutta, Sasan, Raina , Reen ,Soodan and other Brahmin surnames and most of them trace their ancestry to Kashmir. For sometime ,  many Brahmin Sikhs  from  Kashmir  also carried on with some Brahminical practices like performing Shradas for the dead. This practice has now been discarded. If you see old  land / revenue records  , it is not surprising to find word Kashmiri  Brahmin mentioned in some old title deeds or revenue   records. Mata  Bhag Bhari  ,who presented a cloak to sixth Sikh Guru in Kashmir  was a saintly Kashmiri Pandit lady from Rainawari , Kashmir. Her son Pandit Seva Ram ( who later came to be known as Bhai Seva Ram  ji ) was the first caretaker of Chhati Paadshaahi Gurdwara (  Initially a small wooden structure  but later  a Gurudwara and a Dharmshala was constructed by Hari Singh Nalwa the then Sikh Governor of Kashmir ).

Thakur Dass received his early education at his village school. For higher education , he  went to Jammu and then to Lahore. In Lahore, his teacher and mentor Maulana Nooruddin renamed him Sheikh Abdullah after he embraced Islam, possibly under the influence of his teacher . From that day in 1891  , Thakur Dass became Sheikh Abdullah . From Lahore ,he moved to Aligarh  and completed higher studies .  He settled in Aligarh and started legal practice. Under the influence of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, he began to take interest in social resurgence of Muslims. He attended the meetings of All India Mohammadan Educational Conference and took it upon himself to impart modern western education to girls from Muslim community. He also involved Begum Sultan Jahan from the ruling family of Bhopal in this task. In 1906, along with his wife, he started Aligarh Zenana Madrasa .The Aligarh Zenana Madarsa then received a grant of Rs 17,000 with an additional monthly allowance of Rs 250 from government.. There was no looking back since then.

‌He did face bitter opposition .Muslim clerics were bitterly opposed to the idea of a Western-style education for boys being propagated by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Western education for girls was something they could not reconcile to. Sheikh Abdullah ignored criticism and started  building first  boarding school for girls in Aligarh .On November 7, 1911, the foundation stone of first girl’s hostel was laid in presence of Lady Porter, wife of the acting Lt. Governor of the United Province. The construction was completed in 1913. Later on, the Begum of Bhopal inaugurated new buildings.It became the first Women College  in Aligarh . In 1937 ,The Aligarh Women’s College became a part of the Aligarh Muslim University .

In 1949, when Maulana Abul Kalam Azad visited Aligarh for the annual Convocation, he was highly impressed   by the role being played by  Women’s College  for the spread of modern  education among girls .He  announced an annual grant of Nine hundred thousand rupees (Rs. 900,000/-)  for the college.
Begum Khatun Jahan, Mrs. Mumtaz Jahan Haider, Khursheed Jahan and Birjis Jahan (daughters of Sheikh Abdullah, Papa Mian) were among the early alumni of this college. Later the ranks were joined by literary giants like Ismat Chugtai ,Salma Siddiqi,  Nayyar Sultana( well know actress of Pakistan), Zarina Hashmi ( artist based in the US ) Mrs Kusum Ansal (  well known Hindi and Sanskrit writer) and Begum Abida Ahmad (wife of President of India, Mr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad ). And Shri. Salman Haider (IFS)  ,who retired as India's foreign Secretary is Papa Mian's grandson .

‌He was a member of AMU court from 1920 till his death, and also served as Honorary Treasurer for many terms. He was also a leading advocate at Aligarh civil court. His prime interest was in the field of education and social reform.
‌In Aligarh, his students fondly called him Papa Mian..

Sheikh  Abdullah was very closely associated with the Aligarh Movement and has also served AMU as the member of Executive Council of the University from 1920 to 1928.

 He was a staunch believer in Hindu Muslim unity and stayed back in India after the partition . He also served as the member of United Province Legislative Council. He was conferred with the title of ‘Khan Bahadur’ in 1935 and a  Padama Bhushan was awarded to him in 1964.

At AMU  Aligarh, Abdullah Hall is named after Sheikh Abdullah, the founder of the women's college in Aligarh Muslim University. The AMU has also instituted  annual Papa Mian  Awards  for girls  who excel in academics.
‌In 1975, Films Division ,GOI made a documentary on Sheikh Abdullah (Papa Mian ) and his contribution towards women education in India. It was directed by K A  Abbas.

‌ Well known actress Renuka Devi  (1918-1989 ) was his daughter. In 1934, she was married to  Akbar Mirza ,  a police officer from Delhi .  Along with her husband and in-laws, she  moved to Pakistan during  the partition of the country.  In Pakistan, she got seriously  involved with  television  .She was known as Begum Khursheed Mirza.

In an interview Begum Khursheed Mirza has said:-

" I was on a vacation with my husband . We were in Mumbai and visited a studio to see how shooting is done. Himanshu Rai ,who was shooting there convinced my husband that I should act in his film. My husband consented. That is how it all happened. Himanshu Rai and his wife treated me like their own daughter. My father was liberal. He had no issues but he faced lot of criticism on this score. I worked with Ashok Kumar. A perfect gentleman he was. He would ask the cameraman to focus more on me. You rarely see such good people. I played Holi with Ashok Kumar's wife Shoba. Renuka Devi was a name given to me by  Devika Rani ,wife of Himanshu Rai.

Such was the trust with Himanshu Rai that I never signed any agreement. When Ashok Kumar got a monthly salary of Rs950/- ,I was given Rs2000/- for a film.  I acted in films like  Bhakti (1939), Badi Didi (1939), Jeevan Prabhat (1937), Bhabhi (1938) , Naya Sansar (1941),  Sahara (1943), Ghulami (1945) and Samrat Chandragupta (1945).  "

About Renuka Devi, Baburao Patel of Filmindia ( January 1939 issue )  magazine declared that "Bombay Talkies have found another Devika Rani " and that "her performance has that distinctive grace and poise which can only be associated with a lady of culture and education."

 Next time more on  actress Renuka Devi..

(Avtar Mota)

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On the Sidelines of Afro Asian Film Festival and Writers Meet at Tashkent ,1958...

In this photo i can see ( From L to R ) .. Poet Hafeez Jalandhari,Faiz Ahmed Faiz ,Raj Kapoor, Mukesh ,Hindi writer Yashpal ...Can you identify others ?

In 1952, Hafeez Jalandhari wrote  the  National Anthem of Pakistan . 
'Abhi To Mein Jawaan Huun ' , a popular song sung by Malika Pukhraj  was   written by Hafeez Jalandhari before 1947. 'Apne mun mein preet basa le , preet hai teri reet purani ,bhool gaya O Bharat vale ' was another popular song that Hafeez Jalandhari wrote before 1947 .

 Yashpal was a progressive writer from India . He was a close associate of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh . Yashpal (1903-1976) began to write while serving a life sentence for his participation, as a comrade of Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad. He wrote more than fifty books including collections of short stories, novels, essays, a play and memoirs of his revolutionary days. He was born in Ferozpur ( Punjab ).He belonged to a family of Arya Samajis .

 Written in two volumes, Jhootha Sach novel  is  a monumental work of Yashpal.   The first volume of the novel was published in 1958 under the title Vatan Aur Desh and two years later the second volume Desh Ka Bhavishya completed the novel series.

( Avtar Mota )

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   The Mattan  town in south Kashmir had a centuries-old history of close association  with Punjab and the Sikh Gurus. Pandit Aru Ram Dutt from Mattan was blessed by Guru Har Rai. Pandit Kirpa Ram Dutt became Kirpa Singh and sacrificed his life in the historic battle of Chamkaur Sahib when he joined Sikh soldiers of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Sanmukh Singh ( Sanmukh Ram Dutt, the younger brother of Kirpa Ram ) was another martyr at the battle of Chamkaur Sahib. These persons are mentioned in the  Sikh scriptures. Guru Nanak Dev Ji addressed a huge congregation of Brahmins at Nagbal in Mattan under the lofty Chinars.  A Gurdwara has been built at the spot to commemorate the visit of Guru Nanak Dev ji to the town

(Avtar Mota)

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JAUN ELIA,  INTIZAR  HUSAIN AND   ZAHIDA   HINA  ...( Intizar Husain in centre )

Let me say briefly about the persons in this photo..

JAUAN  ELIA ( 1931-2002)   AND  ZAHIDA HINA ( born 1946)

Ka'am ki  baat maine ki hi nahin
Ye mera taur e zindagi hi nahin
(Jaun Elia)

Jaun Elia was from Amroha ( UP ) . He was a poet ,scholar, biographer ,translator  and writer. He was fluent in Urdu, Hindi , Arabic, English, Persian, Sanskrit and Hebrew. He  married  Zahida Hina in 1970 and  in 1980, they were divorced . .His wife's parents were from Sasaram , Bihar originally.

In every  Mushiara, Jaun did his  poetry recital in a unique style. He would be seen asking  for tea, cigarettes , naming friends and conversing with them in the audience thereby involving everybody and making it  look like a ‘rock concert’. He died of liquor abuse and asthma.
Elia authored many books in prose and poetry. He also did translation work. His poetry in particular appears like a flowing  river   that carries  water of pain, sorrow, separation ,love and  dejection. In his poetry, Elia appeared  depressingly lonely and outspoken yet brilliant. The  existential crisis of human beings is also the dominant subject of his poetry.
Jaun was first cousin to well known film producer /director Kamal Amrohi .Initially ,he believed in marxism but later on he became an agnostic.

Woh Jo tameer hone vaali thi
Lag gayi aag uss imaarat mein...
( Jaun Elia)

 Zahida Hina  is a writer , journalist ,novelist , and dramatist .   Her works have been translated into English, German, Russian, Hindi, Sindhi,  Punjabi (Gurmukhi script )  Marathi, Bangla and Pashto by many leading writers including Faiz Ahmed .
I rate  her novel "All Passion Spent "  ( Na janoon raha na pari rahi ) as a masterpiece that focuses on the human aftershocks that accompany the 1947 partition of India and the emergence of India and Pakistan as two separate countries. In this work, her style to present the human tragedy of 1947 and the accompanying   displacement is superb and moving. With lost  friends and loved ones , the survival instinct in displaced people  starts a  quest for planting new roots in a new land  under totally altered environments.

Zahida says:-

“Stories just come to me. I can’t visualise the character; instead I just keep writing. My writing process is based on an event or an instance that just hits me and it is then that I start writing. I can never remember the process as I am completely engulfed in that state of being.”

About her unsuccessful marriage  with Jaun Elia, Zahida Hina  has said :-

" Both of us made wrong choices . We are both responsible for what happened between us ."
She remains an opponent of  war ,  building  nuclear arsenal  and military dictatorship. She used to write a column for Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar.

Zahida Hina also wrote some poems and Gazals. Two sample couplets  from her Gazal are as under:-

Haañ charāġhāñ kī kaifiyat thī kabhī
ab to palkoñ pe ik diyā bhī nahīñ
vaqt itnā guzar chukā hai 'hinā'
jaane vaale se ab gila bhī nahīñ"

INTIZAR  HUSAIN ( 1924- 2015 )

Born in Bulandshahar ,  Intizar Husain  is a well known Urdu short story writer .He has an unbiased approach towards social and political issues. His sensibility is not only modern but  cosmopolitan as well. He does not belong to any camp.

He has written  honestly  and profusely  about Partition,  migration, corruption and  religious fanaticism. He has wri
tten in English and Urdu . He has his readers in the Indian subcontinent , Europe and the US. Born in Bulandshahar ,  Intizar Husain has an unbiased approach towards social and political issues. His sensibility is not only modern but  cosmopolitan as well. He does not belong to any camp. He was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013.

Intizar Hussain writes:-

" We lived in a village near Bulandshahar . Our house was the last house in the Muslim cluster and as a matter of fact, the Hindu Mohalla began from our house . I have grown up celebrating Diwali, playing Holi, watching Ramlila and participating in Dussehra celebrations . It is difficult to overcome your happy past."

Intizar Husain is a lover of Mahabharata. The characters of Mahabharata  are reflected in his work as well. In 1947, his family left India, though they were not very happy about it. He informs :-
 “The idea was not to go away forever. People packed their things and left giving their keys to their Hindu neighbours. There is a similar situation in my novel Basti.The first Partition was in the Mahabharata, and then it was me when I was exiled. Only the Pandavas and I knew the pain of leaving one’s land. The Mahabharata is such a powerful narrative of that pain.”

His stories have been translated into many languages. A fine specimen of his Urdu short stories has been translated into English by Dr Rakshanda Jalil and published by Harper Collins India.

The book is titled "Intizar Hussain .The  death of Sheherzad" . It is available on Amazon.

(Avtar Mota)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020


                             (With Khayaam)                                                
                             ( Child Anand Bakshi with parents in Rawalpindi house )
                                 ( With Lata  Ji and musicians Laxmikant Pyare Lal )
                                                   ( With family in Kashmir 1959 )
                              ( Anand Bakshi's  College certificate 1943 from Rawalpindi )
                                                   ( At the marriage of Laxmikant  )
                                                              ( with Sahir  Ludhianavi )
                                                          ( With Sunil Dutt and Nargis )

" Tu kaun hai ? Tera naam hai kya ?
Sita bhi yahaan badnaam huyi,
Phir kyon sansaar ki baton se ,Bheeg gaye tere naina ,
……Kuchh to log kahenge , logon ka kaam hao kehna"
( Anand Bakshi )
Anand Bakshi comes from a family of police and army officers . His grandfather was Superintendent of Police in Rawalpindi and his father served the army. As a child , he hated studies and would run away from school to see films. At times , when he had no money he would sell his books to watch films.
Anand Bakshi's ancestors were Hussaini   Brahmins from Kashmir (POK)  who moved to Rawalpindi .His mother died when he was in his teens .Bakshis were well off in Rawalpindi . Partition created many miseries for the family . 
Anand Bakshi's mother, Sumitra , died in 1940, when he was barely ten . The family migrated to India (Delhi) on 2 October 1947 and moved to Delhi , Lucknow and then again to Delhi .He joined Indian Army ( signals Corps EME ) for six years and finally moved to Mumbai in 1956. He had to struggle tooth and nail to survive but all attempts were futile and he was compelled to move back and join the army again. However, his heart wandered in Bollywood. His friends suggested that he should focus on his job and stop dreaming. Not giving it up, Bakshi again left his army job and moved to Mumbai. This time luck was in his favour. He was destined to become a lyricist in Bollywood. And he did become.
He Must have written about 3500 songs in total . He worked with every singer , every composer and almost with every production House . Some people had issues with his songs but at a point of time , every alternate person in India used to sing songs that he penned .
As lyricist , he had versatility and range . He wrote hilarious , sentimental , moody , romantic and patriotic songs . He wrote beautiful Bhajans . He also wrote some Qawaalis that touched heights of popularity . 
Songs that he composed for Aradhana , Do Raaste , Milan , Aaya sawan Jhoom Ke ,Kati Patang ,Hare Rama Hare Krishna ,Bobby , Amar Prem and many more films touched all time heights of popularity .
Adds his son Rakesh Anand Bakshi :-
“ Dad looked up to Bismil Saeedi, editor of the Urdu magazine Biswin Sadi. Bismil saab would often tell dad, “You don’t know Persian but your phrases have the language’s lilt.” Sahir Ludhianvi taught dad how to weave poetry into lyrics. He even introduced him to producers. Once he even asked Yash Ji (Chopra) to try dad as a lyricist. But dad wrote for Yash Ji’s Chandni (1989) only after Sahir Saab passed away. Dad enjoyed Mirza Ghalib’s poetry as much as listening to folk songs. Another passion was cars. He changed his cars every two years. His first car was a 1964 Fiat model. He’d change his house every few years too. He enjoyed food....paya, black daal… and he loved his whisky. At 9 pm sharp he’d open his bottle. You could call him a hard drinker but he was not an alcoholic. He never picked up his pen when he drank. The pen was Goddess Saraswati. Otherwise he’d note down his thoughts on whatever paper was available – sometimes even on his 555 cigarette pack.  He also sang the song 'Baagon mein bahaar  aayi'  as a duet with Lata Mangeshkar.
Looking at his work I am sure that the loss of and longing for his mother inspired him to write incredibly amazing and emotional lyrics. At least that is what he told us when he would get nostalgic and emotional, which was very often. Sometimes I even wonder what made my father survive the loss of his mother, the loss of his land of birth, youth, and an impoverished life because of partition for nearly two decades. The secret may lie in what he always said – “There is something inside of me superior to my circumstances, stronger than every situation of life.”
Lyricist Sameer adds :-
“Bakshi saab once told me, ‘I’m not sad that I won’t live long. What I lament is the fact that a thousand songs that lie within me will also go with me. Could I hand them over to you, I would have. But these songs have come with me and they will go with me.” 
Like  poet Sahir Ludhianavi  , Anand Bakshi had many phobias . He avoided air travel. He feared heights and avoided using lifts. He never stayed alone. someone had to be around him .Upto his death , he could not overcome the loss of his motherland Rawalpindi .
( Avtar Mota )

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