MY FEELING,MY EMOTIONS ,MY THOUGHTS AND MY WORDS
POSTS FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER 2016
BY PROFESSOR MUNAWAR ALI MALIK
After Matriculation from Government High School, Daudkhel, I went to Rawalpindi where father was working as Deputy Director Schools. Father got me admitted to Gordon College, Rawalpindi.
Gordon College was managed by an American missionary organization. The Principal as well Heads of Science and English Departments were Americans. Some of the Professors in English Department were also Americans.
In First Year, Prof FM Daniel, a Pakistani Christian, taught us English textbooks and Prof FU Khan, a gold medalist from Luknow University, taught English Composition. Both were very competent teachers. Their impressive teaching further increased my appetite for learning English.- 1 December 2016
My family wished me to become a doctor. So I joined the Pre-medical group. But I soon realized that I had no taste for science subjects. Therefore I switched over to the Humanities Group, replacing Physics, Chemistry and Biology with Civics, Economics and Persian. That saved me from failure in First Year. I was happy to have saved a year of my academic career. But tragically I lost two whole years in Second Year. I ‘ll soon tell you how. But at a later stage, for I want to record some nice memories of my second year at Gordon College, before I go into those sad details of my career. 2 December 2016
Speaking of Gordon College reminds me of a real legend, Dr R R Stewart, who was Head of Botany Department when I got admission to the college in 1956.
Dr Stewart was an American. He came to Gordon College as Lecturer in Botany in 1917. From 1934 to 1954 he worked as Principal. After the end of his 20 years tenure as Principal, he again joined as Head of Botany Department, and worked in that capacity till he finally retired in 1960 at the age of 70.
In 1961 the Government of Pakistan awarded him Sitara e Imtiaz for his services as a teacher of outstanding merit, He gave away his collection of more than 50,000 plant specimens to the Government of Pakistan.
In 1961 Dr Stewart went back to US, and worked as Professor of Botany at Michigan University till 1981. He died in 1993 at the age of 103. His books are still taught in American universities,
I feel lucky to have seen, and spoken to this great teacher. 3 December 2016
The building in this post is what was known as Jubilee Hall of Gordon College, Rawalpindi. This glorious edifice was built during my stay at Gordon College as a First Year student (1956-57).
The college library was shifted to the basement ( underground part) of the hall. The library of Gordon College is one of the largest libraries in Pakistan. I had the honour of being one of the earliest borrowers from that library. I borrowed some of the best Victorian novels.
When Rawlpindi became the temporary capital of Pakistan before the completion of Islamabad, the first session of the National Assembly was held in this hall. Later Ayub Hall was used as Parliament House.5 December 2016
Commenting on my posts about Gordon College, some of the later Gordonians ( students of Gordon College ) have deplored the present sad condition of the college.
The sad change was an outcome of Mr Bhutto’s nationalization policy. Under this policy all the private institutions were taken over by the government.
Gordon College, a prestigious institution managed by an American missionary organization, suffered the worst consequences of this policy. All the learned American professors were replaced with political favourites of the government. These newcomers were no match for the great scholars they had replaced. That was the start of the fall of this glorious institution. 6 December 2016
In regard for the precious lives lost in the plane crash near Abbotabad, let us pray for the departed souls to be richly blessed.
Miss you, Junaid Jamshed ! May ALLAH Infinitely Bless you and all your fellow passengers.7 December 2016
Gordon College was an independent institution. It had its own rules and regulations. All kinds of political activities were strictly banned. The rules did not allow formation of a students’ union. Instead, the students were divided into two groups, known as Bar Club and Minerva Club. All the odd roll numbers ( 1, 3, 5, 7 etc) belonged to the Bar Club, and all the even roll numbers ( 2, 4, 6 etc ) constituted the Minerva Club.
The clubs organized all the co-curricular activities. The two clubs were always in tough competition.
As for the students’ problems, the club office bearers could only bring the important issues to the administration’s notice. But they had to accept the administration’s decisions in all cases. Protest of any kind was not allowed on the college campus.9 December 2016
Some of the senior college students asked the college administration for permission to form the students’ union. The administration bluntly rejected the request.
The reaction to this harsh attitude of the administration gave rise to a loudly vocal movement led by Muhammad Bilal and Malik Jehangir Awan of the Fourth Year class. ( Mr Muhammad Bilal later became a leading lawyer of Rawalpindi ).
Taking immediate action against the two leaders, the administration expelled them from the college. The expelled leaders took the matter to the court.
The story will be completed on Monday, InshaALLAH. 10 December 2016
The expelled student leaders challenged the orders of their expulsion in a court.
Miss Pervaiz Yousufzai was the Judge who heard the case. At the first hearing, one of the petitioners said, “Your Honour, we challenge the reason for which we were expelled from the college. Demanding permission to set up a students’ union is no crime.”
The Judge said, ” Well, Mr Bilal, in my view your coming to the court against a teacher is in itself a crime. I’m sorry the law offers no punishment for it. Otherwise I would have inflicted the punishment on you right now. I direct you to sort the matter out through dialogue with the Principal'”
Having said that, she dismissed the case.
Later, the matter was resolved through dialogue, and the Principal allowed the formation of students’ union with a limited mandate. 13 December 2016
My most unforgettable teacher at Gordon College was Prof John Wilder.He was an American. He taught us English in Second Year class.
Seeing my interest and performance in English, he became specially kind to me. Once he awarded me 98 / 100 marks in a test, and said with a smile,” I didn’t give you 100/100 because in Pakistan there’s no tradition of giving 100/100 in English.
It was he who advised me to do MA in English, though I couldn’t do it the way he proposed.14 December 2016
My career at Gordon College was cut short by my father’s retirement just before the Intermediate Examination. I might have shifted to the hostel, but I didn’t like to burden my father with further expenditure on my education. So, I decided to move back home. It was a hard decision, no doubt, but I felt morally bound to make it. Prof John Wilder was almost shocked when he heard that I was leaving the college. He didn’t know why I was doing so. 15 December 2016
” Come along, Sixty-seven,” said Prof John Wilder, at the end of the class, ” I want to talk to you.” (67 was my roll number).
I knew he wanted to talk to me about my leaving the college.
He led me to his residence on the campus, asked his wife to make tea for us, and then said to me, ” Could you tell me why you want to leave the college ?”
“Sir, my father has retired from his service, and has to settle at home in Mianwali District. So I too have to move back, you see.”
” Why not stay here in the hostel ?” said Prof Wider. ” I could get you a room. “
” Sir, it’s not just a question of residence, ” said I, in a broken voice. ” I think my father would no longer be able to pay for my education.”
Prof Wilder looked deeply moved. For a moment he was at a loss for words. 21 December 2016
” Munawar,” said Prof Wilder affectionately, for the first time addressing me by name instead of calling me Sixty-seven. ” Couldn’t you be a son to me as well ? I’ll do for you all that a father can do for his son. I’ll pay for your education. Not only here, but also in the States (America). My tenure here will end after two years. I’ll take you along with me. After a few years you ‘ll come back to Pakistan as an MA in English. Go, tell that to your parents, and then let me know what they think of my suggestion”
I had a hard job repressing my tears, and trying to find suitable words to say what I wanted. 22 December 2016
” Sir”, said I, in a faltering voice, ” I don’t know how to thank you enough for your fatherly concern about my future. I really wish I could stay on with you. But I’m afraid my mother’s serious illness won’t allow me to do so. I can only pray that she recovers and allows me to come back here. If she does, I’ll be back here as soon as possible.”
” Just remember that you’d be welcome here any time,” said Prof Wilder as I got up to leave.
I hastily shook hands with him, and rushed out, because it was getting impossible for me to repress my tears any longer. At the corner of the street I sat down on the footpath and cried my eyes out. That was all I could do, for I knew I would never come back. .23 December 2016
I could never go back to Gordon College. Neither did I have the heart to inform Prof Wilder that I couldn’t. I thought the sad news would hurt him.
Mother’s illness prolonged, getting worse everyday. She had asthma. Asthma is not a fatal disease, but the patient’s suffering is heart-rending. I couldn’t leave my sweet Ammi to save my career. So you see how miserable I should have felt. On one hand I saw my mother in pain. On the other I felt guilty for keeping my affectionate teacher waiting for my return.
Caught between these two painful realties, I just couldn’t turn to my books to prepare myself for the Intermediate Examination. 24 December 2016
Looking back at my career as a student of Gordon College, I see Prof John Wilder as the teacher who shaped my future. It was he who gave a direction and destination to my love for English. It was he who gave me the dream to do MA in English. Not just the dream, he also offered to help me turn this dream into a realty. I could not take his offer, but the dream survived all the odds against it.
More of this tomorrow, InshaALLAH. I’ll tell you how I wish to see or contact Prof John Wilder at least once. 29 December 2016
Hardly possible though it seems, I can’t stop wishing I could somehow see Prof John Wilder just once. I would love to touch his feet and say,
” Sir, I’ve done it. I ‘m sorry I couldn’t accept your fatherly offer. My mother’s serious illness stood in my way. With her in that condition it was impossible for me to leave home. Anyway, I never forgot your desire to make me an MA in English. I made it my own desire, and struggled hard to fulfill it. And, by the Grace of ALLAH, I’ve done it.”
Quite a lengthy speech, though I know I won’t be able to make this speech once I come face to face with my great teacher. A tearful “Thank you, sir,” is all I might be able to utter on that cherished occasion. 30 December 2016
My search for Prof John Wilder is something like hoping against hope, for he was around 40 in 1956. If he is still in this world, he should be above 100 years old. Almost impossible, you know. But in that case I would love to contact his family. I hope that wouldn’t be impossible through Facebook. Any suggestions other than “Sir, give it up. ” ??? . – 31 December 2016