The Gregarious Professor

I would not have known about his death in 2004 (year uncertain) had I not read a beautiful obituary middle by well known astrologer/soothsayer/Ganpati bakht Bejan Daruwalla in the Times of India. It was so well written and he described this professor so aptly that I was wondering why I did not know the qualities and eccentricities of this socially active always smiling professor. Perhaps the astrologer was a bachpan ka dost of this professor whereas I though a family friend/cum student was not a childhood friend in any sense.

The Professor of English literature in our College was from a family which owned a Soda making factory on the far end of Mirzapur Road, in Ahmedabad of 1950-60s. They were perhaps five brothers who looked alike with a prominent jaw. Most of the brothers had curly hair and all had a fine luxuriant growth of hair on their body and arms and perhaps would have been misfits in today’s world when most of the young and partly young shave of their body.

He was a friend of my brother right from Class VI of St. Xavier’s Mirzapur Ahmedabad but at that time he was not very well known to me. My association became thick with him when I joined College where he was a Teacher of English, very irregular but brilliant whenever he came to teach. His smile was endearing, addictive and never ephemeral. He was active in Shakespeare Society, in the NCC and was always looking out towards USA as his final destination. My respect towards him increased when he came to our house to hand over a Text book “The Black Arrow “ by George Stevenson which was not available in the open market. He was rebuked by my brother for not getting the book in spite of couple of reminders. It was 7 am in the winter morning when he came to hand over the book to me while going to the airport to board an early morning flight. I don’t know how he went to the airport as our area was not well served by autos or taxis. A Professor coming to hand over a book to a student speaks volumes about a man who values friendship above ego  inconvenience and etiquette.

A couple of years before his death he came back to India. I met him accidentally while visiting a friend. He gave me the tightest of the hug when my friend asked me to identify the person sitting on the sofa. He was still gregarious but the sparkle in his eyes and the thunder in his voice was missing. He had married twice but failed to live a happily- ever - after life with either of his partners. The” Black Arrow” is still lying somewhere preserved in my memory.

He was Prof. Ghulam Mustafa Munshi.


More by :  Suresh Mandan

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