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I would like to thank you all for being here today to honour one of our most distinguished historians, K.K. Aziz sahib. On 11 December, yesterday, Mr Aziz completed his first eighty years. God grant him a multiple of those eighty years, but may they be peaceful and healthy for him. When I approached Shamim Khan sahib over a month ago to host this function, he generously agreed to do so without a murmur, for he recognized, as many of you today must do, the enormous contribution K.K. has made to our lives, and more significantly to the minds of our children. KK’s books have become text-books in our schools and colleges. As all of you know, they provide an invisible, invaluable and entirely beneficial influence in the impressionable minds of those who need to recognize the gridlines of history. KK’s life has been a labour of love – love of the written word, a love of literature, a love for history, and a premature love for an anonymous readership that is yet to be born. For who else but someone with an eye to the future would have authored more than thirty-five books, and yet have unfinished manuscripts queuing for his attention? For those of you who have not read KK’s autobiography of his first twenty-one years from his birth in 1927 until 1948, I earnestly advise you to do so. It is more than 700 pages of prose. It is an extended sonnet to love. The first is the love that his parents had for this seventh son – the only one to survive beyond the first three years. No wonder they doted on him. The second is the love his father had for history and literature. His father Abdul Aziz himself fell in love with Heer after hearing a rendition of Waris Shah’s lyrical poem. He remained devoted to her for the next thirty years, collecting every known manuscript and version he could find. He spent three days of a week on Heer and the other three days researching on the other love of his life – the Mughals. As a student myself, I searched for his books on the Mughal Court, its Arms and Armour, and Jewellery, without realizing that I would meet him years later through his son. Who does not love their own mother? Few sons can express that filial love as tenderly as KK does in his autobiography: “Her face is so vivid in my memory as if it was painted on the inside of my eyelids.” Another enduring love that has stayed with KK has been his love for the town of Batala. Only he knows why he cares so deeply for it, which is why he went there last year to relive old memories. I could continue and talk about KK’s years at FC College or the thirteen years he spent at Government College between 1944 and 1957. However, what is much more important and symbolic of that relationship is the presence here today of persons from both those institutions. When I was arranging this function, I asked myself: “What could one give as a birthday present to someone who has given so much of himself to others for the past eighty years?” I found a clue in his autobiography. “Next to Sirajuddin,” KK writes, “the most inspiring teacher whose class I attended was Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum.” So here today, KK, is a Persian Lughat that once belonged to Soofi sahib. I found it on the footpath in Anarkali one Sunday morning. I opened it and saw Soofi sahib’s signature, dated April 1930. So, with your permission, may I on behalf of all of us present this book that once belonged to your favorite teacher to your favourite alma mater, to the Library of Government College University in your honour? It is an inadequate expression of the love that all of us have for you, and an insufficient symbol of the contribution you yourself have made to enrich our lives by your presence amongst us.
12 December 2007
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