Shama Khalid grew up in a notable family of Batala which wielded immense influence in the politics of undivided India. The giant politician and Unionist party stalwart Sir Fazl-i-Hussain belonged to her extended family, apart from many other renowned men.
Being a scion of an illustrious family, it was but natural for Shama Khalid to drift towards letters and she went on to write six books of short stories. A trained broadcaster and radio producer, she served Radio Pakistan for more than three decades and retired as deputy director a few years ago.
Khalid is a witness to an entire era since her parents and grandparents would hobnob with many renowned literary and political figures of the subcontinent, such as Allama Iqbal. Naturally she wished to recreate that splendour of which she was an essential part and that is the reason she has shared few shards from her memory in her latest memoirs Auraq-e-Gum Gashta which revolve around her late father, Dr Muhammad Salahuddin.
This slim book is a tribute to her father whose life was worth-narrating. He was a man who wore many hats: a physician, painter, connoisseur of art and music, poet, and a Sufi. Bohemian and easy going, Dr Salahuddin didn’t study to the satisfaction of his parents — he passed his exams, but not with flying colours. He was a student of Agriculture College in Faisalabad which he quit and joined Dyal Singh College, Lahore.
In those days, he would paint the film banners to while away his time. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dyal Singh College Lahore and there he met his guru, Nizamuddin, who changed the course of his life. Nizamuddin was a highly expert practitioner of homeopathy, he trained Dr Salahuddin as a homeopathic doctor and that is why Shama Khalid’s father is better known as Dr Deen.
Dr Deen’s guru advised him to shift to Rawalpindi, which he did and started a homeopathy clinic there. From the narrative of his daughter, Dr Salahuddin appears to be a dedicated and hardworking homeopathic doctor who selflessly served his patients while charging a nominal fee.
His did not only serve Muslim patients, but Sikhs and Hindus as well, since pre-partition Rawalpindi had a sizeable population people from all three religions. Khalid tells us that even during the cataclysmic events of 1947, her father risked his life to cater to ailing patients. Despite the fact that there was a plan to attack him, he performed his job undeterred and thus proved to be a true benefactor.
His lifelong dedication and hard work earned him laurels; it was said that he could instantaneously diagnose patients just by feeling their pulse. Such was his expertise in the field that the people of the Rawalpindi would refer to him as ‘Jinon Wala Doctor’ (Dr of Djins). People would say that he had Djins at his disposal which helped him cure almost everyone who visited his clinic,which was located in Raja Bazar, Rawalpindi.
A tireless campaigner of homeopathy, it was Dr Salahhuddin or Dr Deen who established a full-fledged college of homeopathy in 1958, with branches in many cities of the country. Later, his students spread the practice of homeopathic medicine throughout the country. At the behest of the then government, he helped start the department of Civil Defence and made people realise its importance.
Khalid further tells us that her father was a published poet and was friends with the literati of Rawalpindi, including Sultan Rashk, Akhtar Imam Rizvi, and Fauq Ludhianvi. He was a patron of literary sittings where he would recite his verses.
Even to this day, the old residents of Rawalpindi remember Dr Salahuddin and his expertise.
Khalid has tried her best to present a portrait of her father for the readers, but it must be said that the book needs efficient editing as the author has repeated many facts much to the chagrin of readers. At times, the reader also feels that the narrative should have been more detailed to understand the personality of Dr Salahuddin in a more comprehensive manner.
Author: Shama Khalid
Publisher: Dastavez Lahore
Price: Rs 400