Ek Nadir Roznamcha
Maulvi Mazhar Ali (1839 – 1911)…The man who wrote a diary (from 1867 to 1911) that became a rare treasure to cherish, a legacy to nourish.
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Saad Hashmi is an observer of the human condition. A technical degree could not impair his passion for literature or affect his affection for culture. When not reading or enjoying long walks in nature, he can be found spending time with his wife and two kids in Sweden, where the family is currently based.
Easy-to-understand entries capturing countless moments of inspiration and desperation make a diary, the most intimate form of writing. The tension between concealing and revealing produces a tantalising narrative of the human predicament that this diary presents in a conversational and fresh style. The diary portrays the past from a personal perspective, and it usually tells what the historians never tell. A young author, Saad Mustafa Hashmi gets hands on his fifth-generation grandfather, Maulvi Mazhar Ali’s diary, “Ek Nadir Roznamcha”, that exposes us to the widespread public culture of yore. He does well to get this astutely rendered text into English. It’s not just a plainspoken saga of immediate concerns of ordinary people, but it maps out the forgotten terrain of the cultural and intellectual growth of the 19th Century India.
- Shafey Kidwai (Sahitya Academy Awardee 2019)
Chairman, Department of Mass Communications, AMU, Aligarh.
“Ek Nadir Roznamcha” is the product of the love and extraordinary dedication put in by the young descendant of an exceptional Maulvi who lived until the turn of the twentieth century. Saad Hashmi pored over the mammoth diary of his ancestor Maulvi Mazhar Ali who lived in Sandila, a small town in Awadh, was not born and raised in comfort and yet educated himself in law at Allahabad University and rose to become an honorary secretary of the town’s municipality. From his provincial perch, Maulvi Ali documented the momentous events spanning his lifetime, from Amir of Afghanistan’s visit to the birth of the United Provinces of Agra and Awadh and the Aligarh College that became the Aligarh Muslim University. A valuable work that transcends the status of a document to become a classic in the unique literary genre of the diary.
- Radhika Ramaseshan
Contributing Editor, “Business Standard” and Columnist, “Mumbai Mirror” and “The Tribune”.
While in Urdu it has had limited readership, this Urdu Roznamcha (Diary), now rendered into English, carries valuable information on wide-ranging aspects, such as economy, society, politics, culture, literature and brief profiles of certain accomplished individuals, essentially of a locality (Awadh). The document is expected to be of great help and interest to historians in reconstructing India’s colonial past.
The Roznamcha, noting certain news-stories from the subcontinent, and across the globe, establishes the necessary linkages of the local with the global.
There is a need for the historians to discover, retrieve and publish such accounts for wider readership as these constitute important corpus of evidence for history-writing. This goes much beyond the ‘family saga’ kind of literature, more in vogue in Europe.
- Mohammad Sajjad
Professor Modern & Contemporary Indian History, Centre of Advanced Study in History, AMU.
A rare work on India’s colonial past that relies on an important Diary (Roznamcha) written by Maulvi Syed Mazhar Ali (1867–1911). To know India and its social history well, there is an urgent need to take into accounts such historical documents. The author should be hailed for working on a remarkable book with a long shelf-life.
- Atul K Thakur, Journalist & Writer.