I was devastated, and I still am
- August 1, 2005
Reading Gotham’s email, I was reminded of one of my mentors. When you are young and impressionable and have the idealism and faith that you can change the world, some special people can have a life-altering impact on you.
I grew up in a family where conversations primarily were about the Arts, social concerns and life in general…but never about politics. I owe the beginning of political understanding to my involvement with street theatre, where the focus was more on social issues than theatre. And my mentor was Safdar Hashmi, the one who started ‘Jan Natya Manch’. Such a complete human being – warm, thoughtful, bright, funny…a man with whom everyone who came in contact, instantly fell in love. His commitment to social change and firm beliefs in values, his instinctive skill in communication and his unassuming personality made him so very special. He used to always ask me to take up acting seriously and I always brushed it off. I did several street plays on issues of gender, education, worker’s rights, communalism etc.
Then on 1st January 1989, when the celebrations of the New Year were still lingering across the world, he was brutally murdered while he was performing a play. I had performed 50 shows of this play, but at that time I was teaching in a school called ‘Rishi Valley’ which was started by J.Krishnamurthy. That day I was in a blissful state as I interacted with children in a Geography class when I got a call from one of my friends from the theatre group giving me the shocking news. I was devastated, and I still am. It’s been 16 years, but even now when I think of Safdar, it seems difficult to believe that he is no more.
When a mentor, a friend, someone close to your heart suddenly goes away from your life, their every word, every action becomes even more precious and the impressions that they leave on your heart, stay with you forever.