In conversation with the Guardian saint of Delhi, and the mystic of Sindh Farid Ayaz..

I had met Farid Ayaz Saab in 2012, while gatecrashing in a private concert hosted by an MD of a large private sector bank in Lutyens, Mehrauli with a promise to the event managers that I was least bit interested in the free food & liquor, only wanted to listen to Farid saab live. He performed a one hour energetic renditions of Chaap Tilak, Tere ishq nachaya & ended it with a Damadam Mast Qalandar. Next day he had called me to his Chitli Qabar guest house in a serpentine lane of Chandni Chowk for a simple meal of Mutton Biryani on a Stainless Steel plate placed on a piece of a newspaper and a bottle of water. Then I hardly knew about the 14th century Sufi saint Hazrat  Nizamuddin Auliya, legendary for his generosity, the dervishes were advised, “First greet, then eat, then talk;” 

credit- Aalok Soni

On one more occasion, he came home and stayed with us for two days. I & Tuhina (my wife) would wake him up late and over endless cups of milky tea and homemade egg rolls we chatted away to glory to suddenly realize that we needed to have lunch, it was already afternoon. He had a haziri (performance) in the evening at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s sacred courtyard, where the entire Delhi was waiting to listen to him. The night before, he had a private concert in Gurgaon at a socialite’s swanky bungalow. A lady spotted me next to him for the most of the evening, inquired ‘PirSaab, who’s this guy, we see him everywhere during your visit to Delhi!’ He laughed, ‘Arun is my shagird (disciple), and Nizam Pak’s mureed (follower)’. She didn’t ask any more questions but I was elated with his reply.

It was almost 6 pm, we started from Gurgaon. The MG Road was busy as ever, we reached near Nizamuddin Police Station at around 8 and received multiple calls from the organizers to ask about his whereabouts. My teen daughter held his hand firmly and started walking towards Nizamuddin Dargah. He has a diabetic foot, but I & Tuhina were thrilled with the speed with Aarshi & her FaridDadu were approaching the venue. We had to park our car & join them leter.

He started his performance with a divine Man Kunto Maula, followed Mannium Wallah Yara on Peerzada altamash Nizami’s request, Chhap Tilak, and ended with an exquisite ‘Khusrau’s Rang’. He took my daughter by hand to the stairs of the mausoleum and shouted ‘Huzoor/Sarkar…in bachchi ki haziri qubool Karen.’ I saw tears flowing down my EDM listener, Twitterati daughter’s cheeks. She has been a regular there since then. I wanted her to study MBA, probably to secure a nice campus placement after passing out. That day Faridsaab had called his sons, and pointed at her ‘remember…you’ll seek her approval at some point of time to visit India, understood?’ Three years later, she’s studying law and has a keen interest on appearing in the Indian Foreign Services Exam.

Another time, I & Tuhina had attended his performance in the Dargah. He was strolling near the courtyard & when he saw Tuhina, with a broad smile greeted her, ‘Meri Bitiya aa gayee hain’. I remember him wrapping up the concert abruptly after 45 minutes of a soulful recital. He didn’t forget to introduce her ‘daughter’ to KhwajaSaab just after finishing his concert. ‘Hazrat yeh meri bitiya hain, Aap inki haziri qabool Karen.’

This year I’m not travelling to Delhi due to some personal commitments during the Urs starting today. I requested Peerzada Altamash Nizami to pray for me, and I recorded a kalam written by Hazrat Bedam Shah Warsi sung by FaridSaab on my phone. It’s evening, Nizamuddin Dargah is glowing with festive lights now. I can smell the dargahi ittar, the incense, and the roses and can listen to the strains of Harmonium, the full-throated voice of the qawwals at the sacred courtyard. FaridSaab must be sitting at his Karachi home & thinking of us. He misses visiting Dilli, and we miss him too. This time a mid-40’s, salt and pepper haired man based out of Bangalore is praying hard to perform a haziri at Hazrat’s courtyard with his revered Ustad who had once taught him the intricate Farsi Kalam on Nizam Pak. He uses the right musical notes when he recites the verse:

Suratgar e Naqqash e Cheen

Rau surat e yaaram bi been

Ya surat e kashvi chuneen

Ya tarq kun suratgaari

(Oh, sculptor from China, could you make a sculpture portraying my beloved? Either you make one. Else quit your business of sculpting)

I’m praying for his return to his beloved’s courtyard during the next Urs, and also praying for Saami Brothers Qawwal, Zaman Zaki Taji Qawwal, Najm & Saif Qawwal & many more from across the border who always request me with an ‘Arun bhai, Hazrat se dua karein hum logon ki taraf se, woh Apni chaukhat par jald bula lein’. The Famous Fashion Designer from Karachi, Yousuf Bashir Qureshi had called up yesterday… ‘Arun Jaan, mera Salaam Hazrat tak pahuncha dena zaroor se’.

I always assure them with a ‘zaroor’. I know Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya listens to his Arun and his friends, and he’ll fulfill all their wishes at the earliest emerging opportunity. As Fareed Saab says ‘Aaanqareeb’. 

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