Thank you, AMU!
It was June 2008 that I entered Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh, for the entrance examination leading to the admission in M.A. in Geography. It was for the first time that I had come out of J&K to north India. The journey was apprehensive, but at the same time adventurous and learning too.
Fortunately and to my surprise, I qualified for the admission in the Department of Geography. I was ranked 19th among the selected students. I was not enough sure to qualify (as I had not done my graduation in honours) but with Allah’s grace, I did.
I still remember a senior from the Department of Geography, who provided me books to prepare for the entrance examination. He was neither a friend nor even an acquaintance. I had never seen him before. After he gave me the books we never met again, until I came back for the admission, after a month or two. He asked my name only on the day I was going through the admission process while helping me in filling my cards. That was the first of its kind gesture, I had ever received. And thereafter, it has been very common to find such people- benevolent, kind and caring. I can’t name them all because they are in hundreds.
I also remember, when I got selected, J&K was in chaos on the ‘Shrine Board’ issue. It was curfew everywhere. So I was left with no choice but to travel on foot, along with another friend from Poonch to Shopian via Pir Panjal Pass, in order to take a flight from Srinagar to New Delhi. In spite of living in a mountainous region, I had never travelled this far and this higher till then. The journey was tiresome, hectic, chaotic, agonising and painful. Looking back, I see the journey was worth it- the journey which will be cherished forever.
In the beginning when I was not able to adjust here and wanted to leave, a senior from J&K, said “when you will have to leave, you won’t be able to leave”. Today I understood how true those words were. I too will be leaving with a heavy heart and moist eyes, as most students do.
At that time, it was indeed very difficult to adjust in AMU. I didn’t like this place at all. Apart from the scorching heat, the oily food, the dress codes and many other things irritated me. In fact I didn’t like anything in AMU at all, except AMU TARANA.
They say ‘education is adjustment’. This implies one who cannot adjust is not educated. However, AMU educates you. It makes you adjust. So it educated me in all senses of the term. The decade long stay at AMU, apart from contributing to my academic pursuits, has also given me a chance to be friends with hundreds of great human beings from across the globe. Luckily, I have had the chance to live with some of those students, who inspired me more than Kalam and Lincoln. I came to meet the scholars, who belonged to extremely poor and marginalised families, who are now making a mark in their respective fields.
Gradually I felt connected to these friends and the Aligarh Movement like anything. I realised that nowhere on earth, my story was possible, except in AMU. Honestly speaking, I learnt more in the diversity of my friend circles then in my classrooms. So I thank you all, my friends, for weaving so many beautiful stories for me that a life time will not be enough to pay back. I thank you all for teaching me and inspiring me. I thank you for appreciating and criticising me, when required. Thank you for sharing your space with me when I had almost nowhere to go except my home. Thank you for making me the person I have become today. You will always be a positive influence in my life. Your influence will never stop.
Thank you AMU for turning a reticent boy who was scared to stand up and say his name in the classroom into the one who can write and speak to many through various mediums. You indeed have been, like the lap of a mother. Like the shoulders of a father. So thank you for parenting me and thousands like me. Thank you for being the hope of the millions of hopeless and marginalised individuals.
Thank you AMU for never letting me feel that I don’t belong to you. Thank you for taking away my fears and insecurities. Thank you for making me feel that I belong to a very large community that encompasses all borders of religion, race, castes, creeds, nations and so on. Thank you for giving me a chance to observe the geographical, social and cultural diversities across India and the world. Thank you for providing me a platform to enjoy the multitude of religions, languages and ethnicities.
Here I confess that I am going to miss, the Maulana Azad Library and the glittering faces on its chairs which instilled hope in the difficult times, the gentle and compassionate dining staff which treats students like their own kids and the cooperative Canteen Owners’ and the Dhaba owners who are always ready to lend a hand to the needful students.
Thanks to the people who gave their lives to build this great institution and many thanks to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who made this magnificent institute out of nothing and who will continue to inspire the generations. Thank you AMU once again. Thank you for everything.