Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Retired postal official’s ode to love


DIBAI, BULANDSHAHR DISTRICT: Kaesar Kala in Dibai is now famous for its own modern-day Shah Jahan, Faizul Hasan Qadari. A retired postal assistant, Qadari is building a replica of the Taj Mahal in memory of his late wife, Tajamulli Begum, in this small village in UP's Bulandshahr district. 

"My wife did not ask me to build a Taj Mahal for her. In fact, she had never seen it but I wanted to do something for her," said Qadari, 78, of the 5,500-sq-ft memorial that he is constructing on his two-acre farm. "Since we didn't have kids, she used to say that when we die, nobody will remember us. So after she passed away in 2011, I thought I would construct this tomb. People in the village will never forget us." 

The replica, which he has named 'Yaadgaar', has been designed by Qadari. He had seen the original on a visit to Agra for a training programme in 1974, and from a picture on the cover of a guidebook he bought then, he and a local mason are today copying the structure in white marble replica stone. "I did approach an architect in Aligarh last year to help me. He charged Rs 3,000 but I didn't like his drawings. After that I used the guidebook that I have since my training days," Qadari said. It's a grueling task, and they have made mistakes. "The dome had to be reconstructed as it was tilting on the right side," he revealed. 

Qadari has invested his entire savings of Rs 9.3 lakh in the project, but four months ago, work had to be stopped due to lack of funds. "Whatever I had has been put into it, and I had to sell my wife's jewellery also. People have offered me loans but what will I tell my wife in the afterlife, that I constructed it for her using loaned money? Never," said Qadari, who is now saving his Rs 9,000 monthly pension to restart the project. "By next year, I'm hopeful of saving Rs 50,000 to buy more stone." 

Ask about his wife and Qadari lights up, and shows her photos. "Ours was an arranged marriage but I fell in love with her the moment we were married. We spent a good 58 years together and all the while she supported me," Qadari said. Living alone today, he turns to poetry to express his feelings and even sleeps with his wife's tombstone that has a couplet written by him, which reads, 'Na koi Sheesh Mahal hai, na koi Taj Mahal hai, hai Yaadgaar-e-Mohabbat, yeh pyaar ka mahal hai'. "Once the tomb is ready, this tombstone will be fixed," he said, revealing that in the meantime, people from the village are using the memorial as a recreational spot. "They dirty the place and it's difficult to keep it clean. I try to shush them away but my old legs don't work the way they used to," said Qadari, who has reserved the grave next to his wife for himself. 

Coping with pain in his knees, he finds it difficult to stand for long. But he wakes up every day looking at 'Yaadgaar' from his bedroom window. "I have told everyone that when I die, I have to be buried next to my wife, inside the structure," he concluded. 


Courtesy : Times of India, Aug 4, 2013, 04.37AM IST TNNMaria Akram ]
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