T. I. College, my Alma Mater by Syed Ilyas Bashir Ahmad

My Alma Mater – yes, what else should I call my T. I. College, other than a BOUNTEOUS MOTHER!? It is the first time that I happen to write something about so dear, so important and so integral a part of my existence. And, again it was not on account of a motive on my part, but to a phone call from Prof. Hameed Ahmad Choudhry. Choudhry Saheb, as I call him is someone whom I have known from the times when I, a dreamy eyed boy of FOURTEEN, entered Fazl – e – Umar Hostel as a resident student of T. I. College, way back in the year 1955. I cannot boast of any affinity between the two of us during that stay at the hostel. They were different times and the SENIORS especially the likes of CHOUDHRY SAHEB were considered as icons, only to be looked in awe, admiration and respect.
And, we the trifling JUNIORS obliged, ‘religiously‘!!

I do not recall even a small chat between me and CHOUDHRY SAHEB except the customary exchange of salutations whenever we crossed each other’s path. Strange though it may seem, the same CHOUDHRY SAHEB, has proven to be a pillar of strength for me in this latter phase of my dingy and dreary existence in EUROPE. His console’ and counsel always resuscitate and give me a new lease of life. He is, without doubt, a blessing that came my way thru none else but my T. I. College. May Allah keep him and his dear ones under His care and protection always!!
While writing these lines a host of memories crowd my mind and the feelings of nostalgia make me loose my focus. I am carried back to the day when my father took me to RABWAH to lodge me at Fazl – e – Umar Hostel. It was some day of September but the heat was still scorching to the young boy who had just descended from the cool comforts of his home in GILGIT. The monotony all around made me visualize the oft related story of Hazrat Ibrahim ( as ) and his son Hazrat Ismail ( as ) so explicitly. I had heard this story repeatedly from my early childhood from my grandmother, my mother and also my father, yet it had never made such a vivid impression as it did that day; when my father left me at the hostel.

Scribing these words bring back the memory of my first dinner (not the last!? ) in our “mess”. It was sometimes after Asr prayers when a loud shrieking bell followed by a thunderous stampede made me startle and hurriedly follow my three room mates who had jumped out of the room already; in a frenzy. Out of the room and into the corridor, I realized that the stampede was not on account of any impending danger; it was just in an effort to succeed in entering the DINING HALL which could house only a small percentage of the hungry masses.Those who did not succeed in getting in, kept hovering around the entrance in the hope of dashing in at the first available opportunity.
Me and my room mates were among the last of the cavaliers to gloat upon our victory. At first glance I noticed that the room presented a scene out of the battle of PANIPUT.I used the word PANI……PUT only because the “ SO CALLED “ table cloth was soaked in yellowish red watery remnants ( PANI ) of some sort; and littered ( PUT ) with remains of unedibles. I had hardly regained my composure when someone put a plate full of a watery concoction in front of me and almost threw a ROTI beside. My neighbour’s concentration on his plate made me also to refocus. It required a deep probe to find out what lay beneath. To my horror, I only found a few “fully matured“BHINDIS and a crooked MEATLESS bone swimming lifelessly in that pool of water. God’ how I had hated BHINDIS till that stage in my life (even the delicious home cooked ones). Suddenly words of my father started resounding in my ears. I remembered that whenever I told my mother of my plans to go to GOVERNMENT COLLEGE, LAHORE, etc., etc., my father would pronounce authoritatively that it was only T.I.College where headstrong young men could be reformed. No doubt, the reformation process had started already!!
Some orthodox souls may find the preceding narration less palatable; but my portrayal would appear lopsided if I did not give the readers a peep into the uninhibited mind of a young boy whose image of a College Campus did not match this ground reality at all.
Now, that I look in retrospect, my feelings are different altogether. I feel a deep yearning for the days that have long gone past and buried under the debris of time; leaving behind sweet pangs of nostalgia only. I cannot move back the clock, but I still retain the treasures that those passing moments gave me and all those cherished moments date back to my sojourn in My Alma Mater, My T.I.College.
I remember those innocent friendships that I made there. I remember Mohammad Bux, my room mate, a non Ahmadi student from a nearby village and one of the most innocent souls on this earth. How can I forget my other room mates Munir, Salim and Lateef Ahmed zafar ( son of late hazrat Mohammad Ahmed Mazhar Saheb ).
My Alma Mater gave me the valued patronage of Prof.Choudhry Mohammad Ali Saheb, and I can still feel the warmth of the PAN DRENCHED smile of Junaid Hashmi Saheb, that filtererd exuberantly through his horn rimmed glasses. I still remember how he would guide me on the right time ( depending upon the right mood of Mian Saheb ) of submitting an application to ( the then ) Mian Nasir Ahmed , our principal, to remit a fine imposed on me for some innocent breach of discipline The list of my benefactors is so long that I have to restrict the description for fear of short “ MEMORY “ of this website.
I would be ungrateful if I did not mention of the care and indulgence that I received from SHADI, BASHIR, HASSAN DIN and CEYLONI in addition to affectionate reprimands from Maulana Arjumand Khan Saheb. May allah be pleased with them all.
Going down the memory lane I still remember the occasion when at an ANNUAL DINNER of Fazl-e-Umar Hostel, Hazrat Mian Bashir Ahmed ( ra ) was our Chief Guest and I as the Chief Prefect, was assigned to deliver the WELCOME address. It was only the kind guidance of Choudhry Mohammad Ali Saheb that made me over come the butter flies in my stomach and handle the occasion .
The moments are still fresh in my memory when Choudhry Saheb introduced me to Hazrat Mian Saheb ( ra ) and another “ young and handsome person “ who accompanied Hazrat Mian Saheb. This “young and handsome person “ with a magnetic personality was none other than our dear HAZRAT MIRZA TAHIR AHMED AHMED ( rt ). It was another blessing accorded to me by my ALMA MATER and an association that lasted all through.
I cannot count my blessings which came my way thru my T.I.College. It was this brief period that afforded me several MULAQATs with Hazrat Musleh-e-Moud and , with all living SAHABA of Hazrat Masih-e-Moud( as ).It was my T.I.College that gave me the blessings of closeness and personal close contact with TWO KHULAFA of AHMADIYYAT i.e., HAZRAT MIRZA NASIR AHMED ( rt )(He was not only my Principal but also my teacher of POLITICAL SCIENCE ) and Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmed ( rt )
I can sum up my T.I.College experience by saying that my mother ( May Allah be pleased with her ) brought me to this world but my ALMA MATER nurtured me to live up to the realities of this world and the world hereafter.
I would end this note by quoting TWO stanzas from a poem by Thomas Moore which truly depict my frame of mind, while writing these lines:

When, round the bowl, of vanished years
We talk with joyous seeming –
With smiles that might as well be tears,
So faint, so sad their beaming;
While memory brings us back again
Each early tie that twined us,
O, sweet’s the cup that circles then
To those we’ve left behind us!

And when in other climes we meet
Some isle or vale enchanting,
Where all looks flowery, wild, and sweet,
And nought but love is wanting;
We think how great had been our bliss
If Heaven had but assign’d us
To live and die in scenes like this,
With some we’ve left behind us!