Of Dreams and Goals
It is not a political enemy’s dig at his arch-enemy. It is not an opponent’s last-ditch attempt to challenge political ideology of a leader. Calling a leader as ‘dream merchant’ is in fact an acknowledgment of his greatness- all great people dream high. I have no idea, what might have crossed the mind of the scion of the Abdullah family when he used this phrase for Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Nevertheless, he deserves kudos for naming the octogenarian leader, who has been on the political scene of Jammu and Kashmir for over fifty-five years as ‘dream merchant.’—it is the highest honor that could be bestowed on a leader.
When, I read phrase ‘dream merchant’ in the screaming headlines, the famous speech of Martin Luther king ‘ I have a dream’ started ringing in my mind and images of Barrack Hussein Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and my favourite novelist noble laureate Toni Morison started gleefully playing before my eyes. These image speaking about the realization of Luther King’s dream made me triumphantly shout- and shout louder, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of slaves and the sons of former slaves will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood… One-day even the state of Mississippi, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with heat of oppression, will be transformed into oasis of freedom and justice…. That my four children will one day live in a Nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skins, but by the conduct of their character… with this faith we will be able to play together; to struggle together…to stand up for freedom together knowing that we will be free one day”.
True, Martin Luther did not live to see the freedom he dreamt of but his dream came true…the sons of slaves have made it to the White House- the idea that once caused jeers and laughter from cynics and collaborators is now a historical reality. It has not only been Martin Luther King, who in an atmosphere of despondency and disappointment had sold his dreams to his people. Moreover, who knew one day these will be translated into reality. All great leaders of the world have been dream merchants.
The poet of the East, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, saw the dream of separate nation state for Muslims of South Asia to be realized nine years after his death on 14 August 1947. On December 29, 1930, in his presidential address at the annual session of the All India Muslim League he for the first talked about separate nationhood for the Muslims of India.
Not only the Congress leaders did pooh – pooh Iqbal’s idea of two nation theory but even some of the Muslim League leaders had denounced it as a ‘poet’s hallucination’. Even Jinnah did not yield to Iqbal’s argument, Bolitho, first biographer of Quaid-e-Azam, writes, “Almost a decade was to pass before he admitted that he had finally been led to Iqbal’s conclusion, as a result of careful examination and study of the constitution problems facing India.” So holds true about thirty five year old student in Cambridge Choudhry Rahmat Ali, when in his pamphlet Now or never he had coined word PAKISTAN for the new country of Muslims of India, he was branded as a novice and day dreamer. But it is historical reality that Iqbal’s dream was translated into reality. And translator of this dream into reality M. A. Jinnah, whose birthday falls on December 25, passed into history as a charismatic leader, ‘Who conjured that country into a statehood by the force of his indomitable will and altered the course of history and modified the map of world.’ Indian freedom struggle would not have been born and it would not have become a reality, there not been leaders with dreams like Tilak, Gokhale, Bipin Chandra and Gandhi- who stood for Swaraj that many of their contemporaries basking under the reflected glory of the British considered as air castle.
Even at our place, our grandfathers have been dream merchants. They started dreaming of ending the communal and discriminatory rule of the Dogra Maharaja right in 1865, and rose in revolt against him and like a living nation sacrificed their lives. Our first leaders Sona Shah and Qoodah Lala and few others died in custody dreaming about freedom of their land. In 1924, when under the leadership of Saad-u-Din Shawl our forefathers presented a seventeen-point memorandum to the Viceroy of India, Lord Reading protesting against the communal and discriminatory rule, they did dream of justice for the oppressed people. For their dreams, they were persecuted and exiled. Their critiques looking for their doomsday had never realized that one day this memorandum would turn into a mass movement that will bring down hundred-year-old feudal autocracy like sand-castle on a sea shore.
While, I was writing last line of this column, some only like Geelani whispered in my ear, “There were hard hours in our journey, and often we sailed against the wind. But always we kept our rudder tru