Ali Imam  

The Imam of Art

Shamim Akhter

Ali Imam, the Imam of art and artists of Pakistan passed away on May 23, 2002. To pay homage to Imam Saheb, Gallery 6 in Islamabad hosted two of his rare works of art. In Karachi, Shahnaz Imam, now the director/ curator of Indus Gallery paid tribute to her husband by holding a big exhibition of paintings by senior and prominent artists of Pakistan. She also produced a brochure on the occasion sketching the life and works of Imam Saheb by various writers.

Pakistan Art Review also remembers the Great Guru and gives ample place to the man who dedicated his life to promote art and artists of Pakistan and opened the doors of Indus Gallery for modern art, thus paving the way for a proper art movement in Pakistan. This issue includes writings on Ali Imam by prominent writers and a personal note by his daughter and wife.


Ali Imam: A Personal Memoir
By Hameed Haroon
Act of Art
By Marjori Husain
My Student Who Became My Teacher
By Prof. Khwaja Masud
A Tribute to Imam Saheb
By Shahnaz Imam
My Father My Friend
By Uzma Noorani

Ali Imam: A Personal Memoir

By Hameed Haroon

In the bleak Pakistani culturo-scape of the 1980s, art was believed to consist of little more than a grouping of western and Hindu ideals. The depiction of the human figure was being violently questioned by theocrats who had demonstrated their inability to respond to any of the fine arts — music and dancing were representations of Hindu culture, sculpture rightfully belonged in a Hindu temple, and wasn't it idolatrous? And last but not the least, all literature that spoke of liberation and the breaking down of societal taboos was patently unlslamic.

Our history began with the invasion of Sindh by Mohammad bin Oasim — Sindh was gloriously renamed "Bab ul Islam" — and everything before that (remember history theses prior to AD 712 were not acceptable at university level) just never existed. And the colonial abhorrence that fol­lowed was the last attempt by western barbarism to snuff out the rekin­dled light of Islam. In the midst of this godforsaken culturo-scape, I first met Ali Imam.

It is possibly better left to a more erudite art historian to document the contribution of Ali Imam. In the 1960s, Ali Imam had come to symbolize a kind of progressive avant-garde and even outlandish spirit in the arts. He was recognized for the irreverent iconoclastic nature of his free soul. Ali Imam appeared to be the kind of person you would have stumbled into at a Paris Arts Ball, spouting fashionable Kafka rather than the figure he had become by the early 1980s.

And what precisely was that figure? By the 1980s Ali Imam had been wrenched free from all the glamour that had been separated from art under Zia's martial law. Art was no longer about radical innovation and frivolousness. Instead it needed to project a serious response to the usurpation of civil rights in the country. It needed to raise an outcry about human rights, about the disenfranchisement of the Hindus and Christians, about the cutback in women's rights. The New Art needed to raise a voice with respect to sanity, rationalism and the right to dissent. It needed to wield influence on the social conscience, it needed to reflect the poet Faiz's intensity in the sprawling scramble of its new bold lines, it needed to stop being a pampered People's Art, a cosseted plaything of Bhutto's agricultural and urban elites. In fact, had there not been an Ali Imam, we would have had to invent one. That should tell you something about Ali Imam's place in Pakistani art.

There have been many painters in Pakistan, possibly some were better than Ali Imam, but every movement needs it chronicler. Ali Imam became the documenter of Pakistan's paranoid split personality knee jerk reaction towards art. Iconoclast though he was, Ali Imam did not reject tradition in art. Paradoxically, Ali Imam felt that within tradition, the art of the Pakistani people could generate a deep seated and persistent new creativity. In the work of several young artists, he encouraged the juxtapositions of different forms of traditional craft, and created within the juxtaposition, the exciting tension which only a truly innovative mind could bring forward.

Whoever heard of creating a movement in art based on Kufic calligraphic verses worked onto metal pots and household utensils? Like Sadequain before him (and the textile impressarios Faiza Samee and Rizwan Beyg after him), Ali Imam had been able to put his finger on the pulse of the immense design possibilities inherent in the Kufic. This was one of the many score strands of art that Ali Imam sought to initiate.

The genesis of the serious painting exhibition, liberally sprinkled with fortified nectar helped firmly establish Imam's Indus Gallery as the unsung capital of the Karachi art scene for the last quarter of a century. Even as the lights began to go out in the gallery, with Ali Imam's intensifying illness, overseas visitors who knew Pakistan in its better days continued to visit the gallery as a symbol of survival of Pakistani art and its triumphant resistance to the stifling grip of theocracy.

Many remembered those rare evenings of being packed like sardines in the small curios room overlooking the gallery. Here you could keep company with a terracotta figurine from Knossos, a bronze African tribal mask from Benin or the inlaid bone Aborigine ritual implements from Oceania.

Ali Imam had assembled an incredible collection of curios and antiquities from across the world. You could lovingly fondle the well-worn contours of a bejewelled snuff box while arguing on the differences between Fatimid structures in Cairo and Umayyad palaces in Cordoba. In rare inspired moments, Ali Imam would teach us about his love for mediaeval Indian and early Pahari painting. From early Jain painting to the soaring saffron yellows and vermilions of Basohli, Imam steered a vigorous course on the emergence of northern Indian art.

From holidays he would return with bagfuls of Gandhara ornaments and votive figurines -loot prized away from the fingers of ingenious Swati shopkeepers who went out in the rain to excavate archaeological treasures from frequent hillside mudslides.

The sanctum sanctorum also contained a huge number of files. Throughout the day and long into the night, Ali Imam read the print media vociferous­ly and he made clippings on every Pakistani artist or art form there ever was. At last count, the files numbered well over 250. Nobody believed there would be a publishing boom in Pakistani arts books, subsequently or that newspapers would be printing Pakistani art in glorious colour.

Ali Imam's collection (the correct modern term for this is database) made the collation of fragments of our memory with respect to Pakistani art and artists into a single coherent and unified whole. Ali Imam became the sacred druid priest whose efforts towards the preservation of all that is sacred in our artistic consciousness would convert him into a veritable 20th century Pakistani Merlin.

And he was a Merlin who had no reservations about imparting his skill and knowledge to those of us who buzzed around him like infected mosquitoes from the swamps of martial culture spread outside that little room.

My education first began with Abdul Rehman Chughtai. I learnt how metal plates are fiddled, and how world morality dictates that prints should be of a finite number, and that such number should be indicated on the body of a print. I learnt about the graceful Japanese hand movements that led to the creation of the Shanti Niketan wash on Indian paper. He taught me of how the trail of the Jamini Roy revolution led from the Shanti Niketan to the J.J. School of art. He spoke of Allah Bukhsh's days there and, of course, of Shakir Ali and Ahmed Parvez. He taught me how to tell a Chughtai was fake and Allah Bukhsh original apart. In fact he taught me the skill of ruthless and microscopic examination of any painted texture. But Ali Imam was both destroyer and creator. He taught me when to doubt and what to believe.

Fifteen years after Ali Imam had taught me how to look at a painting, how to describe it, how to acquire it, and how to display it; I had a chance to demonstrate my as yet unmmatured skills. I was asked to curate The Holy Sinner retrospective on Sadequain's art with Salima Hashmi, at the Mohatta Palace in Karachi. Ali Imam was seriously ill, but he came.

"He had to come," said Shahnaz, his wife and companion, the remaining from his long descent into the abyss. Ali Imam strolled slowly through the large halls, resplendent in the bright hues and colours that he probably taught me to use and enjoy. Earlier I had publicly acknowledged my debt to the art education that Ali Imam gave me on a shoe string budget, because he never got paid for it, and because whatever little was available, was used to buy up the next Pakistani master. 150 paintings later Ali Imam helped me put together the genesis of a major national collection.

"This is fantastic!" he said simply. "You taught me how to hang a painting," I answered. "You taught me how to identify it, buy it, restore it, and display it and even how to write about it." He answered that his time had not been wasted. I walked with the visitors to the room above, only to discover that Imam Sahib had been struck by yet another of those debilitating attacks of angina. But when ARY television asked him to speak on the significance of the exhibition, he faced the camera and delivered a stirring tribute to Sadequain, the man, the artist and his milieu. It was to be Ali Imam's electronic broadcast swansong.

If there is a paradise out there, it will be composed of Rothko's colours with Picasso's houries and Tasadaq Sohail's gnomes grappling with each other in a Renoir field. Overhead, suspended like a ball of fire will be a Sadequain sunrise, and filling the airspace with a myriad of colours crafted by anonymous South Asian artisans and artists. These were his flock, the images he made, and the artists he created. Surely, wherever Ali Imam is today, he will have taken his cloak of many hundred colours, which will no doubt dazzle the inhabitants of the celestial universe.

"And let me tell you about those saffron yellows and vermilions...", thus speaks Ali Imam. And the lifespan between Creation and Judgment now appear just that little bit shorter.


Act of Art

By Marjori Husain

A tall, bearded figure smoking a pipe wandered into the printmaking workshop conducted by Michael Ponce de Lyon in Karachi, where I was attempting to produce a white relief print. He examined the results and gave his verdict. "Great", he said and I presented him the print on the spot. The visitor was Syed Ali Imam, the year was 1968, and this was our first meeting.

Imam had only just returned to Pakistan from London and taken charge as the principal of the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts in Karachi. He had an enviable experience of exhibitions in England, and was by repu­tation a man of great intellectual acumen. As a painter he handled his subject and his media with unique blending of vigour and sensitivity.

Imam had shown his work at the Karachi Arts Council in 1967, and was due to show his work in Lahore. He was working in oils on canvas, creating heavily impasto work with sculptured forms. As a man of the arts, Ali Imam was to fill a vacuum in Pakistan, one that we were not even aware existed. He became a key figure in art circles, much in demand throughout the coun­try as a lecturer on art related subjects, and as a champion of artists who encouraged and educated art collectors.

As a regular habitué of the Indus Gallery one met Imam frequently and benefited greatly from his views on art and artists. I was fascinated by his account of the Lahore Art Circle, and his years in London.

Syed Ali Imam had been involved with the art developments taking place in Pakistan since September 1947. Newly arrived in the country he was then in his early twenties, politically motivated, working for the rights of the 'underdog' and a committed Marxist. Imam had studied art at the Nagpur School of Art as a part-time student (1940-41). In Bombay, where he was a medical artist for the Tata Memorial Hospital, he was a part-time student of the J.J. School of Art (1944-46).

In Pakistan, many years later, he gave up his active participation in politics and immersed himself completely in the cause of art. He completed his education at Gordon College, Rawalpindi, and in 1952, joined the Lawrence College, Ghora Galli, where he took charge of the art department. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, Imam painted landscapes in watercolours.

Lahore was where art was happening in those days, and he was there at every given opportunity. There was the Mayo School of Art, the tea house and coffee shops, where writers and artists met, and annual art exhibitions for professional artists and students, arranged by Professor Anna Molka Ahmed, who had established a fine art department at the Punjab University. Imam joined in the activities with gusto, taking part in exhibitions, writing reviews, and donating prizes to encourage students. In 1952, an exhibition at the Punjab University included the work of Ahmed Parvez, Shemza, Kutab Sheikh, Hanif Ramay, Moyene Najmi and Ali Imam, Naseem Oazi and Mirium Shah. The Pakistan Times, reviewing the exhibition, men­tioned Imam's painting titled Ruin as one of the best in exhibition although Parvez walked off with the shield.

Of Imam's work Anna Molka wrote: "He is now developing his own form of expression. He paints in brilliant watercolours using both transparent and opaque colours."

Imam assisted Kutab Sheikh to set up art classes at the Lahore Arts Council and the media reported that among the younger generation of painters there had been many signs of life and activity. Imam and his peers, influenced by Shakir Ali, were beginning to feel the pulse of modern art. A group that included Ahmed Parvez, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Kutab Sheikh, Moyene Najmi and Shaikh Safdar formed the Lahore Art Circle. They strove to formulate a modern art idiom, to read and discuss books on aesthetics and art philosophy and exhibited their work as a group.

As the son of a forest officer, Imam’s early years had been spent in idyllic surroundings that were to influence his views on art and nature. For this reason his early works comprise paintings in which nature and landscapes predominate. Imam's work in the early 1950s in Lahore received glowing reviews from the media: "Ali Imam is continuing to pour out new work with newer and better tech­niques. He uses brilliant colours in their pure form and by skillful juxta­position achieves an effect of perfect harmony and balance."

Less impressed, Imam related, was Shakir Ali, who looked at his landscapes and asked him: "What is this romantic nonsense? Study Cezanne."

Imam studied Cezanne but it took him three years, he said, to understand the work of the master.

Imam was an enthusiastic painter in those days, often finishing an artwork in one sitting. He showed his work in several solo exhibitions in the 1950s, his first at the Masonic Hall, Rawalpindi, in 1952. An exhibition held at the British Council, Karachi, in '53 had as chief guest the then central minister for commerce, who stressed the importance of the role that artists had to play in national life.

At that time Imam's ambition was to paint Pakistan and the media responded by speaking of his studies of rural life as "homely and convincing". His confidence and handling of the media was appreciated and it was said: "He preserved very well scenes from cities, villages, busy streets and quiet ruins."

Further solo displays followed at Sam's Hall, Murree in 54, Pakistan Arts Council, Lahore, in 55 and in 56, an exhibition at the British Council, Karachi, before Imam spread his wings. In Imam's own words: "Most of us went abroad to learn through contacts with artists, critics and books. We wanted to visit museums and galleries and study works of art, not to meet compatriots with a view to eat pullao and chit-chat."

Imam in those days must have been a formidable young man with strong opinions. In Lahore he regularly wrote art reviews for the press, and in an article written in '53, chided Eleanor Roosevelt for not viewing the entire art exhibition set up at the Punjab University in her honour: "It's a pity that the distinguished guest was not able to see the whole exhibition as she went to attend a private party."

Writing his views on art Imam set out an intimidating scenario of studies for young artists and students: "...Our artists will have to study Hindu art, Mughal miniature paintings, Rajput art, Persian art and the development of European art from the classical period to its present day development into Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, Dadaism, Futurism, etc. Without a thorough analysis of these periods and trends it will not be possible for our artists to accept what is good and useful in them and to reject the useless."

In London, Imam joined the St. Martin's School of Art as an evening student, taking part-time jobs to support himself. Considered overqualified for the jobs he applied for, Imam eventually got a job manning a lift by giving his potential employer the impression that he was barely literate. The job suited him as he could spend the time reading while working the lift. Once his employer entered the lift and found him reading Jean-Paul Satre. Imam received a strange look but nothing was said and the job was safe.

In 1958 Ali Imam was offered his first solo exhibition in London at the Imperial Institute Gallery. He showed me a letter written to him by the well known art critic Eric Newton on that occasion: “1 am very disappointed that I shall not be able to see your exhibition as I am sailing for America on the 20th of this month (December). I hope the critics will come and that you get a good press. I have not seen your latest work but if it is of the same quality as that you showed me a year ago, the exhibition will be a good one. You have my permission to quote me on that."

In 1959, Ahmed Parvez, Anwar JaIal Shemza, Murtaza Bashir, Safiuddin Ahmed and Imam regrouped as the 'London Group', and were offered an exhibition at The Woodstock Gallery in London's arty and posh West End. The show was reviewed by art critic G.M. Butcher, who wrote of Imam's work, "...he inverts the principle of Cubism and emerges with a decorative system or reference to natural objects."

Imam spoke of those days as, "far less materialistic." He worked hard and studied hard, taking part in a dozen group shows at galleries such as: The Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford, Royal Institute Gallery, Newcastle Museum, Portal Gallery, Piccadilly Gallery, Kensington Art Gallery, the Commonwealth Institute, Kensington.

In 1961, Imam's work was shown in a solo exhibition at the John Whibley Gallery, London. Imam was by his own account, "going on quite happily."

He worked in a hospital but his life was full of art and art related activities.
He was a part-time student of Hammersmith School of Art (1962-63), and there were lectures, extensive libraries and museums to access. He became acclimatized to a certain way of life, art criticism and candid opinions.

His work was reviewed by the media and in art magazines. Stephen Bone of the Manchester Guardian wrote: "Ali Imam paints with strong black outlines or with carefully defined silhouettes piling up simplified buildings into bright coloured compositions or carefully designing some small groups of figures. He seems almost to design as if for some heavy sort of weaving or appliqué embroidery, or perhaps stained-glass or earthenware tiles. At his best he is a serious and convincing artist."

G.M. Butcher, who maintained a link with Imam, wrote of his later work: "He has made creditable progress in learning what it means to be a painter. This is in spite of the fact that he is essentially an intellectual."

Jean Yves Mock wrote in the Apollo magazine: "Ali Imam's style is angular and bold, a simplification of forms and very sure in its own manner."

Cotty Burland of Art News and Review found that Imam painted with a tendency to use colour and outline in the Rouault tradition: “As soon as he deals with human beings they live with a gentle dignity which is in absolute contrast to the harsh materialism of modern world."

In 1967 Imam decided his heart dwelt in Pakistan and returned to become the principal of the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts, Karachi. "Settling down again had its difficulties. Lots of time I was out of harmony, people found it hard to accept an unpalatable truth or candid opinion."

In February 1968, Ali Imam exhibited his paintings at the Lahore Arts Council and it was apparent that a very different artist had appeared in place of the zestful young man that set off in 1956.

I found it intriguing that he chose such down-to-earth subjects: musicians, groups of village women, mothers with their children; and painted them with extreme delicacy and feeling.

Of his White on White sequence it had been said in London: "Ali Imam has mastery over his techniques of creating white figures with subtle modeling. Impastos of white contrasting with off-white, harking back to classical figure painting, give to his models a feel of monumentality rare among artists today."
There were numerous calls on Imam's time. As a teacher and in 1971 as owner of a gallery, Imam encouraged artists to get back to their roots, to grow, to create aesthetic problems and to solve them. He had less and less time for his own work and although he continued to paint he was convinced he could never attain his own standards of aesthetic criteria. In later years Imam appeared to mellow in his views; he owned to being  “not so angry" anymore.

Offered national honours for his work in the field of art (some refused some accepted), he reminded one of a character from Kipling, regarding celebrity and fame as 'impostors'. His was the only standard of judgment he trusted. In recent times he was confined to his study, forbidden to use the staircase. With time for himself he began to paint again in earnest, portraits of his old, much esteemed friends, group of figures, studied in white. These were the figures he refused to exhibit: “They belong to my wife,” he said.



Ali Imam — My Student Who Became My Teacher

By Prof. Khwaja Masud

The year was 1947, and the month was October. I would stand at the Gordon College gate to catch hold of the refugee students who were pouring into Rawalpindi from India.

One day, I caught hold of a tall, handsome, young man with only a bag slung across his shoulders. He said that he had nothing — no warm clothes, no quilt, no books, no fee. My reply was that he shouldn't worry, everything would be looked after.

This is how Ali Imam joined Gordon College, a college known for excellence and discipline. Very soon Ali Imam became the most outstanding of the college, surrounded by a batch of students who were destined to earn their name in history.

Pakistan knows him as an artist, belonging to the avant-garde, carving a path for so many artists. But how many are aware of the fact that he was a founding member of the Democratic Students Federation, the first students' organization with a progressive programme? How many Pakistanis know that Ali Imam organized the first Trade Union Federation, bringing railway workers, Muree Brewery employees, Rawalpindi oil workers, workers in 5.1 command factories? The first May Day was celebrated in Pakistan in 1948 in Rawalpindi. Ali Imam was the moving spirit behind it.

We were the first to organize the Progressive Writers Association and the first meeting was held in the staff-room of Gordon College.

After appearing in the B.A. examination in 1949, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to revolutionary work. All those days, he lived within forty rupees a month.

From 1947 to 1962, Ali Imam spent his days and nights with the workers, sharing their hardships and understanding how history and economics are linked together and how politics and culture should represent the interest of suffering humanity. The so-called Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case dealt a fatal blow to the pro­gressive, revolutionary movement in Pakistan. Ali Imam turned to his first love i.e. art, but with a difference. He drew his inspiration from downtrodden humanity.

He set a formidable task so far as art is concerned. According to him, "Our artists will have to study Hindu art, Mughal miniature paintings, Rajput art, Persian art, the development of European art from the classical period to its present day development into Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, Dadaism, Futurism, etc. Without a thorough analysis of these periods and trends, it will not be possible for our artists to accept what is good and useful in them and to reject the useless." Since then I was his student. Although even during his last hours, he remembered me as his murshid; it is the other way around.

Ali Imam's work in the early 50s in Lahore received glowing reviews. It was remarked, "Ali Imam is continuing to pour out new work with newer and better techniques. He uses brilliant colours in their pure form and by skillful juxtaposition achieves an effort of perfect harmony and balance" But Shakir Ali, a good friend of mine from his Karachi days, was not impressed. He said, "What is this romantic nonsense? Study Cezanne." Ali Imam took this advice so seriously that he spent three years to study and understand Cezanne.

There is no doubt that Matisse and Picasso are the north and south poles of 20th century art, but the fact remains that Cezanne was their guru. Cezanne's work attained great significance for the future of art. One has to understand two words frequently used by Cezanne: realization and mod­ulation. Realization, according to Cezanne, means to bring into being, and modulation, according to him, means to adjust a material to a certain pitch or intensity. Cezanne's method of painting was first to choose his motif, then to bring into being his visual apprehension of this motif and in this process to lose nothing of the vital intensity that the motif possessed in its actual existence. Cezanne's temperament was fundamentally classical. He was for structure at any cost, i.e, for a style rooted in the nature of things and not in the individual's subjective sensations. He felt he could not realize his vision without an organization of lines and colors that gave stability and clarity to the image transferred to the canvas. Now we under­stand why Ali Imam spent three years in the essence of Cezanne, just to attain monumentality while retaining the intensity of the visual image. This is why Ali Imam is a great artist with a halo of eternity around him.



A Tribute to Imam Saheb

By Shahnaz Imam

It is nine years now that Imam Saheb passed away in May 2002. My late husband, Syed Ali Imam, nurtured and raised the Indus Gallery much like we did our two children. He had a sense of mission about the gallery, and took great pains to transform it into a rendezvous, a meeting point, where painters, sculptors, craftsmen, critics, teachers, students, antique enthusiasts and collectors — both initiated and uninitiated — came together to share their thoughts, feelings and emotions about the arts, literature and, life in general. The Indus thus became a hub of cultural activity, an oasis amid the vast desert of cultural apathy. It sustained us — and like-minded friends — through the most tormenting of times Karachi has ever known. The gallery today is a living testimony to the lifetime of courageous contribution imam Sahib has made to the promotion of art in this country. Indeed, this calls for a celebration that is on-going and perpetual and keeps the Indus buzzing with activity that was so close to his own heart. This exhibition, brought together by friends of Imam Sahib as a tribute to his towering personality and services, is the first one in the series of such on-going celebrations. Indus has always been proud of the company it has kept and nurtured over the years, and as names of most of the participants to this exhibit suggest — Sadequain, Gulgee, Tassadaq Sohail, Zahoorul Akhlaque, Mansure Aye, Ajmal Husain, Nahid Raza, and many others — it is a fitting event to start with.



My Father My Friend

By Uzma Noorani

Today, I will like to share some fond memories of my father with my readers. You all know him as a painter, promoter of art, antique collector, but let me introduce him as a father who loved his family like no one else ever did. My father was a friend and a dad. Any problems, any suggestions, he was always open to discuss them and ready to share his views with me.

He always looked at every situation 20 years ahead of time. Somehow, he always knew the fate of any given issue; it was his experience or just a gut feeling. Sometimes, his observations were tough and not what I wanted to hear. They were always precise. He and I always went for long walks. His conversations were about growth, creativity, never giving up, always trying one's best, working very hard and being loyal and honest in what‑ever one did in life. Often, it would take me days to absorb his thoughts, but in the end they were always right and very true.

 On a lighter note, I will like to talk about some personal traits my dad and I shared. Mind you! Dad used to sneeze so loud it shook up the whole household. So do I. My husband has to cover his ears if I sneeze. I inherited his long fingers and wide nails which are said to be signs of an artistic person. For my father they stand very true. We both have numerous moles on our face as well. Many times throughout my life, I have been told that I inherited my disciplinary habits from my father. We both used to work long hours when preparing for exhibitions. We would wake up early and get right down to business. I would type and proofread his articles and organize all his invitations and mailings. He had a particular format of doing things and he was very passionate about it. A small change, here or there, would greatly distress him. I took special care never to let that happen. He had an eye for detail and sequence. We both loved to socialize and always had people around. I would often accompany him to receptions and exhibitions and we both would enjoy mingling with the crowd.

Today, when I look at myself, I can see his reflection in me. I live my life just like he taught me to, whether it is personal or at work. Dad and I enjoyed cooking together as well. We would set a target to get things done. Cooking was our multi-task time. I would sit with him in the kitchen while the food was cooking and he would help me with my English Literature or Mathematics assignments. He would explain and beautify every little detail. Surprisingly, I never felt hot in that kitchen because dad used to keep me so involved in my lessons that the whole event would become exciting, meaningful and the food would be delicious too.

When I visited him in March 2000, we still continued our early morning and late evening walks. This time our conversations were more serious and mature and I would often interject my opinions in with his. In the end, I would like to say that I have not been able to completely accept this fact of life that he is physically gone. I do not know if I ever will. I feel his presence around me all the time. His passing away has not only left a void in the world of art but also in my life. I have lost a part of my existence, which I cannot replace. The pain is so intense that I pray to God for help. My father was, has, and will always be in my heart. Now he is my heart‑
beat, cherished and loved forever.