Field Marshal Ayub Khan
Our English Teacher
I have talked about Col. Coombes whose name is synonym to cadet college Petaro. Yet another person who was his close associate was Syed Shaida Azeem. Mr. Azeem joined the college as Vice Principal when the college was still in Mirpur Khas. Prior to that, he was a senior lecturer in cadet college Hassan Abdal. He was our English teacher and an accomplished professor. His speech, his demeanour, his emotions, his intellectualism, all these were the traits of his personality. His quality of expression and his style of teaching were superb. During the class if someone would ask him the meaning of a word, he would explain it to the minutest details with all its variables, no matter even if it consumed entire period of forty minutes. But once explained, no student could ever forget it’s meaning again. This is how the language of English was taught to us.
Visit of President of Pakistan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan
This reminds me of another teacher of English, an elderly person Syed Maqsood Ali, who had honour of even teaching our Vice Principal, Syed Shaida Azeem in Aligarh. He must be in his eighties by then, but active and agile. He was famous for telling his stories about his passion for hunting. Although no one in class would believe him, but he would take pride in telling his hunting memoirs particularly the one in which he was confronted with two tigers in a sundarban forest of Bangladesh (then it was part of undivided India) which was famous for Bengal tigers. He was left with one bullet through which he skillfully killed both tigers. On a parent’s day, Colonel Coombes had invited President of Pakistan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan. When he was introduced to college staff members, Syed Maqsood Ali said to him:
“Do you know me?” And Ayub Khan said “no”.
“I was in Aligarh university and senior to you, and was the mess in-charge. On some disciplinary grounds, your entry in the mess was disallowed for two days. You had approached me to say that you were hungry, and so I had allowed you to have your meals”.
How could Ayub Khan remember that? Colonel Coombes and all others were dumbfounded on such an absurd and irritating question, but Ayub Khan just laughed it off and said to him that he was happy to meet him again. Those were the days I simply cannot forget.
Our Class Teacher
Mr. Mukhtar Siddiqui was our class teacher and taught Urdu language to us. He was a literary figure and had written many dramas some of which were aired on radio station Hyderabad. His drama “Zinda javed” had acquired fame in those days. This drama was about a chemist who was in search of a chemical that could ensure eternity of life to the extent that he would never die, something like the fairy tale of “aab-e-hayat”. This man somehow made that chemical and swallowed it. All his parents and his friends died one after the other but he didn’t. And a time came when he had become sick of his unending life and wanted to die but the death would not come to him.
Mr. Mukhtar Siddiqui would tell this story in our class which we would listen with pin drop silence. Mr. Siddiqui would teach us only when we wanted to, and if we would ask him to tell a story, he would readily agree to it. And yet all students would excel in his subject so very well taught by him. I have only spoken about three of my teachers. I can go on and on, as all our teachers were icons in themselves. We were a lucky breed to have had such a battery of good teachers.
Field Marshal Ayub Khan