[Author’s Note: Will and Ariel Durant’s book – The Story of Civilization’s first volume appeared in 1935 and a complete set of eleven volumes was published in 1975. The authors took more than four decades to complete the manuscript. The readers well received the book. Therefore, their presence was sought in radio shows and press briefings. Will Durant has mentioned in one of his interviews that most common question around the globe was: ‘what is most important in human civilization, Intelligence, health or character? Will Durant responded the question that first comes the character, then health, and in the last – intelligence. I believe so, and it is still relevant in all walks of life.
I am of the view that in Sindh’s politics Mr. GM Syed, the nationalist leader and founder of Jeay Sindh Movement, was the powerhouse of ideas, and torchbearer of morality. Let me not shy, and state that he was the only politician, who practiced his ethos across the board, irrespective of political differences, power, age, class, and gender. I had been pondering over to document Jeay Sindh workers’ personal encounters with GM Syed. To start with, I would like to share an incident of 1989, narrated by Mr. Khadim Soomro, who used to be very close to G. M. Syed, and also has authored some books about him. Now onwards, such accounts would be the regular feature.]
By Dr. Zaffar Junejo
GM Syed observes hunger strike for a worker’s honor
I vividly recall in those days, G. M. Syed was detained and Hyder Manzil, the residence of G. M. Syed in Karachi, was declared as the sub-jail by the government. After taking control of the residence, the family was asked by the authorities to enlist the names of certain persons who could be allowed to visit the Syed. Among others, Suhail Memon’s name was also included, so that he could freely visit and stay there being a trusted worker of Jeay Sindh Movement.
It had become just a ritual that Saeen GM Syed used to have breakfast with three persons- Master Ghulam Qadir (who spent his life serving G. M. Syed), Munwar Mahar and Suhail Memon. Soon, Suhail’s absence was noticed at the serving table. However, at the lunch time his presence was not sought, because he returned late. The dinner was not a regular event, and each one had his own schedule. On the other hand, GM Syed followed dinner time religiously, which was too simple – sulemani tea, and a slice of bread.
One day, Master Ghulam Qadir and Suhail Memon argued over something at the dining table. Resultantly, in protest, Suhail without creating an awkward scene silently, stopped to have the breakfast at Hyder Manzil.
None noticed it, except GM Syed. Suhail was asked many times about his absence, but he always excused or told one or the other reason. He succeeded to manage for three days. However, one day, when he went out, and had breakfast at a nearby hotel, GM Syed didn’t have the breakfast and returned the food when served, without stating a reason. The family members enquired him, but he remained silent. He was calm and reflective. The family members felt worried, but none could even assume the reason. At last, around the lunch time, the family members asked his daughter Jiji Dure-Shahwar to enquire – what was the reason. She implored him to tell the reason. Saeen GM Syed said complaining, ‘my guest lives here, but you people have stopped serving him’. He added, ‘Suhail Memon lives here, but he eats outside, and there must be a reason behind it.’
The family members somehow succeeded in breaking his hunger strike. But it became a talk of the day. Now all were waiting for Suhail’s arrival. When he came, Jiji Dr. Durr-e-Shahwar asked him why he has stopped having breakfast at Hyder Manzil. He gauged the seriousness of the posed question, and told, ‘Master Ghulam Qadir hands-over plates in insulting way and also makes derogative comments over the serving table’. He emphasized that ‘he (Master Ghulam Qadir) has done it more than one time, and it was the only reason of his absence’.
Some of the personal servants of the family were eye-witness to the incident which testifies how G. M. Syed respected his trusted man, and went to the hunger strike for his honor.
Someone could take the above incident as a casual, but it tells a lot about morality. It also shows that how workers’ respect should be upheld. I think it is an essential part of peoples’ politics.