Sheikh Abdullah, founder of Women’s College in Aligarh, and Begum Waheed Jahan had seven children, five daughters and two sons. Begum Khurshid Jahan, born in 1918, was the youngest daughter. When she was a kid, there was a rumour that beggars with long beards kidnapped the children and would sell them away. Therefore, Begum Khurshid, when four year old, used to get terrified at the mere sight of any man with a long beard.
Now, the problem arose when Khurshid started getting terrified of relatives with long beards. So, her parents told her that there is a distinction between ‘a ghar ka buddha (respected old man)’ and ‘a bazaari buddha (scoundrel old man)’. The idea was convincing for the young mind.
Once, a friend of her father visited her home. This man was old and had a long beard. The innocent young Khurshid asked him “aap ghar ke buddhe hain ya bazaari buddhe?” (Are you a respected old man or a scoundrel old man?). The guest and her father laughed like maniacs. Though Sheikh Abdullah is not known for his poetry, at this event he wrote a short Urdu poem.
The poem reads:
Yeh maina ka sa tutlaana—yeh nanhi si ada teri,
bata tu kis ne bakhshi hai—-yeh soorat khushnuma teri
daraatay hain tujhe budhay say, teray meharban saaray
bala say unkee dar jaay, chupay ya khauf kay maray
ghazab hai teri maasumi—ke mehma(n) say tu ja poochay,
keh ghar kay aap hain budhay—ke hain bazaar ke budhay
pakadte hain mujhe budhay—jo hain bazaar se aatay
gharon mein jo ke rahtay hain—kis ko kab sata-tay hain
(This lisping like a nightingale, this childlike demeanour
Tell me who has granted this beautiful face of yours
Your loved ones tease you to be scared of old men
Not caring if you hide though fear
Or in utter innocence go and ask the visitor
If he was an old man of the house or the street.
‘For they will catch me if they come from the bazaar,
But who has heard of home-bound buddha (old man) hurting anyone)
Not to mention that, this event remained a joke in the family for years to come.
(Author had herself studied and resided at the Women’s College, Abdullah Hall, of AMU for her B.Sc)