Jane Kahan Gaye Wo Log: Salahuddin Usman, The Man Who Taught Me The Formative Steps In Media
I had a very unique relationship with veteran journalist Salahuddin Usman who worked as special correspondent for prominent English daily The Patriot published from New Delhi.
Salahuddin Usman was very close friend of my late father Bishan Kapoor who was bureau chief BLITZ in Lucknow and both had been with communist Party at one time. They were also involved in trade union movement of journalists and were office-bearers of the UP Working journalist Union as well. More or less they were of the same age.
Salahuddin Usman knew my father from his Agra days. When my father moved to Lucknow way back in 1963 he already knew Salahuddin Usman who became his constant companion and comrade till my Father was alive. Even during my father’s fight against blood cancer Salauddin Usman was with him.
Even in Tata hospital Mumbai Salahuddin Usman was there as he was looking after his wife who was also admitted there for treatment for breast cancer. Salahuddin Usman not only looked after his wife but also boosted my father’s moral in Tata hospital.
It was well known fact in political and journalist circle that Salahduddin Usman and Bishan Kapoor moved together. I remember that Salahuddin Usman would come to our home with father after their routine visits to the coffee house and would have lunch together and would again go to UP secretariat in the afternoon.
What Salahuddin Usman did after my father‘s death way back in September 1981 was something remarkable which very few people would do. He would visit us and sit at our house and enquire if we needed anything. His regular visit was great moral booster for our family.
I developed special relationship with him during 1977 when I decided to become journalist and he offered to visit his home-office at 44 Raj Bhawan colony where he gave me chance for practical training. Although I was at time was student of Lucknow University but would visit Mr Salahuddin Usman’s office every evening.
He used to give me government press note to re-write them to be used in The Patriot. He also gave me assignment for coverage. I remember having covered oath-taking ceremony of Ram Naresh Yadav as chief minister for The patriot along with Salahuddin Usman. I was very excited when my story appeared in newspaper next day. I remember having covered foundation laying ceremony for building for the Giri Institute for Development Studies where PN Haksar was the chief guest.
Few years before he died, Salahuddin Usman lost his memory but surprisingly he would remember me and my family. Often he would ring up from the residence of his daughter Shaila in Gomtinagar that I should come and take him away as he was living with unknown people. When I would say that he should not worry as he is living with his own daughter then he would cut the phone. He even refused to recognize our dear aunty Zeba who would spend maximum time on her bed as she was still not keeping well.
Once I went to his residence to return the manuscript of the book he authored on Awadh and 1857 war of first Independence and nobody in family was at home. The servant said since he could not recognize anybody from the family so there was no point meeting and he insisted that I should give manuscript to him. But I insisted upon meeting him and handing his precious manuscript to him only.
When I entered in his room he not only recognized me but took the manuscript and started enquiring about and coffee house and his old friends like Vidya Sagar and SM Jafar. He also praised the efforts of my brother Sanjay for his magazine Hardnews which had carried excerpt from his manuscript. The servant who was also present was so shocked as he had not seen Salahuddin Usman recognizing anybody or talking like this to anyone not even family member.
Way back in 2007 we organized a program at the UP press Club to remember Bishan Kapoor who had died in September 1981 more than 300 persons turned up to pay tribute. Salahuddin Usman also came with his daughter and son-in-law but he would not recognize anybody. After the program was over he complained to his daughter that as why he was not allowed to speak on Bishan whom he knew from his Agra days."