Monday, February 22, 2010

A day in the life of Amjad Hussein


There are many people who make the success of what CAI is today possible and one such man is Amjad Hussein. I pay tribute to this humble, tireless and most critically, a kind man who genuinely cares for orphans and is their mother, father and everything else in between. Thank you Amjadbhai; for your total commitment and selfless dedication to the orphans of Matia Bruj and all others in whose service you have sacrificed so much of your life. May Allah (S) bless and reward you in this and afterworlds.

Cough. My name is Amjad Hussein. I was born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, in India oh, some 59 nine years ago, son of a poor zari worker who fathered very many children. We had very little food to eat so all of us had to start earning as soon as we were able, so this meant tailoring apprenticeship for me at age 9. I worked hard and learnt to sew all kind of clothes but I was not fated to be a tailor. Circumstances (poor eyesight, marriage) took me away from Lucknow and I began managing orphanages for Najafi House based in Mumbai. I love taking care of children, supervise their activities and guide them; why, I like this so much I have been doing this for over 26 years. Cough, cough.

Sorry, I have this terrible cough. Here in Matia Brug, on the outskirts of Kolkta, India, it has been a bitter winter and I have been coughing nonstop for weeks now. I had myself thoroughly checked by a doctor, blood tests and chest x-rays, even for TB but the doctor just scratches his hair and says I am not diseased. Cough. Yusufali keeps on insisting I go for a full body check but I don’t know; I have given enough blood for testing and been prodded around as much.

About 5 years ago, I was reassigned to this renovated orphanage in Matia Brug. It is an old building, in ruins, well over 100 years old but built like a fortress. Now, it is a modern building with all facilities for the orphans that live and get educated here. The orphans, when they first come here, are a pitiful lot, some so backwards they cannot put on and zip their trousers. Cough. Why, I even had a mentally retard boy who drove me bananas trying to upgrade him; I had to let him go because he scared me silly, breaking into uncontrollable convulsions. Cough, cough, cough.



My day begins at 4:30AM with prayers for the boys; they sleep for another hour while I begin preparation for their morning hygiene and school bags. The first batch of kids go to school at 7AM, the second at 11AM and the rest 2PM. I supervise their teeth brush routine (they used up a whole new jumbo size one morning!), their uniform coordination, hair management and breakfast before seeing them off. Cough. By the time the first batch has gone and I have my breakfast, supervision of cleaners, laundry management, cook management and day’s lunch / dinner ration distribution, the next batch is ready for attention. The same routine follows afterwards and I stay on my toes until 3PM when the building is humming with activity again. Evening hours are filled with homework, tuitions Islamic school teachers; tiffs and brawl refereeing. Then come evening prayers and dinner. Cough, cough. My aging legs and back begin giving me a hard time by then but I plod on. Cough. It is only after dinner tuition classes are over and the kids spent in their energies and retire to bed with mischief and tiffs that I relax a bit, around 11PM. I am hopelessly tired and after a complete tour of this 3 level building, I gratefully ease myself onto my bed for blissful, blissful slumber. The last thought on my mind is a prayer none of the boys will be sick tonight or wet their beds. Cough, cough…


Aliakberbhai of Najfi House and Yusufali of CAI are visiting today; here for inspection and advice. I have slogged all day, sprucing up the place and ensuring their comfortable (and complaint free) stay on the 2nd floor. I know they will be exhausted from the airport drive; Kolkota traffic is vicious, confusing, lead heavy and sometimes dangerous. It is also a very polluting city; the fumes from ancient cars taxes my lungs, cough, lungs used to toxic waste of Indian cities; Yusufali has American lungs, cushioned against many of our Indian cities ills, I have been told. While I have known Aliakberbhai for years and know his temperament, Yusufali is relatively new. This intense bald (self imposed?) man is relentless in insisting absolute cleanliness of the orphanage and stresses educational excellence of the boys as if there is nothing more important than beating geniuses out of these poor kids. Well, I am not a teacher of math and science and I can only do so much with ensuring good grades; the rest is with the boys and their tutors. Cough.



We sit and talk late into the night, my eyes heavy with sleep. The duo listen to a litany of complaints I have against the incompetent cleaners and some adolescent orphans whose hormones are on overdrive. They advice and counsel me, sympathize. I know there is so much they can do but it is nice to let off steam. Cough. I live a rather solitary life, the children are a joy but they are children after all. My family all live in Lucknow; my wife is happy with this arrangement and so am I but I miss my kids, 5 of them. So this time with these adults is a break although I wish they would hurry up and let me go rest my aching legs. It is a good thing they leave early tomorrow; I can do my own thing and be away from Yusufali’s discerning eyes. Cough!



As perceived by Yusuf Yusufali through eyes of Amjad Hussein - Matia Bruj, February 15, 2010.

1 comment:

Mazahir said...

Mr. Amjad Hussein truly puts us to shame. May Allah (swt) grant him quick recovery of any illness he has and keep him safe and sound and bless his family too.

I'll have to think twice before I complain about being tired after reading this.