Did you know about this Bihari writer who is being remembered by Google today?

What surrounds us, here and now, is not guaranteed. it could just as well not exist – and so man constructs poetry out of the remnants found in ruins – Czeslaw Milosz

Abdul Qavi DesnaviI woke up much before the cold sun could have any effect on us lesser mortals with the freezing wall of mine making my pillow a courier from Antarctica. To my surprise, my cousin ‘broke’ the news in a cousins group that today’s google doodle is a real surprise. Yes, it is. It is a real surprise and this is why today’s English newspapers are asking (and telling) who is he and why the doodle is dedicated to him. The fear is that the world determined by an algorithm and descending in amnesia with no appetite for memory (especially for philosophers and writers and that too of an indigenous kind) will need doodle to teach the past, perhaps, your own past.

Abdul Qavi Desnavi, born in Desna, a village of incredible intellectual stature before partition, is alive again today by google. He was a literary critic and a brilliant writer of Urdu language. Born in a scholarly family where his father was a professor at St.xavier (Mumbai) of Urdu, Arabic and Persian languages and entire village were illuminated by the presence of many scholars, of all Syed Sulaiman Nadvi was the greatest. The small village of Desna, not far from Patna, has given many fine scholars and writers like Abdul Qavi Desnavi, Syed Shahabuddin Desnavi, and Sabahuddin Abdur Rahman.

Before partition, it was a hustling and bustling village despite poorly connected with the nearest town Bihar Sharif. Partition changed everything. Syed Shahabuddin Desnavi reminisces that despite being a village without railway station or bus stop, we would go to Desna singing Desna hai jiska naam, yahi gaaon hai huzoor / jiski machi hai dhoom bahut door door tak.

Abdul Qavi Desnavi wrote in his memoir ‘Ajnabi Shehar’ (Strange city) that as a child when he heard about Bhopal for the first time he felt its the city of his dreams. He recollects that Desna idolized Bhopal in 1946 when Syed Sulaiman Nadvi became Qazi ul Qaza in Bhopal. Since then he felt even more deeply about Bhopal. He died in Bhopal in 2011. He really proved intellectually that it was his city of dreams and went on to write books like ‘allama Iqbal Bhopal mein‘ and ‘Bhopal aur Ghalib

He extensively worked and commentated on Iqbal, Ghalib, and Abulkalam Azad. His work also explores different aspects of Iqbal’s poetry and thought including ‘Iqbal of Children’. His work on Azad’s Ghubar e khatir is also very intriguing and opens different aspects of Azad’s life. In his biographical work, lucid and insightful, on Abulkalam Azad, Desnavi asserts that “with firm belief we could say that beneath the life story of Abul kalam azad one will feel the story of struggle of Indian independence”. He told this story quite convincingly. Desnavi taught us the importance of being Maulana Azad in such a divisive time and society

Noted Urdu writer and Critique, Gopi Chand Narang, once wrote that he was the meaning of the word humanity. He found him not only angelic but ‘fana fil urdu’ man. A man whose life was dedicated to Urdu language.

Despite being a passionate lover of Bhopal all his two dozens (or more) of books bear his name as ‘Abdul Qavi Desnavi‘. Desna: A root, an origin, a village he was proud of which was part of his name, his identity, his becoming and belonging.

Baar e Dunya mein raho gham zada ya shaad raho
aisa kuch kar ke chalo yaan ke yaad raho

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