KARACHI: The wall clock has stopped precisely at 6:15am. We are looking at a room that we are not very sure what to call. It looks like an office with a desk, chair, sitting area and book shelves but then we also notice the mattress and pillow on the floor in one corner. So is it a bedroom?
It is Hakim Mohammed Said’s office and bedroom. He used to work and sleep in the same room. Sometime after his assassination in 1998, all his personal belongings were brought over from his home, Hamdard House, to the Madinat-al-Hikmah, or Hamdard University as it is popularly known, and preserved in a glass case, like in a museum. This particular museum is known as Idara-i-Said.
It is like walking through the pages of a beloved old album that preserves an important part of the country’s history as you walk into the Idara-i-Said. There are several photo galleries there walking you through history. ‘Hamdard Pakistan Manzal Ba Manzil’ tells you how the organisation went from strength to strength from 1948 to 1998, from when Hakim Said left his home and family in Delhi and came to Pakistan with his wife and only daughter Sadia to establish the Hamdard Laboratories here until the time when he was assassinated.
In the pictures, you see a young Hakim Said, you see his father Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed and elder brother Hakim Abdul Hameed, who inherited the Hamdard Dawakhana and Matab in Delhi from their father. You see pictures of Hakim Said with politicians of both Pakistan and India also. Of him during his work, of him at the time of laying the foundation of the Hamdard University. There are pictures of him penning articles, of him in office as the Governor of Sindh, of him with his most favourite people, the bright children of his Hamdard Naunehal Assembly, whom he always encouraged to study hard, to speak their minds and to take care of their health. There are preserved memories of that and so much more there.
Museum-like building at Madinat-al-Hikmah serves as a journey through the life and times of Hamdard’s founder
Along with the things already mentioned in his office and bedroom, you also find two television sets, two radios, one huge old vintage valve radio and another a newer transistor. A red prayer mat is spread out on the gray carpeted floor, the many tasbeehs hang from a rack next to the Quran Sharif in a metal box.
There are lots of files and books in the bookshelves, different table lamps on the tables and racks and a very tall pedestal fan apart from the wall-mounted air-conditioner.
Next to the office and bedroom is another room where Hakim Said’s honours and awards from all over the world have been preserved. The floor of that room has a royal Bengal tiger’s head and skin rug right in the centre. It was a gift to him from the hunters of that tiger.
Next to that room is another space which has a car. It is Hakim Said’s personal white 1995 Honda Civic bearing the registration number AB-0464, which was shot at on that fateful day of Saturday, October 17, 1998 when he was arriving at his Matab on Aram Bagh Road at his usual early morning time around dawn. The bullets shattered the rear windshield of the car though it was repaired by the car company later.
More heartbreaking reminders of that day include the framed news reports published by the papers the next day. You say a silent prayer for Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said and turn to leave, stopping once again for a last glance at his room and that clock which stopped ticking at 6:15am exactly 25 years ago.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2023