Hassan Kak’s Suroor

What a beautiful consolation Imam Hussain and his elegies are to people like Hassan Kak in this world

Arshad Hussain

TODAY, there was an amateur elegy reciter in Majlis not more than 20 years of age. In a bid to encourage him to stand up in the huge crowd to do the job of a tear jerker, I went forward to lend him my vocal support. He recited the elegy “Suroor” of which the opening line is, “Oh God I couldn’t get the time to derive pleasure in praising you”.

Well! I directed my gaze horizontally and saw Hassan Kak whose anecdote I had written 4 years ago. He is now suffering from stomach cancer. His story was abstractly whirling at the back of my mind. How he had been working from the age of 10 with a wage rate as minimum as 0.5 rupees and how when touched 60 years of age he was finally detected with stomach cancer. I remember how he would often tell me “Ba Thakus Wayen” (I am tired now) with this labour but there is no option either, I have to work.

Since his story was whirling and pecking at my brain, I saw Hassan Kak alerted. Yes, the Elegy reciter had reached that part of Marsiya where he was selling them the idea of salvation. It said that if you could shed tears to Ahlul Bayt, it will be the atonement of your errors and transgressions in this world.

Hassan Kak was least bothered — he was busy adjusting his skull cap and then the elegy reciter started to recall and relive the tragedy of Karbala. Hassan Kak was convulsing with weeping and with his head buried in his hands. Since the elegy reciter had already hinted that tears shed in the name of Imam Hussain is guarantee of “Shafaat” in the hereafter,  I could feel Hassan Kak was thinking about himself. Thinking how the sands of the time are pouring fast against him and hence he wanted to send as much tears as he could, which would be of more worth than diamonds and pearls; later to be pawned against his minor and major errors in this world in the hereafter.

At one occasion Hassan Kak stood up, weeping and waving his hands in grief over the line in which Zakir was telling How Lady Zainab (as) was straining with the weight of shackles all along the journey from Karbala to Syria? Since it is 5th of Muharram this day is dedicated in particular to toddler son of Imam Hussain (as), Ali Asgar who was not more than 6 months of age and he too was denied few sips of water from the shimmering river of euphrates where the wild animals would quench their thirst freely but was restricted and prohibited to young as Ali Asgar for the water.

Yes. A tragedy in itself. How soft hearts in our breasts can turn to stony ones. Elegy reciter continued about How Imam was digging the grave of his toddler son with the sword and was whispering to him the lullabies (Paanay Loul Gobras Kabri Sawanay). I again turned my gaze to Hassan Kak. He had his clenched fist against his eyes and was crying like anything as loud as he could, as if realising that his cancer is nothing in comparison with the pain of Imam Hussain.

When Majlis was called off, I followed Hassan Kak. Everyone was asking him Farki Cha? (feeling any better?) He was giving answers in the highest gaiety: Ahanhaz! Farki Cham! (Yes, I’m better only).  I observed Hassan Kak had kept his boots 10 meters apart from the pavement under the thick blade of grass. Call it the insecurity of Hassan Kak due to the imminent fear of losing a pair of shoes to the crowd who may trample it down or will nudge it to the nearby stream where it could be washed away.

Hasan Kak was the only one who was wearing Pheran in the Majlis and I could sense he was leaving from the Majlis in the highest form of “Suroor”/contentment, despite being an ailing cancer patient.

What a beautiful consolation Imam Hussain and his elegies are to people like Hassan Kak in this world. It gives “Suroor” to them which was apparently the title of the said Marsiya.


  • The author tweets at @arshadkout

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