By Tariq Masud
Editor’s Note: Mr. Tariq Masud studied in Denny’s High School Rawalpindi and Gordon College Rawalpindi in 1950’s. He joined Civil Service in 1960 and held many important positions in AJ&K and Federal Governments. He lives in Islamabad after his retirement.
After migrating from Jammu and spending a year in Gujrat, our family moved to Rawalpindi in 1949. Those days, there were five high schools in Rawalpindi, namely Islamia High School opposite Company Bagh (Liaquat Bagh), Muslim High School in the Banni area, Mission High School near Raja Bazaar, Denny’s High School in Saddar and Cantt Board High School in Lalkurti.
The school, where I was to study was decided by my uncle Haq who was more familiar with Pindi. Denny’s High School, situated on the main Dalhousie Road, at a distance of more than two miles from Chitian Hatian, where our family lived, was finally selected. Denny’s High School, established in 1861, was managed by a Board of Trustees, which always included a representative of the Bohra community. Bohras were a well-organized, and prosperous business community, mostly Government contractors, auctioneers and dealers of firearms, who were also active in the social and educational activities of Rawalpindi Sadder.
Denny’s High School, Rawalpindi
A view of Denny’s High School Rawalpindi
The Head Master
Maulvi Riaz ud Din Sahib was the Head Master. There was a consensus that the name of Denny’s High School was synonymous with Maulvi Riazud Di . Maulvi Sahib was of medium build, had a black rounded beard, wore rimless glasses and was always clad in a white khaddar achkan, white khaddar Aligarh pajamas, a white khaddar turban and canvas shoes or wooden sandals (Kharraon). He taught us English or any other subject where the regular teacher was not available that day, but we daily interacted with him at the morning Assembly, or at the time of opening and closing of the school, when he would be standing near the main school gate, watching boys arriving or leaving. Whenever there was an unusual noise or shouting by the students, he would suddenly and stealthily appear at the scene. Besides being fully involved in the academic life of the school, Maulvi Sahib in his unique method gradually and methodically drilled in our minds the basic concepts of morality and essential practices for leading a responsible and principled practical life. No other ordinary school, I dare say, would have even thought to teach their students such “Out of the course” lessons.
(Editor: Photo of board contributed by Lt Col (R) Zahid Mumtaz on 29 June 2015. His father was also Head Master during 1954-56).
How to Operate a Telephone
Maulvi Riaz ud Din Sahib demonstrated to the boys of 9th and 10th class, how to correctly make, and receive a telephone call. A telephone was placed on a table in the open and boys made to stand in a queue nearby. Turn by turn, students would approach the telephone set and were instructed how to dial a number and what to say when the phone was picked up at the other end (obviously by a close associate of Maulvi Sahib). This part over, the boys, by turn, were then required to lift the receiver as the phone rang and say the right thing; not merely go on repeating the word “Hello” but state the number of the phone he was holding and his name. This exercise would go on for a week and then once again after six months.
Maulvi Sahib exposed the boys to the essentials of a Picnic. Twice, he himself lead and took our class for a picnic to Khanna/Rawalan. Pedaling a bicycle himself, he would lead the group of about 25-30 students, who rode either single or double on a bicycle, each carrying his own food. A couple of outdoor games like rubber rings, cricket bats & balls, ludo and playing cards were taken along. Maulvi Sahib would become informal on such occasions. He would narrate interesting anecdotes and encourage the boys to do the same.
The most impressive and lasting of Maulvi Sahib’s initiatives was managing an unsupervised store in the school. A small consumer goods store containing toffees, gums, biscuits, pencils, copies, etc were placed on tables in a school room with tags indicating price of each item. A money collection box was placed next to the goods. Students wanting to buy would turn by turn enter the room, pick up what they wanted and were supposed to drop the right price into the money-box. This exercise continued, every day for an hour or so, for about a month. Before this venture started, Maulvi Sahib spent couple of sessions with each class, explaining the purpose of establishing the store and hoping that the boys will act with responsibility and honesty.
The sale proceeds on the first day of the store, to the best of my memory, were about 70-75% of the indicated sale price. During the morning Assembly on subsequent days, Maulvi Sahib would say few words of encouragement and a few words of admonishment to the boys participating in the operation of this store. In a few days time the recovery rose to 90-95%. If I remember correctly the recovery rate finally went up to 98% .
Maulvi Sahib would sometimes lose patience with habitual offenders. His style of giving corporal punishment was a thapparr (Slap) on the cheek. While doing so, he would raise his hand in a concave shape, and confront the offender to deny or confess his offence, even if he had to repeat the allegation ten times. And then, if the allegation was not denied by the boy, blast! Came the thapparr, right on the boy’s left cheek.
I remember seeing Maulvi Sahib sprinting after a boy and while doing so, throwing his sandals targeting the boy or violating Rule of “No Go Area “ to a part of school ground which had a day before been watered.
Preparation for the Board Examination
All 10th class students were required to shift to the school hall a month prior to the Board’s Matriculation Examination. We brought our own bedding and spread them in rows in the school hall. We studied the whole day, only one or two regular classes were held, rest of the time we spent in revising the course, seeking guidance from the teachers, most of whom were available round the clock during that one month. Maulvi Sahib himself stayed in the school premises all the time.
He would walk into the hall at subha-e-kazib, whispering, “Jago! Utho!, Subah ho rahi hai”. The boys were allowed to go home at mid day and return to the school after a couple of hours with a parcel of their evening meals.
The School performed extremely well in the Board examinations. It was not only the percentage of the students passing, but also, the number of first divisioners as a percentage of the total boys appearing in the examination.
The School had excellent sports standards. Our hockey and cricket teams were one of the best in the Board. I can recall names of at least four cricketers who later played test /first class cricket for Pakistan . These were Khalid curly, the spinner (who got tremendous thrashing from Dennis Compton during 1954 U.K. tour), Khurshid, a member of Pakistan team on Indian tour in early 1950’s scored a century in the opening encounter against Indian Punjab at Amritsar. Munir Malik, a medium fast bowler and Mahmood,a left arm spinner were my class fellows who played couple of test matches each for Pakistan. Tahir Saith, Mumtaz Shah, Naeem Quraishi, Aqil Mirza and Khawaja were the Hockey stalwarts
Another view of Denny’s High School Rawalpindi
The Famous James
It was usual for me and many others to start walking to the school very early in the morning; during December & January when it was still dark and foggy. A heavy school bag around the shoulder and a tiff-in carrier with lunch in one hand, I would cover the distance of more than two miles in under an hour and then the same drill was repeated on my way back from the school. My mother who daily witnessed this exercise must have been instrumental in convincing my father about the pressing need and the decision to buy a bicycle for me. It was mid 1951 and the prices of bicycles (all British makes) to the best of my memory were as follows:-
Raleigh & Rudge more than Rs. 200 a piece, BSA Rs. 170, Hercules Rs. 150 and Phillips Rs. 140. Problem was that all these brands were full size bicycles and my legs were not long enough to fully reach the pedals. A brand not so well-known, “The Famous James” offered a slightly smaller size bicycle. This beautiful bicycle was selling at Rs. 175. So “Famous James” it was that was bought and I became the proud owner of a first class new bicycle. Not only did I use it to go to the school, but also used it to make extensive explorations. Once a week I used to have an hour and a half’s recess, I fully utilized this opportunity to explore various parts of Rawalpindi Cantt e.g. Lal Kurti, Tanch Bata, 22 No Chungi, Westridge, Dalhousie Road, Edwards Road, Canning Road, etc.
My Class Fellows and Friends
From among my class fellows and contemporaries many rose to prominence. Dr Abdul Khaliq was the best student of his time. He took the first position in the Board Matriculation Examination, earned a MRCP from UK and, distinguished himself in the field of medicine but soon joined politics. He was elected as a MPA on PPP’s ticket from Rawalpindi and became Finance and Senior Minister, Punjab. A.R. Siddiqui, not known to me then, became my boss as Chief Secretary AJK and a close friend.
Initially, when I used to walk to the school, it was Fazal Rehman, also a resident of Chittian Hattian, who accompanied me. His family had migrated from Bihar and he had staunch anti India sentiments. He wore shorts but always with a Jinnah cap. I also made friends with Azad Mirza who lived in Workshopi Mohalla but played hockey with me in the afternoon. Friendship with Azad has lasted for more than 50 years He had a chequred career. He was with me in the FSc class at Gordon College, joined Army but was withdrawn from Kakul. Then he, engaged himself in various business ventures, was prosperous at times and penniless at other times. He made many wrong decisions in life, the last being choice of a wrong surgeon for his Spinal surgery . He is permanently bed ridden now.
Yahya Khizar was with me in School and then in Gordon College. In the Punjab University, he studied Economics while I was in Law college. He competed for CSS and was allotted Military Lands & Cantonments Service. We have remained friends till today. There were several others I came to know. Ahmad Salim a timid and gentle fellow always reminded us that he had lost his mother. Javed Fazal, very energetic and naughty would not spare anyone from his mischief. We were in those days prescribed a Mathematics course book, named “Miftah-ul-Riazi”. A girl named Riazi was his neighbor and he would tease her endlessly, on the pretext of the name of the text-book. Once his mother came to the school to inquire about his performance. We made him feel embarrassed on that account and gave his victims a chance to get square with him. There was Amjad, the bully who was very fond of showing off his jackets and talking about his boxing prowess. He once punched me with what he called his experimental upper cut. It hurt me but I could not retaliate. Nusrat and Ishrat, sons of “Khan Brothes” the leading wine merchants became my relations many years later. Rehman and Hameed the two brothers from an industrialist family, Amir Alam Pathan, Khawaja of Paper Agency, Mansoor and Mushir Anwar Siddiqui of Railway line bridge fame were my other notable class mates.
A closer look of Denny’s High School Rawalpindi
Shok, a seat fellow in 10th class was popularly known as Pandit Shoka, rhyming it with Pandit Koka, the legendary author of Kok Shaster, one of the world’s leading manuals on sex. Shok added volumes of knowledge to my and many other classmates’ meager knowledge of sex. In fact he was unanimously acclaimed by the class as a teacher on the subject. Once or twice he was caught red-handed with pornographic material and had to rub his nose in dust, begging assurance that the matter would not be brought to the notice of Maulvi Sahib.
Among the teachers, Master Misri Khan, was the second master. He was a competent, serious and a kind person. Master Majeed a dandy person who dressed in smartly stitched suits claimed he was the third master, though it was never officially recognized. He had sketchy knowledge of his subject and resented questions from students. He could flare up on a small pretext. He would threaten his potential victim by warning, “I will beat the hell out of you, beat you beyond recognition even by your mother” or “I will keep on kicking you– out of the class room and then further kick you up to the top of that pipal tree and would not allow you to come down till your father arrives”.
Master Sharif Sahib was an excellent and popular teacher. He acted more like a friend and a counselor. He taught us Mathematics.
He had coined many funny sounding terms to admonish trouble makers in the class. “Bhootan Mutanjan” and “Kaluntum Niarri” were two of his often repeated terms. In 1986, when I was serving Government off Pakistan in Islamabad, I went to his house seeking his blessings to coach my two daughters Sara & Sabin in Mathematics. He very kindly obliged and the girls obtained good marks in the Matriculation Examination,
Maulvi Nasim Sahib was the Islamiyat teacher and youthful Zeeshan the science teacher. While teaching us Islamiyat, Nasim Sahib was once describing the correct Ruku posture and stated, “Prophet’s back in Ruku was so level that if a cup full of water was placed on his back, even a drop would not spill”. Fazal-e Akbar, brother of Maj Gen Jamal Dar who was a simpleton and blunt Pathan interjected, “Like Zawia Qaima?” Maulvi Nasim Sahib lost his temper on hearing this example and beat him mercilessly, continuously shouting “Nabi ki kamar –e-mubarik aur Zawia Qaima? Rasulallah’s back and Zawia Qaima.?” We always reminded Fazal-e- Akbar of this incident, when he was in Gordon College and still later when he was a Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Haj.
On an Eid day in mid 1970’s, I took the initiative of paying a visit to Maulvi Riaz-ud-Din Sahib in his house in Bhoosa Mandi, Rawalpindi Sadder. Conscience of the fact that there was almost nil chance of his recognizing me, I went all the same, basically to offer my dutiful reverence to the great man who had played a dominant role, in shaping my attitude towards life. I found Maulvi Sahib, much more shriveled and with snow-white hair, teaching Mathematics to a small girl in his court-yard.
I wish to acknowledge the herculean effort made by my friend Khawaja Jamshed Ahmad Manto in locating Maulvi Riaz-ud-Din Sahib’s son-in-law and obtaining from him, a copy of Maulvi Sahib’s photograph.
Editor: Here is a rare photo of Denny’s High School’s Class of 1933. Photo contributed by Lt Col (R) Zahid Mumtaz. His father Sh. Mohammad Mumtaz was Head Master of Denny’s High School during 1954-56.
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