04 August, 2021

Forster Chacha: A Personal Reminiscence

My grandfather's friend, my uncles' guardian and my favourite uncle, he had friends in every generation

Forster Chacha: A Personal Reminiscence
WHY refer to E.M. Forster as "Forster Chacha"? By way of explanation, 'chacha' means 'uncle' in Urdu and that was how my late father Syed Enver Masood and his late younger brother Syed Akbar Masood addressed Forster all their lives. They were the sons of Sir Syed Ross Masood, Forster's greatest Indian friend to whom he dedicated his masterpiece, A Passage to India. The closeness between Masood and Forster and its importance—both personally for Forster as well as its literary consequences—are well known. In a moving tribute to Masood published in Two Cheers for Democracy, Forster acknowledged his debt to him in these words: "My own debt to him is incalculable. He woke me up out of my suburban and academic life, showed me new horizons and a new civilisation and helped me towards the understanding of a continent. Until I met him, India was a vague jumble of rajahs, sahibs, babus, and elephants and I was not interested in such a jumble: who could be? He made everything real and exciting as soon as he began to talk and 17 years later when I wrote A Passage to India I dedicated it to...

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