By Farooq Nazki
UMA Khosla, known to the world of radio and sound as Nikki Aapa, is no more. She died today at the age of 73.
Uma as an artist was a star voice in broadcasting for more than two decades. She was the top most female Urdu voice of AIR who can be compared with the legendry Mohina Hameed of Radio Pakistan and remained heart throb for sub-continent listeners’ especially for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan. She was a great drama voice also.
Vadi Ki Awaz, a popular programme was launched in 1965 from Radio Kashmir Srinagar and used to be the greatest attraction for the listeners across the border. Nikki Aapa as she was known in that programme with her on-air uncle Munshi Allah Rakha (Late Kidar Sharma) became house-hold names.
She lived in a beautiful Georgian style small house adjacent the current G B Pant Children hospital on the highway in Sonawar Srinagar, which now lies surrounded by ugly concrete of multi-storey hotels and other loud mansions.
This solitary single floored house was already calm because Nikki Aapa who stayed there had ceased to move about much. Her illness had already ensured that for a while but the house will be now lifeless in her total absence. All that’s left behind is an old man Chacha Ghulam Qadir who has for decades remained her most trusted friend, philosopher, housekeeper and everything. Her father Colonel Khosla passed away some 25 years back, 2 years or so after the death of his wife. Among her siblings was a brother who suffered from acute depression. He had also left her.
Generally speaking we forget everything. Each day crawls into a night and night come back to us as another day. Nothing but forgetful continuing routine pressing life into circles. Usually boring like the other. They are never remembered. But some memories, things, places and people are never easily forgotten.
These memories stay with us. And somehow remain embedded as invaluable layers of precious treasures. They can be anything personal. Sometimes even insignificant and materialistically non-valuable but meaning the world for us.
Nikki Aapa was one such person. An artist of great calibre with the most charming personality and a human being with just about the most beautiful traits that can be. If you were a regular listener of Radio Kashmir, then her voice spots remain engraved an impression of everlasting continuity on our eardrums and will no doubt last forever.
I remember the listener’s letter corner in audience research unit of Radio Kashmir Srinagar where Nikki’s mail box was a special attraction for audience research people. She wouldn’t get simple letters only. In one envelope rose-petals, another Pakistan currency note wishing her long life and written in a corner of the currency note (Tum Salamat Raho) and others…
And these letters written by enthusiastic young men and mature old folks would give her dua-salams and express love and all.
Radio being radio as it is one cannot see the artist’s face, but people would even sometimes gather outside Radio Kashmir to catch a glimpse of their beloved stars. Uma was always a favourite.
In her young age she was most modern and I distinctly remember in the early 1960s when she would ride a Rally’s bicycle from her Sonawar residence to reach Sri Pratap College Campus to attend her M.A Classes. The Master Campus for Women campus classes were held here then. But when she joined Radio and became a popular artist she gave up riding the bicycle.
In three of my plays KHOKHLA PAID HARI DALIAN, AAB YAHAN HOI NAHI AAYA GA and TOOFAN AUR BHAVANAR her co-star and main lead actor and director was the then handsome and most lively broadcaster Late Bashir Bhat.
In another important play – KHAZAN KAY PHOOL her main lead co-star was Manohar Prothi the golden voice of yesteryears who also worked with her as Aziz Bhai in Vadi Ki Awaz.
Then for the last 20 years of her life she remained off the microphone due to her ill health.
Before attaining superannuation she was looking after the English Programmes and the Popular Western Music section of Radio Kashmir, which she herself had planned, conceived and designed.
She mothered the western music programmes and created a galaxy of good presenters and anchorpersons – Agha Iqbal Ali, Agha Shahid Ali the poet, Hena Ahmed, the charismatic Peerzada Mumtaz Ahmed and others.
I feel at a loss to write an obituary of yet another friend and about that team and from those friends from the fraternity of broadcasting I have lost another fond member. The loss is no doubt personal but it is more so the silencing of an era gone by. And as I remain on and stay behind, I cannot but feel lost and alone.
In the very absence of my darling Somnath Sadhu, versatile Pushkar Bhan, soul mate Lassi Koul and now dear Uma Khosla I am totally isolated, feeling irrelevant and incomplete. My pen is almost broken, hands numb, eyes moist but a smile on my own face remains, choosing me to image an ironical fathom to the very circumstance of my own departure. For today hardly anything remains behind here for me but to join them up there now.
And up amongst those real stars as Uma becomes immortal and lines up the sky after spending a meaningful life with us here keeping afloat the flag of her life with the most professional challenges well done and almost all moral premises beautifully endured with a good personal life well lived for others, sometimes even at the cost of even her own self, we stand up and pray for the salvation for her soul.
A charming person who gave woman in our state her first true voice is gone forever now. But not before she has passed the baton. RJ Sara and others of this era who are on air today must also pause and pay tributes. And thank Uma for making it all possible.
Thank you Uma.
Syndicated from: Greater Kashmir