Arshad Khan


I first met Daya, through our mutual friend Vinod, in Montreal around 1989-1990. Some of us were trying to organize a function in North America for the birth anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz that used to be a hugely-attended annual event, known as Faiz Mela, in Lahore, until the Military Dictator Zia ul Haq banned it in the 80s. Some progressive friends, Faiz lovers all, had agreed to jointly host the function with progressive Indians in Montreal.


Daya, along with Feroz Mehdi, was the main magnet and enabler for the event that took place in Concordia University, where our friend, the late Farooq Hassan, himself a poet, was a professor. We had driven from New York with Vinod to Rhode Island to pick up my friend Salima Hashmi (Faiz’s daughter) who was doing her Masters in Fine Arts there, and took her to Montreal where she also met with Daya and we were both thoroughly enchanted with his brilliance and devotion to Faiz. Daya was absolutely committed and indispensable in helping organize the Faiz function and gather a large number of local Indian progressives. The event was a huge success with a packed houseful of South Asians.


I met Daya again over the years, both in Montreal and once in New York when he came to attend Vinod’s 70th Birthday Party. Khalida and I also stayed with Daya and Shree in their Montreal home in the 90s and were privileged to enjoy their warm hospitality and their wise and inspiring company.


I feel deeply pained and saddened to see this brilliant, larger-than-life intellectual and activist, a proud son of South Asia recede into the shadows. However, the light of his great intellect and the memories of his modest persona will stay with us all. Our hearts go out to Shree and Daya’s children.

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