I thank all my colleagues, students and the entire GDC Sogam family for making my journey an enriching and transformative experience.
Aadami Musafir hai, Aata hai jaata hai,
Aate jaate raste main, Yadein chhod jaata hai.
It was on April 5, 2020 that I joined Govt. Degree College Sogam (Lolab), but unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, colleges were closed, and I had to start my journey online.
After some time, due to a decline in COVID-19 cases, colleges were permitted to reopen. Finally, the much-awaited day arrived when I had the splendid opportunity to physically step into GDC Sogam for the first time.
The moment I entered the college campus, a distinct feeling overwhelmed me that this college is not merely an ordinary educational establishment; rather I am joining a college which is nothing short of a second home to all the faculty members working there. This realization added a unique dimension to my college experience, making it clear that the institution prioritized a close-knit community and a supportive atmosphere, especially among its faculty members.
The personality with whom I first interacted and with whom my first connection was established in this college was nothing less than an angel in human form. This remarkable individual happened to be none other than the college principal, Professor Muhammad Shafi Lone Sahab that left an indelible impression on me.
The Principal’s demeanor, interactions with teaching and non-teaching staff, has profoundly influenced me, and I was compelled to say that the principal is undoubtedly an unparalleled figure in Jammu and Kashmir.
While working with him, Ive practically learnt compassion, inclusiveness, generosity, simplicity and a dignified demeanor through practical experience. The atmosphere created by Prof. Shafi sahab, from the college gatekeeper to the top, is not just challenging to find, but practically impossible.
Every faculty member performed their duties joyfully and efficiently, without any hierarchy and without the need for any instructions. There was no distinction between professors, need-based academic arrangements, local fund employees and need-based staff. Having lunch together at 1 PM in a single dining room and on a single Daster Khawan, serving each other, created a delightful atmosphere during lunchtime in the college. This practice not only fostered a sense of unity and camaraderie among the staff but also highlighted a spirit of equality and mutual respect. There was no place for any kind of lobbyism in the college and we were living like a family and this unique feature has made this college the sole college in the entire J&K UT.
As time progressed, several new colleagues were posted in our college, leading to an expansion of the college community. This period brought about fresh interactions and opportunities to learn from both Principal sir and fellow colleagues.
The collaboration with Prof. Shafi sahab came to an end when his transfer in mid-2022, leaving us without a beloved principal. The news of his transfer was a shock for the entire college, and tears welled up in everyones eyes.
The love and warmth Principal sir extended to both teaching and non-teaching staff were unparalleled and nearly impossible to replicate. After his transfer to GDC Kupwara, our college got new Principal in the form of Prof. Dr. Shamim Ahmad Dar sahab: a figure not dependent on external validation, with him over thirty years of experience at GDC Sopore and a notable stint as the Regional Director of IGNOU, Srinagar.
Prof. Shamim Sahabs approach to working differed significantly from the previous Principal, whether it was in dealing with college faculty or students or with the development of the college. But one thing is for sure, he was not ready to compromise at all when it came to the studies and student-centric facilities. One striking aspect was his adamant refusal to compromise when it came to teaching. He consistently emphasized that no student should undergo any form of suffering. One crucial initiative undertaken by Principal was a strong focus on improving students regularity and punctuality. He firmly believed that unless we could not bring back all the students who were frequently absent, we could not consider ourselves successful professors. Through his tireless efforts, student attendance in the college witnessed a substantial increase. Another task that I observed with Prof. Shamim sahab is his desire to enhance the colleges infrastructure facilities, and he has executed this task exceptionally well. Whether it is the construction of new college buildings, improvements to the college sports facilities, the college canteen, the college parks, and so on, he has handled all these matters in an efficient manner.
It was such an honour to serve in this college. This beautiful journey taught me so many life lessons. I am thankful to Almighty Allah for bestowing me with such a beautiful family at the college in the form of colleagues namely Prof. Mehbooba Bano (Political Science), Prof. Farooq Faizaan (Education), Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Bhat (Botany), Dr Musharaf Rehman (Zoology), Dr Tauseef Ahmad Parray (Islamic Studies), Prof Sajad Ahmad (English) , Mr. Amir Amanullah (Librarian), Prof Ishfaq Hussain Bhat (English), Prof. Qaiser Bashir (EVS), Dr. Bilal Ahmad (History), Prof. Javaid Hassan (Urdu), Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad (Kashmiri), Dr. Ayaz Mahmood (Chemistry), Dr. Muhammad Imran (Geography), Mr Aadil Bashir (Accountant), Mr Basharat Bashir (Jr Assistant), Mr. Amir Suhail, Mr. Mohammad Abbas , Mr. Aamir Suhail Khan, etc. have become permanent part of my life for now and always.
1. A notable quality of Dr. Musharraf Maam was that she would greet every faculty member from a distance with a smiling face. Although she was from Srinagar city, there was absolutely no trace of the Srinagar attitude in her.
2. The sense of humor of Prof. Farooq Faizan Sir was so exceptional that he could make anyone smile. His favorite word of calling me Zoova at every time will be remembered for lifetime.
3. If you want to see dedication and sincerity, then you should observe Prof. Mehbooba Maam. She exemplifies both qualities. She is a gem lady who remains on toes every time and is ready to perform any assignment.
4. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Sir, whose actions speak louder than his name, is highly dedicated to his work. Initially as my room companion at, and ever since, he affectionately called me Peera Peera. Although he has come from a prominent college of the city, rather of the whole valley, i.e., Amar Singh College, he never displayed any hint of arrogance. He always has a smile on his face and interacted with every faculty member joyfully. During college meetings with the Principal, he consistently shared insights about the Botany laboratory and he always cared about the upgradations of the labs in the college.
5. Dr. Ayaz Mehmood Dar not only extended help to others but also taught them by bringing them in and personally demonstrating how to do the work.
6. Whatever is said about Prof. Sajad Ahmad is less. He was closest to my heart; he is the person with whom I shared my personal problems, and he, too, shared his problems with me. His best quality was that he was interacting with everyone with a cheerful heart, and he never hesitated to take any college assignment.
7. The person, who taught students to hold a pen and imparted writing skills, guiding them on how to publish articles in newspapers, is none other than the pride and soul of research world, Dr. Tauseef Ahmad. He is the person who has not only taught students to write articles but also had the responsibility of preparing press reports for various programs in college, and he used to publish them in different newspapers (mostly at free of cost for his rapport with different newspapers as a columnist). An accomplished author/ writer, his contribution to College Newsletter, Annual College Magazine and as Media Secretary and as Rapporteur to different programs is praise worthy.
8. Prof. Qaiser Bashir, was someone who always cared about the cleanliness and development of the college. He was the only faculty member whose concern for the college exceeded even that of his own home. Whenever he was in the college, we would only see him engaged in maintaining the cleanliness of the college parks/ lawns and botanical garden. Whenever he spoke, it was solely about the progress of the college, and he has played a crucial role in making the college campus green and beautiful.
9. Mr. Amir Amanullah, has contributed a lot in making the college library fully automated. He is the person who played a vital role in ensuring that library materials are properly cataloged and classified, making it easier for users to locate relevant resources. He is the one who gave a unique shape to the college library. As far as his personality is concerned, he is not only a good person but also recognizes the qualities of a dedicated librarian.
10. Dr. Mohammad Imran, has shown us, besides teaching, how to manage office work. I have often found him engaged in handling office tasks alongside conducting classes and developing the infrastructure of the college. He has taught us how to efficiently manage multiple programs in a single day.
11. Prof. Javaid Hassain, has taught us how to serve guests in any college Programme. Only he can personally serve guests and eat last. Managing a party on a low budget and ensuring that everyone is well-fed is a skill that only Prof. Javaid possesses.
12. Prof Ishfaq Hussain Bhat, was adept at conducting any program single-handedly like a one-man army. I have witnessed him managing any program effortlessly, from handling notices to organizing press notes, all with a cheerful disposition.
13. I found Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad Kumar an exceptionally polite and simple individual. Whenever something came out of his mouth unexpectedly, he would simply utter Allah u Akbar each time. I found him deeply influenced by Sufism and spiritual teachings.
As far as the faculty on academic arrangement is concerned, I have found them experts not only in teaching but also highly proficient in sports as well. Each faculty member knows at least how to play one game or another. In addition, I have found them to be very humble, submissive showing respect for their colleagues.
It was on 11th December 2023 that I bid adieu to GDC Sogam for joining my new place of posting (GDC Kupwara) with a number of memories, the lessons learned, and unforgettable moments. It was very emotional moment to say goodbye to this family after spending four years (April 2020-Dec2023). Every goodbye is temporary; our paths will cross again, In sha Allah.
By working at GDC Sogam I realized that this college isnt just a place where students attend classes and earn degrees only; its a community, a family of like-minded individuals committed to knowledge, discovery, and making a positive impact for a bright future. Here, one finds not just professors but mentors, not just classmates but lifelong friends, and not just education but an experience that shapes the future in profound ways. Its an institution where one gains not only knowledge but also learns how to apply it to make a meaningful impact on the world. I pray to Almighty Allah to maintain the colleges pristine state, shielding it from the contamination of lobbyism, just as it remained untainted in the past.
Thank you to my colleagues, students, and the entire GDC Sogam family for making this journey an enriching and transformative experience. I wish best of luck to each and every one of you including my beautiful family of students. Keep me in your prayers.
With profound gratitude!
Mohd. Rafi Hajam
The author is Assistant Professor, Economics, at Govt. Degree College Kupwara. Views are personal. Feedback at email@example.com