recollections of Annemarie Schimmel

Rehana Hyder writing for the Friday Times

My first recollection of Annemarie Schimmel was as a teenager in Delhi in 1969, in the year of the Ghalib Centenary celebrations, when my mother sent me to her hotel room with a single long-stemmed rose and a note with “ sher o shairi, ” the usual mode of communication between the two literary ladies. I remember her as striking and sparkling, tall and blonde, always wearing something reminiscent of strawberries, sunshine and cream. She had probably even seen me as a toddler during my parents’ previous posting in India. The only person I know who has known her longer is my old friend Anadil Rashidi, whom Annemarie Schimmel blessed like the proverbial Fairy Godmother at her birth in the sacred, Sufi land of Sindh, her favourite part of Pakistan.

Thereafter, Annemarie Apa was woven into the fabric of my life, and intricately so when we lived in her country of origin, Germany, in the early 1970s. I learnt with wonder how, in Saxony as a girl, she had written and painted the Orient, East and South Asia in particular, under the encouraging eyes of her enlightened “eltern.” Her Mother, whom we all came to call “Mama,” and she resided in an old, spacious, light-filled apartment, Lennestrasse 42, overlooking a tree-lined avenue near the University in Bonn. […]