Monday, 29 September 2014


The sun, being the conqueror of the sky with all the beauty under its feet, isn’t spreading its full light today. It stands barren today. The sea has lost the words to claim its superiority; the waves are just strengthening forward but in seconds lose its earthly power. As if a ‘war’ has been declared. The shore is thirsty for the drops of water. The birds are waiting at the shore to get soaked in water and relive their lives. Their wings don’t seem to spread; if they do, they could haunt the enemy in the middle of the sea, liquefying it with blood. But does the sea cry over this monstrous incident? Even when there is no one to cheer for its beauty, it cheers when it stands in the middle of an uncertain reaction of the sand and coal.

There is a shrill sound of wood; someone has pushed it to let the smoke of unusual thoughts out. I am usually mesmerized by the beauty of this world; it feels as if the beauty has something to say. It wants to come out but fails to get the attention. I stand on my feet, there is no strength but I have to, it’s time to adventure fresh blood. The calf muscles somehow contracted but I stood up on the ground, when I walked, my feet felt the coldness of the floor. Even the tiles had a better sleep last night. ‘It’s the devil whose eyes never spread the freshness’. As I walked pass the mirror in my room, I felt as if someone was behind me, but I kept walking and left the room with the door open so that all my angels can go somewhere else. It won’t work here. My friends are cheering upstairs; they need food, as I have taught them every utterance. Their sounds early in the morning may make them villains in the ears of others but they are my heroes. People may have weird alarm tones but mine is always the whistle of my parrots, the cooing of my pigeons. Feeding my birds is my first task. I am not a good cook but I know how to provide vitamins to every creature. My pigeons can sense their freedom when they hear the floor beating up heavily, and when the fingers unlock the gaol, the birds are free. The pigeons are out; they sit on my shoulders and then are spread in every nook and corner. I have four of them and I have especial names for them. The number sort of reflects my inner world. When they walk it appears as if they are chanting the freedom song, their melody might be noise for someone but for me it is a language of peace. You never want to be out of that scene but you have to, it’s like a soldier being transferred to various deserts no matter how much he loves that particular atmosphere. I haven’t washed my eyes yet they see all the beauty which enters through my window. And then this freedom march of my army. I rushed downstairs, someone has called me. In between I have splashed water on my face and every drop made me feel as if my face was burning. I felt like “Meri Aawaz Main Awaz Kiss Ki Bolti Hai, Mere Geeton ko Geeton Ka Kinara Kaun De Ga” And then I decided to meet my companions with a pen and paper. The burning effect made me realize how a woman feels when some monster throws acid on their beauty.

The two-star man gets ready for his daily haunt. A jeep outside the house is waiting for him but Zunaira needs to get ready as well since Daddy never leaves without his Princes. I never get the chance to say goodbye to Dad as I was a humpty Dumpty child for whom the walls of school weren't open yet, so I was jealous of Zunaira, but she always kisses my face before leaving for school. Although I was awake, I compellingly kept my eyes closed when I sense her coming and after sharing the sweetness, she would say "ati you are good actor". And when she walks towards the door, I stand up on the bed like 'Mandela' and claim my medal that "Mother loves me more than Dad loves his star". Just then mother appears, her smile is that effective weapon which even 'Pope would claim that every spirit should protect'. The smile had already injured a soldier on their first meeting: Dad and Mom are two people, one soul now. She tries to get her Humpty dumpty off the bed, but I always enjoy getting extra love so I disturb her by not getting up, moving on the whole bed, hiding myself under the blanket. And when the blanket is forcefully taken off, I act like a "lost soldier". Then I get that extra love: mother hugs me, combs my hair and selects the best clothes for the day. Mother taught me 'one should always be ready for the occasion'. Her next task is to get her son some health with breakfast, after that she leaves me with the colors. I always paint my thoughts, although the drawings are not perfect, 'I am just five', how can they be but Zunaira always appreciated them.

In 1999 Pakistan’s great thinkers revolted, groups were created, the Corps Commander meeting resulted in outburst of ‘saving the youngest prisoner’. Pakistani Nation witnessed the power shift from moneymakers and feudal lords to the ‘sons of Ayub, Yahya and Zia’, with a promise that within few days the nation would be a heaven. It was just as ‘Yazid had justified his brutal murder of Hazrat Imam Hussain’.

It was raining and when it rains the whole Punjab is drenched like ‘a weak vessel’. I always love the rain. It is a bright Sunday, so today I have my partner Zunaira as well. I remember the cheerful voice of Zunaira when she sings. We heard the voice of an engine going to rest and sensed that Dad has arrived. We rushed towards the tubs but I slipped twice because of my humpty dumpty shape. With the marks of crime left on my knees, I bring guilt to Zunaira’s face when Dad scorns her. ‘Never leave any traces of redness on your body when you cross the borders’.
Dad looks a bit tensed as he announces that we have to pack our bags as the soil calls for its commander. Mom quickly packs our entire luggage, I felt bad for Zunaira who couldn’t start her college here. But feel happier that since it would be another world, Zunaira won’t start up all at once; she would spend more time with us. Thus, I would learn new tricks to defeat her and be the real revolutionary.
‘Great people to fly with’ is our new transport and we left our ‘Chaudry House’ for a new heaven. I couldn’t correctly utter when Dad announced that our new spot is Afghanistan so I always utter it by using long syllables.

Civil war has been erupted in Afghanistan since 1996; it is the conflict between two parties: the United Front and the Post Moderated Mullahs. The weapons captured the beautiful city of Kabul and installed their religious democracy with a supreme commander. The city within days came under brutal abuse of power and personal courts were installed. It resulted in amputations against people, within seconds people were brutally beaten-up. The freedom was being snatched and everything was ordered to be under veil. ‘Force can’t be stationed without the strength in the muscles and the strength was being fueled by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The two-star man, this time in his Khaki Shalwar Kameez, along with his family lands at the International Airport Kabul, where four people await their arrival. From the airport we have been taken to the luxurious Marriot hotel. Within days, a new home welcomes us. Dad has left his uniform and the stars in ‘Chaudry House’ and now he wears three-piece suits. I have noticed a change in the two-star man, now his fingers always hold a cigar and since he was not use to of smoking, he usually falls ill early. I had never seen him smoking on our soil, maybe he is assigned to a new task in which smoking is mandatory. ‘The soldiers always follow their master’s word’. I and Zunaira made new friends within days but the dialects differ. Only then I came to know that there are millions of dialects in the world. It’s not always English.

In an unusual Corps Commander Meeting in October 1998, the head of the army decided to provide financial and military support to the religious democracy in Afghanistan, Rana was upheld with the task along with Butt, Gul and Tarar. To strengthen the shoulders of Talibans, they sent over 28, 000 khaki soldiers to Afghanistan with Tarar as the master of their destinies. The soldiers were unaware of where they were heading to. It was a secret plan even the civilian government was unaware of it. The khaki people were stationed in different areas of Afghanistan, some even in madarsas so that United Front’s men do not recognize them. The force was sent to weaken United Front’s arms. But it all ended in ‘Kalashnikov culture’ in Pakistan. It appeared to be a great plan of the foreign powers ‘divide and rule’ as the Afghans were undefeatable, thus it became an essential part of the great plan to start a civil war in Afghanistan so that ‘the blood does not find its traces in foreign hands but in natives’ thirst’.

It is a bright sunny Sunday, the weather in ‘Chaudry house’ and Kabul is totally different, here the air seemed to be entrapped in a cage so when it bursts, it blows up with the soil, asking the soil to stand up for its freedom and show the real power. That day unexpected guests ring our doorbell; I stand up to open the door. By their physical appearance I could only guess they were ‘white people’, unaware of the terms like French, Russian or Americans. ‘It was generally thought after the post war 1857 period that a house was named traitor when it had white guests’. They inquire about the two-star man and gifted me with chocolates; sometimes I get so happy with a mere thing that I just sleep with it. Later that day, on waking up, I find my gifts are missing. I show my dissatisfaction but mother and Zunaira come forward and say “Papa won’t like that”. ‘It’s always better to play with your own toys. While I am playing with the fax machine, suddenly Dad comes in to check on a fax; it was from Corps Commander Karachi. Soon afterwards I hear Dad getting angry with someone on the phone call. I have never seen Dad like that. I inquire about it from Mother and Zunaira but none seems to answer. That night we have been invited by the US embassy. I have to dress like Papa today, three-piece suit with a tie. And I don’t like the tie because I do not know how to wear it. Mother knot the tie to the collar, it feels like my neck has been locked up, the oxygen not passing through and I would die within seconds but just then Zunaira comes and loosen up the tie a bit so that my neck feels the freedom to move and I could breathe properly. That night I dance with a white woman, though she was an ‘Eiffel tower’ figure to me but I manage to jump on the table and stand there to dance. Several men have encircled Papa and they are basically talking about the political situation in Afghanistan.

A car stopped by our home, the situation of Afghanistan has gone worst and there was blood and blood in every lane. The phone rings, Papa was out; the two-star man has a meeting with a civilian member of the government today. On the phone is Governor of Sindh, an ex-cop who is a close friend of Dad, first Zunaira talked and then Mother. When Papa returns, he quarrels with mother, the real plan was out now. This is not our land or any battlefield. ‘A soldier should be sent to a battlefield where he shows his real strength not to a barren place where he has no gain but blood’.

In the 1998 Corps Meeting, it was decided that along with Rana, a khaki soldier should be sent as well whose identity won’t be revealed and the best way to do it was to send the soldier with his family. ‘A soldier fights the enemy not his family’. That two-star man had been chosen for this act along with a female social worker, fifteen year old girl and a six year old boy. The best way to fit in a strange place was to enroll a new identity to these people and the cigar phenomena was evolved. The mission was to negotiate with the Afghan people, religious democrats and United Front bodies. Financial Aid and their plans was the key of this non-state actor.

February 1999, the Taliban and United Front’s forces clashes spread in every nook and corner. Masood’s people came to know of the shoulders of religious democracy. Masood went to US embassy and revealed the plan, the Americans found it the right time to spark the fire for the civil war and start the thirst for one’s blood. In that meeting Masood called the Prime minister’s house in Islamabad which was unaware of the plan. Foreign Minister was sent to negotiate with United Front’s leader and Supreme Commander. Meanwhile the Corps Commander Karachi and the Governor became active for a safe exist of the two-star man because now his identity had been leaked out, that he was patrolling the religious democracy. But whether he was or not remains a question in the files of GHQ.

            Several shots of fire are heard and Dad has been outside after the quarrel with mother, within seconds all rush towards the main entrance, meanwhile I contact the Pakistan Embassy, but the Afghan national anthem has already burst out This land will shine forever, like the sun in the blue sky, in the chest of Asia ‘but today traces of blood have been spread on the sky, there is a body lying on the globe of Asia’. Zunaira cries out loud that evils have killed our father. But before I can even drop the phone, they pick mother and sister as well with them. And I only saw those culprits’ half-covered faces with a handkerchief (rumal) and their eyes filled with hatred.

The tears do not seem to come out at once; a burning process starts as if a coal is burning in my chest and sparks a fire in the whole body. I stop writing and try to have some food, the kitchen welcomes me and I eat what my neighbors have offered me. One day a girl asked me,
‘Do you eat Chinese?’
She was shocked to hear my answer that I have never tasted it, may be my neighbors are from Iran who can’t cook it. My next task is to read something, this time it is Faiz who won my pleasure. He entertains me with utmost enjoyment. It is night now, I have to sleep but my eyes do not seem to close, I keep looking through my window and think ‘does the water ever sleeps? It keeps roaring all the night although how alone it is.’ They say that the devils never sleep but it’s the angels whose eyes don’t close.

A newspaper headline stated on 19th February, 1999 that “The two women which were kidnapped were brutally killed. Pakistani Embassy receives their bodies’. Foreign Minister in Pakistan issued a press release that the three bodies recently found in Afghanistan belong to Pakistan. A detailed story was published in the leading newspapers of Afghanistan that ‘Supreme Commander’s right hand killed by United Front’s men’. The International media reported that in February 1999, ISI’s boy made a secret save passage for the Al-Qaeda leader. While the corners of GHQ were worried about the lost genetic print of the two-star soldier: ‘the humpty dumpty boy’ who was missing.

Within thirty minutes, the Afghan police arrive, handicap the humpty dumpty boy and take the body of the two-star man in an ambulance. I am in great shock, meanwhile the local police inquires about me. I know nothing of what is my identity; I only utter the word Pakistan. And they label my father a spy. Only years later I come to know what actually spy means, initially I believed it was a term used for the two-star ranks in army. ‘In an age where children are given books and toys, I was locked up in gaol’ being the youngest prisoner. Only later on Mullah’s words his Jihadi soldier made my secret release: I was transported to Daruntal then to Jalalabad and later crossing the Torkham border reached Khyber Agency, to my soil Pakistan with H. Mehsood. ‘In an age when children should go to school, I was crossing borders’. Here I am informed that my mother and Zunaira were also killed. And when I reach the ‘Chaudry House’, I see three bodies awaiting me. Usmani hugs me and takes me to the ground where Guard of Honor is being presented to the two-star man. Several soldiers standing in a row fire black cartridges thrice in the air; Pakistani flag is wrapped over the coffin. And everyone salutes the dead man. Within seconds I bury three bodies with my little hands. ‘In an age where children hold the fingers of their father and mother, I was burying them’.

Corps Commander Karachi in a meeting revealed that my father was assigned to a special mission: to assist and lead the troops sent in Afghanistan. Shah’s men came to know of it and in order to take revenge; they killed my father, mother and Zunaira. Foreign Minister was informed by the US Embassy but he didn’t take any safety measures. In a secret meeting, years later, Usmani told me the army was equally aware that their plan had leaked out but in order to put it behind the bars, they couldn’t just help at the right moment. But he mentioned the murder of these three people was put up as the first charge, in favor of imposing martial law, in the charge sheet against the Democratic Government. ‘It’s difficult to save a soldier but it’s easy to use his name for personal gains, for power’. He mentioned ‘the humpty dumpty boy’s identity’ will always be secret as the GHQ record states that the boy died in goal. It was Usmani and a few others who managed to save the boy. 

The Taliban Government ended in 2001 and the two-star man was awarded ‘Hilal-e-Imtiaz’.

            But my eyes just do not close. ‘Iqbal’ comes in my mind when I remember my Dad, the two-star man “he watered the dry garden of freedom with the surging wave of his blood”. Zunaira’s voice calls upon me, I remember seeing her body, her bones broken. And how can I forget my mother who could have made me a Chinese dish today. At five, the eyes finally seemed to close. ‘Soldiers should be stationed at borders, battlefields; they are not non-state actors’. And when the army uses their soldiers as non-state actors, they lose wars. When they put their fingers in other’s soil, their soil is penetrated by the prints of Punjabi Taliban. ‘A house is nothing without its superior warrior’. Today I can feed my heroes, my birds but I can never feed them like a mother because the love has not been there for years now. But I have new family members which I meet every day in the words of Faiz:

Wo dar khula mere gamkade ka,
Wo aa gaye mery milne waale,
Wo aa gai sham apni rahon me farsh-e-afsurdgi bichhane,
Wo aa gayi raat chaand taaron ko apni azurdgi sunane,
Wo subah aayi damakte nashtar se yaad ke zakhm ko manane,
Wo dopahar aayi aasteen me, chhupae sholon ke taaziyane
Ye aaye sab mere milne wale,
Ke jin se din raat wasta hai,
Tou kon kab aya kab gaya hai?
Nigha-o-dil ko khabar kahan hai
Khayal soo-e-watan rawaan hai
Samandaro ki ayyal thame...
Hazar wehm-o-gumaan sambhale
Kai tarah ke sawaal thhaamey-Mere milnay walay  

The sun has risen and I have a very important meeting today, 'they say those who do not sleep at night serve the mankind better'. I should rather take this tag then. I have worn my dress for the occasion, this time the tie is not stopping my breath. And I am ready to go in the battlefield, to defeat the devil.