Mani get up man ... hino pak and abraaj have just arrived and they are waiting for us in your room.
My room ? mani asked without opening his eyes.
“Yes, I made them to sit there and wait for us. I told them that It would just take me 5 minutes to get mani out of his bed. Get up now, it doesn’t look good that they came all the way here for this gathering and we are sleeping here, plus they expect the military people to be more disciplined and punctual and its 10:30 now, you are already 1:30 hour late.”
It was Sunday morning april 2011. Sundays are very special for us. Wearing uniform the entire week and more then that maintaining and carrying its grace, it’s not as easy as it seems to be. Military people always cherish Sundays so much, firstly they don’t have to put themselves into those high long boots and pretend as hard and tough going people with strong nerves who have this great tendency of hearing some CHARMING and OVERWHELMING words from their commandants all the time and still they manage to say ROGER SIR. I had always wondered that this ROGER goes quite side by side with BOTHER; just say ROGER on every order of your senior and he will not bother you, although he knows that saying roger never means that you are doing it, Secondly Sundays give you a day to be your own self. All you have to do is to attend the line phone in a different tone every time and just say “saab to kamray main nae hain, bahir gaye howay hain kisi kaam say”, and of course never attend calls on your cell from unknown numbers.
So it was this special and charming Sunday and Captain MANI was just MANI today, not willing to get out of his bed.
“You must have been on your cell phone the entire night, isn’t it? Hmm let me see who was she.”
My sentence was not complete and mani was out of his bed clutching his sony Ericson Xperia from my hand back which I didn’t resist as there was hardly any note of his life which I didn’t know, rubbing his eyes, with right one half open.
If they are in my room then where the hell I am?
Well you slept here last night while watching that “band of brothers.” Am going down stairs to your room, and I want your ass to be their in next 5 min.
We both always had been keen in gathering our old college friends. Luckily every time we received sparkling and vivacious gestures on our invitations yet every time surprises on the final day with txt messages of apologies from many, plunged with reasons which we never understood.
This time the surprise was the other way round. Only four in total were assumed to gather but ifti came in at the very last second, just at the time when we were throwing light on his scarce and inconceivable qualities. Our remarks didn’t fine ink here not that ifti wouldn’t like them but because on such occurring the sound of beep can’t be placed in and I don’t want this story to find its place in ‘Minto k betareen afsanay’.
The entire plan was to play little cricket and then to revive our energy by throwing our appetite on HALWA POORI.
Mani assessed very quickly that sun was burning hot and it wouldn’t be wise to leave the shelter and play cricket, moreover the pain of losing semi’s against india which he never had suddenly appeared on his ever smiling face.
“To hell with cricket, I can’t even bear this thought that we lost against India.”
Well his plan worked. All of us went into discussing facts that why Pakistan really lost, quitting our plan to play cricket. And of course Mani was at ease, relieved from the thought of playing cricket and delighted that he can lie down on his Molty foam for another hour.
There were laughter’s, moments of joys filled with shouts and sounds of hands striking hands. In the mean time the table for HALWA POORI was being prepared by mess staff. Abraaj and hino pak(our child hood friends, we call them by these names as their first employment after graduation was in above firms), were time and again inspired by how great life is in armed forces.
Obviously we only see the staggering colors of a portrait, the pain of the artist is never revealed and only he truly understands the worth of his art.
Ifti had a sudden call after which we felt that his looks changed. He made another call after that.
“han lalay howa kia hai?”
“kis jaga par?”
“tu apna bata, teri taraf sab set hai?”
“chal INSHALLAH detail main baat hoo gi phir, ALLAH HAFIZ”.
A sudden silence encircled the entire room. Our eyes were fixed on ifti waiting for him to disclose the matter. He too did not let the suspense to float and after putting his cell phone down, he extinguished the remaining cigarette in ash try and continued.
“yar wo Captain Farhan hai na 116 LC ka”
“han han apna Farhan na”, Mani added
“han wohi, he has embraced SHAHADAT. He was taking part in an operation in Dar-e-adam khel against the insurgents and terrorist group and just about an hour back he got hit and entered the life of eternity.”
INNA LILLAHI WA INNA ILAI HI RA JI OON.
“So the account of our course has opened” I could easily see the pride in the voice of Mani for his course mate embraced SHAHADAT.
“His family must be proud of him”.
But I on the other hand was restless after hearing this, my thoughts were dragged back and I wondering about a speech, Inter Karachi debate contest held in Muhammad Ali Jinnah University about two months back, I still remember the harsh and poisoning words from a young debator namely Qurat-ul-ain leghari, accusing Pakistan army of plundering the national wealth and being unpatriotic, the committee even rewarded her first prize for her perverting lines which amused the crowd. I was hurt not because Captain Farhan embraced SHAHADAT, for it is what I always had dreamt of and wished for, but for the Nation and country for which our lives have been destined for, for my countrymen sleep in their beds worry less, celebrate their Sundays and cherish awards on uttering lines against those who always have laid their blood and sacrificed their lives only to defend them. Farhan recently turned into his 23rd year of life and he is not the only one buried under the pillars of this country, this country is standing because there are people who are donating blood and putting their lives to behold its pillars, and yet not all of them receive rewards, for we truly understand that survival needs sacrifice of blood and life.
I could see the feeling of sorrow on the faces of abraj and hino pak, may be later they realized that the artist has used too much of red color while making portrait of this life.
“Chalo yar HALWA POORI thandi hoo rahi hai”, I stood up finally and we all went on to the table. For this was another routine day and there was not much to worry.