Posted on: August 30, 2012



1962. What you see above is a photograph of a large lake. It is the Mangla lake in Azad Kashmir, just across the border line from our Mangla. In the distance you can also see the new Mirpur town. Mangla lake is man-made, created with construction of the Mangla Dam which walled up the Jhelum river from its normal free flow. Before the formation of the lake this was the site of a bustling township by the name of Mirpur. When this land was a dry bowl, there was, amidst the old bazaar area of Mirpur, with its quaint narrow streets tiled with smooth round pebbles and small, grey, rough-hewn granite stone pieces of random shapes, a WAPDA office by the name of Mangla Dam Resettlement Project. In that office complex were a row of four rooms allotted for the Audit office. I was in-charge of that office. A mile or so away was a mazar of a buzurg. I would drive by the mazaar in my project Land Rover on my way to office and back. The mazaar was bang on the route so the main road curved around it.
The mazaar was no great monument. It had a fairly large area overgrown by an assortment of shrubs and nettles. There was also a surrounding wall of sorts, now dilapidated, once yellow. Outstanding on the premises was a great big tree, species: bunyan. It offered enough space under its large shadow to seat a gathering of devotees on urs day. Above the tomb you could always see, when you drive by, a proliferation of colored little flags, green, red, yellow, you name it, waving atop bamboo poles or tied to branches of the auspicious tree.
By D-day, when the waters were to start filling the lake, the whole town was to be evacuated and all stake holders were given ample cash compensation to move out. A venerable gentleman, with an ample beard and dress to match, was the mujavir of the mazar. He warned that drowning of the mazaar in the waters of the new lake will be a step leading to serious consequences because the mazar was the tomb of the patron saint of Mirpur. There was already a lot of local resentment about the impending disappearance of all the graveyards in town. Memories of ancestors and dear ones would sink below a hundred feet of water.
One evening, at the billiard table in the club in the contractors’ Baral colony at Mangla, a little America in its own right, I was up against Bob, (Richard Proctor), Construction Manager of the American Mangla Dam Consortium (MDC). This was a conglomerate of twelve major American construction companies, led by Chicago Bridge. After getting my “fine shot” compliment to him for executing a complicated stroke, Bob came back with his usual “Are you guys on schedule?” comment. This meant were we, the Resettlement chaps, working to clear the Mirpur area to meet the calendar when the lake was scheduled to start filling up. “Usual problems” I said, struggling to send the red ball to target. “Like what?” he asked. “Cultural problems you will not understand” I said. “Oh yea? Teach me” he shot back, playing another of his fine shots. My mistake. I should not have said that, knowing he had done projects in a dozen countries in Africa and the Middle East, “OK. Over coffee, after the game.” I said. An hour later, at the coffee table “Let’s get your story” he said. I explained to him the problem of the holy man’s tomb. “No problem” he said. “Find me an alternate place and I will transplant your holy man’s tomb.”
Our project head and Chief Engineer was a venerable, saintly person by the name of Mr. Abdul Ghafur.  One of WAPDA’s very senior officers, he was a conscientious man who took his work as religion. As auditor of the project Abdul Ghafur saheb and I were officially on opposite sides of the conference table, but otherwise I, at that time a young officer who had only recently started out in service,  saw him as a fatherly and sympathetic figure. I told him next morning what Bob had said. He listened carefully, thought for a minute. He next summoned his Senior Engineer and asked him to fetch Richard Proctor next morning, show him around the tomb site and get him over to the club for lunch. At the informal lunch meeting, Bob stuck to his story.
In agreement with men of the mazaar, a vacant plot was agreed to and purchased. It was bang on the highway at Dina. Dina, an earlier unknown little settlement towards left of GT road, (if your are driving from Lahore) shot into prominence because it was from there on the main road that you make a sharp right turn and drive another six miles to Mangla. With this detail about an alternate site fixed, the American contractors were given right of way. They cut all around the mazaar with their big machines and, like a birthday cake, the entire area of the mazaar, along with its structures as well as the big tree, was picked up, carried unharmed and re-planted at the new site. Whatever may have been the status of the mazaar at the old site, it was a hit at the new one. It is till today populated with devotees. Urs day now is a gala affair with all bells and whistles and a colorful make-shift meena bazaar along GT road. You can’t miss it. Next time you drive from Lahore to Islamabad or vice-versa, take a break at the Dina, and report back to this email forum, please do.

WAPDA people of the Mangla Resettlement project allotted me a two-room quarter in the dusty, unpopulated place sited in the higher area where today stands a big, flourishing New Mirpur Town. I was “entitled” to nothing better than that quarter, ruled the Chief Engineer, because I was single. My quarter also had a good courtyard at the back which became a club and badminton court for the other officers who were my neighbors. From my place it was a good half an hour’s drive downhill to the office in the old town. My own bedroom had a large window which opened eastwards. The view from my window was of a range of hills not too far away. I would sometimes drive up the hill. On the other side was an expanse of flat low land, settlements, green patches of cultivation, and brown patches of unused land: a peaceful scene I liked to look at, sitting there atop the flat surface of a two-foot high piece of brown sandstone rock.
I was, as a rule, conscientious about reaching office on time. That also kept my staff of their toes, you know. My morning time-keeping was precise. How? I had no curtain on my bedroom window. At dawn the sun would creep up from beyond the hills and strike my face. That was my time to get up. I would unhurriedly go through my personal chores, dress up and walk to the other room for breakfast of toast, cereal and tea which Saamu, (original Shabbir, I understand) my dutiful and sturdy man-servant, would have ready for me. My system worked so well I did not miss my wrist-watch. It had slipped into the wash basin whilst I still had soap on my face. It was well doused with running water from the tap, and gave up the ghost. I could have found a replacement from any shop at Jhelum, but I let things be. I could buy a new one during my next visit to Lahore. There I had Yunus, my friend, whose father had a watch shop on the Mall. Yunus would find a good shiny real Swill piece for me with 30% off from its tagged price. So why settle for less? My man Saamu mildly suggested that I consider buying an alarm time piece. He put me on notice he had a friend who worked in a Jhelum watch shop. There were many brands of alarm time pieces, he said, but only two were genuine Hong Kong ones. But I was never taken in by this blah blah. A high-profile merit-based superior officer of the Government of Pakistan like myself cannot stoop to consider recommendations of every ignorant dunce in town. We all know those alarm things are no good. They may wake you up on a few mornins but then you get used to their shrill cries after which you never hear the ring at all. It becomes as though the time piece did not exist. It is stupid of chaps who spend good money to buy such no-good junk.
All the ground of our residences was within the project area. There was a constant hum of big trucks, dumpers, power shovels and other machines moving up and down. The constant din could drive a new-comer crazy, but we old guards hardy noticed or heard the noise.
My own daily timetable was decided by the sun. Come morning, the sun would rise up from beyond the hills and its light and heat, pouring through the window, would strike me well and proper on my face. Much as I may try I could not beat that onslaught and had the only option of getting up and readying myself for office. Day after day this was how things went. Precision timing. That is the proper English phrase.
On a routine day the sun hit my face strongly as usual. After dilly-dallying for a few minutes, I pulled myself up. I did not know why I was a bit more groggy today. I felt as though I had not slept well. But these are minor inconveniences which do not deter brave men. I went through the usual chores right up to a striped blue necktie and walked over for breakfast. Surprise, Saamu was still asleep. I went over and sternly ordered him to get up. This was not behavior which could be excused by an important government officer with heavy responsibilities. Saamu scrambled up and went about making up for lost time. For some reason my newspaper man was also late which left me doing nothing till my toast etc. came in. I scooped up my breakfast as quickly as I could. I might be setting a bad example for my men by being late. I went out. My Land Rover came to instant life and was smoothly purring away downward on the dirt road, moving like a lark and stirring up clouds of dust with its powerful four-wheel power. It was a bright day when I started from high ground, but darker as I descended into the Mirpur depression. But something was amiss. I could sense it. They say we all have mysterious invisible antennas which tell us much if we are perceptive. I was always a perceptive chap. What did I sense? What I sensed was in what I saw. No traffic on the way. I was almost alone on the road except for some early-bird famer carrying some implements on his shoulders. By the time I drove into the limits of the old town, I could sense something was definitely the matter with the world. Five more minutes and I was wondering if I was still asleep. I had read in an authoritative manual that if you are ever in this quandary, pinch yourself. You will wake up to normalcy. I did that a couple of times. Except for a sore feeling in the left shoulder, this trick did not work. At least not for me. I stopped the car, switched off the engine and waited for someone to pass by whom I could talk to. No one came by. That was even more strange. My dream was really taking me places. And then suddenly, as if by magic, truth, or more correctly “enlightenment” as they call it, dawned upon me. It was a powerful and relieving awareness. What dawned on me so clearly was the awareness that THIS WAS SUNDAY! This kind of wonderful psychic experience does come to people who suddenly find the truth. Gautam Budh had it sitting under his favorite bodha tree in Gaya, surrounded with prancing white and brown rabbits and well-meaning crimson and blue snakes exhibiting their sensitive pink tongues as they hissed along. This unusual experience as I had is called by western psychologists the “Aha! Experience.” For Indian yogis it is “Cosmic consciousness.” For Christian intellectuals it is “Super consciousness.” For mind scientists it is “alpha brain-wave state.” The experience cannot really be described. You have to experience it. It is a warm, milky, kind of sweet soup which seeps into the soul like redeeming peace. The solace permeates your whole being. It is a sort of multi-colored ecstasy with changing lights and soft accompanying music like what is played by the London Symphony Orchestra. What surprised me, however, was how come this miracle, this enlightenment, had befallen me, of all people. Was it not reserved for holy men? Like men who spend a decade or two in the foothills of the Himalayas doing breathing exercises? I was surely not a holy man. Holy men walk, or else they ride, on donkeys, tigers, snakes, or whatever mode of transport comes easily to hand. In my extensive studies of other-worldly affairs, I had never read about a holy man in charge of two dozen babus in a government office. Nor had I read about a holy man driving a cream-colored Land Rover.
Coming back to reality, why on earth was I going to office on a holiday? I clambered back into the seat, switched my faithful car back to life and drove uphill to where I had come from. Back home I tapped on my own door. No answer. Tap, tap, tap. It took awhile before Saamu came up to open the door, rubbing his eyes, feeling victimized. This made me madder. But it was Sunday so he had a right to extra sleep. “Ok,” I said, “you can go back.” He tallied a bit and asked me why I had come back. What a bloody dumb question. This could come only from a stupid illiterate like Saamu, a chap no good for anything in this world except for elementary cooking for one man. I came back to him sharply with: because it was Sunday. Sunday? “Saab. Aaj tou Budh hai.” What? Wednesday? His stark stupidity was back again. The morning paper was in by this time. I grabbed it: news can wait. I picked out the date line to read out the truth to this idiot of a man, to educate this dunce. But my God! This was Wednesday.
I needed to get back to office, but I was fagged out. I went to my bedroom and threw myself on my bed. I closed my eyes for a while. But the torment in my mind would not let me be. I opened my eyes again. They came into focus. The sun was still there, in all its usual glory. I rubbed my eyes once more, pulled myself up, walked the few steps and stood by my east-side window. I was stunned anew. I was into another séance, another miracle of awareness, another Buddha experience or alpha brain state! I was again into cosmic consciousness; unmistakable this time. What I saw from the window was a vast expanse of open land, just as it would appear when I drove up the hills, sat on my brown piece of rock and looked beyond! My God! From my mystic window I was now looking straight through hills! Exhilarated and overcome again with a strong sense of miracle, I moved out of the room, shouted for Saamu to join me and we walked out the front door and stood there facing the hills. “Saamu! Do you see the expanse of land before us?” I knew this fool would make nothing of my strange, other-worldly statement. And so it was. After six seconds of quiet: “Yes saab.” He said. What the hell was this idiot jabbering about, saying “Yes saab.” He had not understood or even heard what I had said. Mine was a near-cosmic statement far above the crude intellect of this fool, this uneducated dunce. Five more seconds of silence. The he went on: “Last night the company took away the hills!” WHAT THE HELL? It was then I understood. Their giant power shovels had scooped up and taken away those hills entirely, all in one night, to fulfill part of their requirement of millions of tons of earth to fill the dam – the Mangla Dam — which till today is the world’s biggest earth-fill dam! (Tarbela is a rock-fill dam) One small side effect of the disappearance of the hills was the sun had hit my face that morning two hours earlier. The same afternoon I drove to Jhelum, along with Saamu as consultant expert, and bought an alarm time-piece to put on my bedside table. Why on earth does everyone not use an alarm time piece? These wonderful machines are accurate, cheap, reliable and faithful friends. Provided you know how to choose a pedigree Honk Kong.

STORY 3: Dabbling in politics.
Ashfaq was a new comer at the project but established himself immediately as badminton champ of our Mirpur officers’ club. Wearing a white tennis T-shirt inscribed with a blue “I LOVE NEW YORK” ensign and khaki shorts, he walked to my house of a Sunday morning. “Why not an outing on the periphery road?” he said. Why not? Not a bad idea. The periphery road was built by our project to make up for all the lost communications cut off by waters of the lake. For eight miles the road ran along the higher ground surrounding the lake before taking off into an older track. Narrow, badly paved, with a lot of loose earth on it, it was Asia’s worst hill road according to my classification. I had travelled on it already by bus going to Akalgarh. The bus had on display a big notice board, a brown rough cardboard piece hung up with a string. Inscribed on it was an encouraging message: “Astaghfar parh lo. Yeh aap ka aakhri safar ho sakta hai.” And damn right they were. The bus would wobble incredibly on the narrow road. The left tires were moving three inches from the edge. Most people would make sure they do no cast their nervous eyes to the left so as not to see the steep sixty foot fall into the waters. This could happen any minute. If you keep driving where the road forks right beyond the periphery road you will run bang into border areas and hear sounds of gunfire. These are pot shots across the border fired by our troops and coming also from their counterparts on the other side. That was how troops kept each other from getting bored.
To continue with our story, Ashfaq and I got into our Land Rover, myself in the driving seat, and headed towards Akalgarh. An hour of driving and Ashfaq was thirsty. We came to a picturesque, small bridge on the road which crossed over a flowing stream of sparkling, ice-cold water. I stopped the car, grabbed my water flask. We walked over, without hurry, and parked ourselves on the low, cement-topped side pier of the bridge. There was a fairly large settlement we could see to the right. Saidpur, I think its name was. A local gentleman came by and greeted us. After a few courteous exchanges, this friendly person, Ikram he said his name was, invited us to walk over to a make-shift tea shop yonder and be his guest for a cup of Lipton and some local brown-baked biscuits. We went into the canvas-tent eating shop furnished with four small tables and chairs to match. There was a radio pouring out popular Essa Khelvi hit songs.
Sipping our tea in this quaint joint, there as more talk. How were things in the village? That was our question. Ikram was eloquent with his story.
Our village, he said, was a piece of heaven on earth. All of us loved each other. Everyone was as if member of a well-knit family. There was never a shadow of lawlessness or crime.
The most respected and aged citizen of Saidpur, Abdur Rehman, had a son Irfan who had studied law at Rawalpindi and had come back fired with the mission of serving his community. Irfan was such a fine boy everyone voted for him in the elections and elevated him to the assembly as its youngest member. Once there, he continued with his sincere efforts. He made us proud. Amongst his important welfare projects was drilling a set of eight tube-wells and construction of a farm to market road from Saidpur to Akalgarh. Apart from that he also struggled for setting up a police station for guarding our settlement from any kind of possible harm. This was a difficult job he had chosen for himself because of its requirement of continuing expenses for which there was no budget. After an effort of two years money for the project was ultimately approved and formally included in the budget. The happy day arrived when a police station was hurriedly constructed and a posse of unformed men assumed office. It was from then that things changed. What followed was a stream of thefts, dacoitries and even murders. Most happened by entry of criminals from elsewhere. In the village itself no one trusted any one anymore. The loving village family fell apart. Many kept long guns to meet emergencies at night. But never was a criminal caught. “This is our plight now,” said Ikram sadly. “How can we go back to that old time of peace and happiness?”
We thanked our host for his courtesy. Tea was hot and fresh-brewed and biscuits were fresh-baked.
An hour and a half later we were back in Mirpur.


We had our offices in a couple of hired residential houses in Gulberg, Lahore. A hundred yards down, across the turn of the road, was a huge US Aid building. It was a well-guarded and protected structure with high walls topped with barbed wire. A strictly goora enclosure, perhaps. Mysterious. Imposing. Fearsome guards were at the gate. We knew there was an authentic little America inside. That office then became untenable. That happened because orders came from Washington that Aid offices all move to Islamabad. So what about this building? It was cleared out and given, free, to the Federal Government, that meant mostly to us, and some others. We moved in like the great new moguls, along with our rickety tables and wobbling chairs. The building was air-conditioned to the hilt, powered by an installed huge diesel generator station. This building required as much power as would a small town. There were no useless appendages in the building like ceiling fans or windows to help cross-ventilation. That kind of stuff was unnecessary. The building design was engineered to withstand any earthquake of highest intensity recorded over the last one hundred years. You could not even drive a nail into the hard reinforced walls. An excellent swimming pool. Intercom and other electronic systems we knew nothing about. Maintenance of the building and its installations became overnight the responsibility of the mighty Pakistan PWD.
Now the fun starts. The swimming pool, with no maintenance, starts to fill up with garbage water leaking in from a dirty pool outside the premises. The intelligent PWD men stacked cement bags under the diving boards. Installed electronics stuff became installed junk. And then Lahore’s severe summer. The generators did not start. Parts stolen and no money with PWD in their budget for fuel. We could not open any windows. There were none which could open. Only square openings in the outside walls fitted with firm earthquake-proof glass no one could break. Ceiling fans could not be put in because the ceilings were impenetrable by any of the drilling implements our capable engineers had. But we could buy and put in some pedestal fans run on whatever power we could quickly garner from WAPDA. But all that was not enough. Toilets, with no air entry at all, were smelly torture chambers. Some of our dedicated babus fainted sitting in their chairs, hit by dehydration or heat stroke. So an emergency was declared. Big tubs, filled and refilled with “kacchi lassi” cooled by large blocks of ice, were placed on the floor at all easily accessible points. Drinks were on the house. All babus had the option of coming to office wearing loose shawars, buyans, chappals and nothing else. Fun it was, with this new official federal government uniform!
It was a long time before things came under control with re-doctoring of the solid, massive building to make it habitable by human beings.
Moral of the story? I don’t know. You tell me.

If we take the trouble to reminisce, all of us can come up with an unending stream of strange episodes in our lives. Some may be too personal. Others we can share. But you will need to take time out to look back, to get your thoughts in order, to type them out. Even one-finger typing will do fine.
Now tell me, I ask again of all readers, are these short scripts worth anything to you?
Good luck to you should you try out your own stories. You will need that kind of luck.




My dear Dr. Ali Akhtar,
I am taken aback that you chose to down tools on the basis of an entertaining email from our learned Janab Khalid Rafique saheb LLB. (KR.) about his edict on riba. The best part of KR’s email is about his own adventure of borrowing money from a notorious Kabuli money lender at exorbitant interest. We all know and agree that Kabuli money lenders are cruel exploiters who will surely go to hell. KR’s story is “sabaq amooz” for all of us as you are about to see. He has described his remarkable escapade which he has expertly compressed in to just a few lines. That is because he is pressed for time. So it is again up to poor me to tell the whole story. I will get down to it.
KR’s story makes it clear that he is talking about those sad years of his life when he was penniless. Our sympathies. He was in severe need of money, as he has said, to pay fees to sit in an examination. It was for him a matter of life and death. All of us would have rushed to help him had we known. But at that time we were to be seen nowhere in his horizon. So what does he do? The does sensible thing. He goes to a bank. Why? Because banks are legal, benevolent, philanthropic, kind-hearted. Kabuli money-lenders are cruel, illegal, notorious. We all know that, don’t we? So he goes to a bank glowing with hope because he had found the right solution to his problem. In the bank he meets the clerk in the loan department and asks for 5,000. That clerk, Uncle Jamaluddin Abdul Rahim BA, a bald, bearded and turbaned 55-er, is sympathetic. He is the kind of auspicious person who has dedicated his life to help the needy, the helpless, the weak. The banker, however, because he is a banker, begins his friendly conversation, with a mild twinkle in his eye. He starts with the technical and mysterious topic of “collateral” and asks some innocent, ceremonial questions, as bankers habitually do.
Do you own a house? No.
Do you own some gold jewelry? No.
Stone jewelry? No.
A car? No.
A motor cycle? No.
A bicycle? No.
Kitchen utensils? No.
A paper plate and a plastic spoon? No.
Then what the hell do you own? Nothing.
Where do you live? Ans. In a room in Jacob lines.
Good. What do you have there? Ans. An attached floor level Muslim commode.
Anything else? Yes. A light blue lota with white lines. It is made of thin plastic, is very pretty. You will like it if you see it.
Uncle Jamaluddin Abdul Rahim BA. “Here, two cups of tea have come in. Take one. You are a busy person. Have a nice Friday.”
This encouraging exercise is repeated at three other banks with identical outcomes. What shall be done now? KR’s early religious tutoring had given him some valuable insights! Sitting in his grandma’s lap when he was little, he had absorbed many profound truths which continue to shape his life to this day. They were absorbed as his golden rules for virtuous and successful living. One of those was “Son, NEVER go to a Kabuli money lender if you are ever in need. That is a sure reason why people go to hell in the next world and to jail in this world.”
KR takes his problem of need for money to his good friend, Ajab Khan, who was born in a cave in Hirat. Being old chums, they both share jokes in Farsi. Jolly Ajab drives a three-wheel auto rickshaw for a living. He is also a charas consuming veteran with pink eyes and a brown-spotted white skin. Ajab entertains KR with a whiff of his favorite snuff and carries him for free in his three-wheeler to meet another young Afghan. This one is pot-smoking Chootu Khan who introduces himself as an honest money-lender of authentic Kabuli pedigree. KR is now sure he has come to the right shop. Building up immediately a chummy atmosphere, again in Farsi, KR now ups his ante to a demand of Rs. 10,000. Honest Chootu spits out a mouth-full of deep red stuff he was chewing on. Offers 5,000. OK says KR. Cough up. “OK” says Panga, “cough up a gold sovereign. “Hey! Hey” says KR. “No sign of that, but what I will do is I will give you a perfect guarantee!” “What the hell is that?” asks Chootu. “Signed stamp paper” says KR. “If I don’t pay back you can send me to jail.” Poor Chootu is confused. Ajab Khan jumps in and re-assures Chootu. Still not quite sure, Chootu ups his markup from 12 to an atrocious 18 per cent. This was to cover his increased risk because he had no security in the form of a gold sovereign he had asked for. KR immediately sees a bright light at the end of the tunnel and is more than happy at the turn of events. He goes immediately to a stamp vendor and brings an official-looking, impressive sheet of stamp paper, dirty yellow, with “Rs 2” printed on the two upper corners. Both parties share the cost of the paper, one rupee each. The party of three next moves over to Saheb Allah Rakha, BA, a stolid character who wields a typewriter on the sidewalk. For Rs. 1.50 this grumpy gentleman, bespectacled, bent, wearing a permanent frown, types out a text and both KR and Chootu attest it with their finger prints, Chootu being completely illiterate. Jolly Ajab attests as witness. KR happily collects the money, promptly forgets the whole affair, passes the exam and enters service, where, in time, by dint of hard work and native brilliance, becomes head of audit for the whole country. Chootu, in the meanwhile, rushes to Kabul to take part in a gun fight over his auntie’s honor. KR shifts to Pindi leaving a forwarding address with his landlord.
Chootu returns next winter after having won the shootout in the mountains but having his left leg shot off by his enemies. He is now on a pair of crutches, made of dull-brown unpolished pine wood. He goes by bus, hopping on his crutches, to the old KR address. KR is not there, of course, but the landlord gives him KR’s chit exhibiting KR’s the new address as “125/1, Chuha Gali, Kasur.”

Chootu hops by bus, trolley and tonga and goes on a hunt to find his quarry. He finds no trace of Chuha Gali and no clue to 125/1 either in Kasur or in any of the twenty three villages within twenty miles radius of that famous town. He returns to his friend Ajab Khan and pleads his plight. Ajab had met KR in a tea shop in Raja Bazaar in Rawalpindi and had followed him to his house. Ajab shares with Kabuli Chootu information on the co-ordinates of the house. Chootu catches the next minivan, rushes to Pindi and finds KR. “Sorry” says KR. “Come back in four months and I will see what I can do.”
Chootu is outraged. He is now himself down to his own few rupees. But he still has a powerful weapon.

He hops on a three-wheeler and, at a great cost of Rs. 7.50 paid as fare, travels two and a half miles to the thana in Saddar with the assurance that he had the charm with which he will regain his lost fortune –the stamp paper. He is fortunate to meet the over-sized, well-decorated ASP saab, Raja Suba Khan Kichlu, of all-Punjab fame. Kichlu saab was sitting there on a huge black upholstered chair gorging on six juicy well-browned kababs arranged nicely on a big blue-white piece of glazed crockery. Poor Chootu is starving but helpless to snatch a piece. Between gulps of his kababs the fat ASP Kichlu saab hears what poor Chootu has to say and also looks at the stamp paper while making strange chewing noises.
Fat ASP Kichlu saab: “Do you have a banking license?”
Poor Chootu: “What is that?”
Fat ASP Kichlu saab: “That means do you own a bank?”
Poor Chootu: “What kind of bank?”
Fat ASP Kichlu saab: “Like National Bank of Pakistan.”
Poor Chootu: “My brother’s daughter has a piggy bank. They live in Kandahar.”
Fat ASP Kichlu saab: “Not good enough.”
Fat ASP Kichlu saab, irritated also because he was disturbed at lunch, puts poor Kabuli Chootu under arrest and locks him up on the charge of acting as a banker without a banking license. The precious stamp paper is confiscated as good evidence of serious crime.
Poor Chootu, after two months in captivity, pays his last 200 rupees under the table and escapes to freedom. In the meanwhile, KR has moved over to Peshawar. No forwarding address.
Carrying his rusty old double-barrel gun, poor Chootu, as per last quarterly report, was still looking for KR in and around Raja Bazaar.
PS 1. Given his hard circumstances, a report update says Chootu has since sold his old double-barrel gun to a pawn shop for twenty five rupees. He is now armed with a five-and-a-half foot bamboo rod fitted with a sharply pointed iron cone at one end. He is proud he invented, designed and crafted this deadly weapon all by himself, with his own hands. And he waits for his money.
PS 2. You can still see today poor Chootu, the honest Kabuli money-lender, 65 but looking 114, thin and haggard, perched silently on a low broken wicker chair in his hut or begging in front of chapply kabab shops and other eating places in Saddar bazaar.



Whether you pick the instance of the motorway or of the Mangla Lake can you imagine what kind of stories, thousands of them, about the havoc caused to people, surely occurred? Does no one remember? Has any literary person written anything about the waves of human drama which occurred? It was a long time ago that I set about to write a fiction about one poor imaginary family living in Old Mirpur, destined to be drowned in the waters of the Mangla lake. As I went on it became so depressive I was unable to carry on and abandoned the project, especially so because there is no readership in Pakistan for English fiction. The script, though incomplete, is now lost except for some starting excerpts which have survived on the hard drive of my present laptop. The scenes are not altogether imaginary. I have been to villages like the one in the story and I have been in these locales and had some familiarity with the inhabitants. This story is about a girl living in that isolated village near Mirpur. The plot veered through many tragedies of life the poor family went through. It ends with the death of the girl. The story, which was never completed, is lost. A little remaining piece is here for you for what it is worth, if you have a few minutes to waste.


To find Sooni’s home, you need to drive two miles west from Mirpur to reach Pind Jalal. Not many people will help you to find the village because it is little known, even within its environs. The drive is not easy. The dirt track is in bad shape, but will keep you on your way with no options where you can turn by mistake. Then you park in a small clearing to the left and walk another three hundred yards west along a narrow path. This is another smaller dirt track, five feet wide, laced on both sides with prickly bushes, so you could easily end up with little thorns caught in your shirt or blouse, and perhaps also with a few slits in your sleeve. On the uphill, as you walk along, you could come face to face with a friendly looking, broad bellied black buffalo from the village, coming your way. She will cross you without a nod, leaving you to fend for yourself, should you be pushed and trip into the adjoining bush.
On this mild winter morning, the cool gusts of wind in your face remind you of all the glorious winters you have already seen in these virgin uplands, green in spring and ashen in summer. The breeze will carry the scent of wild flowers and berries downhill for miles. You will come up suddenly to a small village of nine houses. This is Pind Jalal. Sooni’s little mud and stone dwelling, roofed by sheets of grey zinc held up with cut, dry logs of jungle trees, is no different from the others. There are two brothers, Rashid and Altaf, and the father Ghulam Rasul, who tends to the seven heads of cattle. The sale of milk in Mirpur city, carried daily on an old bicycle, is an important source of livelihood. There is also grandma, Fatima Bibi, a widow since forty years, freckled and bent with a lifetime of labor in the house and on the sparse fields which yield up scanty but valuable grains and greens. And also there is Timmy. Timmy is a small dog of unspecified breed, white with patches of light brown. Timmy loved Sooni and Sooni loved Timmy. Sooni’s mother had died at home at Sooni’s birth, not seen by a doctor.
Sooni, at age seven, is a cripple. She does not remember if she ever walked. Fatima Bibi says she walked till she was two. It was a cold December morning five years ago when Sooni found she was unable to walk. She had been hit by polio. Over the next four months both of her legs had withered to bare bones.
It was late evening now when the procession of fifteen started from the dwelling carrying the coffin. It was light to carry. Sooni’s withered body was little more than a collection of slender bones and skin. Rashid and Altaf held the two front ends and Ghulam Rasul and Jeevan held up from the back. Timmy followed the men, squeaking syllables only Sooni would have understood.
The route to the small graveyard of two score older gra

ves was a seldom-used pathway, overgrown with bushes and nettles. Light this late evening was poor because of thick black clouds which could bring a downpour any moment.
The waters of the lake were rising moment by moment. But no one was threatened because the population, to the last man, had been cleared. That included Sooni’s family, who, along with their sparse possessions, had been loaded on an old project truck whose rickety body shivered and shook as it rolled on across the rocky road and carried its passengers fourteen miles uphill.
A burst of rain came down with a fearsome sound of thunder. Timmy crawled backwards, upwards. little by little in pace with the rising waters. The waters rose slowly over the graveyard, over the grave, and extinguished all signs of it forever. The downpour ceased, turning dusk to early night. As the clouds cleared, a full moon uncovered itself, lighting the expanse of water as a shimmering sheet of silver going all the way as far as one could see in the failing light. The water also evened out the last sight of the lonely spot where Sooni’s grave was last seen. Friendless and homeless, facing the silent lake without blinking, sprawled flat in the wet mud, Timmy was there alone, drenched and wet, wailing softly in the moonlight.


Likhtay rahy junoo’n ki hikyaat e khoo’n chukaa’n

Har chand is mayn haath hamaray qalam huay





It was a cold evening in Lahore. I was on my way to Data Darbar to offer Fateha, which was not unusual. I would drive to the backside of the premises because it is easier to find parking space. From this parking space you would walk through some narrow lanes and find your way to the back entrance gates of the darbar. Because the walkway is never in a state of cleanliness, you need to hold your shalwar way up above ground level to keep clear of your own water splashes. As you set foot on the landing of the mazaar you need to surrender your shoes to the strategically located guardian who will take them for safe-keeping, giving you a numbered token you will return on exit. It is always a mystery how, on your return, he will quickly find your shoes from amongst the other hundreds. He will charge a nominal fee for his valuable services, but people usually add an extra tip. From there you go barefoot up a flight of stairs to enter the auspicious arena. That is standard operating procedure (SOP) but let us get back to the story.
As soon as I had reached the parking area and got out of the car I was hit on the face with an upcoming rain shower. Common sense urged me to get back and try another time. But, as everyone one knows, I am a determined sort of fellow, who jumps in where angels fear to tread. “These are just a few drops, will vanish in a minute” I prophesied to myself and went straight into the milieu along the narrow wet street wide enough only for pedestrians. As I went on, the thin shower turned more heavy. Feet already wet and the lower part of garments now under threat I would need to make speed to find shelter.
That is when it happened. What could only be the devil in person, a hefty rascal, he was wearing some kind of ugly gold pendent on his right ear, came dashing by on a noisy Vespa as if he had an important appointment to keep. As he passed by quickly, the wheels of his vehicle let off a shower of brown-black street water whose drops caught me almost up to my waist. I quickly brought up in my mind a vision of this devil and gave him a sound thrashing he will remember for long. But my vision did not cater to the fact that, judging from his backside view, he could well be a promising, plump member of the Bholu family. But by the time I reached the entrance of the Mazaar, it was clear I was disqualified from entering, given our criteria of ritual cleanliness, even though the downpour had now stopped. As I turned back to return it came to mind that I also had a second item on the evening’s agenda. So I crossed over to the nearest food distribution point, shop of the dal-roti guy. Already adept at the required protocols, I squirmed into an available chair towards the rear of the shop. This was quite an ideal location from where one could see the happenings outside but being almost hidden from them.
I advanced five one hundred rupee notes to the shop guy, whom I will call Allahyar, because he was doing a useful service. He carefully placed the money on a box beside him. I made myself as comfortable as I could as he went on with his art of making drum sounds and started the required action in fulfillment of order given.
As the process continued, I spied a family standing of the other side of the road: two adults, a man and a woman, two children, around six or seven in age perhaps, and one toddler. And along with them, parked along the wall, was a black and red small engine Suzuki motorcycle. It is a usual scene on Lahore’s streets in which whole families, including children, stash themselves on this unstable two-wheeler and, like free birds with no care in the world, go where they will, abandoned to Allah’s protection. Such guys should be locked up in jail, was always my silent internal court judgment.
This man was dressed in a white shirt, a khaki pant and brown sandals, no socks, no head covering. The woman was wearing a black burqa but her arms, covered with sets of multicolored glass bangles and silver colored footwear, was showing. This man, I guessed, would be a clerk in an office.
Why would this individual, along with his family, be standing there, I wondered. I also noticed he would look left and right quite often, as if he was afraid of something, as if he was a fugitive. It was after some seven or so minutes that he seemed to pick up courage and, in a reticent way, crossed over and joined the food line. Without making any progress, he broke away soon and went to stand again with his family. That is when I understood he was afraid to be seen standing in line for free food. In his second attempt he managed to reach the front, quickly collected his two nans and dal and slipped back to join his family. The lady went ahead with feeding the boy and the father with feeding the elder girl. The little one was crying. But there was still not enough food for them all. That was when I noticed he was looking for another chance of join the line. It was more than five minutes before he could summon enough courage to cross over and join the line. It was then I gave the Allahyar another Rs. 50 and asked for an extra pack to be prepared and handed it over to the man when he comes up again. Allahyar placed the extra money along with the earlier payment, on the same box. Under this arrangement, the food was packed in plastic bags, the whole wrapped in a newspaper sheet and was handed to the man of the motorcycle. He was fully taken aback on being given the packet, but in a hassle of not being seen, not only did he rush back but started his machine with a vigorous kick and the family disappeared.
Before leaving I noticed the money I had paid was not where I had last seen it. I asked Allahyar if he had received what was due from me. “Yes, saheb” he said. “I saw your intention and I put your money in the pack I delivered to the babu!” I could hardly believe. And as he turned I saw his full face. He was wearing a gold pendent on his right ear.


During my posting at Islamabad, I would, on weekends, do long trekking walks up the Magalla hills or surroundings, a strong, beautifully carved, iron-tipped walking cane in hand which I had bought in a Murree shop for seventy-five rupees. It was on a bright Sunday morning at about nine in the morning that I started from my place in Sector F-10 and reached village Nurpur Shahaan in about an hour and a half. This is the village where lie the remains of a 17th century sufi teacher, Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, known as Bari Imam, now Islamabad’s unofficial patron saint.
It was the first time I had gone there and found the place crowded with pilgrims. They were colored buntings and flags all over the place and the look was one of a gala event. I took some photographs and could hear people chanting prayers which was beyond me to understand. I stopped at a stand and bought a bottle of what is called an “ice-cream soda” carbonated drink. While lazily sipping from my bottle I noticed a middle aged, lean, dark man standing about two yards towards my right. He was dressed in typical Punjabi lungi dress; brown-colored, not entirely clean. On his feet were dusty, worn out chappals which seemed to need repair. He was repeating something again and again. I assumed he was begging for money. He stood motionless as if in a stupor. I offered him a fiver, but found he was strangely unaware of me. Trying to make sense of what he was saying I could sense he was praying. His eyes were half-closed, hands clasped in from of him. Repeatedly his words were, as I made out: “Allah da wasta. Nabi da wasta. Chanti tun bachalay Sarkar.” Tears were slowly dribbling down his cheeks. In a while I shook him by his shoulder. He woke up with a start and seemed afraid of me. His language would be rustic Punjabi but I took the risk of talking to him in simple Urdu. He was employed, it seemed, in a cotton yarn factory but was on notice of layoff. There were two parents, a wife and six daughters to support. I offered to help, if possible and gave him my office card asking him to meet me on Monday.
He turned up on Tuesday, haggard and disjointed. He had been fired. I happened, at that time, to be Secretary, Central Board of Revenue. I asked the Customs inspector dealing with the factory in question to see me. Soon enough I was on line with the factory manager. It turned up this man did not have a physical constitution strong enough for lifting heavy loads, that means heavy bales of factory products, for which he had been hired. As luck would have it, it was agreed he would return to work and will be allotted a place in the dying section. Incidentally, this also meant regular work and a happy rise in wages.



From Mr. Abdul Qadir, Retired Chief Engineer WAPDA, Consultant, Binnie & Partners, Mangla Dam Project.
My dear Jeddy saheb the great,
You are a genius. A fantastic story teller. These remind me of my stay at Mangla.
I was living in Mangla colony on the left bank. Il had just been married and was living in C2/1you were also lilting in Mangla colony and were married. So was Mohiuddin kiramani, your ham zulf. You were Deputy Director Audit.
You have a great talent of many kinds. A very rare and wonderfull person. I enjoy all your mails with great interest and they keep me alive. God bless you.
Your stories have taken me back to my memories of old times. We used to have a music group. You are the MASTER but I could never make it.
Many thanks again.
My brother M A Kareem Iqbal, retired federal secretary died at Karachi on Jumatul Wida.
I attended his funeral and soyem.
Profound regards and best wishes
Abdul Qadir

From: Chauhdary Ilyas

A very lucid account of the Mangla Tomb Transfer that I remember having witnessed in great excitement as a school boy coming from a village close by and equally-well-rendered piece, in the great story-telling tradition, on the PAD office in Lahore which I joined when the building had already been indiginized. Enjoyed reading these anecdote bright alive in your brilliant description. Thanks.

From M. Zahiruddin Jeddy
Accountant General Pakistan Revenues (Rt.)
Thank you Ilyas for taking the time to spend some minutes with my old memories. When you have a personal involvement in a story, it takes on an additional new dimension. It comes through as if in three dimensions. That is why I think some incidents were more appealing for you. They were part of your life also. So thanks for sharing.
PS. You will find another email on this subject from another dear friend, Mr. Abdul Qadir. He was part of the team who actually built the Mangla dam. He was with Binnie and Partners, project consultants, who were responsible to watch over the performance of MDC, the American contractors. I said in one of my stories that our Project Director in the Resettlement organization was a dedicated person. He was Mr. Abdul Ghafoor saheb who was senior to Qadir saheb but personally they were close. Both from South India. You will see from Qadir saheb’s email how much he liked the stories. The first three had eloquent meaning for him because he was himself part of the action. That is the reason.
M. Zahiruddin Jeddy

From: inam.kazi
I have gone through the few comments written on your charming little compendium of four short “stories for an afternoon.” For the more perceptive, their impact on the mind will carry over much beyond one afternoon.
Phrases written by Mr. Ilyas are eye-catching when he says “in the tradition of great story telling” and “bright, alive in your brilliant description.” However, his comment fails to cover the panorama of all four stories. He limits himself to what he is able to relate only to his own personal experience. Literature goes beyond that. It stands on its own merit. I wish he comes back with a more expansive overview after reading the compendium again. His pen has the ability.
In my own analysis, each episode has its special color. However, if I have to select the best, I would give highest marks to A NEW SUNRISE. It has elements of surprise, is well stacked with hilarious talk of pseudo-magic and pseudo philosophy, it has the element of literary turn-around, but, most importantly, it carries a sophisticated message of highest respect for the most lowly, for the “idiot,” for the “illiterate,” for the “dunce.” The finesse with which this piece has been executed is, for me, breath-taking. I request everyone in the email group to read and re-read that piece many times. It is the surprise in its last para which says it all. What a reader will not catch in a first reading is the delicacy, the finesse, the silent, indirect way in which deep homage has been paid to that same “illiterate,” the “dunce,” the chap who is “no good for anything except cooking a meal for one.” It is breath-taking, if you catch the impact.
This sketch leaves an impact on the mind of unfinished business, a repetitive unease which happens again and again in our lives.It has been captured as a fresh sore asking for solace.
I do not claim I have said the last word. I would ask others to climb out of the cellers of their own minds and, independent of how something specific was in their own experience, look at each story on its own merit, imagine it is written by an unknown author writing about an unknown locale.

From Nazar Syed, Seattle, USA
Your second description(A NEW SUNRISE) of your 4 series ANECDOTES reminds me of a story I read many years ago about Mr KODAK when he was developing the photographic camera as we know it till some times ago.Now it is all digital and is a different ball game.Well in the earlier days of its development Mr KODAK encountered many problems.Let me first clarify for the benefit of some of us who may not have been exposed to Physics in college.The real image is the one which you can have on a screen.When you look in the mirror you see your image and it is not a real image because it is not on a screen.When they were trying to make a camera they first tried with a pin hole camera and with this they got the real inverted image on a screen.Mr KODAK then tried a convex lens instead of pin hole and that gave them again a inverted image and they wanted to get a upside up image which could be practical.So Mr KODAK assigned several of his assistants to work on the problem of getting a upside image.They tried using a combination of lenses to get the straight image but this made the camera very bulky and not very practical for the use of the beginners to handle.So they kept on working on this problem and used to gather at the end of the day at Mr KODAK’S place to report on their progress of the work and the BUTLER of Mr KODAK used to serve them all coffee and cake during this meeting.After every such meeting they all used to be very depressed and disappointed that they have not found the solution and the manufacturing got postponed and postponed.One day the BUTLER collected enough courage and asked one of them after the meeting was over as to what they are trying to achieve and are not getting it.This assistant gave a very snappy reply to the BUTLER and told him that it is all high science and he being a BUTLER it will go over his head.Mr KODAK when he heard this asked the man to be kind and respectful and explain to the BUTLER in simple words so that he does not feel as a put down.So this man told the BUTLER that by now we have developed every thing and all we are trying to have a image which is not upside down.The BUTLER just thought about a second or two and told the man that it is not a problem at all and all you have got to do is take this inverted picture and turn it around and it will become straight.Mr KODAK and all his team never thought about it and BUTLER helped them to solve their problem on which they were struggling for a long time.This is what happens when persons like JEDDY SAHEB who operate on a very high level seldom listens to people like us who operate on a much lower level then JEDDY SAHEB.
Kindest regards.

I have read all the four episodes/anecdotes and liked them all. You have a good memory and an inborn talent to pen down what you experience. I also particularly liked the “A New Sunrise” and “The Big Tomb Transplant” stories. The tales of erstwhile Mirpur that existed before the hills were gone could be told today only by someone who had witnessed Mirpur of that period. It is good you wrote the story down . The narrative of Tomb Transplant is interesting and speaks volumes about fake mazars and pirs who exhort money from dumb and illiterate. The other two stories too have morals of their own.
You have an aptitude for story-telling. You write well. You seem to have good memory. So it would be worthwhile that you pen down your autobiography. It could provide a good reading material for your colleagues as well as others.,
Mahmood Ahmad Malik


Tales of 60s.

Reading of tales of 60s reminds me of the time when I was a Supdt Admn / Audit / Cashier in the newly created office of Commercial Audit at Wah Cantt. Sheikh Muhammad Sadiq was the first Deputy Director there.

Somewhere in Oct / Nov 1965, Sh Sahib invited me to ride with him on his personal scooter as it was a good day and there was no urgent work in office. “Let us go to Taxila railway station and check up if our parcel of stationery sent by Deputy Controller of Stationery and Forms, Karachi, has since reached”.

In those days stationery was supplied all over Pakistan by that office and it took several days before the parcel reached the destination. On a couple of occasions, the office peon went to Taxila station but came back empty handed, except for a certificate from the station staff that the parcel had not yet arrived. He charged between Rs.1 and 2 for each visit as his conveyance charges.

And so we rode on Sheikh Sahib’s personal scooter and checked with railwayt staff who again certified that the parcel had not yet arrived. Paying of any demurrage (wharfage) for parcel not collected in time was an undesirable expense. Well, said Shaikh Sahib, we have saved a couple of rupees for the office.

On way back, before entering Wah Cantt, Sheikh Sahib said “Why not take some coal for office since we are already in market ?” So we got a second hand gunny juit bag for half a rupee and got about 10-12 kgs of charcoal filled in the bag. Those days there were no gas heaters and use of electric heaters was considered a luxury.

And thus we rode back. Sheikh Sahib driving his scooter, with that bag ful of coal in front on him between his legs, and I riding the pillion seat, holding a hand respectuflly over his shoulder. Speaking grade-wise, we together made grade 34 (Sh Sahib in 18 and I in equivalent of 16).

Reaching the office, I charged the expenses to office contingencies under the head Hot and Cold weather charges. I dont remember if I carried the coal bag upstairs to office, or I was officer enough to call the peon to do so. The coal was sufficient to heat up the office sigaries (angeethies) for 4-5 days.

Sh Sahib reitred perhaps as Accountant General Pakistan Revenues Islamabad. He acted as Auditor General of Pakistan too for a couple of times.

That is one occasion I remember when Sh Sahib demonstrated how he spent public money as if spending from his own pocket.

Agha Amir Ahmad

Begging your pardon

Appearing in my matric exam from the University of Peshawar in 1954, I was fully prepared what to do if the English question paper asked me to “Write an application to your school principal for grant of leave of absence from school due to ………………”. The format had stuck deem in my mind.

And after a couple of years when I had joined government service in the Information Department Peshawar as a junior clerk, that format naturally came off my mind and pen when I needed to avail some casual leave. The leave application comprised more of less following words :-


The Director of Information


Most respectfully I beg to state that I have an urgent piece of work at home and am unable to attend office. I therefore beg to be granted one day’s casual leave.

I beg to remain, Sir
Your most obedient servant

Amir Ahmad
Junior Clerk
D/ xx xx 1956


The next day I was shown remarks on my application by the leave sanctioning authority. Mr. Fazle Haq Shaida, the then Director of Information had encircled the word “beg” in all the 3 places and then written :

“Approved. Free citizens never beg. This word should never be used in applications”.

From that date onwards I avoided using the word “beg” in my official communictions.

Gentlemen, greetings…. I came across this blog by accident as I was searching for info on Mangla Dam. I’ll keep it short for the moment… and wanted to ask if anyone recalls my father Abdul Ghani Mirza (late), He was in Mangla during the dams construction, but migrated to the UK in 1967 and his wife and 4 boys joined him in 1969. I must have been 6 or so at the time, it would be nice to hear if anyone met my father…

Hope to hear from you…

All the best.

Saleem Mirza

Dear Jeedy sahib, your story No 1 took me 50 years back. I certainly do remember going around that mazaar of the buzarg in old mirpur town. I also have vivid memories of Baral club whoch also had a bowling alley which was pretty unknown to even the elite of lahore of those times. Ghafoor sahib happens to be my Dadda and to read about him in your stroy amde me stand very tall. Jefdy sahib, this is a very small world indeed and Ghafoor sahib does not seem to be the only connection with you. A very dear cousion of mine whom i treat as my elder brother hap by the name of fazal ur rehman had the privelige of working under you in the Accountant General punjab office. He was a very naughty litlle fellow then and still is one. He lived with us while posted in punjab and not a day passed without your name being heard in our house. fazal retired as the CS of sindh and now a days is an advisor in the sindh government. I yesterday told him about your connection with ghafoor sahib and he promosed me that he and i would go and visit you during his next trip to lahore. May God bless you Jeddy sahib and thank you for bring my memmories back to me.

Dear Jeddy sahib, I also remember going to Akalgarh which you have mentioned in one of your stories. Our entire family would go there for picnics. I have tried to search that place on google maps but apparently it is not there. Probably the name of akalgarh has been re named. As a 7 year old then, i remember there was a clear water stream and wo would picnic around its banks while mr aziz, the steno of ghafoor sahib would go and hunt tiliars and quails for our lunch. I can see a small settle,ent around the new mirpur town called islamgarh. Is this the new name of akalgarh? I have spent atleast 3 summer vacationsbin the old mirpur town while the Dam was being built and i will not be wrong in syaing that these were the most golden moments of mynlife as a child. I do not know whether he was a strict man while in the office but for surely know that he was oneof the mostbaffectionate grandfather in this world. Although he never allowed us to sit in his green chevorlet staffcar! Warm regards sikandar pasha

Hey I am so glad I found your blog page, I really found you by accident, while I was browsing
on Bing for something else, Nonetheless I am here now
and would just like to say thanks a lot for a remarkable
post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design),
I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the fantastic job.

Very interesting to read about the good old days when we were kids. Also the transfer of the tomb was very informative as I do not remember about that. As a child I had the opportunity of a life time to go and spend my summer with our great grandfather Khawaja Abdul Ghafoor. My grandpa was considered to be one of the heroes of the Mangla Dam resettlement project.
Khawaja Abdul Ghafoor had a team of 12 grand children who visited his residence in Mirpur to spend their holidays with him. My grandfather was a very lovely person. I as a child used to call him every day while I was staying at his place. I seeked his permission for everything. In 1965 his son A W Pasha and his daughters Nazir Parveen and Afzal Yousaf visited him with their family members. That particular gathering was the best time that I ever had as a child. We were 12 in number and had a lot of fun. My eldest cousin Sohail used to go to ring the bell at the Ghanta Ghar. We used to line up in front of the dining table and then Sohail suddenly pushed the long line of kids which resulted in me going to the nearby dispensary to get my wound stitched. What happened that I was the youngest and Sohail Bhai was the oldest among the boys. So I was standing first and he was standing last. He pushed the line forward and I got injured very badly as a kid. That day I got stitches on my eyebrow but really it was a fun filled and happy summer holiday as all of us were together.
My cousin Khurrum and I used to fight for the tricycle at the residence of my grandfather. I always had an eye to ride the tricycle before Khurrum would take it away from me.
I remember well that we as kids enjoyed the trip of 1965 the most. We enjoyed the Barral Colony, Game of 9 ……P, coke and the foreigners. I still remember the red beard cook of my grandfather Lal Baba who used to cook nice dishes for us. Then there was Munshi Khan the driver who was a unique character. The ladies and gents of that area respected my grandfather a lot as he was on a mission to Mirpur and Mangla dam project. My grandfather picture still exists in the Irrigation Secretariat of Punjab. Mr K A Ghafoor was my favorite personality and I owe a lot to him. He was such a great grandpa. I also remember my cousins very well with their naughty tricks Sikander, Haroon and Sohail. I can never forget those days of my life with the bunch of 12 kids and then the elders as well.


I came across of this blog by accident too.

I,m in search of information on my grandfather, Brig. Gen. S.A Potter, he and my grandmother must have lived in the litte US community in Lahore or near the Mangla dam works too. From my mother i heard some stories about the way they lived with pakistani servants. Of course it would be great if I could get in touch of anyone who knew my grandparents when they stayed in Mangal/Lahore. You can always reach me by sending an email to

Austin Fasting
The Netherlands

I remember my eldest cousin Sohail who used to give AZAN at the mosque near Grandfather’s (KB KH ABDUL GHAFOOR’S residence in Mirpur. The people of that area and even the nearby areas were very respectful. I remember a lady came with a poem written on my grand father’s great deeds.
The wordings of the poem were JIS NE GALA KO BANAYA US PER HUM KO NAZ HAI. A poem and a picture of my grandpa was framed and presented by her to one of the family members. It was in appreciation to the great work done related to Mangla dam’s resettlement.

A Master story teller that you are, I very much desired that more will come in this “Stories for an Afternoon” series. But alas, there are none. To quench my thirst, have therefore, re-read these once again, and believe me dear Jeddy, I liked reading them as much as I did for the first time.

Was expecting also some new ones in “Stories for a Good Night” too, but looks your busy schedules are coming in your way. Anyway thanks for those nostalgic, beautiful episodes of of your life which makes us remember our own good times in the sixties of Pakistan.


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