Yes, I enjoyed writing. It gave me a sense , not only of satisfaction, but also of strength. To me it was a wonderful discovery, an experience of immense delight. All my senses hit the peak while I was writing. Words, phrases and sentences came to my pen effortlessly, and made up a piece of delightful prose.

In just half an hour I had completed my task. It turned out to be a hilarious account of my encounter with the interviewers ; their embarrassing questions and my equally embarrassing answers. At the end of the game it seemed we were impressed by each other, for they selected me for admission to the B Ed Class.

When Bhai came back, clicked the door open, and entered the room, my fury at being locked in suddenly came back.

“Why did you lock me up ?” i demanded. “Am I a criminal?”

” Worse than that,” said Bhai with a smile. ” Had I not locked the door, you would have sneaked out, and wasted those precious two hours hanging around your stupid haunts. Did you write anything?’

“Yup”, said I, ” That’s all I could do. Take a look at it while I go and have a cup of tea at the canteen”

I shot out, leaving Bhai to read what I had written..3 May 2016

The Lahore of 1963-64 was a smaller, cleaner, quieter Lahore. The intracity transport comprised a few omnibuses plying a few specific routes. For the rest of the city you had to hire a tonga. Motor vehicles were hardly 5% of the number you see today. Walking across any road was no problem. No embarrassment, except an occasional “ بچ اوئے “ from an angry tonga driver missing you by less than an inch.
Circular Road was almost entirely devoid of motor transport. It was the exclusive domain of the tonga. The tonga stand outside Bhaati Gate was always crowded with tongas destined for any destination in the city.9 May 2016

Every Saturday I accompanied Bhai Mumtaz to Gujranwala where his father and my uncle Malik Manzoor Hussain Manzoor was Principal of AD Model High School. We lived in the locality known as Abadi Hakim Rai. Bhai had some amorous involvements in the neighbourhood, so he spent the day running to and fro across the roof like a kite-flier. I was sensible enough not to intrude on his stupid privacy. Feeling absolutely useless to the world, I spent the day loitering around the city.

Gujranwala has its own queer bit of culture. There was no tea shop in the bustling bazaar near our house, So I had to go across the GT Road for a cup of tea at the railway station tea stall. Crossing the GT Road was no problem in those days. Therefore I could easily visit the station as frequently as I liked, and I did.-12May 2016

Guranwala railway station , or any railway station for that matter, had another great attraction for me. Steam engines had been my childhood fascination. I always loved to see those engines gracefully leading trains in and out of railway stations. I still love to look at the one placed in front of Lahore railway station, and the two Canadian giants at the end of a platform at Rawapindi railway station,

When I was a student at Gordon College, Rawalpindi, I used to walk all the way from the college to the railway staion ( via Gawalmandi ), stop in the middle of the bridge known as سیڑھیاں والا پل , and watch the trains coming to the station.

A steam engine has a personality that makes an impression of immense power. Its rhytmic noise lends grace to its movement. The featureless diesel engine hardly looks like an engine. How sad this formless atrocity has entirely replaced the majestic steam beauties !

Gujranwala is a busy railway station. So I could see engines of various makes and models coming in and going out. I sometimes spent hours at the station watching the trains and consuming several cups of tea.13 May 2016

Apart from Bhai’s emotional involvements, our weekly visits to Gujranwala also had a serious purpose. The way Bhai spent his pocket money, his pocket needed frequent refills, at least once a week. Bhai never failed to get a refill from his Ammi.

When you have to cheat one of your parents, Ammi is always the better option. Ammi never questions the dear sonny’s excuses. You may say you have to buy a book, or medicine or anything. The response is invariably positive. You get the money.

With Dad you have to name the book or medicine or whatever you say you have to buy. And very often the response is : ” OK, I ‘ll buy it for you when I go to bazaar in the evening”

Bhai knew the risk, so he never applied to Dad for a refill. And so he always returned to Lahore richer than he came. ,16 May 2016

We used to return to Lahore by train. Bhai didn’t like to travel by train, but he had to keep me in good humour. On our first visit to Gujranwala, we had settled that between us after a bit of a quarrel. As we were getting ready to leave for Lahore I proposed we should go by train.

” Not at all,” said Bhai,

” Well,” said I. ” You may go by bus if you like. Just give me the train fare for Lahore, for I ‘ll go by train.”

Seeing me in a nasty mood, Bhai gave in, saying, ” Well, kameenay, let it be as you like. I wonder what makes you so hell-bent on going by train.”

” I love the rhythmic rumbling noise, the stately movement of the engine and the echoing koooook.”

“What’s this koooook?” asked Bhai.

” Why, have you never heard the engine’s whistle ?” said I

“Hell with you and your fancy for those ugly black engines”

” They are NOT ugly, ” I cried, picking up my bag and moving to the door. Bhai followed me. .17 May 2016

When we got off the train at Lahore railway station, I would linger on the overhead bridge across the platforms to watch a huge CWD rumbling out with a train for Karachi, an elegant XA gliding in with a train from Rawalpindi, and a simple but efficient SG-C or SG-S chugging out with a goods train. (CWD, XA and SG were various makes of engines like Toyota, Honda, Suzuki etc)

Lahore railway station offered the largest variety of steam engines. It reminded me of Rudyard Kipling’s story 007. In this story the characters are steam engines. 007, an American engine, is the hero of the story.

Bhai had to pluck me off the railing of the bridge and drag me along, down the bridge, to a Bhaati- Lohari bound tonga. Brandareth Road used to be open for traffic in those days. So it took us just around 15 minutes to reach Bhaati Gate tonga stand.-18 May 2016

Salam, Everybody,

” What’s this?” said Bhai, pointing to five registers and a roll of charts lying on my bed,

” Lesson plans of some fiends,” said I

” Why don’t they write their own lesson plans ?”

” They can’t. Could you write your own lesson plan ?”

” Ummmm , never”

” That’s it, you see. It’s not a job anybody could manage. Requires some brains, you know.”

” But why did you tell them you could do it?”

” I didn’t. They heard Sir Iqbal saying in the class last week I was the only person in the class who could write a proper lesson plan.”

” I know that, kameenay. I know you could write anything. But I ‘d like you to write some nice poetry or fiction. Can’t allow you to waste your talent on this clerical task. You must refuse to do this job.”

” I can’t, and you know that. It’s not in my nature to say NO to a friend.”

” Hell to your silly nature,” said Bhai, and stormed out of the room.19 May 2016

After dinner in the hostel mess (ours was Mess No 1 out of the four) Bhai would go out for a 2-hour ramble with Laloo Noor Khan Niazi. I never cared to ask them where they went. I had my own little secret interest. It was a game of cards in Room No 114.

Room No 114 was the abode of three young men from Chakwal. They were the jovial Malik Nazir, the melodious Qazi Murtaza and the simple, honest Bhai Rasheed.

Bhai Rasheed was not interested in cards. (Not intelligent enough for such intellectual pursuits, to be honest). So he was given the duty of security guard, to warn us the moment the hostel superintendent, Prof Saeed Khan, came our way on his routine evening round. With Bhai Rasheed on the sideline, Karmaullah Piracha of Kalabagh made up the fourth player in the game of cards.-20 May 2016

The game of cards that we played in Room No 114 every night was a local version of whist, known as SIP in our Mianwalian Seraiki and SEEP in Punjabi. It sharpens the brain like a mental exercise that requires tactful handling of sudden tricky situations.

Mental alertness has never been my forte, So, our side (me and Karamullah Piracha) were always the losers. Piracha was an expert player, but my absent-mindedness overshadowed his brilliance.

A least once every evening our game was interrupted by a “Shhhhhhhh” from Bhai Rashid on guard duty at the door. It meant arrival of the superintendent, Prof Saeed Khan, on his routine evening round.

We hastily stuffed the cards in our side pockets. The other four assumed the role of respectful listeners, as I started delivering a lecture on methods of teaching English or language learning skills or anything else in that line. The superintendent, a professor of English, was immensely pleased with our “profound interest” in learning English, and passed on with a word or two of approval.-21 May 2016

Luckily for us the Ravi of 1963-64 was not the gutter that it is today. You needed nobody to tell you it was a river. It still held an aura of the romance ascribed to it by the once popular novelist, M. Aslam, in his collection of stories titled راویکےرومان. In that book the Ravi is presented as venue of several love affairs. That reputation was later taken over by the New Campus section of the canal which still holds it.

We sometimes went to the river for boating. It was an absolutely safe pastime. On our first trip Bhai had some apprehensions, but we were assured by the boatman that the river was nowhere deep enough to drown a young man of normal size. With a smile he told us we could easily walk across the river if we liked, and were bold enough to go naked.-23 May 2016

A few minutes after Bhai’s departure I came out of the room, and made for the nameless hotel near Data Durbar, cursing myself as well as Bhai with reference to that debate. I just couldn’t see myself as a debater.

I entered the hotel listlessly, and took a seat in a corner. The cream-topped cup of tea revived my sinking spirits a bit. I was half-way through when Abida Perveen’s enchanting voice resonated across the hall


It worked as a tremendous morale booster. I instantly saw the line of reasoning I should take at the debate.

” No problem,” I said to myself ,” I know what I should say there. I’ll just ridicule the stupid motion (topic of the debate).”

To celebrate this spark of inspiration I ordered another cup of tea, whispering to the waiter to let me also have another dose of that morale booster.-25 May 2016

And so I spoke in the debate. The topic was a sort of order for Time to go in reverse gear :


As usual in a debate one group of speakers supported the motion, the other group opposed it. I was on the opposition side. The speakers on either side cited history, philosophy and every other branch of social sciences in support of their arguments.

I used simple realism as my weapon in this war of words.

I said if Time starts going in reverse, we’ll go back from B Ed to BA, then to intermediate, then to matriculation, till after 15 years, we’ll find ourselves sitting in Prep singing :

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

Our worthy teachers too might eventually meet the same fate.

(Roaring laughter)

Taking another example, I said, suppose a gentleman marries a widow whose husband passed away five years ago. If time goes in reverse, it would be a pretty awkward situation for the two husbands when they suddenly come face to face.

Thunderous applause followed every sentence of my speech. The teachers clapped louder than the students. Even the most sober among them, Prof Fazal Ahmad was also caught smiling shyly.

To celebrate my achievement, Bhai took me to a posh restaurant on the Mall and filled me up to the nose with cream, chocolate and tea.-26 May 2016

That night Khan Chacha held a special session of his Urs to celebrate my performance in the debate. This noble soul was always on the lookout for occasions to celebrate.

At the start of the event he made a short speech in his own unique style.

” Yara,” said he, addressing the meeting, ” I always say that the two Maliks from Mianwali are a blessing for us. Had Mumtaz Malik not been Chief Prefect of the hostel, who would allow us to hold our weekly musical night ? And to junior Malik we owe not only the name Urs for the event, but also the opening qawwali of our Urs.

As it is a celebration, let’s have only happy songs tonight. No sad songs———-

Raja Mani stood up in protest. ” Khan Sahib,” he said angrily, Everybody here knows that the only song I can sing is


So either you accept that, or I ‘ll walk out in protest.”

The threat worked.Nobody liked to estrange a nice friend like Mani. Chacha gave in. “Well “, he said , ” Let’s relax the rule for Mani. Now let’s first have the qawwali as usual.”-27 May 2016

During the year each of us had to deliver at least two model lessons to specified classes in the Central Model High School which was affiliated to our college as laboratory school. The subjects and the topics were notified two weeks in advance. Each model lesson was watched by a group of 10 B Ed students and one of the professors. At the end of the lesson the watchers and the professor gave their comments.

It was quite an ordeal, but one had to go through it, because it was a compulsory part of our training.

One day Bhai came back from the college in an awful mood.

“You don’t look well,” said I. ” What’s it ?”

” Hell.” said Bhai , ” I am to deliver a lecture on Shahabuddin Ghouri to Class Nine next week.”

” Hmmmmm ! Something quite serious, I see,” said I “Anyway, let’s try to make the best of a bad bargain.”

Bhai didn’t look hopeful. He just uttered a grunt and left the room.-28 May 2016

” To deliver a lecture the first thing you need is the relevant textbook”, said I

“Textbook ! ” said Bhai ” But who ‘ll read it ? I can’t, you know,” said Bhai.

I knew. On our very first day in the hostel Bhai had said to me, ” Hey, Mister, you can do anything in this room except reading. It gives me a headache.”

” But I’ll not read aloud,” said I.

” Aloud or silent, it gives me a headache to see anybody reading.”

And so I always moved a chair out into the corridor to do my reading.

” Do you mean to say, I ‘ll have to read the textbook for your lesson, and then tell you what it says ? ” I asked angrily.

” Why not?” said Bhai with a smile. ” Are you not my sweet little younger brother ? ” .

” I’m neither sweet, nor little, though I do have the misfortune to be two years younger than you. Anyway, I ‘ll do the reading for you. Now go to Urdu Bazar and get the book.”

” Won’t you go with me? “

” On certain terms and conditions.”

” Name your terms and conditions, kameenay “

” First we go to Anarkali, and have a couple of gulab jamans and a cup of tea each. Then we can pick up the book on our way back through the Urdu Bazar.”

” Done, damn you,” said Bhai with an indulgent smile.

We locked the room and left for Anarkali/-29May 2016

According to my suggestion we visited Anarkali, and bought the book on our way back through Urdu Bazar. I opened the book and looked at the chapter titled Shahabuddin Ghouri. Just a page and a half.

” Omigod !” I cried “.

Bhai almost swallowed the cigarette he was smoking.

” What’s it ?” he asked, dropping the cigarette into the ashtray.

“Just a page and a half ! Who on earth could stretch it into a lecture of 40 minutes?” said I, holding out the book under his nose.

” We can talk to the supervisor and get the topic changed.” said Bhai , brushing the book aside.

” Who’s your lesson supervisor ? ” I asked

” Prof Shabbar Kazimi, ” said Bhai.

And so we met Prof Kazimi and told him the text book entry fell far short of a 40 minute lecture.

” Just go to the library, and get Cambridge History of India, volume 3. It contains a lot about Ghouri, ” said Prof Kazimi

” Thank you, Sir.” said we, and took our way to the library.-30 May 2016

Cambridge History of India contained a fairly detailed chapter on Shahabuddin Ghouri. The information was much more than we needed to make a lecture of 40 minutes.

So I had a pretty tough job. It was to read the whole chapter, note important points, write Bhais lesson plan, give him a briefing, and prepare some relevant charts.

Reading and jotting down the points was the tough part. Writing was no problem. It is rather one of the two things I have always loved to do. The other is teaching. I always feel at my best either while teaching a class, or with a pen in my hand.

It took me two solid days to accomplish the task. Bhai kept me in good humour by buying me pens of different makes and models, for collecting pens used to be my hobby in those days. He brought me several models of Eagle and Wearever, and a beautiful Indian Panama (without leaks).31 May 2016

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