Salaam, Everybody,

Today was Mumtaz Bhai’s Birthday. I wish he were with us. But, Alas—— !!!! Missing him. May his affectionate soul rest in Eternal Peace. Can’t write more tonight.1 October 2016

After a long and heated discussion we finally chose reading as our pastime. My father brought me two kids’ magazines every month. They were HIDAYAT of Qaumi Kutub Khana, Lahore, and TA”LEEM O TRBIYAT of Ferozesons. (I think the latter is still running). These magazines were full of nice stories, poems, jokes and pictures. Some of the kids who contributed to those magazines, grew up to be famous writers of today. I used to share the magazines with Bhai Mumtaz and Dr Manzoor. We all became voracious readers.
Our elders were highly pleased with our new pastime, and encouraged us to carry on.4 October 2016

End of summer vacation would break up our company, as Mumtaz Bhai would leave for Bhagtanwala ( Sargodha ) with his parents. They took the Lahore-bound Mari Indus train, which left Daudkhel at 5 pm.

The day of their departure was an immensely painful day for us. I always joined the other members of the family to see off Bhai and his family at the railway station. We two would cling to each other, crying our eyes out, as the train started moving. Our elders had to pull us apart forcibly. 6 October 2016

When the train had left, I would sneak down the platform, and tearfully kiss the railway track on which Bhai’s train was heading for Sargodha. (stupid ? of course, we all are at that age, you not excepted). Bhai, on his part, had a tearful journey all the way.

We were too small to communicate by post. No cellphones in those days. Even the inventor of cellphone was yet to be born I think. We didn’t have even land-line phone facility. So we had to wait till the next summer vacation to be together again. A fairly long separation, you know. Hence our tears and all that.7 October 2016

Salaam, Everybody,

After Bhai Mumtaz, another cousin, Ghulam Habib was my closest friend. So, till the next summer vacation he was my constant companion. He had a lot in common with me, even more than Bhai Mumtaz, though I cared more for Bhai Mumtaz. With Bhai Habib I could indulge in some of my favourite games which Bhai would never allow me to touch.

Habib was two years younger, so he readily followed me wherever I chose to lead him. Alas, I have no picture of this precious cousin to adorn my posts in which he will figure from now onwards. He left this world about 25 years ago. But you ‘ll certainly enjoy reading about our stupid adventures and misadventures.

I would like to retain Mumtaz Bhai’s picture in this series of posts, for it is hard for me to put him aside. He played a major role in my becoming what I am, you know.-8 October 2016

Habib Bhai and I loved to imitate the various trades. Sometimes we would act as carpenters, using a hammer and nails to make toy chairs, tables etc from pieces of wood lying around in our house. Sometimes we would work as potters, making cups, plates and pitchers etc from wet clay.We had a very nice time doing all this.10 October 2016

Engaged in a bit of research. Do that around this time. Will, InshaALLAH resume my English posts from Monday, and try to carry on regularly. Hope you won”t mind my absence. My English posts are as important for me as my Urdu posts. I equally enjoy writing both. English posts are shorter, because I know you can swallow only small doses of English.- 14 October 2016

Salaam Everybody,

Once Habib Bhai and I started a bus service from Mianwali to Isakhel (one end of our house to the other). We made buses of clay (مٹی کی بسیں) I played the driver, Bhai Habib, the conductor, Some of our female cousins also joined us in this game.They supplied passengers to our bus service in the form of little cloth dolls, which they could make very well.
Our interests kept changing. After a few days we sold our bus service to our female cousins, and turned to other pursuits.( Dedicated to Mumtaz Bhai )- 17 October 2016

Our next venture (read mis-venture) was installing a tiny hand-pump. We got the idea from seeing Chacha Aamdoo, a local plumber, installing a hand-pump in our house.

Bhai Habib fished out a 9 inches long steel pipe from his father’s tool kit. We had to drive it into the ground with a hammer. I held the upper end of the pipe between my thumb and forefinger, and Bhai Habib wielded the hammer.

“Awwwwwwwwww ! You’ve killed me khabeeeees !!!” I cried, as the hammer hit the end of my forefinger, splitting it into two. Blood gushed out of the mangled finger-end. I still shudder to think of the pain I felt.

Mamu Farid, the father of Bhai Habib, rushed me to the local civil hospital, where a dispenser dressed the wound, and gave me a pain killer injection.(Dedicated to Bhai Mumtaz)- 18 October 2016

It took my mangled finger almost a month to be restored to its normal shape. For the first two or three days after the accident, Bhai Habib was hated by the whole family for being the cause of the damage to my finger. But I soon realized the fault was mine, not his. I should not have moved my finger upwards while Bhai Habib was hitting the pipe. I explained the fact, and got Bhai Habib pardoned, though I was roundly snubbed for being so stupidly careless. I had to get Bhai Habib pardoned, because I had nobody else to play with me.19 October 2016

One day, coming back from school, I saw a beautiful blue tablet lying on the road. I picked it up , and put it in my pocket.
When I sat down to lunch, I put the tablet into the glass of water that I was to drink after the lunch. I was very happy to see that the tablet slowly dissolved, and turned the water blue. But when I took the first drought of that blue water, it tasted too bitter, so I laid the giass down. Then suddenly something went seriously wrong inside me. I could hardly breathe.

I was immediately rushed to the hospital. The doctor said I had taken a pretty strong dose of copper sulphate, also known as blue vitriol in English, and ( نیلا تھوتھا ) in Urdu. He said it was a deadly poison, but timely medical aid could save my life.

He gave me an injection, and made me swallow half a liter of castor oil to make me vomit the poison out. Then he washed my stomach clean, and sent me back home.

From that day my Ammi completely lost her faith in my senses, and was always praying for me to survive my “evil deeds”.

Mercifully her prayers safely pushed me across my “dangerous” childhood.

(dedicated to Bhai Mumtaz)-  20 October 2016

It was Bhai Habib who gave me my fascination for steam railway engines in our early childhood. His father, Mamu Ghulam Farid, was a mechanic of these engines at Mari Indus railways workshop. Bhai Habib, a keen observer, had learnt quite a lot about these engines by visiting the workshop with his father. His stories of the engines attracted my curiosity, and I started visiting Daudkhel railway station with him.
Watching a steam engine is always a thrilling experience for any kid anywhere Alas, those graceful black giants are no longer around. A sad loss, to say the least. A steam engine has a breath-taking personality which never fails to attract human notice.21 October 2016

Putting on his father’s uniform, Habib Bhai left the school, and joined railways service as engine mechanic at Mari Indus railways workshop.

One day he took me to the residence of his boss at Mari Indus railway station. His boss was a polite young engineer from Karachi.

While we were having tea, a large portrait of the celebrated singer Tal’at Mahmood on the wall caught my eye.

“Are you too a fan of Tal’at?” I asked.

The engineer smiled and said, ” Of course. By the way, I’m his brother-in-law as well. He’s my sister’s husband.”

( Picture : XA class engine that operated Mari Indus – Lahore train ) –24 October 2016

I hope you won’t mind a bit of my indulgence for steam engines, as they have been my childhood fascination. Whatever the subject, my posts are basically intended to give you a moderate dose of good English.

The engine shown in this post is a CWD steam engine. CWD means Canadian War Design. These engines were specially designed to ensure speedy delivery of war equipment and troops at the war fronts during World War-2. They were the largest, fastest and most powerful railway engines in the Sub-continent. A CWD could easily do 100-120 km per hour with an extra heavy train.


In Pakistan these engines were used with the main mail trains like Khyber Maiil, Pakistan Mail etc between Peshawar and Karachi. Two of these are show-cased at the end of a platform on Rawalpindi railway station. They look majestic. – 25 October 2016

It was not just I who was crazy about steam engines. Almost all the boys of my age were so. Not just boys, also great people like the famous English novelists, R L Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling were crazy about these majestic machines.

Kipling was the first English novelist who won the Nobel Prize for literature. He also lived in Lahore for many years as editor of the English newspaper, Civil and Military Gazette.


In Kipling’s story “007” all the characters are steam engines who talk and laugh just like us. They share stories of their adventures. Engine No 007 is the hero of this story. He is a smart young engine who does a lot of relief work for human beings.- 26 October 2016

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school ‘ ———- Shakespeare

Shakespeare wrote these lines about 450 years ago, but they give an accurate picture of me going to school in my early childhood. I never liked the school routine.
I envied the farmers working in the fields on my way to school.
” How lucky they are !” I would say to myself , “They can stop working any time. They can have as many days off as they like. Nobody beats them for being late or absent. Why should I be forced to spend five hours a day in a crowded classroom ? Why do they make life hell for me ?” I kept grumbling all along my way to school every morning.
But that was all I could do about it.
( from today onwards you will be reading an amusing account of my early schooling ).- 28 October 2016

I even used to speak to the birds that I saw flying around along my way to school. There were many around those days: crows, sparrows, doves and many others. I believed that birds could hear and understand, though they couldn’t reply.

So I would say to them, ” Yaar, you are lucky.You can fly around freely. You have no schools to attend, no teachers, no books, no Mathematics puzzles, no Headmaster Karam Chand to beat you for coming late. ( Mr Karam Chand was the Hindu Headmaster of our school ). I wish I were one of you.”
I felt greatly relieved after sharing my sorrows with the birds.
Strange, but 100% true !!! ,- 
29 October 2016

Gradually I got so fed up that I stopped going to school. Instead, I found something else to do. Every morning I would pick up my school bag, and leave home. Then I would slip into the first street to the right, and reach the workshop of Chacha Shadi Baig. Chacha Shadi Baig was an expert potter (کمہار). I sat down near him and started watching him turn a lump of wet clay into a plate, bowl or pitcher by softly pressing the lump of clay with both his hands. It was a wonderful experience to see Chacha giving a beautiful shape to a shapeless lump of clay. Who knew that I would be doing exactly that all my life, giving a beautiful shape to shapeless minds of kids ? That is what a teacher does, doesn’t he ?
More of this tomorrow, InshaALLAH,- 31 October 2016

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