Friday, December 30, 2011

I am feeling tired & exhausted. Internal struggles to overcome your own weaknesses can be just as powerful, and painful as the external hostilities. There are the lucky ones who usually get what they want, but they are very few chosen ones & then there are those who can not even dream of success because they even do not know the meanings of success. The year 2011 is coming to an end, not that in the greater scheme of this Earth it really matters. If Pope Gregory would not have demanded this calendar then it could have been any other number. However, since we are measuring the passage of time with this scale therefore, I want to sum up the events which have personally affected me. Please stop right here if you do not want to read the stories of departures. For me it was the year of departures. 2011's first casualty was the departure of Akhtar Shah, a very sweet eternally depressed friend from 1950's who had a melodious voice, he did not know what mother nature has gifted him. Then there was Amin Khan another charmer who knew only how to smile, who never complained of poverty; after graduating from high school he accepted the job of a bank clerk until he retired. Even though we had known each other since 1950's but during the struggling days of 1960's & early 1970's he was with me in Dadu. Our company was well known to every one. Every one knew where to find us for an evening tea, all they had to do is to come to a tea shop located out of town, in Sindhi language we called it Kandoo ki Mandli. Kandoo was a young teenager who will bring us tea & we will watch Sindhi volley ball & chat about all kinds of thing. We knew our days in Dadu were numbered. Dark shadows of hatred were growing taller. We used to meet again for a long walk after our dinner & have some more tea at another place called Cafe De Qasim. We could not figure out why hatred was becoming stronger. We used to watch old Urdu movies & laugh so much that sometimes my cheeks will start hurting. One night we were returning after watching a movie & right behind us was one of our acquaintance, he did not like the comedy & expressed his discontent, we laughed & ignored his comments. The reason I remember him that well because a few years latter he was shot by a thug of PPP in the broad day light, he some how managed to get to the Police station & identified his killer. The killer was a rising star of PPP who won the seat of Pakistan Parliament(times of senior Bhutto). Our company was doomed from the beginning. I left Dadu in February of 1971 & got caught in the whirl winds of time which will take me to different places in different countries, and continents, I worked on land, offshore, in the deserts and the mountains. During the early part of 2011 I got a call from Mahfooz that Amin Khan left, I was saddened and consoled myself with some sad Urdu poetry, all the memories of good times came alive. Mahfooz himself was suffering from the heart ailment. He was a friend of friends; again I knew him since 1950's, we used to play cricket & go to Dadu canal to swim, and then he left for Karachi. I missed him very much, several years down the road I found out where he was. When I arrived in Karachi for my higher education then Mahfooz was again my weekend buddy. His elder brother always asked him why he could not go to college & get some education like I did. I guess Mahfooz did not care about the formal schooling. We used to watch movies, have snacks & sweet tea & after that I will catch a bus for Karachi university. For some strange reason neither back then nor today I ever thought I was more educated than these friends, therefore I never tried to choose a different circle of friends. I did meet some good friends in the university but I never abandoned my old circle. This year I did not hear from Mahfooz since April/May, I had an uneasy feeling until my niece told me in October that Mahfooz uncle has passed away. Another chapter closed, no more calls from Pakistan. Right around that time I got another bad news that Mr. Jobs left. Until then I did not know how much I liked Mr.Steve Jobs, my first computer was an IMac in bondi blue color, I took the delivery of that computer the day it went for sale. We were always getting the bad news about Mr. Job's health but I never realized that he will leave us so soon. I went to the local Apple store, the young lady who came to talk to me was surprised to know that I was such a big fan of Apple computers(she had seen many others) & Mr. Steve Jobs. We shared high five & some tears together. Last summer I met my ophthalmologist during the last week of July he thought my vision has slightly improved, he showed me his pictures of flowers & asked me what I think about Nikon as compared to Leica, I told him Nikon is a first class company whereas Leica is being run be arrogant brosses; he wanted to see my pictures during our scheduled appointment in December, when I was leaving he said he will pray for me; I was somewhat surprised at his kindness. A month latter my former departmental secretary came to my office & told me Dr. 'J' left a week after I saw him, I could not believe my ears. Why the year 2011 which started with these news should come to an end with a happy note? On December 18th I got the news that 'B' left, I had known him for decades when he was barely 20 years old. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer, cancer kept on jumping from his skin to his lungs & then to his brain. No cutting edge medical technology could save him & finally his journey ended. There is no room in my house, there is no place in my front & backyard where I cannot see his signature. When we met the first time it was for a repair job but as the time passed I called him for many other jobs, we became friends, we shared stories. I am still thinking why such a strong young man has to leave immediately after his 43rd birthday? Few months before he left a mutual friend brought a gentleman to my house, we had a friendly conversation & when they left I asked my wife how come 'R'(our mutual friend) has always ill friends; she was shocked & told me it was 'B' not a stranger! I will not forget that day ever, how the cancer has ravaged him that I could not recognize him. When I am closing for the year 2011 how can I not mention about my two daughters who also left us, first Brandee whom I rescued from the injuries she got in engine compartment of a car. Even though she belonged to friend who dumped Brandee on us, Nora took care of her; this gentle soul lived with us for almost 18 years, during her last days she will walk outside the house where some pigeons will be having their lunch but they will let her drink from their water bath. After a long protracted illness she decided to leave us in May. My second daughter who came to leave us was Salma whom I picked up from the roadside when she barely a few weeks old, she was just sitting there & crying; I had to bring her home. She was the bravest of all, one day my neighbors dogs got loose in my back yard, all of my cats ran up the trees, Salma did not, she just stood there looking at those yuppy things as if asking them what you idiots are doing in my yard? In August she lost her apatite, I kept on giving her apatite boosting pills, finally the pills quit working & she lost her battle in September. What a year it was!

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