“My son was not affiliated with any political party”

The line caught his attention

In front of him, a young student sat on a seat, sifting through the pages of a worn-out paperback

He stood adjacent to the boy’s seat, clutching on to his satchel with one hand, while the other firmly wrapped around the holding rail

It was around evening time and he was commuting back home from work

This travel was nothing new for him

For 25 years he had worked as a bookkeeper and every day, he would wake up at 5:30am without the aid of a clock to get to work

He would slip out of bed, careful not to wake up his wife, and make himself a cup of tea

An hour later, he would walk to the bus stand and wait for his bus

That particular day, he had missed his bus in the morning

The next one to arrive was overflowing with passengers

He tried to hop on, but his back would not allow it

Being 64-years of age, he was not as flexible as required to catch the bus in Karachi

He opened his wallet and counted the bills within

Reluctantly, he had to settle for a rickshaw

But now, he had managed to leave work on time and he boarded his regular bus for his home

Through experience, he had learned to occupy his mind during his daily commute

It helped alleviate the pain in his back, and kept his mind off of the distance to be covered

The public buses were particularly slow, and it was difficult to find a seat during the rush hour

He had seen most of these faces during his previous commutes

The boy was reading a book, seemingly oblivious to the old man standing right beside him

He was comfortable in his seat, and had no intention of giving it up

It was easy to assuage his guilt by burying himself in a book

The bus took a sharp turn from NIPA Chowrangi, jolting and rattling as gravel crunched underneath its tires

As he got off, the old man heaved a sigh of relief

His legs had numbed from standing in a cramped position

Taking a respite to regain his composure, he trudged off in to the distance, cutting through a short alley and entering his apartment complex

Strength seemed to leave his body with every step he took

At such times, the only thought that kept him going was that of his wife and his son

She had been waiting for him for half an hour

He was late

“It must be the bus,” she thought

However, her worry was short-lived

The key turned in the lock and she heard the familiar click-clack of moccasins on the tiled floor

He was drenched in sweat, and his chest was heaving as he struggled for breath

She maintained her distance

He gave a slight smile and nodded to his wife

It had been 37 years since they were married and even today, she could see the same glint in his eyes as she did back then

It was something she took immense pride in

Without uttering another word, he proceeded to loosen his tie and went off in to the bedroom

She got up from her seat and headed for the kitchen

Twenty minutes later, he emerged from the room after freshening up and the two sat down to discuss the day’s events

“Ali kahan hai? Subha mulaqat nahin huwi meri us say,” he said

(Where’s Ali? I didn’t get to meet him today) “Haan, woh puri raat bahar tha

Usko promotion mil gayi hai centre mei

 He now manages 20 other employees in the call centre

Toh, aaj ke din he had to stay late

Aap chale jaate hain jaldi

Woh wapis hi nau bajay aaya tha

Aaj university bhi nai gaya

Abhi tuition parhanay gaya huwa hai” she replied

(He was out the whole night

He got promoted at work; hence, he now manages 20 other employees at the call centre

You leave early, because of which you missed him

He returned at nine in the morning

He didn’t even go to his university today

He’s out to give tuitions right now

) “University se yaad aaya, maine uski fees pay kardi hai

Subha bus choot gayei thi, toh mujhe rickshaw laina parha

Bank kareeb hi tha, toh mai wahin utar gaya tha

Account mei ab Rs980 parhe hain

Ajeeb baat hai, 65 saal ke hogaye aur thodi si bhi saving na hosaki

”  (University reminds me; I managed to pay his fees

I missed the bus in the morning, so I had to settle for a rickshaw

The bank was nearby, so I got off at the branch

The account now has Rs980

It is perplexing that, even at 65-years of age, we don’t have any savings

) He took a deep breath, as reality began to sink in

His words hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity

“Aap pareshan na hoyein

Humaari kamaayi Ali hai

Yeh uska last semester hai

Yeh aapki mehnat ki wajah se hua hai sirf

Kal ko humara baita aik bara admi bannay ga

Karachi ki subse barhi university se parha hai usne

Ali hi humaari saving hai

Aaj hum sub ke saamne fakhr se kharhe hosakte hain

Khud sochein

Aap itni mehnat kiske liye karte hain? Humne itni mushkil kiske liye uthaayi hai? Khuda ka shukar hai ke woh samajhta bhi hai yeh sub

Warna aaj kal ke bachay toh

” (You must not worry

Ali is our wealth

This is his last semester and we have made it this far because of your hard work

In future, he will be a successful man

He studies in one of the most prestigious universities in Karachi

He is far better than any savings account

We can stand with our head held high

Think about it, for whom did you work so hard? For whom did we bear such hardships? Thank God that he understands our struggles, otherwise you know how children are today

) “Phir bhi

Khair, yeh kya baat hai karne wali

Yeh batao halaat kaise hain?” (Anyway, why are we pondering over bygones? Tell me, how’s the condition in the city?) “Karachi hai

TV pe dekhte hain,” she replied

(It’s Karachi

Lets watch the TV) The two got off their seats, and headed for the lounge

The TV took a few seconds to switch on

The old CRT screen was about to give way, as was evident with the distorted colours on the screen

He thumped the side of the television, and the colours brightened and the TV spurted to life

The old cane sofa creaked under their weight as they sat on it

It, too, was on its last legs

Subconsciously, he changed the channels until he found the news

The news anchor was talking about Pakistan’s progress in to the World Cup

There was no ticker running at the bottom of the screen

“Shukar hai

Sheher mei sukoon hai

Ali ne kia kaha tha kab tak wapis aayega?” he asked, his eyes focused on the screen

(Thank God, the city is peaceful

Did Ali give any time for his return?) “Aap ko pata hai uska tuition kaafi dur hai

Aajaye ga, pareshan na hoyein,” she replied

(You know his tuition is quite far

He’ll be back, don’t you worry)

He nodded in silence as he continued to flip channels, lowering the sound of the TV in the process

The silence was broken by the shrill ring of the mobile phone

The old man realised that he had left his phone on the table

He gestured his wife to wait, as he got up and headed in the other room

It was an unknown number

He received the call and put the phone to his ear

“Hello?” “Jee aap ka baita Ali hai?”  (Is Ali your son?) The voice on the other side was distraught with fear and panic

“Jee bilkul

Kiya hua?”  (Yes

What happened?) He immediately straightened up

He could feel his heart beat rising in his chest

“Uncle aap Abbasi Shaheed Hospital aasakte hain? Aap kay baite ko goli laggai hai

” (Can you come to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital? Your son has been shot

)  The line went dead

For a second, the old man was in a daze

What had just happened? Who was this man? He called the number again, but the phone was off

He gathered his wallet and house keys, and turned to his wife

“Chalo mere saath

”  (Come with me

) After a brief exchange, the two left the house as fast as their ageing legs could carry them to discover the fate of their only child

In their haste, they had forgotten to turn off the television

The news channel was still on

“Breaking news: We are hearing reports of a firing in Nazimabad

One casualty has been reported so far

The victim is a 24-year-old university student whose identity has not been confirmed as yet

Eyewitness accounts state that he was caught in a shootout between two rival gangs

We will provide you with more updates as and when we receive them

” March 20th 2015: In Memoriam “My son was not affiliated with any political party

He had no personal enmities that we knew of

He was everything I had

These hands raised him with love and care

I taught him how to walk and talk

I saw him grow before my eyes

He was the light of my eyes

I have tried my hand at writing a diary, and I have failed miserably

Today marks his third death anniversary

This is a father’s tribute to his slain son

This is the voice of a broken man

We have developed a close bond with pain

Every day, it reminds us that we are still alive

It tells us that we still feel

Ali is, and will always be my hero

He was the realisation of my dreams

He was a cherished son, a loving man and a devoted student

He was a man with goodness in his heart

My son was wronged

I do not seek vengeance

I do not seek closure

Three-years-ago, I lost everything I had

While I pray that nobody gets to feel what I feel every day, I know that is not possible

How does a father explain what his son meant to him? Man has not created a language powerful enough to express such emotions

I do not know what he did wrong

I do not know our fault

All I know is that somewhere in the heavens above, angels cried the day my child was murdered

” The old man closed his diary for the last time

The room went dark

Date:15-Apr-2015 Reference:View Original Link