Yes I do remember that word by word like a cruel but sweet flashback or it seems that it just happened yesterday! The impacts of that incident have shattered my soul and it put myself in to the valley of void and un-describable melody.
I was of 14 years of age when Baba Hafeez came to our house for the first time for the room which we were planning to rent out. So you want the room only for yourself or you have a family along, asked my mama. Baba Hafeez who was wandering eyes to rooftop, just shuttered and nodded. So you will live alone in the room, will you have visitors or relatives who will come for you or something, mama asked again but Baba Hafeez was still in a trance and he nodded very slowly and smiled that me and my brother burst into laughter who were standing just behind of the couch. Stupid of myself, I put hand to cover my mouth and I was feeling ashamed of laugh. My mama looked at me in a rage and told me and my brother to go to our rooms, yet nodding again (soft laugh).
I apologize but we are not being disrespectful here but the concern is who will take care of you and your rent and all needs if you are all alone and all by yourself, my mama asked to Baba Hafeez.
I am a retired officer, I have pension as much that I can afford all necessities and can also pay out the rent, rent might get delay sometimes but I promise I will pay you as soon as I get my pension in my bank. And do not worry about the visitors they will not come or bother you.
No, we were not asking for your visitors that way, mama justified. Here take a cup of tea of cook by my beloved daughter: Please! I served him the tea and he gave me his blessings and I sat along with my mama there.
We were always discussing about to rent out that space as it was of no use for us, we even decorated that too, bed is there, couch is there, table is there too. And if you want to move out these things then just tell us we can move things out so you can have a space for your baggage or bed or whatever, I said to Baba Hafeez.
No beta, where would I burden myself to drag these things along all the time, he laughed softly. I just have my small bag only, a Quran and Prayer mat (Janamaz). And if you thing the bed is of any use you can take it out I can sleep on the floor, Baba Hafeez insisted.
No no do not worry, the bed is of no use and we will not use it for as long as you stay here, you can be a part of our family and we will be honored to have you if you stay: I replied.
Show him his room and also help him to pick his things along, my mama ordered. So I took his brown bag, Quran Pak, and Prayer Mat and we departed to the room. What is in this brown bag, your degress as I do not think degrees are of any use? I laughed. Again stupid of me! Alas… He look at me and said yeah I agree, in bag I just have some of my writings and a few belongings. Belongings of siblings or children or Parents?
He looked at me and he just nodded. Here is your room, nice and luxurious, and beautiful one, I exaggerated a bit.
Yes it is great beta, he replied.
I gallop back to my room, thinking how graceful Baba Hafeez is. Go and give the lunch to Baba my mama shouted.
I jumped out of my bed to Baba Hafeez room, knocked on the door, May I come in? Yes beta come in, he replied.
Why there are all pages on the bed, and couch, are you going to write something? Are you a poet? A writer? Or a Scientist or an ISI agent? I laughed softly.
Beta I always wanted to be a writer but… he nodded and called me to sit on the couch. I sat there, he said beta when I was of your age I was very dreamful of being a writer someday and can remove my family poverty! I was in the school when my dad died in a war, my single mother used to work in homes and at night somedays we eat and somedays we skip the stupid eating process. Because one can survive 7 days without a meal isn’t it? That is what my mom used to tell me and my sister all the time. I have to left school and I started to work in a mechanic shop, people were cruel and outrageous. I do remembered the day when the master put my hands in the boiling water just because I was 5 mins late and I was shouting for help and mercy and my mother was standing there with tears looking at me but helpless.
That day when we went home, I said to my mama someday I will become an officer and you do not need to be that pitiful woman the whole life. I gave my matric exams while working and I got A+ grade but my family can’t even skip an hour to celebrate so I just told my mama about grade and how optimistic I am about future etc etc and she replied “Did master pay you the day so we can eat something? You sister is hungry” I replied yes, he paid me Rs. 150/- let me go and find something to eat.
He showed me the poem he said he wrote that today to express his emotions and pain not to express. Wow Baba Hafeez it looks a great poem, I mean you did write that at very small age is incredible.
Yes, I was happy too about it and was planning to read that loud for the mother in the morning, and was excited but in morning, my sister jumped on me and said Brother Brother mama is not talking and moving. Brother let’s go, please check mother. We galloped and there we found a note on the side noted:
He handed over me that note, rough, old yellow page, I was trying to hold back my tears and I gave back him his note and Baba Hafeez said my sister got psychological trauma and she was not able to accept that fact and just after a week I was there all alone by myself, food in front of me, the mother note, my poem and the Degree of no use, he laughed. Yes Beta you were right degree is of no use.
I was standing there like a statue full of emotions, grief, and remorse. A remorse that I should hug Hafeez Baba and can tell him about how great can life be, how beautiful we can decorate our life, and how much gifted he is with the writing skills which Allah blessed him.