- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
- 15 Sep - 21 Sep, 2018
To my utter surprise, an unfamiliar face opened a small door inside the main gate.
“What do you want?” looking visibly annoyed, the person asked me in Pushto accent.
I told him that it was my home and I tried entering through the gate. The stranger stopped me from entering with his arm and loudly said, “Who the hell are you?”
I got frustrated and asked him, “Where is Fazal chacha?”
“I don’t know any Fazal chacha. I bought this house from Yousaf Jamal about two months ago,” the man responded. He then asked me to leave and warned that he’ll call the police if I do not oblige. Then he disappeared inside the house and shut the door with a loud bang.
I was stunned and in deep shock. A 12-year-old, past mid night, stranded on the road and all alone. I turned back and found my cab driver standing nearby, looking at me. I had nowhere else to go. Mobile phones were not very common in those days. I did not know anyone else’s address. The only place I could think of in that moment was my school. I asked the cab driver to take me back to the bus terminal. While sitting in the cab, I could not control my anger, helplessness and fear. Tears started rolling down my eyes. The cab driver started consoling me and gave me a pack of juice to drink. I took a few sips of the juice and the last thing I remember was the cab stopping at the gate of a small house.
I woke up on a hospital bed with excruciating pain in my abdomen and back. There was a drip attached to my arm, which had already dried up. I looked around and found almost one dozen beds with as many patients in the room. There was no sign of a nurse in the vicinity. Listening to my groans, a female attendant of a patient next to me, walked toward my bed. She put her hand on my forehead and suddenly, my eyes went numb.
“Do you need anything son?” she politely asked me. Before I could respond to her question, she said, “Where are your parents?”
Instead of answering, I myself asked a few of my own questions. “Where am I? What is this place? What happened to me?”
She did not reply and rather went to call the nurse. The nurse came and took me back to the state of unconsciousness. The nurse on duty told me that I was in Bahawalpur’s DHQ hospital and that I was found at the hospital’s gate two days ago. She also told me that my right kidney had been surgically removed. The hospital staff also informed the police and after sometime, a policeman appeared and incriminated me with selling my kidney. He persistently asked for the name of the person to whom I sold my kidney and location of the place where I was operated. I couldn’t answer any of his questions.
The hospital kept me admitted for one more day. After the police lost interest in my case, they threw me back from where I was found. I cannot explain the amount of physical pain I went through before being picked up by a person named Majeed, who took me to streets for begging. He put me on a cart and kept dragging me on roads. My wound had not yet healed. To lessen the pain, Majeed kept me heavily sedated. Soon, I recovered from the surgery but I had become a drug addict.
Despite all the ills, I was thankful to Majeed as he had saved my life. Without his help, I certainly would have died. I once came with Majeed to Lahore to find out about uncle Yousaf. I learnt that he sold everything which my deceased father had owned and has shifted to an unknown place. We stayed in Lahore for a few days and exhausted all our savings. As luck would have it, I was caught with Majeed stealing from a shop at night. We had also knocked out the chowkidar but were caught red-handed by police. I wasn’t accorded juvenile status due to the gravity of crime and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
I was still 12 years old. In the last six months, I had lost my whole family and my uncle had defrauded me. My kidney was stolen and I became a drug addict. I was begging and stealing for my living, and was now undergoing a sentence of 15 years for attempted murder. Was there anything else that could go wrong?
Prison is not a good place, especially for children. I was violated physically and tortured psychologically innumerable times till I committed my first murder by slitting throat of the big boss in prison while he was sleeping. I was 14 years old at that time. Every prisoner had now identified my cold-bloodedness and brutality. No one gave a testimony against me and nobody bothered me again. I completed my sentence and came out of the prison with only one purpose in mind. Payback.
The first thing I did after getting out of the prison was to visit Sir Amir from my boarding school in Murree. To my good luck, he still worked there. I narrated my story to him. He felt so empathetic that he offered to help me. I told him that I needed my father’s CNIC number from the school record. Sir Amir took just one day to give it to me. Then I heavily bribed a contact in NADRA and acquired my father’s family tree and I got the CNIC number of Yousaf Jamal who was listed there as my father’s brother. Using the number, I found two mobile numbers registered with his name. Finding out the current location of those mobile numbers was not a difficult task. He had shifted to Karachi and was running his business in Korangi area.
I still remember the look at Uncle Yousaf Jamal's face when I told him about me. He fell in my feet asking for forgiveness. I did not let him rise again. Just one bullet pierced through his skull and he hit the ground.
I came back to Lahore and for the very first time, I visited my family’s graves. I cried my heart out and kept lying there. I stared at the stars all night long.
But now, I’m wandering on the streets of Lahore looking for the taxi driver. •