And when he died, all he left us was alone

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Would the Quaid stand in disgrace or take a bow if he could see us now?

 

 

I told him the most important avenue in Islamabad is ‘Constitution Avenue’ and that the narrowest lane is ‘Democracy Road’ (Shahrah-e-Jamhooriyat). I also told him that there is a beautiful building flanked by the Presidency and the Supreme Court known as Parliament House.

 

 

I was standing on the roadside in downtown Lahore at the eve of Independence Day, watching the jubilant youth expressing their joy through one-wheeling and riding silencer-free motor bikes when an elderly, emaciated, elevated person suddenly approached me and asked if I knew where Minto Park was? It was dusk, with the twilight fading very rapidly. I lifted my head and glanced at the old man, and nervously shifted my eyes away. The elegant old man reiterated his query. I reluctantly asked his ‘moniker’. He gazed at me with wide open cold eyes and an unbelievable look and replied in an imposing bass voice: “I am the Father of the Nation.” Then I recognised him as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, aka Quaid-e-Azam (the great leader), alias Baba-e-Qaum (father of the nation). I got excited and ignoring his question posed mine asking, how come he was back in 2016 after having rested in peace for a good sixty eight years in his grave in Karachi? ‘Baba’ dejectedly said that he had been especially allowed by Almighty to visit the ‘Land of the Pure’ to see for himself where it was now.

My next question was about his journey from Karachi to Lahore, whether it was an enjoyable one, or exasperating? The Father of the Nation paused for a while and then expressed his perplexity about the ‘ethnicity’ he had observed throughout. His remarks were: “Throughout my journey, wherever I halted and asked for a bearing, the instantaneous question folks would ask me was whether I was a Shia, Sunni, Barelvi or Deobandi.” He enquired if the teachings of Islam had changed. The Father of the Nation wanted to know about our evolution and the fruition we had achieved. I proudly informed him that we were now experts at daringly planting bombs at places of our choice, may that be at a mosque or in a market, and indulging in honour killings. I told him that we hadn’t forgotten him, and how could we as long as his picture was printed on most monetary denominations? For lunch I took him to a high-class hotel, where when the mineral water was brought, he expressed his contentment and asked if it was available to the majority of Pakistanis. There I had to clear his niggles and told him that one gets it only if one pays for it. There was other basic information he required immediately and I bestowed that on him without any unnecessary delay, contrary to the prevailing red-tapism in the country. That pleased him. So Baba decided to retain my services as his tour escort: the one who was supposed to take him around to show him his own home.

 

He next asked me to arrange his visit to Dhaka, the capital of the eastern wing of the country. Fearing his annoyance I said: “Baba! Those Bengalis never wanted to stay with us.” “They never wanted to stay with you, or were you loath to have links with them?” the Quaid roared back.

He asked my opinion about the cities and from where to start the tour. I suggested he starts from Islamabad. The Father of the Nation blinked his eyes in amazement and said: “Where on earth is that?” I explained its location and reminded him that it had been his choice and desire to found the future capital of Pakistan in that vicinity — a thought he had expressed while coming down from Murree near Malpur. The Quaid stared at me unbelievingly, but when we reached Islamabad he was actually mesmerized by the scenic beauty and the location of the city and in excitement exclaimed, “What a beautiful city, and in the environs of Pakistan too!” I showed him its various roads and avenues. I told him the most important avenue in Islamabad is ‘Constitution Avenue’ and that the narrowest lane is ‘Democracy Road’ (Shahrah-e-Jamhooriyat). I also told him that there is a beautiful building flanked by the Presidency and the Supreme Court known as Parliament House. Suddenly the Margallah range in the north reminded Baba of Kashmir where he would spend his vacation time in a houseboat on Dall Lake. He asked me if we could go to Srinagar. When I updated him on the fact that Kashmir is still an unsolved dispute it really put him off. I told him that to visit Kashmir we need to have the blessings of the Indian leadership. However I offered him a trip to Ziarat instead, which he bluntly turned down. When I asked him the reason hesitatingly, he said that he didn’t want to have a bogged-down and stuck-up itinerary again. When I assured him about the quality of the road between Quetta and Ziarat, he rendered me speechless by saying that the road was never a problem in 1948, even when he was sick and moved from Ziarat to Quetta. It was something else which had kept him lying on the roadside waiting for a quick evacuation, and he doubted that had changed. Otherwise also he was more aware about bleeding Quetta than me.

I could feel that the Father of the Nation was quite perturbed and agitated. By evening we were back in Lahore. He seemed to be baffled and bamboozled. He next asked me to arrange his visit to Dhaka, the capital of the eastern wing of the country. Fearing his annoyance I said: “Baba! Those Bengalis never wanted to stay with us.” “They never wanted to stay with you, or were you loath to have links with them?” the Quaid roared back. I looked around to find some other person who could handle the old man. After all he was the father of the nation, not my elder only, but surprisingly found no one around. It was as if people had recognised him and were hesitant to face him thus avoiding him intentionally. Suddenly he unhinged my thoughts and said, “I am tired. Can you take me back to Karachi? There is no fun in going around and wasting more time. I would like to retreat back to my final abode as you people have made a mess of my home.”

I reminded him in a meek voice: “But Baba! You wanted me to take you to Minto Park?” He lifted his head tiredly and in a tone of displeasure said, “Do you know the way to the Park”? I nodded in affirmation. “Then climb up that ‘Tower of Silence’ erected there,” he suggested and disappeared into the darkness towards the West, leaving me standing there dazed and dumped.

1 COMMENT

  1. Awsome…especially the bits where Jinna's ghost was told about Srinagar and Bangladesh… love from India

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