Our Karachi

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Chapter 9

Defense View, FTS Café, Friday, 9:30 am

I stood in the main hall of the café helping Samreen to install the banners regarding the discussion with Mama Shabbir, the Baloch activist, Farzan Baloch and Asifullah, a journalist who worked for BBC Urdu service and was better known for his sense of humor and cynicism. I installed the banner that read: “Un-silencing Balochistan.” Samreen had announced the schedule of the program two weeks ago, it was start it seven thirty and end at nine thirty, all three speakers were first to present their case about Balochistan, and then they were to answer the questions from audience.

Farzan Baloch, the thirty two years old young lady, had already reached FTS last night, as she received a death threat to be killed on her way to the café, she was not afraid of death but she didn’t want to miss an opportunity to speak for the rights of Balochistan. Farzan, a computer graduate from Khuzdar University carried an entire sorrowful world within herself, yet from an early age never a drop of tear had fallen from her big black eyes. Though rest of Pakistani thought that Balochistan was the most peaceful part of Pakistan, but the Baloch nation had exact opposite ideas. They were crying against the military operation, even it was not the first military operation in Balochistan, But after Nawab Akbar Bughti’s assassination during Musharaf regime things being worst, young Balochs came out on streets protesting against this tyranny, while others took arms and went up to mountains, to avenge was in traditions of Baloch tribes so they wanted to avenge the murder of a Nawab of Bhugti tribe, since then Balochistan was on fire, journalists were not allowed to report from Balochistan, and there was no access to information, one sided stories came from this part of the country, this gave birth to a new Baloch separatist movement.

Farzan was the younger child of her parents, she had a brother Abdul Khan Baloch three years older than her, her father the fifty eight years old Rehmatullah Baloch was a school teacher, and they lived in a small village of district Khuzdar. It was the winter of 2000, when she was fifteen years old girl and passed the matriculation exam, when a raid was conducted on her village at night. An announcement was made from the mud-walled small mosque of the village:

“All the villagers are informed to come out from their houses within fifteen minutes,” hearing such an unusual announcement, everyone was astonished, the voice came again:

“Listen all villagers come out from your houses within fifteen minutes, bring out your national identity cards, come out with your families.” The men and women covering themselves from the cold weather started to come out from their homes along with their children and started to walk towards the open ground, Farzan with her parents and brother also came to the ground, where she found two army trucks loaded with men in uniform.

“Queue up,” the young captain waving his stick in air had ordered in firm tone. All the villagers followed the order, and started murmuring with each other.

“Keep your fucking mouths shut,” the captain had cried in anger: “so you motherfuckers want to be liberated?” Everyone remained silent facing the stony ground.

“We have come to know,” the captain continued in same tone: “you are helping the rebels,” yet the people remained silent.

“Search their ids,” he ordered his men and for next ten minutes, and then the soldiers shouted: “all fine janab.”

“Stand still,” ordered the captain, everyone stood still in pin drop silence.

“Now sing the national anthem of Pakistan in a loud voice,” the captain ordered. The villagers stared at each other with amazement and disbelief.

“Didn’t you hear what I said, you sister fuckers, I want to hear our national anthem from you, sing it now,” he said in agony.

“Pak sir zameen……” the villagers started in low voice.

“Louder,” cried the captain.

“Pak sir zameen,” came the voice louder, this brought a mocking smile on captain’s face, when the national anthem came to an end, the captain cried:

“You must live as army loving patriotic Pakistanis,” he said and went to the truck, the villagers walked back to their homes, walking back to their three room mud-walled house Abdul Khan and Farzan took this whole act as a disgrace upon their honor and dignity, and they started to think as Baloch rather than a Pakistani.

Things kept on going and Farzan took admission in the college at nearby town, three other girls had also taken admission in the collage, while Abdul had moved to the Khuzdar University for MBA, Farzan and her friends daily walked for half a kilometer to reach the bus stop to go to the collage. On one particular day, they came down from the bus at evening and started walking to their village, when four men riding an open green colored jeep stopped them in the way, all four girls were petrified, the men stared through their bodies, the girls tried to pass them, but one of the men grabbed arm of one girl, she started to cry, while others screamed, the guy forcefully hugged and tried to kiss her on lips, she protested, other girls tried to run away, they were followed by other men, the girl who was already abducted got a slap on her face, tears fell from her eyes, her shirt was torn into pieces and sharp teeth nit her soft flesh, Farzan picked up a stone and threw it the guy chasing with a cry: “you bastard…” the stone struck the guy on his forehead and he started to bleed, Farzan in a wink of an eye picked up another stone and threw it in the direction of his abductor, this time the stone hit him on the nose and he fell down on the ground crying: “you fucking bitch…..” Farzan carried on running, she ran as fast as she could, when she was at some distant, she stopped running and gazed back, she was still being followed by the same guy, she picked up another stone, when she saw the guy nearing him, she threw stone with full force towards him, this time the stone hit him of the leg with force and cracked his knee cap, he fell down on the ground rolling to the other side, Farzan forgot her friends, though she wanted to rescue them, but was unable to do so and ran to the village crying: “help….help….help…..” the men gathered around her and asked:

“What has happened?’ she was out of her breath and breathing heavily and pointing to the bus stop said: “we have been attacked by four men in a green jeep, Guddi, Nazia and Amarta are still out there,” hearing this the villagers ran towards the bus stop carrying sticks and iron rods, when they reached the spot they found the torn shirt of Nazia and blood spots on the ground following the blood traces the reached the bushes on the other side of road, where Nazia lay unconscious in a pool of blood, Master Rehmatullah took off his white turban and covered the young naked body laying on the ground, they picked her and shifted her to nearby hospital, but died within two hours, while the other two girls were still missing.

The villagers gathered at the ground and decided to have a protest against this evil act, they all came to the main road and blocked, chanting the slogans against this tyranny, Rehmatullah was leading the protest, half an hour later an army truck with gunned men passed the way and was stopped by the protestors:

“Let us go and then you may carry on your protest,” the villagers refused to give them way and few young men lay down in front of the truck, the soldiers came down from the truck loaded their guns and opened straight fires, four men died on spot while several others were injured, yet the protestors didn’t give them way to pass, the soldiers ran back to their truck and its driver put it in the reverse gear, fires opened upon the truck from the hills at the other side of the road, the army troop did an Ariel firing, in cross fires two soldiers were killed. Within fifteen minutes the entire district was sealed, villages were torched and men were taken away to unknown places for interrogation, Master Rehmatullah was also amongst the missing persons, six months passed and there was no information about those sixty five missing persons.

One day some villagers went up the hills with their sheep and goats and found a grave, when they dug it, they found sixty five tortured dead bodies.

Abdul Khan Baloch came to know about this incident, leaving his semester in between he returned to the village and asked his family to move with him to Khuzdar city. Farzan and her mother left the village and started living in the city, Farzan continued her study, and both brother and sister gave tuitions to the students and started to live hand to mouth.

When Farzan entered the university to attend computer classes, her brother was already affiliated with Liberation for Balochistan (LFB) a political front working for the rights of Balochistan, Farzan joined its ladies during the first week of university, LFB was working for pure Baloch identity and on every Friday, the party had a study circle at the main corridor of the central library, here she met with Hyder Baloch, during one such meetings, Hyder Baloch was son of Mama Shabbir, who was a local poet and Bolach historian . Hyder was a marvelous orator, and no one was ever able to win in arguments from him, he was a fine clean shaven young man, and Farzan was immediately inspired by him and started to spend time with him.

Two weeks later, LFB announced to celebrate the Baloch Culture Day at the campus and the party had also announced that Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch’s video message would also be played. When the administration got this news, and they started to sabotage this entire activity, at first they announced the mid-term tests starting from the very same date on which Baloch Culture Day was announced, the LFB activists gathered outside administration block and had a sit-in protest, chanting slogans against the administration, some fifteen minutes later, the protestors were attacked by the police and law enforcing agencies, tear gas was shelled upon them, the students were beaten with sticks, while the leaders including Hyder and Abdul were arrested by the police.

For two nights, they were in police custody, and then were recovered from the government hospital as they were severally tortured. Three days before the culture day or mid-term tests, LFB activists led by the ladies wing had another sit-in protest outside the administrative block carrying ply-cards and paper sheets, they had written in bold letters: “no compromise of Baloch identity….no compromise on Baloch traditions…..” the sat in open ground under the scorching sun chanting slogans: “Show that you are Baloch….or leave Balochistan…….” And: “those who are against our culture cannot be Baloch…..” Farzan was in the front row and she shouted: “to hell with murderers of innocent Baloch people…..” and then: “take a clear stance, tell us either you are with us or murderers….” And then the over aged student welfare officer Balach Khan had appeared like a djinn of Arabian Nights tales comes out from a bottle, he was dressed in white shalwar and Kameez and had spoken in thick voice:

“The administration has decided to celebrated the culture day,” when he said that, everyone clapped, some even whistled, he continued: “but no one would be allowed to play the video message of Dr. Allah Nazar…..”

“No….booooooo……” cried the students, but Balach paid no attention to it and said in firm tone: “now it is up to you to choose between the Baloch culture or Dr. Allah Nazr….” The students wanted to stone him to death but remained still and silent, it was Farzan who said with a smile on her face: “we agree there won’t be any video of Dr. Allah Nazar….” And the protest came to an end.

During the session of study circle at CL on that particular day more fifty LFB activists had gathered and everyone was cursing Farzan for surrendering before the administration and agreeing upon their terms. When Farzan’s turn came she stood up and spoke confidently:

“Don’t consider it as our surrender or failure, consider it as our first step towards a glorious victory, at least we have been able to bring forth our culture, which would indicate our separate identity as Baloch people,” Farzan was speaking, when Hyder and Abdul approached them, they both had bandages on their arms and legs. Everyone welcomed them, Farzan continued, she said:

“Once people would recognize our identity as a separate nation, every other thing would be recognizable,” though there were some who didn’t agree with her but majority agreed.

From the next day preparations for the culture day started, different students were given different duties, some were to arrange bandwagons, and some were to maintain the stage upon which students were to perform Baloch folk story named “Sassui and Punhu” the play was to be directed by Maheem, Farzan’s class fellow, she had selected Farzan to play the part of Sassui while Hyder was asked to play part of Punhu, Maheem was to give the background of the story from back stage.

On the appointed day, the main campus of Khuzdar University was blooming like a colorful garden, male students were dressed in traditional white shalwar kameez, and their heads were covered with white turbans, rallies were coming and going chanting slogans: “Long live Baloch culture…. Long live Balochistan…..” students riding lorries, buses, cars and motorcycles were singing the folk songs, while some groups were dancing at the garden in joy, even the faculty members were dressed in traditional dresses.

After the early celebrations everyone gathered near the stage installed just opposite of CL, two rows of chairs were arranged for faculty members, while the students were asked to sit on the carpets. Twenty minutes, Maheem made the first announcement on the microphone: “Respected teachers, brothers and sister we are about to begin our play, it is a traditional Baloch folklore of love and sacrifice, it is also recorded by Sir Richard Burton, the great English traveler and linguistic and this script is based upon what he has recorded and what is narrated in Baloch and Sindhi traditions, please remain silent during the play and maintain discipline….thank you all for coming.

The red curtains of the main stage were still down, Maheem’s voice came: “Thus begins this ancient story………

In the days when Islam had but partially spread over Sindh and the adjoining countries, a Brahman of Bhambuna had a daughter, of whom it was predicated that she would change her religion, become a Muslim and bring disgrace to her family. The father was…..” as she said that the curtains raised up and a worried half naked Brahman and his wife dressed in red sari could be seen with and infant in a cradle, he walked from one corner to the other in despair, Maheem continued with her description in the background:

“The father was dissuaded from killing his offspring, and at his wife’s…..” the actress on the staged moved to the guy, voice continued: “request puts the child into a box…..” Brahman picks up the box and walks to the waters of Indus and throws it….” Upon this the curtains fell and there came a pause for few minutes, then curtains were risen up, and a washer-man is to be seen washing clothes on banks of the Indus, he was a childless man, suddenly his eyes witnessed a box floating in the water, he waits for it, till it reaches it, he opens it and finds a beautiful infant, taking the child out from the box, looks to the heaven and praises God, then he kisses the child, after knowing its sex, he calls it:

“My Sassui…” and kisses the child on forehead….. The curtains fell down…. Maheem’s voice came:

“According to traditions, when Sassui grew up, her beauty and accomplishments.”

The curtains were gone up, a young Hindu Merchant named Babiho was seen walking with his caravan, he was his employer was Ari the Jam, the prince of Kech and Mekran. He passes by the Atan or gynoecium, where Sassui and her friends are siting, they are talking and laughing with each other.

Sassui (seeing the merchant approaching them calls him): O merchant! What are you selling?

Babiho: Chooa, sandal wood and Kewara, I have by me, and of goods many scores

Dearly do I sell all these at double the price.

Sassui (enjoins him to be more gallant): Sitting in our Atan, you must not need such profits, produce your musk, rise and rub it upon those presents.

Babiho: I am a foreigner and a wayfarer, why should I produce? Ladies! Behave not so tyrannically in this city of Bambhora.

Sassui (now goodness in her heart): Banyan, approach and fear not; freely produce your stores, I will pay you the ready money, the One Lord knows.

Babiho starts showing them goods.

Sassui (in flirting tone looking at her friends): Wandering about this trading Banyan has reached our abode, see his beauty, o my friends, how handsome he is?

Babiho (mischievously): What am I? You must see my lord, of his charms, I have but a fortieth part.

This raise eagerness in Sassui and….

Sassui: Banyan what is your name and who is this youth whose praises you sing?

Babhio (with a smile on face): My parents named me Babiho, and the youth whose praises I sing is Punhul (Punhu) Khan, the Baloch.

Sassui (imaging the charms of Punhu) request: My little Babiho, just bring that young Baloch once before my sight and I will pay taxes and duties for all your caravans.

Babiho (denying): He cannot get leave from his mother even to chase, how than I bring that well-guarded Baloch to you?

Sassui (in mocking tone): hundreds of caravans and lac of people come and go, what then is the difficulty for the Baloch to come? Is he afraid to leave his mother’s lap…..?

Babiho (hurt by the mock): The charming Punhu, with long flowing locks, has taken a wife and two maids, whose voices are sweet as those of the Kokila.

Sassui (in anger): I, too am a maiden, the pride of Bhambora, and my accents are not less dulcet than Kokila’s songs.

Babiho (seeing Sassui’s heart is burning to see Punhu once): I now start my journey back to Kech, lady God be your preserver, I promise to bring the charning Baloch to you for love of the Lord.

Sassui (delightfully): My little Babiho, give my best regards to the Baloch, and tell Jam, I have sent for him an offering of rich clothes.

Babiho starts to walk….

The first act of the play comes to an end, curtains were pulled down and audience started to clap.

Maheem announced the second act.

Babiho the Hindu merchant has reached Kech, he is in the company of a young charming handsome Punhu, who is dressed in traditional Baloch dress and his head is covered with white turban.

Babiho: O my fair master! On my last journey to Bhambora I met a beautiful lady with big beautiful eyes, even the fourteen full moons cannot comprehend her beauty, she seemed as an angel fallen directly from the high heavens.

Punhu stares him and rolls his black moustache.

Babiho: I mistakenly told that fair lady who is known by the name of Sassui in her land, about your charms, hearing this she lost her heart for you unseeingly just on my account, and took a promise from me that I would bring you her for once in life.

Punhu (in amazement): O my fool merchant, you indeed would break the heart of that fair lady, as you know my mother doesn’t leave me for adventures, she fears I would be lost in the world forever.

Babiho (bowing his head in shame): O master, for a merchant nothing is more important than keeping a promise now save my grace.

Punhu (unmoved): O poor Babiho indeed you have lost your grace.

Babiho (trying for last time): Master I only promised because the charming Baloch was mocked by that fair lady.

Punhu: What she said?

Babiho (bowing his head in shame): I was told my master is a coward hiding in his mother’s lap.

Punhu: My Friend! Kettledrums, cymbals and assemblies are poison to me, even if my mother permits me not, still I will journey with you, and I will even ignore the prophecy made by a jogi on my birth that I would die wandering.

The scene had ended, the curtains had come down and then the next scene had started

Babiho is standing behing white curtains of Punhu’s mansion, his mother is behind the curtains.

Babiho: O my fair madam, let prince Punhu go with me on this trip announced by Jam Ari, let the charming prince see the bounties and beauties of this world.

Mother’s face becomes pale, she remembers the prophecy of the jogi made on Punhu’s birth and closes her eyes. After a while she speaks.

Mother: There are my sons Hoto, Noto, Jakharo, take them with the slave Babbur, if you like but leave our young Punhu with us.

Babiho: Hoto, Noto, Jakharo and the slave Babbur are not wanted, give me Punhu that he may have the intercourse with the great.

Mother: I certainly don’t assure this.

At this Babiho takes off his turban and puts it in feet of Punhu’s mother.

Mother: God take my soul before going through this test!

And then standing up she says: Fine then, take my Punhu with but remember I would hold you responsible on the judgement day if any harm happens to my prince.

The scene ended….. Within two minutes next scene started.

Punhu dressed in fine clothes is riding a camel, his wife Ayisa and two maids walk beside him, the drumbeaters are beating drums and announce in public: Our Prince Punhu is going for his first expedition, rejoice for his journey and pray for his safe return. The mother is watching this from window of mansion and;

Mother: O youths! Guard my little Punhu with anxious care.

Ayisa comes to the camel and takes its string in her hand.

Ayisa: Husband don’t leave me, for Lord’s sake! Either pass a night with me or send me home to my parents.

Punhu’s camel moves forward, Ayisa falls on her knees and cries, but Punhu leaves with great glee and delight with the caravan.

The act comes to an end….

Act three started….

On the road they passed through a town dwelt a lady more celebrated for her beauty than correctness of morals. This fair dame, whose name was Sehjan, was struck with Punhu’s beauty as she saw him ride by, and determined to meet him. She disguised herself like a man and came up with the caravan at a place called Loe, where the camel-men were dozing under the palm trees, and Punhu was playing chess with his friends and confident Babiho. Punhu immediately saw through the deception and charmed with the frail one’s beauty.

Punhu (to his friends): We have received an invitation to attend a feast for three days, then we would march ahead.

Babiho: This would delay our journey, my prince.

Punhu (rolling his moustache): Let them burn in the fire of their heart who have teased the Baloch.

Babiho bowed his head in agreement.

The scene came to an end….

Next scene;

Sassui becomes impatient to see Punhu, and resolving to do her best, and goes to the house of Akhund Lal, the scribe.

Sassui (requesting): Can you do me a favor, o scribe! Write a moving epistle to the fickle youth.

To which the man of letters, who had long been silent admirer of the lady and was blind withal, responded,

Lal: To me, your order is as though a commandment from Lord.

Sassui immediately dispatches the courier with the note.

The scene changed;

The messenger reaching Loe meets Punhu.

The Messenger: Good Lord! Am I in the company of a human or a heavenly creature, blessed be You for creating such a beauty.

Punhu: We have heard same about Sassui…

The messenger (with a sigh): Truth have you heard, to describe Sassui’s beauty in words would be an insult to her, she kills one hundred men with mere smile, even if she is hidden behind seven curtains.

This increases Punhu’s curiosity to meet her, but his charms had made such an impression upon the too-sensitive Sehjan, that he was unable to get leave for his departure.

At night he drops opium into the lady’s wine cup.

Punhu (instructing Babiho): stay behind to take leave of the outwitted Circe, whenever she recovers from her intoxication.

The scene changes….

Sehjan is back to her conscious and finds Punhu nowhere.

Sehjan (worryingly to Babiho): Where is my beloved Punhu?

Babiho (inventing a story): A messenger came last night with a message that Punhu’s mother has died, so he left for Kech and Makran.

Sehjan (with tears and sighs addresses to everyone near her): Come, come my companions, come visit bright Loe, and kiss with your eyes the place where my beloved Punhu abode.

Babiho was dismissed by the lady with presents, and soon he joined his lord.

Next scene;

The caravan approaches its destination, the crafty Babiho opened the camels’ mouths, put a bit of musk into each, and closed them up till they reached Bambhora. Crowds of people assembled to see them enter and to admire the size and trappings of their animals. The camp was pitched in Sassui’s garden, but for some reason or the other the lady’s modesty would not allow her to meet her unseen lover after sending for him from home.

Punhu, after failing in many attempts, at length hits upon an expedient. Taking with him his bow and arrows, he observes a pet pigeon sitting on a mango tree, and shot it so skillfully that it fell into the lap of its mistress, Sassui’s aunt.

The old lady (in wrath): You murderous boy, you mule, you surely have done a murderous deed, and what have you gained by slaining our bird?

Punhu (in anger): Indeed I am a murderer and a mule, and have done a murderous deed, but I thought to slay her bird who brought me here from Kech, my home.

Sassui, overhearing the dialogue, hides herself in veil, takes up the arrow and hands it to Punhu, Punhu is only able to see her hand and loss his mind upon just that sight.

Punhu: Blessed be the one who created such a beauty.

Sassui smiles and Punhu realizes entire world has started to smile with her, he starts to walk away.

The aunt: You strut about the courts; whose peacock you are? Are you a digger of walls, or a cloth thief?

Punhu (denying the charges categorically): I strut about the courts, the peacock of friend, but I am neither a wall-digger nor a cloth-thief.

The curtain had fallen…. Maheem started to give the description in the background;

At length Sassui took pity upon the young man, consented to meet him, and, in order to test his affection for her, told him that if he wants to win her hand, he must become a washer-man under her father. He agrees and when the finishes the agreed time the marriage takes places, Babiho quarrels with him and leaves him behind.

The curtains were pulled up;

Sassui is standing with Punhu in their chamber…

Sassui: Promise me my beloved, you would never pass through the door of Bambhora were goldsmith’s wife Bhagula abides.

Punhu (in loving tone): I promise you my dear, I won’t pass that ever in my life.

But in his ignorance he one day passes through that gate and his eyes meet that of Bhagula’s, the fair and frail spouse of the goldsmith. The lady admires the handsome Baloch and cries loud.

Bhagula: May God cause us to meet.

Punhu returns to his home and finds scabbard of his sword is broken, he must go to that gate of Bambhora, so that his sword might be mended.

Sassui realizes she has lost his Punhu to Bhagula and cries to her fate.

Sassui (to herself): My beloved Punhu is gone to armorers, having broken the scabbard of his sword; probably the goldsmith’s wife has conquered him, Bhagula had pierced his heart with the arrow of love.

Suassui roaming here and there…..

Maheem’s voice in the background;

Now, Bhagula was so wicked, that not contented with seducing Punhu’s affections from his wife, she tried to persuade him that Sassui was unfaithful to him.

Bhagula enters the scene with Sassui;

Bhagula (mocking Sassui): Every banyan has been your favored lover, the very weavers who sit at their looms, no one has missed you, no, not even the Thori of the wild.

Sassui (indignant at such accusations): Alright Bhagula, let us walk through the holy fire and let it decide who amongst us is faithful to the great Baloch.

Scene changes…

When the affair became public, crowds gathered from all directions to witness the event, and a pile of three or four tons of cotton, steeped in oil and clarified butter, was prepared for the ladies’ reception. The unhappy Bhagula turned pale at the sight, and would have fled, but Sassui seized her ears and compelled her to enter. Virtue of course triumphed, and the goldsmith’s dame was burnt to ashes; her ears, which were in the pure hands of her rival, being the only portion that escaped. Punhu, acknowledged his wife’s chastity and returned with her to her father’s house.

Scene changes….

Babiho is standing with Jam Ari (Punhu’s father)….

Babiho: Master don’t blame me Punhu was enchanted by big black eyes of Sassui.

Jam Ari (shouts): Gather my six sons and tell them to bring back Punhu by hook or by crook.

Punhu’s six brothers leave for Bambhora on camels, when they reached there, they intoxicated Sassui and Punhu’s drinks by bribing a maid, at midnight all six enter Punhu’s chamber, pick him up and come out, tying him with the camel the left Bambhora during the night.

At dawn Sassui looks around, but her beloved is not on the couch beside her, she searches, yet finds not the camels of her brothers-in-law at the place where they were alighted; stooping to the ground, she gazes, and recognizes the fresh footsteps of Punhu. Then she weeps tears of blood; as if sprinkling over the hills her husband was travelling, crying:

Alas! Alas! She scatters the red gulal over her head.

How shall her wounded heart survive the loss of him, whom the Baloch have torn away from her?

The friends and family start to consolidate with her, her mother reminds her household duties.

Sassui: My spinning wheel gives me no pleasure, now that my husband is gone, nor I feel joy from conversation of my companions, my soul is among the hills, where the Baloch urge their camels.

Sassui is with her friends.

Sassui: I want to follow footsteps of my husband.

One friend: Not go forth to the wild, O Sassui, where snakes lurk in the beds of mountain streams, where jackals, wolves, baboons and bears sit in parties, watching for the travelers, and where black vipers, in the fiumaras oppose your way with their hissings, fierce hornets haunt the hills, Korars utheir cry, and Luhars, winding round the trees, swing and sway in the wind. After such dangers appear the sheds, Jam Punhu’s village home.

Sassui (adheres to her determination dissuades her companions): O married females, return to your homes and don’t come with me, I am not returning home without my husband, I fear lest, when you would die of thirst on this journey, you might start cursing Punhu.

Sassui starts her journey alone, and thus apostrophizes the hills;

Sassui: O you high hills, why don’t you point towards the direction of my lover? It must be yesterday that the string of camels passed over you, wasn’t my lover, my friend in that caravan?

Sassui faces the dangers of roads, the heat, the feelings of a lady in her novel position, and her praiseworthy tribulation in spite of the sun, simoom, fatigue and bruised feet.

At last she meets a goatherd.

Sassui: O my brother! The goatherd, may God bless you with more goats, and may your name be celebrated for the beauty of your flock at every ford, where animals are driven to water. For Lord’s sake, goatherd! Point out to me the path taken by my brothers-in-law.

It happens so that this wretch, described as a perfect demon of the waste in ugliness and wildness, had been told by the old witch, his dam, that on that day he should meet in the jungle a beautiful bride, decked in her jewels and rich attire. Seeing Sassui, he concluded that she was the person intended for him, and forthwith began to display a grotesque and unceremonious gallantry, which was rapidly verging towards extremes. The lady, to gain time, complained thirst and begged her horrible admirer to milk one goat.

The goatherd: I have no pot.

Sassui drew out a brass mug, and gave him. As he went down to fetch the animal, knocked a hole in the bottom of it with a stone. The villain’s eyes were so much occupied, and his senses so charmed, by the beauty of his prize, that he did not remark unusual length of time it required to draw a draught of milk.

And now Sassui, driven to her despair, offered up earnest prayers to heavens to preserve her honor; begging to be admitted into the bowels of the earth, if no other means of escape existed. Heaven heard her prayers and suddenly she sank into the yawning ground.

The wretched goatherd then perceived his mistake, but unable to cancel the past, occupied himself in raising a hut of straw in honor of the departed fair one.

Scene changed….

Punhu escaped his brothers with his slave Lallu and started traveling to Bambhora, passed by the spot, attracted by the appearance of the hut, he went up to it and would have sat down there to rest, but suddenly he heard Sassui’s voice calling from the tomb;

Sassui: Enter boldly my Punhu! Don’t think to find a narrow bed, here gardens bloom, and shed sweet savor around, here are fruits, and shades, and cooling streams, and the prophet’s light pours through our abode, banishing from its limits death and decay.

Punhu calls his servant Lallu, gives him the reins of his camels, and directs him to carry the tidings of fate to his father and friends.

Punhu than prays to heaven to allow him join Sassui, his prayers are heard and he is swallowed in the land.

The curtains had fallen down…. Maheem had concluded:

“Separation is now removed, and the friends have met to part no more, the souls of those true lovers are steeped in bliss, and the rose is at last restored to the rose bed.”

Everyone in the stage had stood up and clapped, the performers had come in front and received the applause. For many days Farzan had remained under the spell of Sassui’s character and started to believe that Hyder was her Punhu.

The semester exams were about to start, it was the last semester for Abdul and Hyder after that they were to pass out the university. Farzan was sitting in her room, a thick book of JavaScript lay in her lap open, and it seemed she was reading from the book, but she was thinking only about Hyder. Suddenly she heard a knock at the main door, Abdul went out it and found Hyder standing outside, he welcomed him to come inside, both of them came inside and sat in the longue, Abdul’s mother was in the kitchen cooking the diner, when Farzan came to know that Hyder had come to visit Abdul, she wanted see his sight and went to the kitchen pretending to help the mother in cooking, she was having a perfect view of the boys. They were having a serious discussion.

“Have you heard,” Hyder had said: “about the airstrikes upon different villages at Awaran.” Abdul stared in his friend’s face, who said: “more than eighty people have died in those attacks.” Abdul had said nothing.

“This is clear-cut genocide of Baloch people, they are doing our ethnic cleansing,” Hyder had said, anger and hatred was visible in his tone, and then he said: “come, we are told to install the posters of doctor at the campus, Naseer, Shameer and others are waiting at campus.”

“Maa…!” Abdul called his mother and said: “I am going to the campus, would be back in half an hour.”

“The diner is ready,” his mother said wiping her sweat.

“Ma I’d have it on my return,” Abdul said and left with Hyder, riding Hyder’s motorbike, they reached the campus in twenty minutes and met with others who were waiting for them. They carried big banners and posters of a man in his mid-forties, belt of bullets was tied around his waist, and he hold Ak-47 in his right hand, above that “Liberation of Balochistan is our Destiny” was written in bold letters. They formed eight teams of two and spread into different corners of the campus pasting banners and posters on different spots, while those who were assigned the chalking job, they painted the walls in black with slogans like: “Stop genocide of Baloch people…. Doctor we are with you…..”

Hyder and Abdul were pasting the posters on the walls of CL, when they saw lights of a vehicle, they ignored it and carried on with their work, the vehicle stopped at the roundabout, six healthy men in plain clothes came out from it, one of them threw torch light in the direction where Hyder and Abdul were standing.

“Catch these bastards, don’t let them go,” cried the one with torch.

“Run,” cried Abdul, and the two started to run, they were chased by five men, suddenly something came in Hyder’s way and he fell on the ground and injured his knees, Abdul was running ahead, when he saw Hyder fell down he stopped running and came to his rescue.

“Run Abdul run, leave me alone,” Hyder cried in pain.

“Without you maybe in the next life,” Abdul replied and tried to pick his friend up, at that precise moment Abdul felt a strong hand in his neck.

“So you are the motherfuckers,” said their abductor, and punched Abdul in his stomach, he felt the pain, then he was kicked between his legs, Abdul fell down.

“These motherfuckers think we are fools without any information,” the one who had torch in his hand said and this time kicked Hyder. Two men went to the walls and tore the posters, others grabbed the boys from their hair tied their hands and blindfolded them, they were thrown in the vehicle, soon they realized they were not alone, other friends have also been abducted.

When the clock hit midnight, Abdul’s mother became worried and said to Farzan:

“Why has Abdul not returned?”

Farzan was studying in the longue.

“Relax ma, he must be at hostel,” she replied concentrating on the book.

“Call him on his cellphone and ask when would come home,” said the mother in worried tone. Farzan took out her cellphone from the black pouch and dialed Abdul’s number, it was off.

“What happened?” the mother asked in worried tone.

“His number is off,” Farzan replied and dialed Hyder’s number, even the other number was also off, this made Farzan worried too, she tried to contact with few LFB members but got no response. Half an hour passed, no contact was made, the mother in worried tone prayed:

“Ya Allah, protect my son.” A few moments later Farzan’s cellphone buzzed, she quickly took it out from the pouch, she had received a text from Maheem, which read:

“Just come to know that a raid was conducted on the main campus and boys’ hostels, more than sixteen students have been abducted.” Farzan was shocked reading the text, blackness came before her eyes, and she had no guts to tell her mother, what had happened?

Even on the third day when no news about Abdul came, his mother having mental stress fell on the ground.

“Ma….ma….ma…..” Farzan cried in fear coming to her, she picked her unconscious mother and put her on bed, twenty minutes passed but her mother was still unconscious, she rubbed her hands and feet but got no response, tears fell on her white cheeks as she ran out from the house to neighbors for help, in no time the neighbors gathered, and an ambulance was called and her mother was shifted to the local hospital.

“She is in coma due to stress,” the doctor had told Farzan, she felt pain in her head and wanted to throw herself out from the third floor window of the hospital, but she remained unmoved, tears fell from her eyes.

On the fifteenth day, in the evening when Farzan had come hospital to attend her mother after the university and tuitions, a tall, dark aged guy dressed in white kurta and white shalwar came to her.

“I am Shabbir father of Hyder,” he said to Farzan in calm voice, Farzan stood up from the wooden stool and greeted him.

“I want to talk to you in loneliness,” Mama Shabbir said: “could you join me for few minutes in the garden?” Farzan nodded her head in agreement and walked out with Mama Shabbir. They came to a lonely corner in the hospital garden and sat on a stone bench.

“I have come to know that your brother Abdul was abducted with my son,” he said.

“Yes,” Farzan replied with a sob.

“I am going to start a protest for recovery of all the missing students at the local press club,” he said: “would you join me?”

“Yes, of course,” Farzan replied without thinking.

“Fine then, we would meet tomorrow morning,” Mama said standing up, Farzan also stood up and asked: “would they return?” Mama Shabbir didn’t answer and walked away.

The local press club was a small four room building having a wooden door, the photographers and reporters always had to wait for the news, hardly a protest came and then they weren’t even sure about the publishing of their filed news. When Mama Shabbir and Farzan reached the press club carrying ply-cards about the missing students, the photographers rushed towards them and started instructing them where to stand, what posture they should have, there were clicks on the cameras.

“Please make a “V” sign,” said one dark skinned photographer, Farzan and Mama did as they were told, after the photo session, reporters came around them noting quickly what was their problem? After all this, they sat together under an old tree. The next day only one local newspaper had published their news, while four papers published the photographs without news. On that particular day, relatives of two other missing students joined Mama and Farzan, for three whole months they kept coming to the press club but still got no information regarding the missing person. After three months they went to Quetta press club and protested there, many journalists ignored them, but then came a thin feeble journalist Raiz his eyes were not visible under his thick glasses, he had thin line of moustache on his upper lip, Raiz was a freelancer, and he wrote an article for a famous English daily of two thousand and five hundred words about the missing persons in Balochistan focusing on Mama Shabbir and Farzan case.

The article went like a fire in the jungle, Human Rights activists started to open their mouths, solidary demonstrations were held in Sindh and other provinces as well, two days later when Raiz was going back to his house at night, two motorbike riders stopped him and fought with him, he was injured in this attack and warmed to control his pen, but fifteen days later, he wrote and other article this time on mass graves in Balochistan and missing persons, the article became a hot potato, one mainstream Urdu news channel had a one hour program on prime time and Mama Shabbir and Farzan were taken on-air via phone call. The Chief Justice of Supreme Court took the suo moto action on the issue of missing person but none of the missing returned.

Outside Quetta press club, it was a bright sunny day Mama Shabbir, Farzan and twenty others had installed a camp and they had been protesting for a month there, on that particular day Raiz approached the protestors at their camp with the latest issue of the paper in which his article had published.

“Mama Shabbir;” Raiz lit a local branded cigarette and blew the match stick with the smoke he had inhaled told the protestors: “could I give you a suggestion?”

“Yes my son,” Mama Shabbir replied.

“Mama;” Raiz puffing the cigarette said: “announce a long march from Quetta to Karachi for the missing persons,” everyone listened to him carefully, he continued: “but remember don’t have any political slogans.” Mama Shabbir went into deep thought and then agreed with the journalist. An emergency press conference was arranged and Mama Shabbir along with Farzan announced to have a long march from Quetta to Karachi. They had a march and the world started to recognize the Baloch problem. When LUMS withdrew from the program, Samreen offered them to have a discussion at FTS.

Farzan came out from the room and joined us, we welcomed her with smiles; she picked up one sheet.

“We would do it by ourselves,” Samreen said with a smile.

“You have already done more than enough for us,” Farzan said in humble tone.

“This café is all about speaking freely,” Samreen said, Farzan nodded her in agreement.

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