From time to time in our lives comes along a time when things happen unexpectedly. Events which completely change not only our life but the lives of another family, another person for rest of their life. I though know why I was hand picked for things which were about to happen on that fateful day. I am a strong believer in twist and turns of fate. They reveal their purpose in bits and pieces and its full extent can only reveal itself when time passes and you begin to realize the master plan of the Almighty, the controller of all worlds. We try to do right things, we believe we know what we should have done in the past, we believe we have the twenty-twenty vision but we do not know what we should do in future. Still, we misjudge and miscalculate to control our lives and then something tragic happens. The stark reality is uncloaked. We lament on our fate and misfortune. Time takes control. Our helplessness to seize the game plan is uncovered. Only if we believe and perceive, we come to know and what we do and act is, in my opinion, is ordained to complete the cycle of events. They say hindsight is of little value in the decision-making process. I do not agree with the thought. The intent guides.
It was April 2014, at about 1630 hours my son drove her mother to home after shopping for groceries in Islamabad. When they arrived on the road towards the airport about 800 meters ahead of the newly built check post as the road takes a bend a young boy little more than 5 years old, appeared running out of nowhere from the left side. He must have missed at least two or three cars before he hit our car from the left side and later it was known that he had died. Some cars sped past and did not stop, those behind stopped. A young man came running to my wife and said that she should leave the site immediately lest the crowd set fire to the car. Not far from there, is another traffic post who were informed about the accident. My wife by then had called me and told me what had happened, words barely came out of her mouth as she spoke on phone. She is very weak in controlling herself and facing tragedies. In 15 minutes or so I reached the place. My wife had been extremely nervous and did not want police to take away my son who had already taken his ID card. The traffic warden took me to a side and asked if I had a driver whose ID Card could be exchanged instead with that of my son. I offered my own card instead and asked my son and wife to go home and let me face the consequences instead. Soon the Police from Chaklala Police Station came and we drove to the station with the inspector who sat beside me as I drove the car which had met the accident. He did not speak the whole way. This was the first time in my life I was in a Police Station for a different reason, for something I had not done but the police did not know. They carried on with their work. I was offered a chair in the backyard of the station and a cup of tea was offered. The police said that a FIR had been lodged against an unknown person, no name was mentioned. The family of the boy and other neighbors were distressed and agitated. A young boy had lost his life I could completely envision what was going through the child’s mother and father and three other siblings. We had also lost a son. Later I found out that Jamshed Khan was a native of KPK settled in Rawalpindi for many years now. A proud man with a strong demeanor who held himself very well in this tragic hour. He was an extremely poor man who earned his living through daily wages as a day laborer at building worksites. His work was not guaranteed. After three days when infuriation and frustration had subsided I met Jamshed in an office with Jamshed’s friends and relatives who had traveled for condolence, more so with the man who was responsible for the death of his son. I told them who I was. All of them were calm, some arms folded stood gazing at me and others seated. A couple of elders spoke, Jamshed was not one of them. He must have uttered few sentences only. I was completely heartbroken to see Jamshed in his dirty and tattered clothes. He was completely calm and only said I should not have left the scene of the accident. I felt very small, insignificant, embarrassed and could not tell them especially Jamshed that I was not the one in the car. Till today he does not know. He should continue to believe it was me on that fateful day when his son died. I think this arrangement I should take to the grave. It is better this way. It affects no one but me and me alone. The entire purpose of the whole incident will loose its value. I should continue to hold this weight inside me. I will do that, I have no doubt whatsoever as I have not kept no other option to exercise. When all had said what they wanted and some few interjections. I agreed with everything they said. I told them, that I am also a father who has lost a son. I knew what the family was going through. I very submissively and with moderation said less. Jamshed’s other three kids attentively watched me and were absorbed in their own thoughts. They looked wiped out as the man who sat before them was to be blamed for departure of their brother from this life. A few days later I was again put on the spot by their mother who was devastated and stunned as she shed tears in grief. I apologized with all who were present on this enormous tragedy which resulted. The next day I requested Jamshed I would like to visit his wife at his home which was not far away. I also told him that Omair his eldest son would remain my responsibility for education as long as he continued his studies. I offered him the best schooling in an Army Public School. I somehow failed to convince him to take my offer. He did not accept it but thanked for a monthly stipend for his son’s education. Omair studies in Class 9 now. His elder sister is taking her matric examinations.
The next day I walked through a very narrow alley and as I emerged out of it Jamshed showed me his son’s grave which was freshly covered with flowers, not more than 25-30 meters from where he lived in a two very small somber looking abode. He told me he built it with his own hands with pieces of brick. I climbed a very steep and narrow stairs top of which a small space, with pieces of cloth, haphazardly sewed covering the top to protect from the sunlight and heat. There were two rooms, I sat on a charpoy. Jamshed’s wife soon came in and sat on the floor and started crying. I also sat down and consoled her that it was the will of Allah and nothing could be done. His time was up. It is extremely difficult to tell a mother that. She talked about him as she mumbled with her tears flowing. I prayed for the departed soul. Later I offered money to Jamshed all I had in the bank. He would not take. I explained it was not a compensation for his son. It was the only thing right now to atone. As I came out of the room I took permission to see the kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. Very small rooms. I thought I will bring them to some shape. All was done with the help of a very dear friend Sohail. He also offered to plaster the whole house from inside. The angle of the stairs was adjusted and widened. The only thing Jamshed asked was to bore a water hole as he had to fetch water from afar. We did that for him as well. The water source developed now serves 4-5 houses in his narrow street.
A year and a half after the accident, one day Jamshed’s wife called me. She first asked me to vow that I would not discuss the matter with Jamshed, her husband. I promised what she wanted. She asked me only one question, ‘did Jamshed asked for the money I had paid to him’. I told her ‘ Jamshed is poor but he is a man who has pride and never once asked for financial help”. I inquired why she was asking. She completely took me by surprise when she said she still has the money as it was my ‘Amanat’ and had not been spent. She confessed despite for days the kids slept without food, she did not touch that money. I explained to her that was for them to spend in any way they wanted to spend. The women had set clear boundaries and rules for herself. I was exceedingly impressed by her character.
I visit Jamshed after every month or two to inquire of his welfare. He continues to do odd daily jobs. One day we sat and chatted. I told him about the entire episode in hindsight. I told him this accident happened to bring us together for so many reasons. This accident could have happened with anyone, anything, a tractor trolley, a motor cab, a van but instead, it was my car. A person who was to be aligned with him to do things which he did not imagine would happen. We both had lost a child. We both understood each other’s pain but we never talked about it. I still have plans to find for him a permanent source of income.
When we revisit our life we see the path it has taken. How one incident, how one decision we had taken in our life has led us to charter a course to another place, to another person. How one is intertwined with another. Good and bad things will happen which will open a door to take us to another directly or indirectly. No matter what it will place you at a point where we all stand in our respective lives. This is the position which allows you the introspection and soul-searching. I believe I am placed in Jamshed’s life. Allah took away his son and brought me to him. This unquestionably and beyond doubt a GIFT OF FATE for me and me alone. I have though told my sons not to disconnect themselves with Jamshed and his family after me.
” Every one lives in his own time” Mushtaq Ahmad Yousafi