Emerson once said, “be the opener of doors”. Other writers believed that there will always be a time when the doors will open, others said if there is no opportunity build a door. The topic I have given to my page has not been the result of too much of deliberation. It just happened as has been always this way. Flashes and waves of my mind always allow stumbling to subjects such as this -A Door Always Opens. Frankly whenever I choose to write I allow too much of randomness to take better of me. I may during the course of creation of this page ramble from one to another event by no single event preferred over the other. Ideas, people, and places bounce in my head like never before. Please turn a blind eye if there is something amiss, I do not expect myself to be perfect every time. I am not a Penman. But I am now in these last years crossing 60 is fun. You are no more worried by this, that, if, who, where and what. Who says you cannot break walls and cross those taboos and have no fear of excommunication. Doors will open, doors always open. Since childhood, my father has been a beacon, a guiding light. A man with whom I remember not conversing too much. His aura, his undertone, and overtone petrified all the siblings. There was something in him which enthralled us, it was like we were ceremoniously preserved, his mercurial and incalculable mood swings was something he could never have full control over. He had two very stark personas, his magnetism was extremely strong. He was a superstar at one time who was well organized polished and a self-assured personality. Whilst at another extreme he was fanatical, extremist with outrageous temperament. We were growing up in a household full of vibrations of life which were coming from a man who had a very austere life with unbending and unyielding character. He did not believe that losing of temper he will lose he believed more in ‘satisfaction’ of his heart no matter how many odds were pitched against him. His unpredictable nature was repeatedly reflected in his military appraisals and he could not come to terms with it. Though he died trying to find out what was against him. He was always apprehensive of conspiracy being weaved against him, even decades after his retirement. He died not ever knowing about those reports, something I read much after his passing away. The details I reserve for some other day and hour.
Right now there is a deluge of ideas, stories, and events, nothing to do with philosophical ruminations. The memories of one such story which was narrated to me back in 1995 have gradually moved around full circle opening a number of doors if you come to think of that. I am glad I did not set them free too soon. The time is now to write the full hoop as the door has revolved full circle. For the seclusion of the hero behind the Door, I have chosen to call him Snow Leopard or ‘Ess Ell‘. I saw him first time on the assumption of command after I was my promoted. Ess Ell a Captain then with a countryman appearance with few nicotine stains on his teeth was one of my Staff Officer. His accent heightened his rural background image. The outgoing commander perhaps did not ever try to know more of Ess Ell, instead, with his opinion about him tried to put him in a disadvantageous position to me. I stopped him for doing that. I believed always I should myself be the judge with my professional experience of who is what. Soon I was able to know much more of him than what I would have known through the flawed approach of the gentleman who tried to fill me up with Ess Ell’s abilities. At times we can be a poor judge of men. Senior Leaders should be wary of this very important attribute and not be swayed by personal appearances alone. As we got along we settled down to discuss various non-professional matters, give our opinion and thoughts. I now could see how the young captain viewed things in life which was of his own. I found them interesting and original. On first appearance he looked rustic, a man with no outward force of personality. His spoken English was laden with native Punjabi accent, which betrayed his personality more than was necessary. To be fair to him he could not help himself on that score. That is how Ess Ell was chiseled. A small opening in the door I gave to Ess Ell allowed me to gauge gradually prowess of his mental superiority and excellence. I soon realized that the young man was much more than running an eye over. Now he conversed with ease with me. He spoke more as I began to listen.
Ess Ell came from a needy family. He had his major misfortune at an early age when he lost his father while he was in school. He struggled with his problems which exacerbated with the death of his father. He applied to different colleges in Islamabad but failed to get an admission. Appeared as a private student. Sometimes worked as a laborer during the day, crushing stones with bare hands, lifting them at different construction sites, and other times on meager pay in different factories of Islamabad Industrial Area. At night he huddled along with other fellow students in over crowded flats earning just barely to make his modest ends meet. He took his examinations as a private student. One day resting on a mat on the floor he glanced through the first page of the paper and went to work. His colleagues and fellow laborers considered him as a misfit in even their circle of work. They found him an odd man out who worked during the day, remained aloof as he studied at night. It was a queer situation, untypical of a laborer, they thought. After he came back Ess Ell picked the newspaper and started reading again. He was thrilled and his animated movements got better of him. People gazed at him in wonderment. laborers with whom he worked called him “Baghi” (Rebel). I remembered James Dean movie A REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Ess Ell was not that. He had a cause and an ambition, a dream which was getting closer to fulfillment. They knew something extraordinary had happened for they had never seen him like that before. Soon he broke the news to those who really would not have understood the true meaning of his achievement. Another Door had flung open for Ess Ell. He had topped his examination not only amongst the batch of private students but the whole lot of appeared students for that examination. At first, he could not fathom the significance of his achievement but initially also did not believe it to be true. He went to buy the Result Supplement to confirm his accomplishment. He got a scholarship which eventually resulted in his successful graduation. His odd jobs did not cease which he continued.
Ess Ell then applied for the commission in the Army. He failed the induction test but persistent as he was he applied again and got selected. A Door had opened wide this time. Self-analytical as he was, he did not let failures to dash his hopes. He had no strings and he never complained about non-fulfillment of his dreams. Ess Ell has risen to a One Star General in the Army. He also did his Masters in Strategic Security Studies with HUMAN SECURITY as a special subject from NDU USA. The University offered him to stay and teach which he politely declined. Ess Ell has now recently completed his Ph.D. on “Human Security in Gilgit Baltistan. Role of Geography in Human Security – Case Study of Gilgit. He has also written a book on HUMAN SECURITY. I am proud to have a copy of his book duly endorsed by him. During his command in Northern Areas, he applied his concept of Human Security successfully.
As I ponder over the yester years I am really lost for words to chronicle his achievements. He humbly calls me as his mentor, but I never thought like that. He is a self-made man his doors were difficult to open but he opened them with his sheer hard-work and perseverance. When I started writing I thought I will narrate more than this event in my life. I will write again as a sequel to this page at a later time.
“When God Opens a door no one will shut when he shuts no one will open”
Lailah Gifty Akita. (A Ghanian and an Author of Think Great)