Our childhood life in Saidu Sharif was not all comfy but we had some moments of enjoyment also. Children of the upper class kept their children noses up but were not as snobbish and arrogant as the rich of today. Class difference was there off course, but we had the same chances of education and health care in Swat State. There were no upper class institution in the State. We went to Anglo Vernacular School Shagai with kids of the state officers, sitting on the same mates in preliminary classes and on benches in middle and high schools.
My closest friend and class mate from the start was the son of a high ranking officer of the Swat State forces but he never treated me as inferior or for the same reason, the other kids of the class. In the school’s break though, the class difference was more visible. There was no tuck-shop as in the present day schools. A sweet vender, Bakht Wali by name, spread jute bags and arranged his items on it, mainly candies, channa and boiled peas in a silver vassal. Boys with pocket money bought some things and enjoyed with their poor mates.
Another festive event was the joint parade of Cavalry, Machine Gun Platoons and the Signal Corps. The horses were decorated with multi colour cloths. The riders fully dressed and wearing knee-long boots with iron spurs at the heels. The horsemen held their lances to right sides with red and white strips fluttering at the top of the lances. The elite Machine Gun Platoon was commanded to its chief. Subedar Major Sher Malook was however, actually the sole master of this ceremonial parade, held once a week. The signal crops was led by its Commander, the stout and bulky Subedar, carrying a heavy wireless set, such apparatus were also visible with other ranks of the group. Some names, I remember were Sher Aman, Said Umar and Rustam. Sher Aman used to make shoes in Saidu Bazar, when not on duty.
All these groups came from Saidu side and stopped just below our houses in Afsar Abad, to wait for the Command Officer of the Cavalry, Sherin and his second-in-command, Rasaldar Ghulam Muhammad. The Royal buiglars and the band struck their instruments on the arrival of Captain Muhammad Shirin. He took his position in front of the columns and Subedar Major Sher Malook shouted the word of the Command, “Parade Quick March”, and the band and buiglers hit the tune of war marches. This glorious March often returned from Faza gat, but some time went as far as Charbagh.
At noon the soldiers and the riders returned to Saidu Sharif, deposited the heavy equipments but took their arms with them as usual, to their homes. The horses were taken to the stable in Afsar Abad. The stable was called ‘Thabila’, where the state provided all the feeds required for the horses.
So dear readers, what do you say, how our childhood was?