I was born on 5th April 1943, in a comparatively small house in Afsar Abad, Saidu Sharif, where high ranking State officials lived in large havelis.
My father, Muhammad Azim Merza Sahib was a clerk in the Head Quarter of State forces. This office was a part of a Secretariat, where most of the civil offices also worked including Courts and the office of the Ruler of Swat as well. I was the second son of my mother. My elder brother, Fazli Wahab was four years older than me.
My father’s first wife died in the Cholera Epidemic, while my father was away from home, with the State Army, marching to Patan (Indus Kohistan) for occupying that part of Indus Kohistan. She lift behind the two siblings, a boy Abdur Raziq, called Sher Khan and a two years old daughter.
When the State Army returned from the expedition, all of them were vaccinated against Cholera, by British team of Medics, at Khwazakhela. On his return, my father found his home shattered.
MY father married my mother in 1937, according to ‘Nekah Nama’, recorded in Tehsil Barikot, attested by Sher Muhammad Khan, the then Tehsildar. The little girl from the other wife had died and the boy, Sher Khan was a student of Wadudia High School, Saidu Sharif.
I would like to write a few words about Sher Khan. I haven’t seen him because when he left for Mumbai, I was one and half year old. But his classmates often talked about him. They praised him for his firm character and bravery. That’s why he was called Sher Khan. They spoke of his beauty in unbelievable phrases. One retired Head Master told me, that no one could look at his face more than a few seconds. Another friend said they knew from the smell of the breeze, where Sher Khan might be. It all looks like some novel.
Sher Khan left home on 6th November 1944, without telling anybody. My father thought he might have gone to Natmera village, a small village near Barikot, where his maternal uncles lived. But after enquiry, the assumption proved wrong. After a fortnight, my father received a letter from one Abdul Ghafoor, a close relative, informing my father that Sher Khan was safe with him in Bombay. These people, mostly Pathans lived in the slums of the city, called Sewri.
My father felt somewhat relieved but was not at ease. He was a man of great patience and though suffered much internally, tried to appear normal. Then they exchanged letters regularly by post. Sher Khan started some sort of job in a metal box Company, manufacturing tin packs for different products. All of a sudden Communal violence started in all the Subcontinent, killing millions of people, in 1946-47.
To Be Continued…