Let us go back to 1944. It was a revolutionary year in the history of Swat State. It saw the downfall of the ‘Wazir Brothers’ and the advent of a new chapter of progress, prosperity and peace. The four or five years long spell of intrigue, conspiracy and counteractions ended with the exile of the Wazir family. The elder Wazir (Mashar Wazir) Hazrat Ali, whom he felt his game was over, he slipped outside the State under the pretext of leave to go to Kashmir.
From their he sent his resignation, not directly to Badshah Sahib (Miangul Abdul Wadud/Ruler of Swat) but to the Governor NWFP, requesting him to forward it to Badshah Sahib and begged for making sure the safety of his family. He also advised his younger brother to meet Badshah Sahib and get his permission to leave the State.
Accordingly, he went to Badshah Sahib’s office and said, “My lord, we were your humble servants and served you and the State to the best of our ability. We were outsiders with no roots in Swat but your patronage made us one of Swat’s prominent family. Our father was called Qashqar Mulla, you gave us honour and respect.”
Mashar Wazir further asked the Ruler of Swat, to now give him another favour by letting them leave Swat in a dignified manner, with honour and guarantee of safety. He also wished Badshah Sahib and Prince Jahanzeb, all the best of luck. So they were allowed to leave with all moveable wealth and transport facilities.
Abdul Ghafoor was a strong bulky man like wrestlers, my father used to tell us later, whenever he talked about Sher Khan. So Chacha Ghafoor became a character from far-off islands for us, sent by Providence to protect our Prince Sher Khan. I have no clear vision in my mind of those bloody years. A four year old, just looking with wide eyes to his surroundings. But after some time I got clear picture what happened to our Prince and his Guard.
Sher khan was told by Chacha and other Patans, living in the same God forsaken slums, not to go alone outside the “hujra”. One day he was seen alone by a group of Hindu extremists and rushed at him with drawn knives. As luck might have been, Chacha Ghafoor appeared from a nearby alley and challenged the Hindus. They turned upon him. Ghafoor Chaca asked Sher Khan to run away and let him fight with the assassins. Sher khan, then 18 years old, hesitated but on second thought ran for his life. Chacha Ghafoor fought to the last drop of his blood, killing two of the Hindus and died there, receiving many cuts of long bladed knife.
In the early 40s,our next door neighbor was Saifal Malook.He was then personal clerk in office of the then Crown Prince Jahanzeb, who has much confidence in him and even handled his personal Urdu correspondence. His mother, a very respectable lady, was very kind to Sher Khan. She was shocked at his leaving the home in such a tender age and prayed for his safety.
After the partition, Sher Khan opted for Indian citizenship, which meant we have lost him forever. He kept regular correspondence with my father and tried hard to help him but life was not so easy for him. Even then he took interest in our education and often sent notebooks for me and my elder brother. He still lived in that slum of huts along the Railway line and fell prey to health problems. But he never returned to Pakistan.
He got married in a Pathan family, living in Ahmad Abad India, originally from Khwaza Khela, Swat. My father sent my elder brother Fazal Wahab to Mumbai to persuade him return to Swat but he refused. My brother returned in the early 60s without bringing Sher khan back. He told my father about his miserable health and he was totally unrecognizable. His features disfigured having no signs of his fabulous beauty. My father bore all this with submission to Allah’s will. In the wake of 1965 Indo-Pak War, direct exchange of communication was terminated. We first received one or two letters via Geneva Red Cross but it also dead stopped. After a gape of some months, a letter through some channel informed us that Sher Khan had died of cardiac arrest.
To Be Continued…