We had a big lobby in our house, which we also used as guest room. It had two doors, one towards the street and the other to the inner courtyard. When soldiers from our village came to Saidu Sarif for ten days duty after every three months, they stayed with us for the nights in this lobby.
Common habit among them was use of Naswar (snuff). I wondered how it tasted and its effects. I was then above ten years old. One morning I got a chance of stealing a pinch from a soldier’s snuff box, wrapped it in a paper and secured in a hole in the wall.
We had holidays then and when the soldiers left for duty and Baba went to his office. I took the stolen snuff out of the hole, lied in the Cot and put the stuff in my mouth as the men did. After while, the cot started moving very slowly, in circular shape. I held the wooden frame in my hands to stop the cot but it did not stop. Then I felt I was sick in stomach. I started vomiting. My mother ran to the lobby, saw the dirty Naswar in the stuff I had thrown out. She cleaned my face with her sleeves. After I came to my senses, she made me swear I would not use the damned thing again. That was my first step in the wrong direction.
My closest friends were Asfandyar and his younger brother Bakht Rawan (who later changed his name to Akhtar Hussain, presently living in USA and is a Doctor by profession).
Both brothers were symbol of nobility, good morals and studious. Their main interest was education. In free time, we played together. As we had only one wall between our houses, their haveli was double the size of our home, because their father, Abdul Hanan was then Commanding Officer, State Artillery.
But we were so much attached to each other, we often slept together in their house. They had a cousin, Sabz Ali, who came now and then to stay for some days. One day, when we both were alone in the hujra, he drew out a cigarette, lighted it and inhaled the smoke, giving me the cigarette to have a try at it. Inspite of my repeated refusal, he pressed me so I had a draw of the fragrant smoke. I felt the same giddiness and threw away the cigarette.
I threatened him that I would tell his cousins but he pleaded not to tell them and promised he would do anything for me if I wanted to. I said nothing to Asfandyar about Sabz Ali Khan ‘s smoking. What was the use of it. They were blood brothers and I was a friend and neighbor. But I did not accept his offer of cigarette again. I could not look into the future that a time would come I would cross all limitations.
When Abdul Hanan Sahib retired as Captain from the State forces, he vacated the big haveli and Wali Sahib asked my father to occupy it. So we shifted to that big house. Our previous was demolished and three quarters were constructed on the site for State employees. I used to sleep in the Hujra instead of inside the house. I started reading out of course books and almost devoured the English Section of College Library.
My father was also fond of reading Urdu fictions. I brought Novels for him from the library. Nasem Hijazi and M.Aslam were his favorite writers. We both were also the same taste for news and he took me to the residence of Sherin Captain and Naib Salar Umara Khan, where we listened world news, especially Radio Zahidan and Pakistan.
To Be Continued…