‘Nasim Gul Sahib’ -By Habib Khan

Illustration by Irshad Salim

Engr. Habib Khan writes from Quetta: In the mid nineties, when the drug dealers started to make Hub their hub, I decided to hire a chowkidar and was introduced to a middle-aged gentleman Nasim Gul who agreed upon a salary which didn’t look much more than a stipend.

Nasim Gul Sahib was from the village of “Bafa” in Mansehra District, and I soon realized that he could easily pick up quarrels with strangers and could more easily use his pick axe which he normally carried as his walking stick.

Once he challenged a much younger and stronger man by shouting
“Oye tu Afghani hai te mai vi Pathan aan”
…and could hardly be restrained by passersby.

When friends visited me, we often chatted over a cup of tea in the same courtyard where Nasim Gul Sahib used to sit, and though he never interfered in the conversation but he did make me realize that he was keenly observing the gup shup and that too only for my own good.

One day I returned home after spending a full day out and asked Nasim Gul Sahib if anyone had come? and he sarcastically answered

“Ji Sahib ji trae qarz wale aye sunn te char nokri wale”.

“How do you know,” I somewhat angrily asked and he again in the same manner said, “pata te chal hi janda hai ji”.

In 1999, the factory I was working at closed down and that definitely diminished my capacity to offer qarz or nokri, and weeks would pass without the door bell ringing and Nasim Gul Sahib would triumphantly say, “Lo ji mai kya si twada shahr vich koi dost nahi”.

Luckily I got another job in the same locality and the routine continued, and one day in the morning I found the car door opened and the tape recorder missing.

This was a great blow to Nasim Gul Sahib’s pride and he never listened to my reassurances and soon used his axe on a probably innocent heroine addict whom neither the hospital staff nor the police were ready to take. Finally, the SHO who was known to me from Quetta helped me and no case was registered.

For better safety I had to move to Karachi, and then the 2005 earthquake happened in which Nasim Gul Sahib’s brother died and his house destroyed. So he went to his village to wait for the promised help from the government.

He did come to visit us before my shifting to Quetta and we shared some laughs remembering our days in Hub, and I asked him,” Nasim Gul Sahib, do you remember once the addicts had stolen the neighbors gate and you had recovered it from the Bengali scrap dealer? He cut me short. “Bengali nahi si, Pathan si”.

Nasim Gul Sahib had never made a demand of any kind during the ten years that he was with me, and had almost made me a vegetarian by alternately preparing either kaddu, or torai, with occasional baingan when I demanded for a change.

A truly simple, honest and a caring man.