One year ago! (I)

Shahbaz Taseer

Exactly one year ago, I woke up like I usually had for the last four and half years. Back pain from cold cemented floor and deep hunger had taken toll on me because honestly, I couldn’t remember my last decent meal. I was also quite lonely, as had even given up trying to remember the faces and voices of the ones who loved me. I had come to a sad realisation that trying to remember them would weaken me and the battle I was fighting to survive had no place for such things. However, I woke up to pray that morning and still remembered my dua. It had become monotonous over the last four years but I always said it with conviction because my heart told me that God is listening to my prayer calls. I looked and smelt the same but I never saw the new Shahbaz I was forced to see in the mirror every day.
He wasn’t lost but he was a little buried. He hadn’t given up but certainly was scared and lonely. Happiness for him was in dreams and memories with his life seemingly at a great distance. Almost stolen to be precise.
Most things that are stolen are lost but I would tell myself that one day we would find what was taken from us. As I went outside to what me and this Arab I had gotten to know as ‘the yard’ to get some suntan for curing scabies I had picked up from 150 other guys in that claustrophobic Taliban jail, this other man I had befriended, an Afghan Taliban named Malang, called me over. He asked for the main jail door to be opened, gave me some money and told me that I was free to go. Some other Taliban took me to Quetta and from there I could find my way back home. It seemed like the worst lie I had ever heard but it wasn’t. It took me eight days that seemed like they would never end to get somewhere near the city.
To be continued
Today it seems like a lifetime ago when the army finally rescued me. “Wow! This must have been a miracle,” I reckoned. But the bigger miracle had taken place eight days earlier when at the exact moment that I walked out freely from that dreadful jail, my father’s murderer was hanged till death. The justice provided to my father exceeded the struggle I had gone through all these years. Getting justice is truly rare in our society. Some of us live a luxurious life but there are so many out there who are less fortunate. My father, I used to feel, was unfortunate. I thought that he had everything bestowed upon him by God but it was all taken from him just because he was a man of convictions and principles. Imagine being killed for what you believed in.
God shed light that Abba was more fortunate than most of us could have ever imagined to be. Not only did he live but he lived well and he lived on his own terms. How satisfied his soul must have been that day. Still there are some monstrous people out there who celebrate his gruesome murder but it shouldn’t keep us upset. “We will show you miracles but your hearts will be so hard with disbelief that you will not bring faith,” states the Holy Quran. My father’s miracle is there for everyone to see. Cowards and tyrants have been celebrated in their lives throughout ages but it’s the heroes that leave behind their legacies.
Funny that I am a little unwell today! I was unwell that day too! I had a sore throat then I have one now! But then I was coming home, now I’m going to see a Guns N’ Roses concert. Another check on the bucket list! A list I thought would never be completed! A band I thought would never hear to play again! I have truly been blessed. Though the miracle wasn’t mine, let me openly say that prayers from everyone were duly heard, and that on its own is more than I could ever ask for.
Abba used to tell me that when we think things can’t get any worse we should tell ourselves that in the greater scheme of things, God is playing a prank on us. Because when we look back at every unimaginable or worse thing that had ever happened to us, we laugh at them! “We will never put a burden on you that you can’t bare,” the Holy Quran further states. From what I’ve learned from my faith and loved ones, always remember that if what we carry seems like a mountain, it can certainly be broken and conquered.


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