He who changed my life

Published: July 13, 2012

He told me how he had lost his legs in a brutal accident which was caused by reckless driving of a drunken elitist son like me. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

I was part of the elite ─ the privileged, the damned. Yes, I was a part of those cadres of people who have dominated this country since its inception, crippling it in the nexus of nepotism and corruption.

Fickle lives and distraught ambitions were what defined me in that period. Life was great or at least it felt to be so.

All that changed on that fateful night. The night of March 3, 2005 changed who I was.

It was around three in the night. Coming back from the usual late hangout with my friends, I stalled at the Atom Chowk, since the traffic light had turned red.

Humming the hypnotic tunes of Floyd, I looked around casually.

And there he stood; impairment is a hard folly to be blessed within our part of the world ─ it seeps away your propensity to be counted amongst the living, leading to dark clouds of misery engulfing your entire person.

But he seemed different; he had that spark of living at the center of his dark pupils. I was transfixed by his aura of teeming life, which dispelled all notions of weakness to oblivion.

It is said that the purest ores are found in the hottest furnaces while the brightest lightning is produced by the darkest clouds. Maybe life had equipped him with the very notion of living it to the fullest. He was Ishmael and I am glad I met him that night.

After the light had turned green and the constant buzzing of horns brought me back to the real world, I decided that I had to talk to him. In hindsight, he served a jolt to my nerves bringing me back from my dazed existence. I found courage to address him and in that moment of courage found, my mirage of indifference was discovered to be so capricious.

In our memorable conversation, he told me how he had lost his legs in a brutal accident which was caused by reckless driving of a drunken elitist son like me. He confided in me that his parents had accepted compensation for his injury because the accuser’s family had offered a hefty sum, around Rs50,000 for each leg. Also, there was no point in prolonging the matter since the local SHO had told them emphatically that there was no way that he could charge a case. Rs50,000 for each leg sounded like a good deal and, of course, that ensured an apt dowry for his elder sister’s marriage to the local paanwala.

The marriage was successful, he remarked, although his sister always had bruises to hide whenever she came to her parent’s home.

Then, he narrated the story of his mother’s death. He told me that doctors had asked them to deposit around Rs200,000 for the treatment of acute pneumonia she was suffering from. His father told them clearly that he did not have the money. She died a peaceful death two days later.

Tough woman she was, he reminisced. According to him, it was for the first time that he felt the moisture which swells up inside one’s heart and never becomes prominent at the watershed of belief and destiny, leaving the two fields relatively drought-stricken and parched to death with the cruel sun of decrees.

I do not know how exactly was I changed in that space of an hour for I do not possess the gift of imagination, which can help me in finding the answer to the dilemma concerning how a lone, impoverished and poverty stricken child of fifteen could melt the moulds of narcissism which had been engulfing me until that point.

How could I, Rumiat Karos, son of one of the largest land-owners in the country suddenly have found courage to see the light within the truth ─ the truth that has always belonged to the outcasts, downtrodden, deprived and penurious?

There was one thing at the end of that fateful night which that friend said, the enduring strength of which can be felt resonating even after so many years:

At the end of the day, sahib, we are all soldiers. Some are drawn to the centre of the battle while others wait for the time to be engaged. The victory, however, belongs to the persistent fighters. So what, if I am a poor, nameless cripple? I have my own destiny to fulfill and my own promise to live. The only thing that matters and which I can recount to my Lord in the next life is that, I did try at least.

I have been trying, too, since then, while being on this path of self-realisation. Along the way, I have become complete in my freedom from complexes and learnt to cherish people like Ishmael.

My movement for the outcasts grows.

Read more by Taimur here.

Taimur Arbab

Taimur Arbab

A former sub-editor at The Express Tribune, college teacher of Sociology and English Literaure and LUMS alumni, who leans toward the left side of the political spectrum and looks for ideas for his short stories and poems in the everyday happenings of life. He tweets @arbab333 (twitter.com/arbab333).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Huma

    nice! but i’d like to know how ur implementing the change?Recommend

  • Sane

    SpeechlessRecommend

  • Huma

    “How could I, Rumiat Karos,” …. i thought your name is Taimur Arbab?? If its a copy/paste say so, don’t plagiarize!
    And @ET… don’t eat this one up like my last comment!!Recommend

  • GhostRider

    @Huma:
    I was confused too… Recommend

  • ovais khan

    “How could I, Rumiat Karos, son of one of the largest land-owners in the country”
    u said in ur one last blog u were the son army officer i guess so Recommend

  • ovais khan

    “The agent noticed my father’s picture in the wallet, with him donning an army uniform”
    this is the excerpt from your last blog isn’t the fact conflicting with ur new revealing truth…:PRecommend

  • Nandita.

    Some commentors here have failed to understand that this post is under ” poetic lincense”. he hasn’t plagiarized anything. Ghanti baaji ? Recommend

  • Nandita.

    huma,ovais and ghost rider — guys,the author is taimur. the character in his article is rumiat. this is a fictitious piece he has written.hence it has been filed under “poetic license” hope this clears the confusion.Recommend

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  • Asif Baloch

    I did not ask for the life that I was given but it was given none the less, and with it I did my best. Recommend

  • Taimur Arbab

    @ huma, ghost rider and ovais: it is a fictional short story where an imaginative character has been created, It is not about me,
    About the second query; it is an original piece which also won something two years back–
    @ nandita: thanks for clarifying….:)Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Bluntly put, this is very badly written. The metaphors are childishly stitched together and at certain points downright painful and the story doesn’t go anywhere. You have mentioned that this guy with a Greek sounding name used to be part of the elite in Pakistan – as you give no indication of his changed circumstances (in a story titled he who changed my life), the piece sounds even more hollow than it actually is. I am surprised that you claim to have won something with this. However, you’ve certainly confused some of those commenting, so there is at least some comic relief.Recommend

  • time manager

    black jack – where you are staying ?which city?Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @time manager:
    Pls clarify.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Ok, I understand your concern. I was in Hong Kong last week, but am back in Europe since this morning. Was a bit surprised by your msg, but figured that it had to be genuinely from ET and for this reason.Recommend

  • Taimur Arbab

    black jack: yes, it did win something and if ur surprised by that, i will tell you it won something in a competition across Pakistan–you can email me if you want the details—clearly the judges of the competition did not have as refined a taste as you.
    as far as your criticisms on the story, you are entitled to have your opinion but one is only restricted to 800 words over here and that is why all the facets of the story cannot be explained.
    as far as your contention regarding the name, I borrowed it from one of my cousins
    happy reading..Recommend

  • time manager

    @BlackJack:
    Which city in europe are you in?Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Blackjack,

    Sweetheart,ET never asks readers to disclose their location.You could visit a country a day and comment on this site from a different location every single day;that wouldn’t make the slightest difference to them.There are hundreds of people who visit this site,do you really think Et has a “time manager”to moniter peoples location?And they don’t care whether you’re the original blackjack or an imposter.
    For someone who has such a high opinion of himself,you’re quite slow on the uptake aren’t you?
    Time manager is just someone who’s curious about you,he/she is not employed by ET.
    Cheers!Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @Nandita.:
    You are probably right. I guess the coincidence of just returning from a vastly different time zone and this msg coming in immediately after was a bit too much for my poor processor to handle. Thanks for pointing it out.Recommend

  • Saad

    Why do the writers here snap at the slightest criticism? Fine, it won you a ‘ages 8-10 fiction writing’ competition, get over it. People always have a soft spot for fiction like this; ‘aww the knight decides to change forever due to the poor cripple’, boo hoo. Get over it. The knight haven’t changed in this country, and the cripples still lie out there. Actually, many of them earn on those roads for the knights, who brag about how they want to help them at parties and social gatherings.Recommend

  • Liz

    Loved it Taimur!..the flow, metaphhors and the quality of words chosen is amazing—–
    “for the first time, that he felt the moisture which swells up inside one’s heart and never becomes prominent at the watershed of belief and destiny, leaving the two fields relatively drought-stricken and parched to death with the cruel sun of decrees”….I can detect a lot of potential here. Its beautiful.
    Since you must have put it here for some honest criticique, I will tell you that if space had allowed you, you should have explored more of Rumiat himself. Also, I suggest do write sometime about what happens afterwards.
    I have mailed you too, and yes, ony of my short stories won the Commonwealth Prize some years back—-Continue writing–I would love yo see other works of yours

    with love from India!..:)Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @BlackJack:
    Good lord ! That has rendered me speechless! I was bracing myself for your attack.My poor processor doesn’t quite know how to handle a thanks from blackjack.
    Will need a day to recover!Recommend

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