Fareedon 's expert fingers seem to flow over the keyboard. -Photo by Nadir Siddqui/Dawn.com
Fareedon 's expert fingers seem to flow over the keyboard. -Photo by Nadir Siddqui/Dawn.com

Hazara Town can be reached after crossing the whole city. Its Isolation from the provincial capital, reminds one of a distant poor relative, who exists but is largely neglected. The Hazaras in Quetta are putting up at two places. A portion lives here, while the other is settled near the garrison on Alamdar Road. By all standards, Hazara Town is a tale of wreckage and desolation. Crumbled roads lead to dumpy houses where worn out curtains veil many realities. Behind these curtains, the residents live a transitory life; mark their time living like passengers with few clothes and fewer utilities.

The quest for Hazaras had brought us here. The resilient lot fights for their life each and every day and despite heavy losses, they manage to claim a bit of happiness. A struggle which is animated in the form of a grass blade that picks up its head on the bricked pathway. Despite the unchecked killings, abductions and bomb blasts, Hazaras manage to live happily. Someone informed us about Fareedon and his exceptional talent of playing the key board.

We reached his house and realised that besides music, the hospitality of his family was equally enriching. This was the last house in the entire township, painting a picture of abject destitution. The simple lay out extended to the clean veranda. A few buckets with water fetched from elsewhere and a cage with a partridge, a signature of the Hazara civilization, filled in the spaces. The drawing room was on the left side of the house.

In a short time, around 10 people filled in the room, mostly friends and family and of course the fans. The serving of food was a scene right out of folklores. White sheets were spread and the crockery was laid out. Subsequently, a large kettle with hot water was brought in for washing hands, followed by hand towels. The delicacy of the Iranian culture was mesmerising. Qehwa was served after the food, while Fareedon set up his keyboard.

The gap between the loud curtains of the room and the artificial flowers in the vase was filled in by family photos and the portrait of Najeeb. There was also a Persian quotation demanding perseverance. The family left Afghanistan when the Taliban took over. The ban on haircuts meant little life for the thinking mind and being an artist meant a torturous death. They sold everything and moved to Pakistan. In Quetta, his father opened a cassette and CD shop to make a living. The ambience in the room was an epilogue to their once prosperous past.

When Fareedon started singing, time stood still. His expert fingers seem to flow over the keyboard and the Persian lyrics cast a spell. The song was about preserving what little happiness was left over.

Friends value each other For death is a stone and man is like a glass Separation is a lasting sorrow

We sealed everything within our camera and returned. The day-to-day firefighting at the office managed to replace Fareedon. However, the last scene at his house persisted. While walking us out, his uncle stood at the gate, at the cost of being seen, and requested "Saheb, Fareedon’s father is not working. The shop has been forcibly shut down. They have threatened to blow it up if opened. Please do see if there is any show where he can perform. He is very fond of going to school but he cannot."

When snow fell in Quetta for the first time this fall, Fareedon’s uncle called me. He was frantic; the Sepah of Sehaba had attacked Fareedon … the assailants might have been up for reliving the glory of the battle of Qadsia, but the Hazaras were the first to convert when invited by a single letter by Ali ibn e Abi Talib. Another variant could be a Lashkar from Jhang that had taken it on them to punish Fareedon for his irreligious conduct. They failed to notice any such conduct in the 761 kilometer-long distance that parted Jhang and Quetta.

When I reached his house, his eye had swollen to a dangerous extreme. Someone had stopped him while he was heading to the local shop, confirmed his name and while he denied, hit him with the pistol. Throughout the night, while snow covered everything, Fareedon’s mother had cold sponged his eye. When I called his uncle again, I heard a different ring tone, a Punjabi pro sunni naat. Anil Kumar, a chemist from Mithi, Nagar Parker, who would use Alhamdo lillah and Inshallah every now and then in his conversation, flickered in my mind and so did the janitor of my building who, just for the sake of survival, had named his sons, Aslam and Akram.

Writing about Fareedon was a tough decision. Will it endanger his life? Will he be the focus of social media as an agent of extra regional forces (as of Malala)? Will it take away the little pulsating life left at their house?

In the silence, I heard a clear voice … Fareedon called me and in his persianised Urdu told me … Saheb, you must write it, nothing will happen …

 


Muhammad Hassan Miraj is a federal government employee.

 


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Updated Dec 29, 2012 05:17pm

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Comments (16) (Closed)


sri1ram
Jan 01, 2013 06:41am
Allah helps those who help themselves. Or perhaps, such "western" sayings don't work in the pure land. Perhaps they do, rare flowers like Abdul Sattar Edhi do arise in the wretched land.
Sokretez Socrate
Jan 01, 2013 06:44am
I wonder where is law enforcing authority? It is rule of the jungle in Pakistan.May Allah swt help us.
Tahir Alam
Jan 01, 2013 09:00am
There is not much voice raised for Hazara's. This blog has done a great job of raising voice for them. All the Pakistani's must unite against the militancy prevailing in and destroying Pakistan. Mass media needs to focus more on this issue. The problem is that, mostly, the uneducated people join these outfits. We need to increase our literacy rate. We need to educate our people about the true teachings of Islam.
Ali
Dec 30, 2012 12:17am
May Allah save our Pakistan from these blood thirsty savages who are just destroying the peace of its inhabitants. I have no clue what is stopping us to throw these barbarians out of our country,
Imran
Dec 29, 2012 10:18pm
touching work.
pathanoo
Dec 29, 2012 09:07pm
The self-devouring act of Pakistan is beyond belief and without parallel in history.
JT
Dec 30, 2012 02:20pm
Many Pakistanis who see the nation slowly falling into the abyss. Their horror seems to have paralyzed them. Nobody seems motivated enough to act. Inaction is like slowly submitting to the wills of those who will drag the nation to the medieval age.
S. A. M.
Dec 29, 2012 08:25pm
Nobody knows when and where this madness is going to end. Meraj Saheb thank you for writing about fareidoun the little bird of hope May Almighty protect him and all others like him Ilahi Ameen.
Peace
Dec 30, 2012 08:17am
At least someone is writing to show the plight of Hazara people in this country - The Islamic Republic of Pakistan....Kudos man...
Anwar Amjad
Dec 30, 2012 06:26pm
Thank you Meraj for highlighting the plight of Hazaras. It is really shameful that banned militant organizations are still very active and causing so much pain and anguish to so many innocent people.
Zalmai
Dec 31, 2012 04:35pm
What is Persianised Urdu for God's sake? Do you mean to say he spoke Urdu with an Afghan accent. By the way Afghans speak Dari not Persian.
Virkaul
Dec 30, 2012 06:52am
I had read somewhere that a cyclic process exists, which is: - KINGS - PRIESTS - PROLETARIAT - TRADERS After the Kings (Generals & Fuedels), it is the Priests, who are ruling Pakistan. After their shelf life of Mullahs is over, Proletariat would move in causing a revolution, which may still be a distance away. Business, Industry and Trade will follow when socialism attains evils due to power it acquires.
irfan
Dec 31, 2012 07:00am
'Separation is a lasting sorrow' Poignant, wonderful!
Ali
Dec 31, 2012 05:00am
Enough is Enough !!!! For God's sake people of Pakistan please speak up now. This is not the what Islam is all about. Pleeeeeeeeease ... This silence will doom us all.
masud
Dec 31, 2012 01:13pm
It is so sad that recently 22 poor levies lost their lives and for Pakistan Government, Military, politicians and general public it is business as usual. When are we going to wake up and take a stand against all these blood thirsty criminals? Or have we become so use to this that nobody takes notice of such a big tragedy. I always read and admire your writings God bless you.
Ayaz
Dec 31, 2012 08:25am
Our nation busy in watching cricket than yesterday's killings done by militants, 41 in numbers,