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Yearning for a banyan tree across barbed wires

August 14, 2012


LAHORE, Aug 13: On his 70th birthday, he climbed up a 30-foot high security tower like a teenager and started telescoping his birthplace on the other side of the border. Everything had changed there but seemed familiar.

“Yes, of course, it is the same banyan tree. It has grown taller and (foliage) spread manifold but it is the same landmark which used to help me determine distance from home after playing in the far away fields during summer. And this is my home…”

“Bazurgo! Aithay hor rehna khatarnak ho sakda ae (O elderly fellow! staying here any longer can be dangerous),” said a Rangers personnel posted at the tower. But leaving the place was not possible for the lawyer (neither emotionally nor physically) who had committed that “only illegal act” during his whole legal career spanning over five decades or so and he did not repent it.

Another Rangers was called and the senior lawyer was brought down.

It was rather astonishing for his family when on reaching “the place where I am living now” after his visit to border he announced that he would fulfil the long standing desire of his wife to proceed on the holy pilgrimage of Haj which he did perform.

Before going for the adventure, the senior lawyer attempted many a time to get a visa so that he could visit his birthplace in east Punjab but the officials at Indian Embassy in Islamabad would refuse to even entertain his application. After reading newspaper reports that visa regime for senior citizens has been simplified and they have been exempted from the cumbersome procedure, he went to Wagah Border but had to return without crossing over.

“My elder sister dreamt every night that she was at her birthplace. Some five years ago she passed away and her desire to go there remained unfulfilled. I too have the same passion and still hope that one day I would be standing under that banyan tree.”