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For the love of it A tribute to my school teacher Mr. Mohabbat Khan Niazi (Part 2)


It's him.

Old and frail. He's lost his front teeth. And looked tired.

He lives in the same dingy little house that I visited back in 1981 for the first time. Deep in the bowels of smelly and polluted Jhanda Chichi. The house has a shared entrance with another quarter. The street outside smelt of sewerage.

The door just had a sheet hanging from the door sill and there wasn't any door bell.

I had to announce my arrival with a cough and Assalamu Alaikum.

A lady by the door was busy cleaning utensils. Hearing me, she asked someone called Khalid to go and see who was at the door.

A tall young man of early twenties came out to greet me. He had the unmistakable deeply furrowed Niazi saheb chin and the same smiling eyes. I asked about his dad. He informed me that baba was out teaching but would be back soon. He asked me to wait in the sitting room. I followed him to a small garish and damp room that had three beds arranged against three walls. I was surprised to note that on one bed an old lady was sleeping under a quilt. I quietly sat on a vacant bed and uneasily began to wait.

I didn't have to wait for long. Within five minutes or so, the aging, wiry frame of sir Muhabbat Khan Niazi stumbled in. Dressed in simple but neat shalwar-qameez and sweater, sir had his head covered with a white piece of cloth. If I didn't know that it was him, I would have struggled to recognise him. Sir, too had trouble identifying me at first. He asked me warmly about my year of qualifying. I gave him my name and the year of passing matriculation. Suddenly, just like that, his eyes flashed and he stood up to greet me again! 'Oh _Sajid Butt!_ How have _you_ been! Najam (Najam us Sahar, my matriculation class fellow) told me that you had left Pakistan for good!! It is so good to see you'.

He of course then recalled _everything_ about me and my year.

'How's aba ji? How's your family? How's work? How's Sameer Zar?'

He remembered that Sameer's father had cajoled him into giving Sameer some chemistry tuition. He had tried to explain that chemistry wasn't really his subject but the elder Zar saheb would have none of it. So he started going to Sameer's house that was _so far away_ on some ungodly hour to teach the young clever clog all about chemistry. There on one fine early morning/ late evening, Sameer pointed out a mistake in the periodic table that was published in the book. Sameer wanted the mistake rectified. It was he himself who then found the correct version of the table in some British book, much to the relief of a reassured Niazi saheb!

We talked about some of his other colleagues. Mr. Mirdad had died in 2006, Mr. Shaheen was well, Mr. Tariq had shifted to Multan and has grown a long beard.

Sir talked about his passion for teaching and how he always emphasised on keeping a good niyyat. He taught for the sake of teaching. Not in the wont of getting promotions or getting favours from rich or influential parents of some students.

He came across as a thoroughly decent, self respecting and upright person.

The lady sleeping in the room was his ailing wife, who had been suffering from effects of a CVA. His two sons had married and lived separately. He had had six of his daughters married. Now he was left with one son, Khalid, whom I had met and who had been doing his CA, and one last daughter. She was also studying.

Sir told me that he had preserved the pen sketch that I had written about him. That made my head swell up a bit!

I then had a cup of tea with some makkhaddi halwa and begged my leave. Sir walked out on the road to see me off and warmly bade me farewell with a shower of prayers.

I left with mixed emotions of happiness to see him alive and relatively well but also sad to note that society, ought to have treated on of its proud and fantastic servants better.

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