I grew up imagining my mother’s childhood in a faraway fantasyland called Tort Sandeman’. In arid Baluchistan; a sprawling bungalow housed the Tibek family. a mini zoo full of exotic animals, badaam and zardalu trees.
My mother, Amrit Varsha, witness to five springs, walked hand in hand to school with Kanees Fatima, her friend fascinated at the sight of the rifle toting guard at the gate. My nana, Kanshi Ram Tibek was DSP Police of the area. inhabited mostly by Pathans.
A towering personality, he was very well versed in Pashto. wore Pathani clothes regularly and looked like a handsome pathan.
‘Fort Sandeman’ ‘The name of a small town in Baluchistan’ was it real or a figment of my mother’s borrowed imagination. Thanks to Wikipedia I found it… hiding behind its new name ‘ZHOB’ given in 1964. There it was…the fortress, named after a British Official. My heart leapt, and every image stitched from the threads of my mother’s memory came alive.
Far away from Tort Sandeman; was another child running around with his friends Alam Sher Balqual and Dost Muhammad in Gunjyal, district Sargodha.1 discovered that my father was earlier named Navneet and was called Nita Khan, a name he did not particularly take to. He asked for his name to be changed as late as almost 10 years of age and my dadi decided to name him Om Parkash. It was with his two friends that he remembers having learnt the art of trapping and training falcons and hunting quails. I would see him watching Nat Geo and Discovery Channel with rapt attention when they were aired. I understood later that his little tell talent mile meant that he had drifted back to Neverland.
The other thing I wonder about Sargodha is if applying oil is still the cure-all To date that remains my father’s elixir for all ailments. 1 write this with a smile as 1 applied oil this morning on my son’s injured leg. The Sargodha solution must work…