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Friendship has power to hold the world together

In Toba Tek Singh, Ijaz Farooq was a beautiful and well-mannered schoolfellow of ours during the decade of the sixties. He belongs to a respectable agricultural family. His father was secretary of a local market committee. Ijaz Farooq was good in his studies, but unfortunately, he was deprived of one eye. Many times, he was mocked by others for this disability. His parents’ love and care had given him self-confidence; they also managed one artificial eye for him, which was fitted well through a major operation. Ijaz Farooq’s father died during his service, and the department gave that post to Ijaz Farooq. But this didn’t end hardships of his life. After his marriage, God gave him one deaf son and one deaf daughter. When these disabled children grew up, they were married to deaf spouses. Ijaz Farooq did his best to enable his children to earn their livelihood. Again his grandchildren were also deaf. He struggled to have a government-owned school for deaf children in Toba Tek Singh. He got other citizens’ cooperation and started a private school for such children.

His deaf son Muhammad Siddique Umer did his Bachelor in Arts from the Punjab University with his efforts. Then, he got a two-year Diploma in Speech-Education. After that, he got three months’ training in the computer program – Graphic Designing. Then, he did a job as QA Encoder in Quality Assurance Department in a private mill for five years. He got training in carpet making, tailoring, drawing, and computer skills, knitting, M/C maintenance, and operating, industrial tailoring. He got certificates for outstanding work and excellent behavior. It was his father-in-law’s desire that his deaf family should live with him in Karachi. He managed an appropriate job for him in Karachi, but unfortunately, Siddique’s father-in-law died after a short period. There were layoffs because of COVID-19. This deaf family came back to Toba Tek Singh. Now, it is the earnest desire of Ijaz Farooq that his brilliant deaf son should be appointed to special people’s seat in a government institution.

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In Toba Tek Singh, Disabled Persons’ Government School was also established with the untiring efforts of Ijaz Farooq. For this school, his well-trained deaf son Muhammad Siddique Umar is the most deserving person for a job in the seat of a teacher or a trainer. Now, at the age of 74, my friend Ch. Ijaz Farooq can hardly recognize things with very dim eyesight of his one eye. His wish for a government job on disabled persons’ quota for his deaf son is genuine. This young deaf gentleman is an incredible expert and dedicated worker in his field and nurtures a family of four deaf persons. In all respects, it is a genuine desire, and society owes it to him. After a long absence from my childhood city, I know very few people. But I know that Ch. Ashfaq Ahmed and the family of Ch. Abdul Sattar is also in the town. My very old friend M.A. Naz is still serving the city’s people in the front of journalism. I have heard so much good about the present district management and hope that any one of them will take a step forward to look after this case of appointment of a courageous deaf person before the whole family is frustrated.

When we lived in Toba Tek Singh, it was the same vicinity where our address was 25-Islampura, not far away from Ijaz Farooq’s house. In between our house and the house of Ijaz Farooq, there was a house of another deaf person of my age. He was Muhammad Anwar, whose father and mother were running a retail shop in one of the rooms of their home. In this small shop, along with Keryana things, vegetables, fruit, sweets, milk, and yogurt were also available. The deaf person’s father, Mr. Muhammad Tufail, was a school teacher, and to support his large family, he was doing this business with the help of his wife. Muhammad Anwar was also doing hard work to help his parents in this business. He was a friend of mine. Whenever he found some spare time, he used to come to me, sit with me in our drawing-room, had gossip during which he used to tell the hard work he has to do every day. After doing my matriculation, I left Toba Tek Singh, first for education and then shifted to Lahore permanently.

After a very long period, two years ago, I visited Toba Tek Singh and asked about Muhammad Anwar. I was told that his parents died a long time ago. He was married to one woman who left him alone after two years. Now, he is all alone, and the shape of his shop is miserable. I went to his shop and found him there. He was in terrible shape. Weak and with a wrinkled face. I noticed that there were only nine or 10 minor items in his shop. I stood straight before him, and he gazed at me for two-three minutes and then, in his non-verbal voice, showed me his recognition and embraced me. I asked him about his family, and with his hands and body gestures, his words of agony and sadness, he explained all about the death of his family, betrayal by his wife, and very bad business which he was trying hard to improve to meet the day-to-day life needs. He was also sorry that our family had left the city and never thought about the old friends living back here.

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I expressed my condolence for the demise of his parents and prayed for their sound, happy last life. He told me that his relatives have almost cut all of their connections with him, and he earns fifty to three hundred rupees a day with which he tries to run the life affairs. I pulled some amount from my pocket and tried my best to give it to him, but he was not ready to accept it. I told him with my body gestures that he should consider me his elder brother, but he was not prepared to take it even from my elder brother’s position. His ego and self-respect were an abyss between him and me, and what he wished from me was to come back to the city or at least visit friends living here frequently. I fully agreed with him but was ruled by my circumstances.



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