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A tribute to "Uncle"...

Standing ovations nor chime of cheering glasses suffice
For footsteps to be filled, naught less, than gems in guise
Not mourn thy death; rather, celebrate thy life
For thou naught only existed; but was truly alive….
Nay, Tears won’t do, for the diamond, hidden in coal
 Bid farewell, with praying heart and rejoicing soul

 Once upon a time, beyond the gates of an institution 150 years old.

 There was a man…with golden smile, aged visage and shining eyes…His shaggy appearance was a spot on example of why you ought not to judge books by their cover…I know, For I had made the same mistake, not once, nor twice, but many a times…. Thinking of him, to be a common vender at anarkali, a merchant of rejected export materials, or a “Rayirhi laganay wala” outside our premises…and once even embarrassing myself by offering him money in return for his help, which he politely declined saying “aap meri beti jesi ho…”

He didn’t want nor need our money….

We don’t know how he got there, across our bus stand, behind the bars of gate of patyala block...

 standing there and waiting for someone to help… always on time… The gate was locked, some girls were restricted to go outside and others just were just lazy (like me)… So we’d stand by the bars, like prisoners or birds in a cage, damsels in distress, shouting for two men…. most usually, one being “Guddu (the chips wala)” and other being “Uncle”.

That’s all we knew about him…a helping uncle who will fetch you edibles and drinks and books from anarkali if you can’t go outside and he won’t accept any money or tips for it. Till one leisurely day I mustered up the courage, to strike a conversation with him… (Only to have my stereotype views shaken and some badly shattered!!!)

It all started with him offering me a passport size photo of a girl asking me to return this if I ever saw her at K.E… (well, I didn’t and I guess neither did he, prolly the pic still lays dust-laden in his drawer)…
And then soon, I began asking him about his whereabouts and “what a nice guy like him was doing in a place like this?” … (Cliché, I know right.)

In a while, the layers of “Uncle-Onion” started to peel away…with each leaving me more befuddled than the other… He told he spent his hours in a workshop, (pointing at a hovering ruin like building that overlooked our bus stand), as an “ashtamp farosh”, He can see us through the window , as we rile up near the gate with impatient eyes seeking to meet those of the burger wala, chips wala, golay wala, ya zubair book shop wala … He comes, leaving his work to run our errands …

His smile grew wider as he said “Beta, meri beti bhi doctor hai PhD ki” as did my eyes… His daughter was a PhD doctor and a position holder in her university, she was granted scholarship by the government and now worked as an officer at Kot Lakhpat… He had a son who was doing masters…

And then with eyes and a smile, depicting more content and gratitude to Almighty, than I had ever seen before, the old man humbly said… “Ma ney apny bachon ko taleem de kr apna farz pura kr dia ha”.

Ashamed of my assumptions and proud of truth, I stood now facing a great man, a gem hidden in stones, a maverick in our selfish society, a symbol of virtue veiled from the common eye….

And that was the beginning of a strange fatherly relationship… with my telling him my blunders of the day and his bringing me the fries and giving free advice , the most common being “Beta, parcha bus dhyan se parh k dena, sawal sahi se prhna phir he attempt krna”…

If character is how you treat those, who can do nothing for you in return, than I have yet to meet a man of his caliber and I doubt if I ever will. Surely I was not the only one captive of his fatherly affection and selfless ways, but many girls felt the same… he gave me hope…that “naik log” are not yet extinct, even if they are an endangered species… And so hardly an inter-pass, common, old man became my greatest teacher at King Edward Medical University, the home of so called cream… He taught us lessons far more valuable than we could ever learn in lecture theatres of K.E…

He passed away almost a month ago…but every time we see the gates of Patiala, he is the first person who comes to mind… People may die, but deeds live forever. So it won’t be wrong to say he didn’t die…
He is an immortal for those who knew him, and those who didn’t …sure as hell missed something!!
May his soul rest in peace… and may the grounds of K.E see again, beings of his integrity and humanity…amen!

his name was Liaqat. He departed on 22 september 2013. it’s a request to all those who knew him and who did’nt to leave their comments and remarks about this great soul as a tribute and contribution to his memoir….


  1. uncle liaqat was a true example of service to humanity without expectation of any reward...May Allah Almighty bless his soul and grant him highest place in heaven.. that gate of patiala seems so incomplete without him...miss him so much :( well written anosha (Y)

  2. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story Anosha. Though I never had the opportunity to meet him. But now I definitely feel proud of the fact that there are such compassionate and selfless people around our university.
    May his soul rest in peace.

  3. It's beautifully written Anosha. I truly envy u for having this precious convo with the legend I can't believe I had the pleasure of meeting in my life. He never crossed the threshold of KEMU but for me, he is one of the most beautiful parts of its history. Many longed and planned to get to know him btr once new year began but then, out of the blue, the news of his death came. May his soul rest in peace and may ALLAH Almighty shower his countless blessings on him in the world hereafter.(Ameen Sum Ameen)

  4. Moved.

    A job well done by sharing it.
    From heart to heart it is :)
    Feeling honoured to have read this.
    May he be granted highest ranks in Jannah!

  5. I still remember how my cellphone kept beeping with messages to pray cuz uncle liaqat was ill and later to convey the sad news of his demise...this illustrates how many hearts 'uncle' had touched but reading this piece literally brought tears to my eyes...thanks Anosha for writing this one...


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