The Agency - Poem by Sadiqullah Khan
The Colonel called me on telephone,
On knowing that my birth-place is the dreaded
Agency of Waziristan, blurted, ‘do you know me’
No sir, ‘I am the most loved person in your Agency’
And the people have named a road crossing,
Where meets north and west, at my name.
‘Colonel Habib Chowk’, could pity be more awesome?
Whether it is or not, on a dusty, muddy track
Once I walked down and found a voracious Howitzer,
Blasting the anti-horizon, whistling the echoes.
There were sunny days, when I would travel,
And my first entrance to a hospital, to serve.
Walled, washed with white lime and doors done in grey,
A house whose resident doctor had committed suicide,
I asked who was the night-watch man. The elder
Known for his extraordinary wit and humility said,
‘Son, don’t worry, I am your boss’.
The real boss up there in the Camp would
Sit on a chair whose canes had been hanging down
And he would use a pillow to keep his butt fixed in it.
A pretty little girl came limping, she had been given,
A wrong injection by the compounder turned priest
Who cared more about his would be exploits
In heavens than alleviating the sufferings here,
Which his job was. And the many others to whom
I gave fake half doses of medicine, would receive me
With broad smiles, and invited me for lunch.
After a number of years, I met the compounder again,
Aged, wearing a starched black turban,
Collyrium in eyes and his beard dyed stark black.
He is in the company of lady priests, he told me,
And is on the way back from completion
Of his stipulated time in serving and giving sermons.
A revisit may or may not be possible but I marvel in memory.
-On my first posting as Doctor in Civil Hospital Spin, South Waziristan in 1991.
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