Osama Anwer Pasha / by Aamir Bilal

A man can have many friends. But only a few last his life's span. In the recent days, I have witnessed how this word and this relation is manipulated for monetary gains, personal interest and even mocks and revenge. One can be clear about an enemy but never a friend in today's time. Friend is someone who can have many faces and it takes time to peel all these faces away to unveil the real face. The big price of pain is involved. Personally, I have not been rich when it comes to making friends. But I am lucky enough to have made very few but real friends. Then I was foolish enough to have lost a few. As life took turns, it had an impact on the list of friends. Facebook wasn't anything in those days so keeping up with someone demanded quite an honest effort. In fact that is true even today. I don't use the blue shitty social network where I had about a hundred and ninety friends. One day out of logic and sanity, I pulled the plug and had been happier ever since.

Pasha was my friend. Undoubtedly the most unenthusiastic and lazy student while I was his total opposite. Shockingly we were bench-mates too. It was like a rainbow, I being at one end and he being at the other of the colors. Once in an exam, I scored 97 out of 100 while he scored only 3. The teacher called his father and said I cannot deduct Aamir's marks to make your son's score a passing one but it would be better if your son donates his 3 marks to make Aamir score a century. His father was shocked that he was my best friend in school. But school's days were numbered. And they ended one day.

I remember the night when we left the school, Pasha came to my home and drew a map of his house in Lahore. He was so bad at drawing. With trembling hands he drew a map that looked like being drawn by a kindergarten. It was unsettling to see him cry. But we were friends. So we promised to meet soon. After school we left that city. I moved to Lahore with no mobile phone or Facebook to keep up with people. The years in Lahore had been more cruel and less kind. There remained some moments I still cherish and crave to relive again and again and again only if possible. Some moments I hate so much that I wish I could just uproot them from my life entirely.

I found Pasha's address. He lived in Model Town. He didn't know that I had found him. So one night I paid him a visit when he was not expecting me at all. I went with a university friend to his place. Summers were ending and the winds had already become mild. We reached the desired neighborhood. And rang the bell. He came to the door. I remember the joy on his face. His mom was living with him. And he was under house arrest for crashing his uncle's Corolla somewhere in Johar Town. He could not leave his house on the orders of his mother. But when aunty saw that it is Aamir, that rule was loosened and we went to a place to have dinner. It was a wonderful moment. We had a long talk and returned around midnight. I didn't know that on that night it was the last time in life I meet him.

In 2007, a traffic accident occurred near Al-Haasa in Saudi Arabia claiming four lives. I read about that news in the paper myself. Later that summer I went to his Model Town place to meet him. To my surprise a guard in that street told me that the family had left the place some months ago. I searched online communities but to no avail. Then I went to the school where his mom used to work as a counselor. But they only had one information that she resigned. One evening at a hospital, I saw a poster about road hazards and traffic violation. In the pictures of people who have lost their lives, there was a picture I can never forget. Pasha was no more. A reality my heart still hesitates to accept. He tried joining a University but couldn't because of his lack of interest in studies. A young, full of life friend no more. A friend who came to my home and cried like a girl. School's farewell had a few pictures of Pasha. He was a rash driver and this took his life. One night I saw him in a dream. The next day I drew a picture of him. Then I abandoned the search to find him or his family. But deep inside my heart I still feel if I visit that street in Model Town, I might be able to catch a glimpse of him standing in the balcony.

In loving memory of Osama Anwer Pasha (1988-2007)

(Pasha's Model Town House, taken in 2016)

(Pasha's Model Town House, taken in 2016)