It was a heart wrenching incident, and it sill ponders my heart when I think of it. Life is so uncertain, it could betray almost anyone, no matter if one is at the pink of age or at the brink of being aged. At least for Afzal, it was definitely a gory moment. A sturdy, tall, handsome, vivacious lad in his twenties, Afzal was a local student, but had his friends in the boarding as well. A sportsperson, a meritorious, student, a Robinhood for the needful, a person with happy-go-lucky nature, he donned many avatars. But, it was destined to happen!
The story unfolds in a hostel room of a world famous University. Afzal, with his friends, were in Imran’s room. The conversation between them was going on:
Afzal: Let’s go Imran bhai, it will be fun.
Imran: No dear, I have to study. M.D is not that cakewalk.
Afzal: (Still Adamant): It is just the matter of few hours, it’s 2 PM now, we will be back hopefully by 7-8 PM.
Imran: A physically challenged person who walks on the support of a crutch, what will I do on your hunting tour. I can’t even run.
Afzal: You just accompany us. Keep sitting in the Jeep, you won’t be bothered. Faisal and Nawaz will also be there with us. We will all enjoy.
Imran: Please for God sake, forgive me. I can’t go with you.
Afzal: You will have to agree with me. I won’t hear your arguments any more. You are coming with us and that’s final.
Imran: Ok dear, You won, I lost. Let’s go.
Afzal: Great! This has to be the spirit. Don’t worry, In Sha Allah, we will be back by the evening.
Afzal somehow manages to convince Imran to go with him to the picnic spot near a popular dam, around 25 kms far from the university campus. The place was a quiet, calm and soothing one, all gifted with natural surrounds. A better part of it consisted of wild animals and birds; the reason why enthusiasts like Afzal wanted to go there for hunting.
Asif, Sharib, Sayeed, and Waqar, all were there in the room. It was a big room, with a roof that takes you in the bygone era of the British Empire, and the same goes with the ceiling fan. Pin drop silence was a rare occasion in that otherwise cheerful place. Ultimately, one of them breaks the ice.
Sharib: I wonder why Imran bhai agreed to go. But who is this guy, Afzal? I have never seen him earlier.
Asif: He is one of his friends. Don’t you know Imran bhai is a VIP. He has his connections in almost half of the university (Everyone gave a half-hearted smile). Suddenly, Jamal enters the room.
Jamal: I am just coming from the proctor office. They have lodged a complaint with the police.
Waqar: Complaint? For what.
Jamal: For Imran bhai, going missing. I told them that he went to the dam in the afternoon with some of his friends, but has not returned since then. It is already 10 PM.
Sayeed: So what next?
Jamal: The Inspector wants two of his roommates to accompany him to the dam to find Imran bhai, along with few university officials.
Few minutes later, Asif and Sharib are all set to move on in the Police jeep, when suddenly one of the Police staff informed that all but one people reported missing are back. The two almost competed in a race to reach their room. As they reached the finishing point, they saw Imran bhai surrounded by many. In fact, the entire room was engrossed by several known and unknown people; it was indeed a big room. Sharib steered his way to Imran in the pursuit of grabbing the latter’s attention.
Sharib: Imran bhai, what happened, why it took so long for you to return? Is everything fine? Where is Imran? The police told us that there is still one left at that place? Please tell, what happened?
Imran (Breaks silence): I have no words to speak, I am speechless.
Imran starts describing to all what happened during the few past hours near that dam.
The friends have arrived at the decided spot, and are enjoying, unaware of the uncanny situation that is about to happen in next few moments.
Afzal: Imran bhai what a lovely place, isn’t it? We have finally reached here, thank God. We will stay here till evening. We will shoot some Sparrows or Grey Francolins as well, if we come across any. Then we will return.
Imran: As you wish, but please don’t involve me, I am better off sitting in the jeep. You enjoy the day with Nawaz and Faisal.
Afzal takes out the gun from the jeep and goes out for a hunting spree along with other friends. Suddenly he sees a Grey Francolin sitting on a tree.
Faisal: Afzal, look at that, a Grey Francolin.
Faisal: There on the top branch of that tree. In fact, there is a pair.
Nawaz: Let’s go for it Afzal. It’s a damn good opportunity.
Afzal was a multi-talented person. Flawless shooting was another of his qualities. He aims at one of the birds and BANG! The bullet hits right on the target. One of the bird fell down, and the other flew away.
Afzal: See Faisal, I did it.
Faisal: Yes dear, I know you are a sharp shooter. (Smiles)
Afzal: That I am, for sure. (Smiles)
Nawaz: But the bird has fallen down in the pound. We could not pick her up.
Afzal: Don’t worry, she is right here. I will take her out.
Nawaz: Afzal, leave it. We don’t know the depth of this pond, and it looks quite swampy as well. Hence, I would suggest not entering it.
Afzal almost neglects the warning from both the friends and walks his way to the middle of the pound, to pick the shot bird. His friends keep on warning him against the possible danger. Imran also sees Afzal’s daring from the jeep, and yells right from his place.
Imran: Don’t risk your life!!!
Afzal hears none. He just moves ahead, reaches the mid of the pound and manages to pick up the bird. So far so good. However, as he turns back and tries to return to his friends, he suddenly loses his ground. His legs start plunging deep within, as if someone his pulling them from beneath the pond.
His friends become worried on seeing him disappearing. They start trying out ways to pull him out. Faisal threw a branch of a tree he found nearby. It was long enough to reach Afzal, but not strong enough to bear his load, and breaks in between.
Imran was also quick to come to the place with the support of his crutch. But he could do little to save him from the swampy pond. Afzal got loosened the hold of bird from his hand and started pleading to his friends for rescue.
Afzal: Imran Bhai!!! Faisal!!! Nawaz!!! Please do something, please save me. I don’t want to die so early.
Faisal and Nawaz, both took their turns to save Afzal. They even reached that closed to him in the marshy area that looks like a pond from the surface. Unfortunately, they were compelled to recede with the fear of being drowned down themselves. Imran, despite wanting to do everything to snatch his friend from the jaws of death, could do nothing. Every moment, Afzal continues to sink deeper and deeper………and deeper……and finally…Disappears.
All his friends went speechless, a silence surrounded the atmosphere. Suddenly, they regained their conscious and called up the local people to help them out. The search operations were difficult to carry out in the night. Finally all of them were escorted to their destinations by the local police. Imran went to his room, from where he narrated all that gory incident, as it happened. The entire room went silent.
The Other day
Rescue operations resumed the very next morning. Cranes and professional swimmers were approached to find Imran inside that pond, and in the lake nearby. After full day of hard work, Imran was finally found, but DEAD, in the lake. Inside his socks, he carried a rope, and his pricey boots had a knife fitted in the sole of one of them. He didn’t think even once of these helping accessories during his struggle with life that he always carried when on hunting. Absolutely, Death was destined for him.
His cremation ceremony included everyone from, rich to poor, students to professors, old to young, and more. Such was his connection with people from all the walks of life. But, they could only pray for his life thereafter, couldn’t bring him back. It was destined to him.
(N.B: The story is based on a true incident that took place more than a decade ago. The conversations however have been created to support the story, they are not real. The names of all the characters have also been hidden purposefully).