Monday, October 22, 2012

Death of an Ordinary - Baba Mehr Din

The life and death of the celebrities is always exceptional - preferential treatment when alive amid flashlights and headlines on tabloids and ceremonial burials with death and even birth anniversaries still remembered for many many years.

But what about the ordinary? And those of the ordinary who spend their lives with no prize, acclaim or name for their self but still contribute which no one else does or even thinks to undertake for the love of his country. These out of the ordinary live and make their presence felt, but when they fade, the fade away forever.


Baba Mehr Din at Wagha Border, Lahore [Photo Jalal Hameed Bhatti]

Baba (an old man is called baba in Urdu) Mehr Din was one such person. I had not known anything about him, for the obvious reason that he was an ordinary man. But when I visited Wagha Border retreat ceremony in 2008, I saw and met him. Rather he was the first 'ordinary man' doing something which was not ordinary for the love of his country. Dressed in green shirt and white loose pant (Dhoti), that is the colour of the national flag of Pakistan, with star and crescent stitched over his shirt and inscribed with Pakistan Zindabad (long live Pakistan) in Urdu, he moved about the passage way between the visitors' stands, waving the Pakistani flag and shouting 'Pakistan Zindabad'


Baba Mehr Din being introduced to a delegation from CARs [Photo Jalal Hameed Bhatti]

Baba Mehr Din would continue waving the Pakistani flag till the ceremony of retreat started. He has been doing this for decades and become a mascot of Wagha Border, symbolizing the extreme of love one can have for one's country. He would even go to the extent of waving the Pakistani flag for the spectators sitting across the two steel gates in India. 

Baba Mehr Din waving the Pakistani flag to the spectators on the other side of the border [Photo Jalal Hameed Bhatti]

After the ceremony, I walked up to Baba Mehr Din and shook hands with him - and I still feel the warmth and strong handshake I had on that day. I looked into eyes while talking to him - these were beaming with love and pride. He told me that he would do anything for the love of his country and I readily agreed as no one would take time and come to Wagha Border for every retreat ceremony and walk to and fro the Bab-e-Azadi gate and the Pakistan side of the Indo-Pak border.

I am told that he spent almost 60 years at Wahga Border and his services were well lauded specially by the Pakistan Rangers for his lively presence that charged the Pakistani crowd. For his devotion and selfless service, he was awarded with certificates by Pakistan Rangers. Former President, General Parvez Musharraf sent him to perform Umra on political quota.


I carried his love since then and always wanted to see him again until it was just yesterday that I heard the lamenting news of Baba mehr Din's death, aged 90, from Facebook yesterday إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ. I felt as if a part of me has been taken away from me.

I hurriedly switched on the TV and scanned through all channels to listen to the news. But What? To my utter horror, there were news of the death of celebrity from across the border on every channel - but no news of the death of an ordinary - Baba Mehr Din.

It was only then I realised that the lives and deaths of the ordinary do not matter. Ordinary like most of us and I come, play our part in the wordly affairs and fade away quietly. While the celebrity that died yesterday would be rememebered in many a TV shows not only now, but on every death anniversary, no one would even remember that there ever existed one Baba Mehr Din.........

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