Series: Casualties of War
Story: Sami Goes to WWII
Chapter 0.2: Synopsis
“War is not a life: it is a situation, One which may neither be ignored nor accepted.”
T.S. ELiot, A Note on War Poetry.
This story is from a period during the Second World War (WWII). The families of Abid and Qasif Ullah Khan, live together in a double storey house, situated in Samanabad, Lahore. The upper portion is occupied by Abid sahib and his family which includes his wife Shamima Bibi, his young daughter Nayyara, two younger twins Furqan and Gibran and a mute daugther, Fatika, who is the youngest in the family. The lower portion is occupied by Raziya Begum and her two young sons; Sami and Wasi Ullah Khan. The house is shared by the two families, who have been living together since as along as they could remember. Abid and Qasif Ullah both inherited some property, two double story houses and a Mango garden, left to them after their father passed away. The family house, is being utilized jointly by the families and the other one was given away on rent. The garden was also given away on rent to a local fruits retailer. The money earned from these two properties is shared among these two families. The earnings are just enough to run the house and bear expenses of both the families, which Abid sahib does with commitment and responsibility. They are also able to make little savings from the earned money.
Raziya Begum is the widow of late Qasif Ullah Khan, who died while Sami is still a young boy at the age of 12. Sami was unable to continue his education and helped his uncle Abid sahib in running the family business. Sami was only able to learn up to fifth grade. His brother Wasi, however, is a student at tenth grade. Sami supports his brother and wants him to pursue as much education as possible. Sami help Wasi and his other cousins by tutoring them in his spare time. Wasi and Nayyara are about the same age and go to the same school together. Sami and Wasi think of Abid sahib as their guardian after the death of their father. Raziya Begum, who is also an elder cousin to Abid, as well as his sister in law, is respected as the eldest member of the family. Usually her consultation is sought by the family in all serious matters.
Abid sahib wants to Sami to marry his daughter Nayyara, but Sami wants to start earning his own living before the marriage. Abid sahib argues that he can find a job after marriage as well and in the mean time look after the Mango Garden, but Sami is desperate to find a job as a clerk or office administrator. Sami and Nayyara are students and go the same class.
After several months without luck in finding a job, Sami joins the British Indian Army as a non-commissioned officer in compulsion, as he could not find any other way to earn money. Abid sahib does not like Sami’s decision to join the Army. He is a staunch detractor of the British Empire and believes them to be an evil regime occupying his homeland. Sami is adamant in his decision as he believes this is the only opportunity he has to prove his worth to start an independent life in which he is able to raise a family.