|August 28, 1955
To Haroon --- Copy to Mansoor,
My dearest Haroon. Many thanks for your letter of August 15. Your account of your holiday at Nathia reminded me of some of the most thrilling experiences of my childhood. It was quite an adventure to travel from Peshawar to Nathia and if it lacked any colour of the rainbow I supplied it from the inexhaustible paint-box of my own imagination. One went to Hasan Abdal (If you find out what Abdal means, you will see what a strange name this is) by train, then by stage-coach, or rather stage-tonga carrying the Royal mail to Abbottabad, and then on an emaciated, bony hack (but it was like Don Quixote's "Rosinante" surely) to Nathia. The horses were changed every 20 miles or so and the driver had a bugle of shining copper and brass slung from his shoulder and I always hoped he would blow it on every possible excuse but alas he was so niggardly. "The trouble with youth," said Shaw, " is that it is often wasted on the young. The trouble, I then thought, with beautiful things like bugles and blacksmiths' bellows and potters wheels was that they were often wasted on the grown-ups when they should have been given to the young. The galloping journey always reminded me of the journey to Dover in the early part of "A Tale of 2 Cities". At Abbottabad there was always Mir Waliullah with his erudition, his Persian poetry, his incurable Hazara accent and his Kashmiri tea which but formed the base to layers and layers of thick clotted cream. The gullies to my mind, which was crammed with books, were some country of northern Europe or Canada. The houses had tiled sloping roofs and there were fireplaces and crackling logs of wood and one could roam about in thick virgin forest on a carpet of pine needles and the trees had exhilarating English names, pine, & chestnut and wild oak. There was so much forest lore that I loved to gather or imagined I was gathering like some sturdy lumberjack that I had read about and I felt so deeply happy at growing up within myself in a decent pure open-air sort of way like the boyscouts in Baden-Powell's book which I knew by heart but which I could not share with anyone for no other boy had ever read it or heard of it. And so there it was: a beautiful world carved out of nature by an inner lonesome exuberance of spirit and dreams of Europe and of far-off times and lands, - - all wrapped up in a soft romantic light. The dream never quite disappeared. During my college days I wrote a detective story (published in two installments in Imtiaz's monthly magazine "Kahkashan") which had the gullies as its background. This was mainly to lay my memories to rest in black & white somewhere, although it had many other ingredients too which I acquired later in my teens.
I have been typing this letter intermittently over about 4 days. Have had busy evenings and hurried mornings. A fatiguing week. I tire more easily now. I should have a brief siesta or at least a period of rest every afternoon, to break up the day into two. Easier to run a mile twice with an interval in between than to run 2 miles" says the doctor. But I don't always get the chance. However I mustn't talk like an invalid. Invalids are bores. I bore myself with such talk even before I bore others. Why did you have to go to Multan(!) to "see Geldart off"? where was he going from there? Into the desert? Sounds like a last farewell at the edge of civilization before a famous British executive disappears into the unknown, bent upon unraveling the mysteries of yoga at first hand. Re company shares and your suggestions that I might buy some this winter on your behalf. How many? How much money? Please remember that I haven't as much money now as when I commuted my pension. I have been drawing on my rupee account for Zubaida and for setting up my house here and the car etc etc. Glad you are nearing a decision on Sunnyside. Hope Zubaida has not been too reluctant to fall in with the plan and to go Pakistan. Once or twice I have asked myself where I will live when I return to Pakistan. But depends on when I return, in what capacity and in what condition.
These things are at this stage too remote to be guessed intelligently and present plans cannot be held up by an unknown, hypothetical future. So please go ahead. Will you both be taking your vacations at the same time? In October? November? and spending it in Karachi?
Its Sat today. Might go off into the country to spend the afternoon on the private beach of a friend's house. But its cloudy and muggy and the weather-man has predicted some thunder-showers. So might stay at home and finish Aldous Huxley's new book (published two days ago) "The Genius & the Goddess". It is poor stuff. Written, it would seem, by a clever but immature schoolboy trying to imitate A.H. of 20 years ago. NY Times (Sunday edition: magazine section) are publishing a full length article on me with photos etc. The article has been ready for many weeks. They are waiting for a suitable moment. They have their own theories of timing. So I don't know exactly when it will see the light of day, but will of course send you copies.
Have had the typewriter overhauled ($11) mostly to send a carbon copy to one of you of the letter I send to the other. Seems the only feasible method of keeping the "crossing of the wires" to the minimum. Good idea, don't you think? There are many things I like to say to both of you, but its tiring to have to repeat. For the moment the typewriter seems to solve this problem. When I get bored with this I'll think of something else.
Political news from Pakistan is as usual confusing. Difficult to sort out the plot of a play in which every other character is called Muhammad Ali, and somebody is always being dismissed. But I am glad that I.M. and M.A. are GG and PM. They should form a very good combination. Amjad is returning to Pakistan to become (so it is rumored) the Foreign Minister. Please give my love to Zubaida, Roshan, Nina, Tahir, Xain and the new unnamed Ninette (i.e. daughter of Nina).
Yours most affectionately,