It was 7:00 am on a dreadful morning of August 22, 2012 when my mobile rang. I ignored it thinking that it was a blank call. Surprisingly, the phone went into hibernation for a little while and then started buzzing over and over again. The situation became extremely uncomfortable and even a bit scary when my wife’s cell phone also began to ring at the same time as mine. The moment I picked up my mobile, it stopped ringing but a flash SMS popped up on its screen. It was sent by Rahman Posh (my brother in law) from Pakistan. The text message was as follow:
The text message numbed my body, dulled my mind and soaked my eyes with tears. I could not believe what I just read. I grabbed my laptop and immediately opened the "Pamir Times" an online Newspaper of Gilgit Baltistan. The horrendous road accident was the breaking news on the front page. It was a tragic day for my entire family but alas, I was a thousand miles away from everyone. I was not in a position to pay my last homage to my late great cousin and beloved brother. I have never felt so helpless in my entire life. At such a difficult time, the only person who consoled me in my grief was my wife. She right away dialed my sister number in Pakistan who along with my other family members was in a deep shock
Aqil Bhai was not just a brother with a pure soul and golden heart but the relationship goes much deeper and beyond genetics or family ties. He was my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. His selfless support has always been with me throughout my academic career. He always believed in my capabilities, instilled in me self confidence, taught me the meaning of life and pushed me to work harder to achieve my goals. I cannot forget those days when I was a third year student at Rawalpindi Medical College and my father was severely injured in an accident. We faced the worst financial crisis of our life. I could not pay my tuition and accommodation fees for months. At one point I became so helpless that I decided to relinquish my studies, return to Gilgit and take care of my family. The moment Aqil Bhai heard this from a source in family; he immediately traveled to Islamabad and paid all my expenses.
He told me never to give up, be strong and work hard until I achieved my goals. The story does not end here. The list of his contributions is endless. I have no words that could truly represent my feelings. Whatever I am today; it is all because of him. Aqil Bhai was and remains my childhood hero and I strongly believe that true heroes never die. He has left a legacy for many generations. We will always fulfill his dreams that were left incomplete due to his tragic death and continue with his great mission. May God rest his soul in peace. Ameen
“Dear Aziz, I heard a bad news that a van carrying BARATIS of Inayat from Kamaris - got into an accident and our beloved Aqil Shah and Bakhtullah passed away on the spot. May Maula rest their souls in eternal peace- Ameen”
|An unforgettable moment with Aqil Bhai during my wedding in
Gilgit on March 14, 2009
Many days have passed since my lovely brother has died but the traumatic incident of August 22 is still fresh in my mind as if it happened today. I was looking for ways to cope with the situation and decided to let all my pain out through writing.
|August 2005: Aqil Bhai with his eldest son in Islamabad
Three people have influenced and touched my life and contributed to what I am today. They were; my beloved mother, my incredible father and my adorable and caring brother Aqil. It is said that some people come into your life for a reason and they change your life in ways you cannot imagine. Aqil Bhai was among the few people who left Gulmit for Karachi in the late seventies with a determined attitude, unbreakable will and a clear objective in mind to complete his higher education. It was a time when parents were reluctant to support such a decision. Like others, he forgot his sleep, worked nights and attended his college/university classes during the day. One can easily get to the intended destination- no matter how bumpy or steep the path becomes and Aqil Bhai proved it. He has an honor to be the first post graduate degree holder from very small villages of Kamaris and Odver. He also set an inspiring example for the younger generation. He was the first spark that ignited educational and social revolution in Gojal. During his stay in Karachi, he supported thousands of students. His home was a ray of hope for all new comers. Even today, people love him like a father, remember him like a brother and respect him like a teacher.
Aqil’s life took a new turn when he completed his education and returned to Gilgit Baltistan. He joined the Ministry of Tourism in Islamabad as a Tourism Officer and worked until 1994 when he took the responsibility of a Civil Supply Officer at the Department of Food and Agriculture in Gilgit Baltistan. Just a couple of years ago, he was promoted to the position of Deputy Director and remained in this position until his death. During his professional career, he never detached himself from his area. He continuously helped people, guided the young generation and actively participated in all types of social work. He was not only a great social worker and a towering figure in Gojal but people from Ghizer, Hunza Nager and Diamer districts also remembered him as a kind hearted, generous and wonderful human being. Irrespective of his social status, he always lived a simple life. Unlike other government officials, he neither had any property nor owned a home anywhere in Pakistan. He lived in the rented property until his last day.
|1985: A memorable family photo with Aqil Bhai in Gilgit
when he came on vacation from Karachi.
|Aqil Bhai attended the last family wedding in Gojal on August 22, 2012
a few hours before his death [Courtesy: Asghar Khan]