August 19, 2014
My father visited Khunjerab twice first in 1983 and second in 1987. Road condition at that time was totally different from right now, he and his friends had to travel on Tractor trolley on narrow uncarpeted road to reach the last point of Pakistan on KKH, the Khunjerab Pass. His pictures standing along with Chinese had always been an astonishing thing for us.
My father used to tell us a story from childhood, this story is 31 year old. This story is about him and Dushka Baig owner of Khunjerab hotel Sust.
During his first visit to Khunjerab they stayed at Sust the last town on KKH. In those days there was only one hotel in Sust named Khunjerab hotel. My father stayed night there and next day early morning headed to Khunjerab, meanwhile in the way he found that his one bag was missing. He recalled his memory and remembered that it was left in Khunjerab hotel. Different things were going through his mind at that time. One, was that owner would never returned it back to him, as there were expensive things in it. Well, after Khunjerab he returned and went straight to Khunjerab hotel and asked Hotel Owner Mr. Dhuska Baig angrily that my bag had been theft from his hotel. Dhuska Baig did not reply to my father but only listened to him calmly. After my father finishing his inquiry, he came close to him and holds his hand firmly and took him to a room in back of his hotel. It was locked room. Dhuska baig opened the room; my father was surprised the room was full of things left by tourists and travelers my father bag was also there. Dhuska Baig speaks and said,
“These all are Amants (Belongings), we don’t touch them that traveler might come back and asked for his things, we are not thieves.”
My father was embarrassed he hugged him and asked Dushka to forgive him. This was the first part of story.
My father used to tell us this story with an instruction that whenever you go to Sust in future give his Salam to Dhuska baig. He also wished that May Allah give him long life and he is alive.
In 2014, after lapse of 31 years from my father first visit to khunjerab, I along with my younger brother Salman baig and few friends (Nadir khan, my uncle Nadeem, Talat Saeed and Hassnat Saeed) had plan of visiting Khunjerab pass.
My father still remembered his story but he did not instruct us to meet Dhuska Baig. He thinks that Sust at present would be turned into a big city and no one now knows about Dhuska Baig. But that story was in bottom of mind of both of us brother and we had plan of searching him and meeting him.
On crossing Attabad Lake, we were stuck at Hussani flooded stream. No vehicle was crossing. We were thinking of changing our plans and quit from our plans for going to Khunjerab and returning back from this point. Our friend Nadir khan who was driving the jeep already visited the Khunjerab before and last time at same point his jeep was stuck in water and badly damaged. I was very sad it is hard to find leaves in private job and visiting Khunjerab is once in a lifetime journey and also meeting Dhuska all were going through in mind. Well no one among us wanted to leave khunjerab. So we decided to leave our jeep there and crossed the flooded stream on foot. We have planned to reach Sust on van and then hire some jeep from there for Khunjerab. It was extremely hot day and reaching Passu from Hussani was getting tough. We found, there was no vehicle available on other side of Hussani flooded stream for reaching Sust. Well we found difficult to walk after few kilometers. Luckily we found few trucks standing alongside the road due to eid holidays and closing of Sust dry port. In order to protect from heat we all sit along in truck shadows. We were very desperate, it was hard to find any vehicle and moreover no local person was visible to whom we can share our problem. At last we found a local guy, he helped us gave us water for drinking and also he went to his village and brought a van for us so that we could reach Sust in time. We were in the way when our friend Nadir khan whom we left with jeep called us that few driver were able to cross the stream and he is also going for it and we should wait for him at Sust. We thank, Almighty Allah that it’s only his blessing that we could able to see the Khunjerab. We asked from our local van driver about Dhuska baig, luckily he knows about him. But already our too much time was wasted. We went to Khunjerab and returned back to Sust.
On more confirmation at Sust about Dhushka Baig, we were surprised that everybody knows about him and he seems to be some very popular guy of Sust. We were thinking was this the same Dhuska Baig which our father met 31 year ago.
Khunjerab hotel is not operational these days. We at last found the hotel; it was little distance from main town of Sust. There were few guys standing there who look us with surprise and told us that hotel is not operational. We replied, we wanted to meet Dhuska Baig. They said Dhuska Baig is quite old now and he stayed at home most of time and please share reason of meeting with him. We told them our father and Dhuska baig story and said we only came here to say Salam of our father to Dushka.
They gave us chairs and one of them went to call Dhuska. Dhuska Baig was a wise man who speaks less and smile gently. We also told him the story; he smiled and said I wanted to thanks to your father who remembered him in his mind for 31 years. We both brothers took some photographs along with him and then we called our father. Fortunately, Telenor network service is working in Sust. Both, were happy ot talk and grateful to each other. It was eight o clocks in night and we were dead tired and wanted to reach Passu to stay in some hotel at night.
Dhuska baig said you came so far only to meet me and further said, it is against their traditions that you would not come to his home and went without even having a cup of tea. Please let me serve he requested. We could not refuse. His home was at five minute distance from there. Dhuska is Ismaili Muslim; he took us in a special room. The room for old wise people’s which is also used in marriage ceremonies. The room was square in middle and all outer sides of rooms were further extended in four more squares rooms whose three sides were walled and one side was opening in middle room. In middle a large table was placed on which expensive stones of area were placed. The other four attached room were used for sitting of wise old people’s, one for marriage couples and two for guests.
All Dhuska Baig family members, his son’s nephews, grandsons and other close relative were in room to welcome us. It was atmosphere of reunion after long time. He asked us to sit at place of wise old people’s. This was honor for us. We were served with a tea and local homemade cake. Dhuska baig told us that he has left hotel management and gave it to his sons and nephew and he is into precious stones business. He stays in mountains for days and search expensive stones. He also told that in Sust there were temples in old time and still the local old knows there locations. Dushka show us some more precious stone fossil stones which have marks of extinct species on them. He has extremely large collection and he wanted to show us each precious stone in his house. All of my friends ( Talat saeed and nadir khan ) and my uncle were astonished and feeling honored. It was feeling like some movie was going through in front of our eyes.
On returning back Dhuska give some expensive mountains herbs for my father which he told good for heart disease. He hugged us all and said goodbye. We did not have words to thanks to him. We were going with memories of life time and which we with share with our next generations as my father did with us.
The story which we were listening from our childhood from our father which was three decade old has great end and in fact beginning of new chapter of friendship with Dushka and my father new generation. After returning back to home from our tour my father was more than happy even joyous to see Dhuska and his family pictures. The only sad thing was that all of my father friends who were with him on Khunjerab thirty one year back were dead; he wanted to tell them that his sons locate Dhuska and pay his Salam to him. His sons travelled and reached to his footmarks. His sons alive his story.
So the Dushka baig who was in my father stories from childhood really lived.