Forgive Your Trespassers: Story of a Young Student

Wali Khan was a tall and handsome young boy from Bannu. He used to live inside Bannu City. His father ran a small general store. Like most of the people in those days, Wali’s parents were not educated. But his father wanted that Wali should get education and grow up as a respectable and useful person of the community. Wali was an obedient son of the family and used to go to school very regularly. Although he was not an outstanding student in his group, he was very keen in learning what the teachers tried to teach him. He was hardworking. He respected the teachers and had very good relations with fellow students. Self-respect was a great value for Wali and this was one thing on which he would never compromise. His parents and friends knew this personality characteristic of Wali.

Bannu City is a small town surrounded by an ancient mud wall with twelve gates. In olden days the gates were closed at night for security reasons with police guards stationed at every gate. The walled city is not very big but it is large and wide enough to accommodate two large boys’ schools and a girls’ school, a civil hospital, veterinary clinic, a small public park, and a water tank. A power house, two ice factories, Municipal Committee, public library, bus terminals for inter-city travels, some timber, commercial and industrial markets were located outside the city.

Bannu was a very important and strategic military cantonment of the Royal British Army. The cantonment area consisting of a small fort surrounded by residential areas of armed forces personnel plus other military offices and facilities. Between the city and cantonment there were civil lines area with district courts, residences of civil staff, police lines, district jail, Government Transport Bus Terminal, Railway Station and the famous Pennell High School which was part of a huge campus of the Church Missionary Society (CMS). The CMS campus consisted of an ancient church, hospital, school and the residences of the faculties. Bannu had an airfield as well which was used for emergency purposes.

Wali Khan was a student of Pennell School. He used to walk to school every day. The school was just outside the city wall and therefore it was at walking distance from every house in the city.  In those days, I am afraid even nowadays, the teachers in Pakistan especially in the small rural towns used physical punishment as a disciplinary measure. Physical punishment was also used as a tool to force the students to concentrate on the lesson, learn and repeat it perfectly the way the teacher desired. What a cruel and barbaric way to impart education, manners, politeness and decency to innocent brains!

There was a newly appointed teacher, Zarin Gul, from Peshawar who was quite arrogant and aggressive in his attitude towards students. Probably he was of the view that by being aggressive he would be able to control the behavior and discipline the students in his own way. One day he got very angry on Wali and started hitting him with the long stick he always carried. He beat him hard and strong indiscriminately without realizing the repercussions. Wali tried to tolerate the strikes but a point came that it became just unbearable for him and he held the stick, pulled it out of the teacher’s hands. The teacher could see the fury in Wali’s eyes. He could read the way Wali was panting with rage and anger. Wali was as tall as the teacher. He was physically strong enough to challenge the teacher. But Wali, being a very obedient student, did not retaliate the way a person does under such circumstances. He ran out of the classroom saying loudly, I am going to kill the teacher because he has beaten me without any reason. Wali was confident that he had not violated any rule of the class for which the teacher was hurling all the violence on him. He was furiously angry because his self-respect was seriously hurt.

Self-respect is one such thing for which the Pathans, particularly of Bannu, will never compromise. The people of Bannu are famous for taking revenge. They never spare any person who trespasses their personal dignity. Wali’s personal dignity was trespassed by the teacher. Wali was confident that he was not wrong and therefore he decided that he must take revenge. Wali ran towards his house. In Bannu, everybody knows every other person. When people saw Wali running towards his house displaying all the expressions of fury and anger, they got worried. The news reached Wail’s father. He ran out of his shop. Wali entered his house and took his father’s short-gun, loaded it with the cartridge and ran out towards the school. His mother, his sister and his younger brother ran after him because they knew that Wali had gone mad on something. They knew that although, a very fine person, Wali would never compromise on self-respect. His father ran together with all the friends to stop the young man. The entire city was in turmoil. Wali was running towards the school holding the short-gun in his hands with people running after to stop him. Wali was a strong and smart young boy. He could run very fast. In a few moments he reached the school. By this time the news had reached the school that Wali was coming with the intention to take his revenge. The school gate was closed by the time he reached the school. As Wali tried to climb the school gate, the people reached and pulled him down. His father and mother came and hugged him. The principal of the school with the entire senior faculty took them inside the school. Wali was crying: “I want to take my revenge. I must kill him. He has punished me for no fault of mine”. The Principal of the school hugged Wali and kissed him.

The senior teachers spoke to him. The teacher who punished Wali also came and hugged him. He confessed his mistake and asked forgiveness. Wali’s parents also asked him to forgive the teacher. When the anger cooled down, Wali forgave the teacher although with great difficulty. Everybody was very happy and hugged Wali. His fellow students came and hugged him. It was a very good end of a very bad day. All’s well that ends well. There was joy and jubilation all over the school and the city. The people congregated at Wali’s house in the evening. His father served everybody with the traditional meal of rice and meat. People danced with joy on the beat of the drum. What a great day it was! When we forgive our trespassers we are always the winners. Wali forgave his trespasser and therefore he won the battle. The teacher broke the stick and never carried it again. Wali passed his high school examination, graduated from college, served the community and retired as a public servant. Wali Khan, you are a brave son of the soil because you forgive your trespassers!

By Mumtaz Shah