The Real Saif-ul-Malook – Karachi To Khunjerab Pass

The lake was a plethora of colors, some places it were green, others blue, and the reflection of the mountains and the clouds added different shades to it too. We hiked towards the glaciers. The path was at the edge of the lake, and it had little pink and yellow flowers on both sides.

“Allah’s Artistry. No doubt, no comparison,” appraised Api.

“That’s it, I can’t go any further. we have to rest now,” I said while putting my bag down. My legs were burning from the long hike.

“But we want to go towards the inflow, the big glaciers there,” said Omama, bouncing up with excitement.

“Totally,” agreed Taymia.

“Look, we are only talking here, Baji and party are already heading towards the glaciers,” said Emad.

“Why not we, the young ones, go ahead while older people rest here,” suggested Bhaiya innocently.

“What about the kids? They can’t hike that much,” said Api.

“That’s what you are here for, keep our bags and kids here with you, we’ll be back,” replied Bhaiya

“I can’t hike any more as well, I’m staying with them,” said Bhabi and settled herself on the huge rock.

“That’s like my lovely Bhabi,” I grinned.

“This place has cast a spell on me, I’m bewitched, the lake is so calm and smooth,” Bhabi added.

“I agree,” Api said.

“Suit yourself. See you later,” said Bhaiya and strode away with Omama, Omaina and Taymia.

I sat there on the grass, legs crossed face towards the lake. Looking to the great bowl filled with teal blue water. The grass was thick with lots of big and small rocks around. The younger kids placed themselves on the rocks and my little one shaji, started exploring in between them. My husband and Riaz bhai took their places and begin their talk of politics as usual. I wondered how could they even think of such topics right in the middle of a piece from heaven.

“Mama can I go with them?” pleaded Ashhad after a while.

“They’ve already left Ashhad,” Riaz bhai said as the party had passed out of sight.

“Please baba. I can go with Mohammad. We’ll be fine.” Ashhad insisted.

“You two can’t go by yourself, it must be half an hour’s walk from here. Can they, Fakeeha?” Riaz Bhai turned towards Api.

“I think we should let them go, it’s not as if we’ll have a chance to come here again anytime soon,” Api said, she turned her attention towards Ashhad, “Okay, you two can go. Just be careful and stick together,” with that Ashhad and Mohammad strode off as quickly as they could.

“Let’s go to the lake to dip our legs a little,” suggested Riaz bhai surprisingly.

“I Wanna go there, Pani!” said Nehdia pointing towards the water. While Api took her to the water. She started playing with the little ponds in between the rocks.

“Oops, awww, it’s cold,” said Api putting her feet back on a rock again.

“The water, is it freezing?” I inquired.

“Oh yes it is,” answered Api.

“It doesn’t look like it’s very cold,” said bhabi,

“Besides, the temperature here is normal, not freezing at all.”

“Oh Look, there is a cow,” said Nehdia. I turned around and saw a beautiful black cow right at my back.

“Cow, cow,” said shaji.

“Wanna touch it?” Asked Api.

“Go pat it, Nunu,” encouraged Riaz bhai.

She ambled over to the the cow, stood there a whole long minute, then refused to touch it. Thankfully the caw was big enough to be mingled by the Devils.

“Hashir, come here baita. Sit with us,” I called him, he was standing a little further away from us, looking at the surroundings with a disgusted expression, like everything was extremely dirty and there wasn’t any clean place to sit. I settled him on a rock that was big enough to hold him.

“Ania I want to eat biscuits,” Said Hashir.

“Let me bring the snack bag here,” I said, “Emad why didn’t you go to the glacier? Don’t you wanna go?”

“I am fine, you guys need a hand with all these bags,” said Emad, always thinking of others first.

I handed a packet of biscuits to Hashir, and all of sudden, every single kid was hungry. Nehdia sat on a rock buried in Oreos. Honestly, if you want to learn how to eat Oreos step by step, there was your chance. She twisted and licked, then indulged into the crunchy biscuits.

“Riaz bhai let’s take pictures of the kids one by one on that rock,” my husband pointed towards a rock that was a little further into the water.

“Okay, hand them to me,” agreed Riaz bhai.

Riaz bhai had to stand in the middle of the water to put the kids there. The water was a little deep in between, so the kids couldn’t get there by themselves. And, of course, I was the one taking the pictures. I did my best to avoid Riaz bhai getting into the pics, but he was standing nearby to protect them in case something happens. When he got out of the water his feet were red and frozen.

“Baba, can we go to the glaciers like Mohammed and Ashhad bhai please?” Asked Ali.

“We can’t go there, it’s too far away. Let’s go towards that glacier or whatever left there,” said my husband marching toward the nearly melted glacier that was on our left, just up the mountain, close enough for us to climb. It was covered with mud, as the rainy season had already started.

The peeks of living in a desert city like Karachi, our kids were excited to see the ice, even if it was covered with mud.

“We are going up there,” I said to Api. “Come if you want. I’m putting all my bags here. I think we can see them from up there, so they are safe here. Leave them if you want to come.”

“I need to check on Nehdia’s diaper,” Api replied as we hiked up, my husband, with all the kids and I.

When we reached the glacier, it appeared that it wasn’t that little. It was big enough for us to play with, and most amazingly, the other tourist who had visited before us, had gifted us a slide in the middle of the glacier. Kids started skidding down the slope soon as we reached it. I was busy settling down the young ones halfway up, and when I took my first step on the glacier, I slipped, barely managing to keep myself up. So I settled myself at the edge of the snow, watching the kids playing with it. My husband played with them like a kid and I was mostly busy taking pictures.

Mohammad and Ashhad came back, and went straight up the glacier to take the slides.

“How could you go up all the way at the top, I can’t even put my poor foot here,” I wondered seriously. It was interesting to see such small kids going up the glacier and taking slides on that slippery snow.

“I’m here, I wanna slide too,” whooped Omama from behind.

“Yes, yes come and see if you can put one foot here,” I challenged.

“It can’t be that hard.”

So, she went up on it and skidded down on the slide.

“Wwheeeee. See I did it,” said Omama, while getting up with the help of my hand.

“By the way, how could you be here before the others,” I asked.

“Well, I saw you guys skidding. I never got a chance to do it there, as there were many other people there. So I, with Mohammad and Ashhad, ran fast to get to you.”

“You had that energy left, after all that hiking?”

“I guess so”

“Gather around, we should take a pic to have proof that we did go to the glacier too,” I said.

“Yeah we took a victory pic there on the biggest glacier,” said Omama.

“Ania, you know we had a gigantic snowball fight there. It was fun, Mohammad and I were throwing balls on Api and Apia. They were like, ‘No, no, don’t do that, we are getting wet ow, ow’ but we didn’t stop,” said Ashhad excitedly.

“Oo that’s bad Omaina and Omama must be mad at you guys then,” I said.

Out of the blue came a hard ball and hit me on my left. I turned around and found my husband chuckling with Omama.

“What the… I’m gonna show you how it’s done,” I said and picked up a fist full of snow and threw it with force but he bounced back.

And..

The ever loving snowball fight begun, until everyone got exhausted. We all were wet and damp by the time the fight ended. Api had joined us and she tried and succeeded in skidding down the slide.

“Look Shariq is calling us to start the walk back towards the jeeps,” said my husband.

“Wait, it’s so early I just got here,” said Omama.

“We have to be back to the jeeps before twelve and it’s past eleven o’clock now, it’s at least a forty-five minute walk from here,” my husband elaborated.

“Plus, we are tired now, can’t walk in one go. We’ll have to take rests in between,” I added while getting up.

“Let’s go then,” Omama said

“I am offering prayer here on that rock, I’ll join you guys soon,” said Emad, pointing towards a big rock platform.

“Oh that’s a nice spot to do that, so near God,” said Omama. “Isn’t it early for zuhr prayer?”

“Maybe he’s offering Nawafil,” I answered. As I started strolling down. By the time we reached down to the lake, Nehdia was soundly sleeping on Riaz bhai’s lap. And all the others were back from glaciers.

“Let’s start our way back now.”

We started our long walk back towards the jeeps. Some of us carried the younger ones on our backs. Some carried the bags, which were heavier than ever before because we were drained out. It felt like the end of the world, but didn’t know there was more to come, so much more, we walked and walked yet the market was no where to be seen.

“We have to stop now, I can’t take another step,” I said and before anyone could respond I threw my bags and settled myself on a rock.

“Oh, my God it’s aching badly,” said Omaina while sitting on the rock by me and rubbing her foot.

“What happened?” I inquired.

“Oh, I sprained my foot.”

“Why it’s always you Omaina, why?” I chuckled and gave a sneaky look to Omama.

“Ya totally, why you Api,” said Omama putting down her bag.

“Omama, can you pour some cold water from your bottle on her foot? That will ease her a little,” said Api, who was already rubbing her ankle.

“Okee” grinned Omama, yet obeyed.

“I want a biscuit” said Hadia.

The biscuit session started again, including elders, all of us were like.

“I want one.”

“Me too.”

“Me three.”

“Has Zuhr prayer time started yet? can we offer it here? This place is so enchanting,” said Omama.

“I think so, Aani what do you say?” asked Taymia turning to Api.

“Yes, we can,” said Api. “It’s better that we pray here, who knows how much time it will take for us to go back to Naran and book us a place to stay. Tanzeela we’ll take turns ok, I’ll pray first.”

“Ok.” I said.

“Come, Hassan bhai let’s pray together, we are enough for a Jamaat here,” said Riaz bhai.

They started the Takbeer as Emad and Bhaiya joined them.

“Ali, Ashhad and mohammad go make wadu,” said Api “Hurry up and join them.”

“Are you guys offering zuhr prayer here?” inquired Baji as she reached us.

“Yes,” I replied.

“We already offered it, so we are moving ahead, ok? We’ll be waiting for you guys beside the jeeps.” said baji, as she marched ahead.

“Khala bibi can you please lend me your binoculars for a while?” asked Ali, almost pleading, in his own cute way.

“Yes, you can, with some elder’s supervision,” said baji and turned around to Omama. “Omama, why don’t you keep it with you and let them use it.”

“Ok.” said Omama while she finished her Dua.

“You can go pray now Tanzeela,” said Api after finishing hers.

“Okay,” I said while getting up.

“Mohammad, you still feeling tired?’ I asked when I finished my prayers, Mohammad was sitting alone, with a frowning look on his face, though it is always there as he has the babiest face.

“Nah,” he got up and continued his walk.

The walk back, was tougher, but we managed to reach to the market soon enough.

To be continued. . . !

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