Ehsanullah Yousaf: The teacher, The officer, The friend

“The teacher, The officer, The friend”

“Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can go no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day” 
-Christina Rossetti

It was just another sad news story for most readers, most of our  people whose eyes are seeped in reports of violence, stories of killings every other day, through print and electronic media. Nothing new in the land of the pure.  It would have been the same for most of us too, but this time it was different. 

When that black and white line reads the name of  someone you were related to, someone you adored or just someone you knew, its a world of difference. Its not just kill-count, it is not collateral damage, its a feeling, it is agony. And this was the feeling for me, my school fellows and everyone else who knew Officer Ehsanullah Yousaf. On 13th of September, Ehsan sahib was stabbed, while exiting a cafe with his fiance. Eye witnesses claimed that the women that stabbed Ehsan, initially asked him to return his SIM, but he replied that he did not know her, neither did he have any SIM. He even asked the receptionist to do something about her. During this conversation, the women suddenly stabbed Ehsan and fled. His fiance also claims that they had never seen the women before. Investigations revealed that the women’s name was “Rehana”, her motive is still unclear, but apparently she had deep mental issues.

For most people, “Ehsan” was just another name in the news. For us, he was a devoted officer, a great teacher and most of all an inspiring friend. Ehsan was from a humble background, with his father, a retired non commissioned officer, supporting his family and his education. He completed his Msc in Physics and started teaching in a private school where we studied, he kept on trying to pass the ISSB test, which he cleared in his final attempt, he was inducted in the navy. Even after becoming a Pilot officer in the Navy aviation wing, he did not change. The same simplicity, the same caring personality. He did indeed  get rid of that peculiar cap, which was a source of intrigue for all of his students, he always had on his head no matter where he was. 

In one of our last meetings, when he came to Muzaffarabad, he was talking about his marriage, about all the proposals he had got, the innocent soul was dearly confused.
By way of joke, while strolling through the market, 
I said to him while talking about doctors,
 “Ehsan sahib, no matter which proposal you consider, don’t  marry any doctor. Both of you will be too busy to keep your marriage up”

His steps suddenly stopped, I knew he was not considering to marry any doctor, but he looked at me and said,
 “Sheikh, If we do not work for this country, who will?”

A little startled at  his sudden wave of seriousness but involuntarily, a smile came across my face and I shook his hand. This was the moment, Ehsan sahib inspired me. 
Just for a moment, but indeed it was his moment.
 What is most saddening is that this is not how Ehsan sahib had wished to go, this was not how anybody could have imagined it. 
Another sad reality in the words of Shakespeare,
“So wise so young, they say do never live long.”

But how far would mere words explain, after all they are mere words. When someone who has inspired you, even for a second, passes away, it is indeed painful, but that inspiration lives on with you forever, that person becomes a part of you, and so is Ehsan sahib, a part of me and all his students, it is a difficult task to pay homage to him for he was not just one person. He was Sir Ehsan – the teacher, Mr.Ehsan – the flight officer and Ehsan sahib the loving friend. 

It is a world of difference, when that black and white line isn’t just another name, when it is someone you love, its a world of difference.
Lets all pray for Ehsan sab’s forgiveness, lets pray for patience for his family and most of all pray that we all feel that the names on the paper are not just names on the paper, they are parts of us, pray that we feel the pain that others feel.

I know most of my friends can still hear Ehsan sahib say, 

“I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!”

-Mary Frye



Hasnat Sheikh is a student of law, he takes part in politics and is also interested in literature , poetry and history. He tweets at @hasnatsheikh

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