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Are You Okay?

by Atta Qasmi
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Atta Ul haq Qasmi

A few days ago, a close friend of mine came to me unexpectedly. While we were talking, he started saying, “Ata, my memory has become very weak. I often forget even the names of my children. The names of famous personalities from history slip from my mind. I can’t remember why I came here for work.” I said, “These are ordinary things. When you talk to anyone, they also engage in similar conversations.” He said, “My case is much more serious. I have mistakenly entered my neighbor’s house instead of my own several times at night, and each time I have been subjected to violence, despite being innocent. I wanted an explanation and asked if you enter the same neighbor’s house every time or if you sometimes change houses?” He said, “No, I enter the same house every time.” I was shocked and asked, “What do you mean by ‘the same house’? Who is that?” He said, “I don’t remember.” At that moment, I became worried and realized that it was a serious matter. So, I advised him to gain control over his weak memory, stop going to that place, and he asked, “What do I need to give up? The people from that house themselves have left the neighborhood.” I asked, “Whose people?” He said, “I don’t remember.” My ‘friend’ sat with me for a long time, continuously crying over his weak memory.

He told me and even included my testimony that he is very patriotic. Therefore, on the 14th of August, in celebration of Pakistan’s Independence Day, he invited some friends to his house without telling them anything and prepared a big cake on the table beforehand. When the friends asked for what occasion the cake was meant, he told them it was for today, the 14th of August, the day of independence, which sparked a heated argument. It was called all sorts of names and even faced physical aggression, despite the fact that all of this was due to his weak memory because the day on which Dhaka fell was not the 14th of August but the 16th of December. He shared many other things from his memory, and one thing in particular bothered him. He mentioned that every day, some people come to his house and demand repayment of a debt he supposedly owes them. When he denies having borrowed any money from them, they hurl abuses at him. Some even grab him by the collar. This noisy incident brings the neighborhood residents together, and as a result, my reputation is tarnished daily. I can no longer face anyone. I told him, “Why don’t you repay the alleged debt to these people?” He replied, “How can I repay when I don’t even remember borrowing money from anyone?”

He told me another distressing news that the bank people are threatening him with eviction. They say that he hasn’t been paying the installments of the loan he took for the construction of the house regularly. I told them that my memory is very weak, I often forget things. Even God forgives forgetfulness, but there is no fear of God in the hearts of those people. Another thing he mentioned from his memory is that he doesn’t even remember that he is married. So every month, when the beginning dates come, his wife starts creating a ruckus, asking why the monthly expenses haven’t been given. Surprised, I ask him who he is. I don’t know you. She says that she is your ill-fated wife and the mother of your children. To which I am even more astonished. I am also the father of the children. Hearing this, I said, “But you used to say that you don’t remember the names of your children.” In response, with an expression of surprise, she said, “Did I really say that?” Then she started banging her head.

My time to hit my head had come when his words started giving me a headache. So I began changing seats and he said, “Aren’t you bored yet?” I said, “No, but who are you?” Upon which he screamed and said, “You don’t know me, I am your friend.” I said, “Oh! Well, my memory is also very bad. What is your name?”

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