Our late arrival posted another challenge. The trials were to take place the next morning, so we needed shelter for the night.
I (Shoaib Akhtar, famous Pakistani cricketer) had Rs 12 in my pocket and Ijaz had Rs 13, a grand total of Rs 25 which was, as we found out, about the same as the amount required for a night’s stay at a cheap hotel.
But if we paid for accommodation, we would have to forgo dinner, a dismal prospect for two growing lads. Ijaz got a bit stressed out but I wasn’t worried. I told him that we would find a safe place to spend night – with a taonga walla. I picked out a Tonga that looked new and shiny, walked up to its owner and said,’Salam! I am going to treat you to a good meal tonight.’
He looked at me and said, ‘Tu hai kaun?’ Who are you?
I replied that I was a cricketer from Pindi.
‘Do you play for Pakistan? He asked immediately.
I answered, ‘Allah kare that too will happen, but right now I am standing in front of you.’
I remember him smiling and asking why he should oblige me. Because, when I joined Pakistan team, I would come back to meet him, I said.
‘Do you believe that will happen?’ he asked.
and I said, ‘Yes, look into my eyes and you will see it.’
‘It’s a deal,’ he said.
In this manner, I managed to convince Aziz Khan, the Tonga walla to share his bedding and sleeping space with us, and that night we slept peacefully on a footpath in Lahore. Next morning, Aziz Khan in his generosity took us to the ground in model town where trails were to be held.
*Six years later*
After our Eden Garden’s victory, I was a star and become the most wanted cricketer for the media as well. I had, however, promise to fulfill.
The very night I got back to Pakistan, I put on a disguise and left the house. I headed towards the railway station to look for Aziz Khan, the tonga walla who had given me shelter six years ago when I was trying to get into the team.
It took me quite a while to search him out but my perseverance paid off.
I found him sleeping in one corner of the street. He was startled to be woken up, I said, ‘Main kya si ki main aavanga – I told you I would come back to see you when I was a member of the Pakistan team.’
He jumped right into my arms like a kid and hugged me, murmuring blessings. For a long time, he just kept repeating that he couldn’t believe it was me. We raised a toast to each other on the streets of Lahore.
By now the crowd knew I was there and the station virtually shut down. He pointed to them and said, ‘look how many people recognize you and are dying to take you to their homes now. I said, ‘Yes, but you were the one who gave me shelter when I was unknown, so I recognize you alone and am here to meet only you.
Debriefing of this Story
Never ignore the people who helped in the struggling days, because they have helped without any expectations.
Permanent success is not achieved just by hard work but also by being a good human being. Therefore never lose your humanity in the process of success.
“Always be with a person who helps you even if the world ignores you.” – Rupak
From the book – “Controversially Yours” by Shoaib Akhtar
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