Burhan Tufail is no more



He was a small kid with sparkling eyes.

“His name is Burhan” Lali had said when introducing him to all of us. It was the wedding of Javed mamu and all of us were so young. We didn’t know what is grief and pain. We were loved and protected. Lali is the younger sister of my mother and this is her family nickname. Everyone calls her that because she is so loved.

At 3 sehgal street, shamnagar chobourji was the house of my grand mother. We called her nani ammi. Mamu Javed as the eldest son was the guest of honor with his olive green Opal car which he had brought with him from England. Burhan must have been 3 years old at that time. He could speak a few sentences and we could understand his cute gestures and ‘can I play with you’ requests. There were groups of cousins and every one wanted Burhan on their side. He was so adorable. The marriage ceremony went on for some weeks. It was fun for us kids. Going to shoppings and waiting for ladies to fix the rates of ornate dresses which smelled great and had glittering threadwork of silver and gold on them. I still remember Burhan and I used to caress a pink silky dress and it was so soft to touch. I touched Burhan’s cheeks and told her mom that he is like silk, so soft and so loveable. She had laughed heartily at this comment and hugged both of us. Then Javed uncle gave me a large Bugs Bunny. We could mold and remold it anyway we want. Burhan wanted to play with the bunny but I was too possessive. He used to first talk about it and his little hand would hold its arm; but the moment he got more than half of it I used to wince and run away holding it firmly. Then seeing tears in his eyes I would stop in my steps and hand over the bunny to him which he would hesitantly accept and a sudden angel like smile would adore his face with tears undried in his soulfull eyes.

There was a large tree at one end of the compound under which most of the things happened in relation to the marriage ceremonies. Young girls sang and we sleepily and happily observed their melodies penetrate deep into the nights and the stars above us appeared to shine brighter than ever.

Nights were bright when Lali and her family boarded the plane to England where she lived in Cardiff with her husband and two sons. Younger, Adnan Tufail was doing studies in medicine and a few years ago she sent us the photograph of two brothers in graduation gowns. Burhan excelled in English literature and was appointed a researcher in Kings college, London. I lost contact with them and got busy in my own life.

On a sad evening two years ago uncle Javed was talking to me on the internet when he suddenly asked me, “Of course you know Burhan has died.” I got sick and wanted to throw out. “NO! you must be kidding” was my meek reply but within my heart I knew it was true and that night I cried alone. For a distant cousin whose eyes I will never forget and whose smile will always brighten my days. At such a young age, Burhan’s loss has been felt everywhere. I called my aunt and she was broke. I didnt have the heart to ask her what happened. Later Javed uncle told me that it was sudden heart attack and I was wondering do poetic hearts break like that.

Published by Dr. Afaq Ahmad Qureshi

Physician, writer, broadcaster, journalist, translator, free lance writer, poet, political and social analyst and critic. Writes plays and features for electronic media, interested in numerous things from sociology to medicine to history and art. interest in books and internet, writes for http://www.blogcritic.com also; editor for an internet journal; at http://twitter.com/dr_afaqaq.

2 thoughts on “Burhan Tufail is no more

  1. Burhan was a dear friend during my years at King’s (1998-2004), and I also cried when I learned of his death. I was by then living in Boston, but I will always remember our many long conversations about literature over beer and cigarettes around London. I will always cherish the memories of the visit he paid me in Spain in the summer of 98 and the London Pynchon conference that same year, among many other moments we shared. In fact the first paella I ever cooked (while teaching at Oxford) in 2001 was (over)cooked by all three of us, my then girlfriend (now wife Cecilia), and Burhan as we laughed and drank wine and talked about French, English, American, and Spanish literature. His piercing eyes, his humor, and his thirst for knowledge will be always remembered. Send my regards to his brother Adnan if you are in touch with him, I unfortunately lost touch with many friends in London over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much dear Pedro. Your comments have touched my heart. I have conveyed the entire message to my aunt, Burhan’s mother who will show it to Adnan also. I have written an email to you also in the same context. Some times ago another of Burhan’s friends also contacted me. His name was ?Michael Hrebniak (or something like this). We became good friends but then later on I lost his email address. I think he is still in UK and pretty active in his literary pursuits.
      Give my regards to your family and friends.


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