• 22 Aug - 28 Aug, 2020
  • Nadeem Alam
  • Fiction

Faheem Khan initially gave me a very ordinary work like that was of a domestic servant. For almost three months, I only deposited utility bills and did some other house chores. He had started paying me fifty thousand rupees a month which was almost double of what I used to get at the hostel. So, I did not feel hesitated in doing anything I was asked to do.

I was though curious and at unease, since I was being paid a handsome salary for basically doing nothing.

I however, did not know that I was only being tested and watched by the careful eyes of Mohsin Sufi. He was the one who had come to pick me up at the hostel. Often a time, a lot of money was left unattended in the house where I worked. I sometimes, saw gold rings and diamond bracelets. I was very tempted to pick them up but I was always very cautious. Something inside me always stopped me from even touching such things. I finally passed the loyalty test which I was told about many years later by the Sufi himself, when he had started working for me.

I still remember the first time I was presented to Faheem Khan. He looked at me from head to toe, and then he got up and shook my hand. With a broad smile on his face, he chuckled, ‘You haven’t changed a bit.’ I knew that he was my boss but taking some liberty, I replied, ‘You look in a much better shape now. Have you left narcotics?’ I heard cocking of the pistol behind me. There were two bodyguards with Faheem Khan in the room in addition to Sufi who had brought me there. I never knew at that time that Faheem Khan had taken over from his dad and was now a big don of the underworld. I should have guessed from the environment, but perhaps

I was too naive to understand it. Faheem Khan signaled his bodyguard standing behind me to relax and then, again looked at me with a smiling face, ‘You can be very vital to me. I know you are in desperate need of money which I will provide you. Sufi will take you to my farmhouse where you can work for some time till I find an actual job for you which should be worthy of your education and intellect.’ I was already confused on the reaction of my first sentence,

so I carefully chose my next words, ‘I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will do my best to come up to your expectations. You can always rely on me for anything.’ This time I did not hear any weapon rattling. Faheem Khan nodded and then looked at Sufi who hurriedly stepped forward and told me in a very somber voice, ‘Let’s go.’ Faheem Khan by now had turned his back to me as I left his office even without saying goodbye to my ex classmate who was my boss now.

Besides checking my loyalty and honesty, Sufi kept training me about the ethics and manners of his world. I was not supposed to argue or indulge in any type of discussion with the boss. I must restrict all my conversations to two words only, ‘Yes Boss.’ I was also not supposed to look directly into eyes of the boss nor take his name, neither here nor anywhere else. I was never to discuss whatever I do here with anybody, not even with the most trusted people of my life. I was also taught driving by Sufi during those three months. I was though still unsure of what I was about to do in the future, but I had a haunch that it was not legal. I was ready to do anything for fifty thousand rupees per month, as it was my only demand at that time.

After getting passed out from Sufi’s academy, I was assigned my first task of the underworld. I had to pick up a briefcase from one address in Clifton and deliver it to another address in Malir. It sounded very easy, since I did not know what was there inside the briefcase.

I therefore, acted very normal. I had a small car which was given to me by Sufi. I was also spending my nights in the same farm house of Faheem Khan. I used to visit my home on monthly basis and gave them forty thousand on my every visit. It was more than we all earned collectively before. Both my sisters were to be married soon. There was however, no trace of my younger brother as of yet.

The pick and drop of briefcases within Karachi continued for some time. I was then tasked to collect packages from Hyderabad and Sukkur, and bring those to Karachi. I had a fake ID card and a driving license made as per my fake ID. My new name was Saleem Khan. I was stopped a couple of times at the super highway but nothing was ever discovered from my car. I had a CNG cylinder already installed at the back of my car. I drove the car on petrol and never used the cylinder. It was always empty. I had got secret hole made into the cylinder in which I used to stack all my packages. I had taken permission from Faheem Khan through Sufi about dismantling the package I was handed over and hide it inside the cylinder. By then, my Boss had established full trust on me and I was permitted to do whatever I feel appropriate as long as I transport the whole package safely to Karachi. I had also found out that the packages I was transporting were drugs, but I did not care as I was now getting fifty thousand rupees additional for my each outstation trip. I had also started secretly hiding the money and some portion of drugs on my every pick and drop venture. I had obtained few lockers in the banks, post offices, railway stations and even I was burying the stash. I was soon made in charge of transporting the drugs to Dubai. The demand was constantly rising from Middle East and the safest way was to send the same through power boats. Within the next three years, I was made head of all the packaging and distribution from Peshawar till Dubai. Sufi was looking after distribution within the Karachi metropolis yet his entire team was answerable to me. The business management and communication skills which I had acquired during my education and my close association with Faheem Khan were the major sources of my flash promotions.

Sufi never taught me to use weapons, but I started feeling the need for it. I requested him once but he ignored it. There was no point of discussing the matter with Faheem Khan. What I presumed that Faheem Khan and Sufi wanted me to rely on them for my personal safety and security. I was though having serious security concerns. After Sufi’s refusal to provide me with a gun and some training for its use, I bought a thirty two bore pistol at my own without the knowledge of anyone in our organisation. I also, learnt its maintenance from internet and fired it couple of times at night, whenever I was away from the city. I kept my weapon hidden in my car at all the times.

Faheem Khan’s reliance on me was building at a rapid pace. I had started making a cut of almost ten percent from my every trip to Dubai and Oman. It was happening every fortnight. I was getting short of places to hide my pilferage. With my utmost trusted individuals, I then started distributing my own stash within Karachi. Soon, the news of a new player in the city reached to Faheem Khan who tasked Sufi to find the new guy. Sufi seemed quite disturbed. He discussed the problem with me and I advised him to lay a trap for the new guy by spreading the word that you want to work for him instead of Faheem Khan. Sufi was getting ambitious. He was a little stupid too. He very easily fell into the ditch. He was called in for the so called job interview where his audio video recording was done discreetly. The same tape was sent to Faheem Khan who without listening to Sufi’s side of the story, issued the orders for his execution. I broke this news to Sufi and also advised him to actually start working for the other guy. He had not yet met him. His interview was earlier done by one of my assistants. Sufi contacted him and agreed to work for the new guy who was now known as the Master. It was the name in fact, thought out by me without many deliberations, but was much better than my exiting nickname of Saleem Mobile.

Sufi was very disappointed and heartbroken over his treatment by Faheem Khan. Sufi never knew that I was constantly feeding false information to Faheem Khan that Sufi was stealing from him. Faheem Khan did not have any proof but he was fed up of listening to such news. And when he received the recording of Sufi making arrangements with an anonymous person for handling his distribution network, Faheem Khan lost his temper. He said out loud that he will now only see Sufi’s dead face. Sufi went into hiding for a while, but soon I started using him through my cutout Ilyas, who was my most trusted employee.

Ilyas alias Kashmiri was like my younger brother. I had picked him up from a street where he was getting beaten up by his handler. It was about five years back when I had just started working for Faheem Khan. I was once transporting a briefcase which I had picked up from Gulistan e Gohar. I delivered it to a guy near Teen Talwar. Before going back to the farmhouse which was on Super Highway, I decided to eat something. It was almost four pm and I stopped in front of a food stall at Lucky Star. I asked the vender to prepare a burger and started fiddling with my mobile. It was then, that I noticed a boy being slapped repeatedly buy an ugly looking guy with big moustache and long beard. The boy was in a miserable shape. He looked in his late teens from his face but his body was too thin and lean. He was hardly standing up right. I ignored him initially, but then he reminded me of my younger brother and I suddenly felt a deep ache in my heart. My burger had been delivered to me that I was now in no mood to eat. The boy was looking at me with hopeful eyes and open mouth. I called him and he came almost running to me. I tried to give him my burger but instead he asked for some money. I gave him money as well as my burger. Later, I found him at the same spot many a times when I stopped there to eat something. I very often helped him and he was always obliged. After about three years, when I secretly started my own distribution network, he was the first person I enrolled in my team. He proved to be a very vital asset. He was now my backbone.

The other management skill I had learnt during the course of my study was to eliminate the competition with a better product. The product which I was acquiring from up north was the same which Faheem Khan was also getting. The mindboggling thing I did as Faheem Khan’s packaging and distribution head was to contaminate his product. I started adding talcum powder to his heroine, as well as started reducing the weight. A ten grams sachet would now weigh eight grams and half of it was talcum powder. Within three months, Faheem Khan lost the local as well as the international market. He was my classmate but he had learnt nothing. He used me for all his evil deals and I was no angel. As soon as I started earning handsome amounts, my lust for money and power increased beyond my control. I now owned the majority share of the market. Faheem Khan was removed from the chair of narcotics business by his aging father. A serious rift started between them which ended up in a blood bath. Faheem Khan was killed and his father lost his sanity. Within five years of Sufi’s visit to the hostel, I now owned a great empire which I had built on deceit, trickery, mistrust, and fraud. I was not proud of my ethics in the business of underworld. Someday my downfall will start but for now I was trending upwards. I shifted my whole family to the Middle East and it was a high time for me to start a serious search for my lost brother.