4th February 2013 - 7 am - I wake up with a slightly wettish feeling around my nose. Get up out of bed and a stream of blood keeps flowing down from my right nostril. Strange nosebleed, I thought. It took a long time to stop it. I had lost almost a cupful of blood by then.
Dr Shamim was called in and he suggested pressing the top of my nose if it happened again … and use an ice-pack. I had to do it while he was here as it started bleeding again. Almost another cupful before it stopped.
He called his friend who was an ENT and the friend said he'd be in his clinic by 2.30 … I went and sat at 2.00, after another bad nosebleed, and I was soon told that he'd be in by 3.30 or 4.00. So I left.
Two more nosebleeds later I went to Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and he took a look at my nose and said that a bone was crooked. It had cracked open the artery and that is why I was bleeding. Gave me all sorts of pills, sprays, ointments and said I should come back in 2 days to cauterise this if necessary.
A bone was crooked … Hmmmm!
I passed my Senior Cambridge exam in 1956 (St. Pat's, Karachi) and had to go to a college. Jaweed Niaz (husband of columnist Anjum Niaz) - a classmate and friend - and I decided to go to GC, Lahore. I was going to live in the Government College Quadrangle Hostel (Jaweed's father was a commissioner and he would live at home).
There are loads of stories that need to be told about GC. But we'll skip all that and move on to the Presidential Elections for GC. Sakhi Sarwar Sultan was leaving and a new President was to come in. Jawaid Azfar (who sadly died fairly young) came to Jaweed and many of of us. Jaweed Niaz knew him well. He and I supported his older brother, Kamal Azfar (KA has - since - been our Finance Minister and the Governor of Sindh), and so did most of our friends from East Africa, Phillipines, and a few young students from Lahore - like Jafri, Faruq, and Aamer.
Kamal's opposition was Khalid S. Butt. I remember very little of Khalid now, except that his college coat had 'Russian' written on it where others had Hockey and Cricket and other stuff. I was fairly new to GC and though we supported Kamal for his brilliant debates and most other things I had no idea that the place would start talking about voting for a Punjabi student! I thought this was not the GC that I could have thought of - but many of my Punjabi friends would say, "Naheeñ - I am a Punjabi and will vote for Khalid."
Among the days that we were canvassing for Kamal, I came across a group of students who were talking to Khalid in the garden. I walked up to them and asked them to vote for Kamal. One of them said to me, "I am sorry, I am a Punjabi and can't vote for anyone other than a Punjabi!" - I was surprised again at such behaviour and I walked away, saying, "I am sorry, too."
Three or four feet away from there I heard my name called, so I turned back … and a brick, picked from the place where they were standing, came hurtling through and hit me on the nose. I bled a bit. Was taken to the doctor who looked at me and said it was just a small hurt and the blood would soon stop … which it did. My nose, though, seemed twisted a bit to me.
Of course, the Election Day arrived and Kamal Azfar beat Khalid S. Butt - in a way that had never happened from the time that Allama Iqbal had won this election. Everybody, including those that had said, "We'll vote for Khalid because he is a Punjabi", voted for Kamal. When I asked some of them they said, " Oh, we were only buying time. GC has no problems with where a chap comes from and Kamal was always the best choice."
I met Kamal frequently and when he was the Governor of Sindh I used to say that he'd make a lovely President, too. His wife was the perfect First Lady! Although we continued our friendship for a very long time, I discovered that Naheed Azfar behaved rather differently for a while. Their daughter said to me one day that she is upset because I have said lots of things against her. Untrue! But that's what she believed. I don't know who could have said this to her … but we have very little to do with each other now.
In 1980 I had some dizzy spells and I went to see a doctor who said to me that I should stop flying to join ships and should get a surgery done in the next two days because my bone had twisted inside the nose and was causing this problem in breathing. I asked Dr Shamim then and he sent me to Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh who gave me four days of medicine, said the nose bent had nothing to do with this. He thought the doctor had probably understood that I was a Merchant Navy Captain and decided to get some money from a useless surgery. Shit! Anyway, that medicine cured me.
In 2013 I had this new bleeding problem. I saw Dr Shaikh again after two days.
The middle day we had that useless Kashmir Day chütti that no one knows about. (When Basharat Peer, the Kashmiri writer, came to Lahore a few years ago it was on the 4th February. The next morning was Kashmir Day and he went out and saw all these signs about Kashmir and how people felt. He asked what had happened and someone said we have this holiday each year. He said, "I live in Kashmir and have never heard of this day in Pakistan!")
I had several bleeding moments after that. Blood dripping rather suddenly, even into the food that I was trying to eat. Yechhh! I stopped them all the time, and the quantities varied from half a cup to a couple of teaspoons — making me feel very weak.
On the third day I went to him and was told that cauterisation was essential.
When a doctor says that you'll be given a local anaesthetic and feel a little bit of pain, be prepared. He is the one who has never had some thing stuck all the way up his nose. When he says 'a little more pain', hold on to the bed. Hard. (When he says 'a tiny bit of pain that you will have for a while', ask for a General Anaesthetic!)
The anaesthesia was more painful and uncomfortable but my nose now has Silver Nitrate covering the bone and the bleeding has stopped. It'll take another week before the paste melds with the bone and I shall see the doc again. It feels good, although it seems that there is some strange thing sticking in there. The doc thinks the feeling will end up in a few days, but I don't think so. I think I'll just stop worrying about it happening all the time …