(Manzoor Hassan Hussainabad Skardu, Skardu)

The people of the village were very beautiful because their deeds were never ugly. The villagers would not lock their doors neither they would ever collect the working tools from their field in the evening if they were to work in the same field the next day. The villagers were so peaceful, religious and trustworthy that locking their store doors at night was not a custom and there prevailed a strong bound of social trust among the people. They would leave their tools like spades, shovels, wheelbarrows etc., in the fields and no one would even touch them. They would leave their stores unlocked to find the things safe, the next morning.

One day, in Hltanmosa, a strange thing happened to Apo Trangpa, an innocent man of the village. When he reached with the dawn in his field of wheat, he did not find his newly brought spade which he had himself left in the field the previous evening so as to resume his work in the field as soon as he reached there the next day. He knew that no one from his family had been to that field since he had left it. At first he thought that he might have misplaced it somewhere else but when he, while searching the spade, saw some footprints which were not his own in the muddy area of the field where he had been working lately in the previous evening, some strange thought intrigued him. When he came back and shared this incident to some of his friends, instead of believing in his story of the missing spade and footprints, they mocked him by calling him a superstitious man. A few days later another man in the village lost his cord which was fastened to an apricot tree in front of his house. The number of people increased day by day who would be surprised by their missing things in this secretive fashion. Now the villagers were really worried about the mysterious happenings. Though, missing of the things in the enigmatic way was an open secret to the people yet they dare not share it with one another fearing that they would also be called superstitious like Apo Trangpa, but the overall situation of the village was getting transformed and the restlessness of the people was apparent. They would wake up to find their belongings missing in the morning but they could not do anything because to think of stealing or theft was out of question in that village. By and by the societal trust was fading away from the villagers and henceforth they started to lock their store doors, fenced their gardens, kept a security guard to ensure the safety of their belongings etc. All these precautions caused the poor villagers extra burden of expense. People did not care much the monetary expenditure but they really did care the peaceful environment which was getting dented. The village was now in a state where nobody doubted anybody explicitly but everybody doubted everybody implicitly.

One day after an Eid Majlis the Numberdar (Village Head), who was also in the big village hall where the villagers used to gather to celebrate their religious rituals, stood up and said in a serious tone, “My dear villagers! It has been observed for a month or so that our stores are being broken, our gardens are being destroyed and nothing is safe in our village. We have become so senseless and irresponsible that we are not paying heed to the ghastly upcoming situation, but I can’t remain quiet. Last night I myself found him near my orchard but he was lucky enough to have escaped from my hands. Much more destruction must be expected if he is not controlled.” Everyone was surprised to listen that the Numberdar had seen him. The masculine pronoun “He” gave some relief to the village women because they would no more be suspected for the missing things or in other words “the theft” if it were so because the Numberdar himself was an eye witness who had seen a “He” not a “She”, and who could have doubted the eyes of the Numberdar! But that was not the real concern of the villagers at that time as all the villagers were willing to solve the dilemma of mysteriously missing things. Some unknown restlessness was felt among the public and the village hall got filled with a confused buzzing sound as the people were all trying to ask one another who that “He” could be. “and I’m afraid.”, Continued the Numberdar, as his thundering voice came again the buzzing sound in the hall died away and once more silence seized the hall and some people even forgot to breathe this time in trying to be attentive as the suspense was on its climax. “I’m afraid that if he is not seized, we will soon be repenting because it is we who have nourished him and made him so healthy and powerful. I am also accountable for it because I have also given him much to eat and loved him just like a son of mine but today he is a symbol of destruction to our village. Here I want to announce publically that if he is again found anywhere near my store or garden he will not to be found anywhere in the world again after that because I won’t spare a single minute to kill him. Thank you for your kind attention.” After that brief speech full of threat and warning the Numberdar sat down. People could not probe him that whom he was referring to or talking about in his speech lest they should have found anyone of their family members or relatives guilty of the theft and been disgraced in the public hall as the Numberdar was a quick tempered, brave man who would not care anything. People knew that once he had slapped his own younger brother in front of public for being in the front row of the Majlis which was supposed to be kept vacant for the Syeds, because the Syeds were respected by all whether they were morally good or bad, a typical tradition of that village.

People went back home thinking who that “He” could be. They strictly enquired their children if they had been involved in such deeds, but “No” was the only answer they could get. All the villagers knew that the Numberdar was a man of deeds; he would do whatever he said. The news that the Numberdar himself had seen “Him” was a breaking news for not only the villagers of Hltanmosa but also for the inhabitants of nearby villages.

It is said that there were some unknown gangs of teenagers who would steal things and sell the goods in the nearby villages to buy cigarette or the things of their use from the acquired money. When they heard the news that the Numberdar had seen someone, they got really afraid of being caught or watched now and so the gang got broken automatically. They had trust that no one was trustworthy in the gang and in this way after a few days, people started finding most of their lost or stolen things back on the places from where the things had been missing. Within a month or so the village came back to the former peaceful state and the villagers again forgot to lock their stores. They were really happy that neither anyone had been killed nor insulted in the public but the peaceful environment of the village was restored. It was a kind of blessing in disguise that’s why the Numberdar never spoke of the village ‘Yak’ which had come down from the mountains and been destroying the gardens and orchards and been seen by him the night before the Eid and of which he was speaking furiously in the public hall on that Eid day. To make the things easy I would simply say ‘He’ was a Yak……

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