Over three decades, of my life, I saw my father going to Okara and Sahiwal to look over his stud farm. At first in early eighties, there was Linda – the mare he bought from Austria for his farm. She was a real beauty, and quite large in size. She bore many foal for the farm, even though she had come from the cool mountains of Austria to the hot and humid atmosphere of Okara.
Malik Gulsher Ahmad Gheba.
I come from a family known for their horse riding; my great grand-father Malik Gulsher Ahmed Gheba was given the title of Shah Sawar-e-Hind. His equestrian talents were displayed in front of King George the V, in Dehli, during the coronation festivities in 1910. Malik Gulsher rode up a flight of stairs which went very high, it was at night, and there was a spot light on him, so it appeared as if he was riding to heaven. His picture was in a museum in London, and he was invited to England also.
At that same event my maternal great great grandfather Sergeant Major Fred Kilburn was also present. He was fascinated by the horsemanship of this great horse rider Gulsher Khan Gheba. When he mentioned about him to his wife, he didn’t know that his own grand daughter was going to marry the same person’s grandson, Capt. Sarfaraz!
Brig M M Sarfaraz Khan’s stud farm.
The stud farm is given to outstanding officers, and to families of those who give their lives for our land. My father was an outstanding army officer, who fought 1965 war capturing Mona Bao Railway Station, and then in 1971 he had made a brave defensive victory. A recipient of the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (M), he was given this farm in recognition of his services.
It was only natural that my father’s stud farm gave the best results in the region. As a young man, my father was known for his tent pegging talent and horse riding.
Brig M Jaffar a polo player.
However, it was my uncle, Brig Jaffar who followed this love for horses throughout his life by playing polo at a national and international level. His sons Junaid and Hassan too were polo players. My uncle had horses and mares at their farm house stables in outskirts of Islamabad. Here is the blog post I wrote on him, when he passed away.
Managing farm in later years, with my help.
Then towards the later years of my father’s life, his younger brother Brig Jaffar would go with him to Okara. Five years ago, he also left our world. So my father let me take care of his farm and it’s paper work. At least I managed the pays, the expenses and details of the farm from the phone.
One day, as I put the phone down after a talk with his manager in Okara, my father said,
‘I’m noticing that the manager is being rude to you!’ I looked at him, surprised. Naturally, he couldn’t hear the other side’s conversation.
‘How do you feel that?’ I asked my father.
‘He has been talking while you were talking, he was interrupting you, this means that he wasn’t listening to you properly.’ Daddy explained to me, ‘you need to call him again, and tell him so. Say that ‘when I’m talking, you need to listen carefully and completely. Otherwise, it is rudeness. Once I’ve finished, I will listen to you.’
So, that is precisely what I did. 😊 The manager was immediately apologetic.
My father often watched over me, guiding me as I did the needful. He would often appreciate how I’d manage my own staff at home on a daily basis. He often praised me up when I’d come to the lounge, not realizing that Daddy was watching me from inside, as I spoke to my gardener, staff members or workers.
I also wrote his letters for him, on my laptop, then printed and posted them for him. All his correspondence was done by me. Often, I drove my Dad to his formal functions at the club or officer’s mess parties. Once I even drove him to a stag tea party. (I explained to the General who was the host, to kindly allow me to stick around, till end of the party.)
Well, at the farm as we waited, the contractor offered us food, which I accepted gratefully. It was indeed a really delicious meal.
Keeping father’s legacy going.
So, now that my father has left our world in 2019, I’ve been managing his lands (now in my mother’s name,) all these years. As you know, I had to get a new mare, a couple of years ago, when we lost a mare at our farm; I wrote ‘Thrill of buying a mare’ which you can read here. Mum named her Beauty.
Unfortunately, ours is a breeding farm, and both my mares haven’t given birth to foals yet. Not in my time. It is the disturbing issue these days for me.
Smog in Punjab.
These days there is a lot of smog in Lahore, and its surrounding areas, including Okara. Literally, it was so gloomy. You couldn’t see the sky at all. It was like a hazy cloudy sky with visibility of just a few hundred yards. There was no sunshine. But it was enough for the traffic to stay on the move.
My trip to Okara
Luckily, I was able to book nice rooms in Okara for my friend Riffat and myself. In an Officer’s Mess there, (as an Air Cmdre’s wife, I’m entitled to these.) I called Riffat a day earlier, ‘can you come with me to Okara?’ She has accompanied me twice before, even her husband Naim bhai is willing to go along, but I felt I need not take his time, as we could manage on our own.
‘Is it possible that you need me, and I don’t come?’ was Riffat’s prompt reply. I smiled. We both remember how many times in our last fifty years as friends, we have been there for each other.
‘You know, before you called, I was lying on the bed feeling very lethargic, as if I can’t even move.’ She smiled, ‘then you called, and it felt as if a spark went right through me!’ she laughed, ‘I just hopped out of bed, happy at the thought of travel with you.’
It’s the same when she comes to Islamabad. I go with her every-where, she needs to go. It is understood. 😊
More stud farm details!
The inspection went very well. Our mare’s health and condition was declared very good, and so was the rest of the farm. The vet nary doctor present, suggested a different treatment for the mares, for better results. Let us hope and pray for better results.
At our stud farm.
Setbacks faced recently.
Our farm has faced many setbacks in last three years. My father passed away in February 2019, the same year we lost a mare, then manager Maskeen also died at the farm. Later that year, I bought the other mare; You may remember my blog post here on Thrill of buying a mare.
So now the farm is being managed by next generation at both ends, the son of Maskeen, the last manager, and myself, the daughter of owner Brig. Sarfaraz. So, it is a transformational period which needs extra attention.
Inspection day 23.12.22, Okara.
Riffat and I were at the farm by 8.30 am. It was cold and foggy. We went and made a round of the premises; we saw the mares, who were still getting groomed. At that time we felt that the mares could have been in a better condition. Otherwise, things looked fine. We waited mostly in the car, (as it was rather cold outside.) After a wait of about six hours, the team arrived for inspection. Once they looked it over, the Col. was pleased with my mother’s farm, then my own outlook also changed!
Brig. Iqbal Awan’s stud farm
Just before leaving, around 4.00 pm. I visited Brig. Iqbal Awan’s farm which is our neighboring farm. It is a farm where the owner, lives on premises for many days of the year. He also lives in Lahore, so he can pop in more often. My father also lived in Lahore for many years, to be able to oversee the farm more often. It is when he became much older that he wanted to be nearer to me, and moved to Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The mares, foals and a stallion looked so happy at Brig Awan’s farm. It was wonderful. Then I saw cranberries growing there too. My father always said that the best thing for anything is personal fulltime involvement of owners.
Lahore and friends.
We got free from Okara at 4.30 pm. First we visited a KFC restaurant for the restrooms, but ended up having those tasty zinger burgers. The back to back traffic in smog all the way to Lahore took over three hours, we were at Lahore by 8.00 pm. There was no question of going on to Islamabad.
On way out, of Lahore on 25th morning, I visited my friend Ayesha (who is also sister-in-law of Riffat.) Ayesha and Naim bhai had lost their elder sister Kausar Apa some months ago, so I went for condolences. (I had condoled with Naim bhai, the evening before.) So I had a second breakfast with Ayesha, her husband Shahid Bhai and son Azeem and his wife.
So, I left for Islamabad. (We later found out that the Motorway had opened at 11.30 am.) I reached there at 12.00 pm due to having to repair a punctured tire first.
Back to my home in Islamabad.
My mother was so happy that I had returned. Both my pets were also happily clinging to me. Sabir, my cook had made achar gosht for me, (he remembered that before my illness I used to love it.) So, Mum got that made for me.
No matter how much I love traveling, the best part is coming home to one’s family. 😊
Stay blessed, my dear Readers.