On a marriage party, four bosom friends were enjoying Wazwan. One amongst the friends (looking proud), whom they called Takabbur challenged his friends if they can break the hard bone of a dish served. Each friend tried but it slipped off their teeth. When it came to Takabbur, he broke it in a blink. All the friends exploded into laughter.
Always draped in white gown, Takabbur was a tall and healthy man. It seemed as if no illness had ever touched him.
One day, while walking along the road, a rushing car splattered muddy water over his gown. Screaming angrily, he got the car stopped. Without hearing a word, he took his gown off and threw it on the face of its driver. Trembling, the driver said, “Sir, look at the back seat”. Looking behind, he found a bleeding patient crying, “Fast, rush me to hospital”. Without a speck of pity, he gestured them to go, shouting, “Nonsense”
Takabbur went on enjoying every delicacy. He never complained of dyspepsia. Times changed but not his behavior. His teeth were sparkling white. Whenever he laughed, he deliberately tried to make people stare at his teeth. The beauty demands admiration, of course!
One misty morning on the banks of Dal, rays from sun were struggling to enter through the huge Chinars. Takabbur was on a morning walk and an old man with sunken face and wrinkled eyes happened to pass by. All of a sudden his staff stuck in an opening between the tiles fixed on the footpath. The old man slipped and one of his hands fell on the shoulders of Takabbur. Without giving any looks of compassion, Takabbur helped him to regain his equilibrium. This moment was so serene and tranquil that it felt as union of pride and humility. As soon as the old man stood unbent, he opened his lips;
“Dear son, no one owns time. One day, I too was as salubrious as you are.” Saying this, he stretched his hand to the pocket of Takabbur’s shirt. With a shivering hand, he took out Takabbur’s pen and then slipped his hand into his own pocked taking off a piece of paper. He glided the pen of Takabbur on his own piece of paper. Folded it and handed it over to Takabbur and left. Unfolding it, the paper read;
“Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power”
Takabbur, caught in wonder might have never conceived that the old man was so well-read of quoting from Sonnets of Shakespeare!
All that day, Takabbur looked lost in something. Although he did not want to think of the moments from the morning, but it continuously echoed in his mind. Maybe the wrinkles of the old man were unforgettable!
It was dark. Takabbur wanted to enjoy the night under an open sky. Lying upwards, he saw a bright crescent. The curve of it reminded him of the arch-like stature of the old man.
Next day while enjoying barbecue with his friends, Takabbur felt strange sensation in the tooth that had helped him in cracking the bone. He felt very uneasy. He had never experienced such sensation in his teeth. Against his wish, he had to leave his share of barbecues.
Rushing home, his pain aggravated unbearably. He was crying. He was screaming. His toothache worsened to the extent that he felt he may faint. He wanted to go to a dentist but it was too late. He had to wait till morning. The night was dreadful.
Early morning he rushed to a dentist. Lying on the dental chair, Takabbur pretended as egotistic as always. But the pain was making him restless. Working on his teeth, the dentist asked him to spit in the spittoon. It was all full of blood; this time his ever white gown splattered with his own blood.
“Gentleman, you need to have some antibiotics and revisit when the pain and swelling ends. It needs a permanent solution…” The doctor said.
Very soon the most sparkling tooth started turning blackish. While with friends, Takabbur tried all his best to hide this tooth while smiling. He felt disgraced of its color.
After a few weeks when the pain and swelling ended, he visited the doctor again. The dental chair seemed waiting for him with a mouth wide open.
“Lie down my son. How are you feeling now?” The doctor said.
After working long on Takabbur’s teeth, “Done!” The doctor said while emptying his tweezers in Takabbur’s hand. There was the most powerful tooth in Takabbur’s hand. “I am sorry my friend, but they say, “Dard-e-dandaan, ikhraaj e dandaan”. “Good! Doctor, its pain and color was intolerable now.” Takabbur replied.
He squeezed the tooth in his hand as if he was strangulating someone. He went to bury it in a nearby graveyard. Doing so, he continuously stamped on it. While leaving he whispered, “The pain and disgrace is gone.”
Time passed and Takabbur started his usual activities; of eating and meeting!
Weeks later, Takabbur felt some heartburn and indigestion. For a pretty time he tried to ignore it but the acidity kept him on toes. He went to a physician. After all the examinations, the doctor could not diagnose anything.
Someone suggested him to go to a Hakeem. Revealing his ailment to Hakeem, he asked him if there was any abrupt change in his body. In first, he could not recall anything. Little latter,Takabbur recollected his tooth. He told the Hakeem that he recently got a tooth extracted. “There you go, oh! Son of Adam! You seem to have continued the way of eating even after extraction. You are not able to chew well. Now onwards my boy, CHANGE YOURSELF!” Hakeem sighed.
Takabbur had no choice but to restraint from eating as before. He felt weaker day by day. His strength lost its spell. It was either too late or too soon that he finally realized what was going on.
One fine dawn he thought of going to the place in the graveyard where he had buried his tooth. With a strange misty morning and rays from sun struggling through trees, he kneeled down at its burial place. He scratched the soil but found nothing except a piece of paper there. When he opened it, the paper read;
“I knew you will be here one day; on my burial –lamenting. As long as I was glorious, I was treated as a treasure and a worthy ornament. But when a bit of my color faded, I was a disgrace. For all good part of your life I served you, tolerated you. Did I not deserve even a respectful burial? Always remember o pride,
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power…”
The last two lines blacked out Takabbur. He fell down in prostration and one of his fingers stuck in the opening of the earth side by…