Bacha Khan’s Education & Career
I received my primary education at the Municipal Board High School in Peshawar. Afterwards I went to the Mission School. A little later my brother finished his course of study at this school and went to Bombay to study medici8ne. I stayed at the Mission School with Barani Kaka, my servant.
Barani KLaka often told me stories about the Army and impressed upon me what a good and honorable thing it was to be a soldier. He used to paint glamorous pictures of young officers, dressed in splendid uniforms and flourishing their swords, marching at the head of their companied. Barani Kaka’s thrilling stories had such an effect upon me that I developed a strong desire asking for their consent I sent an application to the Commander-in-Chief of india for a direct commission and waited for the reply. This was to take some time as, of course, the Government had to make enquiries about me.
Meanwhile I had been promoted from the ninth to the tenth class at the school. I was halfway through the Matriculation examination when I received an official latter saying that was to report at the recruiting office at ten o’clock the next morning.
I was very happy, because in those days getting a direct commission made one a very important person. In my exultation I did not bother to finish the examination. I duly presented myself before the Recruiting officer, and after I had been examined, my of cavalry and infantry, Known as “The Guides” was stationed at Mardan. It was one of the most famous and highly acclaimed regiment in India. Admission into it was not easy and even and even rich and influential families found it difficult to get their sons enlisted in this regiment. About twenty of the boys were form good Punjabi families.
I was selected for a direct commission in this regiment because I was a very handsome young man. I was 6ft. 3 in. tall and almost a matriculate. These were the reasons why British officers liked me and wanted me to join the regiment. My father not only gave his consent but he was delighted at my good fortune.
One day I had gone to Peshawar to see a friend of mine who was a cavalry officer in this regiment, and we lieutenant passed by. My friend was bare-headed. He sported a fashionable haircut and a thick mop of hair adorned his forehead. When the English lieutenant saw this he became furious and cried: “really! You damn sardar saheh! So you want to be an Englishman, an you? My friend turned deadly pale but he did not have the courage to reply.
This incident left a very deep impression on me. Had not Barani Kaka always told me of the respect one was treated with in the Army? But here I had witnessed the worst possible insult. On that day employment with the British.
My father was rather annoyed with me and did not approve of my decision because obtaining a direct commission was considered a great honor in those days. But I could not see any honorable aspect of it; neither could I find any evidence of the respect I had been told about. On the contrary, I had witnessed an incident of gross and despicable insult.
As my father was angry with me, I wrote to my brother, who had by now left Bombay and gone to England where he had been admitted into a medical college. I told him that I had changed my mind about being a servant of the British Government because it did not gicen one any respect. In fact, it made one a slave and one risked getting insulted in the bargain.
Dr. Khan saheb was very happy about my decision. He wrote to my father that he thought I had done the right thing and shown good sense. He bagged my father not to be angry with mw and not to force me into the army.
So I applied myself to the studies again. With a companion I went to campbellpur, where I was admitted to a high school. Unfortunately Campbellpur had a very hot climate which did not agree with me and I had to leave. I then went to Qadian, but I did not like the atmosphere there either. One night I dreamt that to save myself when a man how was passing by saw the plight I was in and, bending down, stretched out his hand. I grasped it and the pulled me out of the well. Then he said: “why did you throw yourself into the well? Did you not see it was there?”
In the morning when I told my companion about the dream he agreed with me that we should leave this place as soon as possible. We both went back to our village, but did not stay there long. Soon my companion went to Peshawar to take admission in a companion went to Peshawar to take admission in a high school and I Proceeded to Aligarh and went to the college. As I could not get accommodation in the hostel, I became a day scholar and took a room in a hotel in the town. I used to spend the day at the college and return to the hotel in the evening. When the summer vacation began I went back to my village for the holidays.
Upon my arrival at home I learned that my father had received a letter from my brother in England, in which he suggested that I should go to England to study engineering.
“I will continue my medical studies,” he wrote, “and he (meaning me) can go to an engineering college. He will do well because he has always been good at geometry.”
My father discussed the proposal with me and after due consideration he decided to send me to London. My brother was informed and he booked my passage on a P. & O. boat. My father very generously gave me RS.3,000 and” I was ready to go. But when I went to take leave of my mother, and, as is our custom, asked her, “May I go, Ma?” she began to cry and would not let me go. I did my utmost to explain to her that I had to go, but I could not make her understand. I said to her: “just looks at our country, Ma… The British have sown the seeds of dissension, of factionalism, of hypocrisy among our people. Innocent people are dragged to the courts and people who have committed no crime are put to death! And because of the disunity and the envy among the faction-minded elements, sinners often go scot-free, while innocent people are thrown into the prison. No Body’s Life is safe here!”
But whatever I said, my mother would not agree to my going. People had told her, and this idea was now firmly fixed in her mind, that vilayat was the kind of foreign country from where nobody ever returned.
“One of your sons has gone there already,” People had warned her, “if you now allow your second son also to go, you will be left alone and who will look after you in your old age?”
There were only two of us, we had no other brother. One she had already lost, and therefore, she would not allow me to leave her. I loved my mother very much, and she was extremely fond of me. How could I go to England without her consent? So I gave up the idea of going abroad and decided that henceforth I would devote myself to the service of my country and my people the service of God and humanity.