My Facebook friend Omair Khan wrote to tell me a fascinating story about meeting a lifelong hero who turned out to be a distant relative, the extraordinary living legend Hashim Khan.
Here’s what Omair wrote to tell me:
It was in the year 2008 when I visited Peshawar, in Pakistan.
I have lived all my life in Kuwait and to play good squash my father always recommended me to visit Peshawar and to test my squash levels there.
I have known about Hashim Khan ever since I have been playing squash but I never knew that he is my relative. By coincidence, or it was my luck, to see him in person.
I was sitting in Peshawar international airport lounge waiting for the boarding call. In my hand I had my squash bag and I was listening to music. This man touched my shoulder and I opened my eyes and found an old man asking me something. I took off my headphones and he just asked me one question: ARE YOU A SQUASH PLAYER ?
I replied, Yes I am. He patted my head with a great smile and walked away.
For a few minutes I kept on thinking, Who is this man? It was very hard for me to recognize him. But then I realised that the person who I have always seen in pictures was right in front of me and when I figured it out I was like “OH my God, its Hashim Khan!”
I stood up and started looking for him but he was gone. I don’t know where.
While proceeding to the plane I saw a man quarreling with ground staff that he doesn’t need any one to help him climb up to the aircraft. He was with his walking stick and he climbed 32 steps by himself to reach the aircraft entrance door. He was pretty fast ..at his age!
I was very lucky that I got the seat next to him. As we took off after taking lunch, I asked him “If you don’t mind, can I ask you something?” It was to hard for him to hear my voice since he had a hearing aid on his both ears and the engine noise was very loud, too.
I asked the same question again and he replied YES.. My question was… ARE YOU HASHIM KHAN? … He laughed and said “YES I AM”.
The whole flight we were talking about squash and the Pakistan future in squash. He was very disappointed to see Pakistan squash disappearing from the world rankings. He gave me his business card and asked me to visit him.
But, before landing, he asked me “What is your name?”
I replied: “I am a son of Noor Khan. There was a silence for a minute, then he asked me to come closer. As I reached close to him he hugged me and kissed my forehead and told me “I am your Uncle, son.”
We are distant relatives and it was something I never knew. But when I heard that I had a big smile on my face and at that moment a member of the cabin crew from Emirates took a picture of us.
It was a very proud moment and I treasure this picture.