By Lt Col Salman Aslam (R), Arty (2nd SSC)
My late esteemed father, Col (Hony Brig) Muhammad Aslam Khan, because of his sartorial elegance, immaculate dresses and refined mannerisms was known as “Dandy” in the Army circles. He also had a penchant for classical cars. He had a total of over 100 cars of all make /type in his collection. He had longest command of 3 (SP) Regt Arty for 6 years. He raised and commanded 44 (SP) Regt Arty in 1965. He was captain of All Indian Punjab’s swimming team, Government College Lahore’s Swimming Colour holder and Inter Services Swimming Colour holder.
I am narrating an incident which is about the destruction of a vintage car out of his rare collection. In May 1969 I smashed my father’s Jaguar 2.4 litre at Connaught Road, Chaklala, Rawalpindi near TV Station (now JS HQ) at 3:00 am in the morning.
I was barely 16 years old and at that age you want to break the sound barrier. I wanted to clock 100 mph on the Jaguar. My father was away, so I sneaked out in my night suit for a fling. On way back the steering coupling of Jaguar broke and I smashed the car against the culvert and then it fell into the nullah. Allah saved me. The car had an inbuilt collapsible steering mechanism. When my chest hit the steering, it did not go inside my chest. The safety valve of collapsible steering absorbed the entire impact, thus saving my life. I apparently feigned somnambulism (sleep walking) to convince my father that I was driving in sleep. This was out rightly rejected as preposterous. My father felt really bad to lose one of his vintage cars but at the same time he was happy that Allah saved his son’s life.
Only the Jaguar emblem, mounted on a stand, now adorns and embellishes as one of the trophies at my house in a glass casket. This only serves as a nostalgic memory to be cherished for posterity. To this date I feel a pang in my heart and I deeply repent that why did I destroy a prized car out of my father’s rare collection.
Editor’s Note: Writer’s father, PA-1206 Col (Hony Brig) Muhammad Aslam Khan ‘Dandy’ passed out from OTS Bangalore in 1943-44 and joined 2 Punjab, later transferred to 3 (SP) Fd Regt, had the longest command of 3 (SP) for 6 years. He also raised 44 (SP) Regt. He retired in 1969 and passed away in 1975 at the age of 51 years.
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