It was 1986, I was in 2nd grade and if my memory serves right the day was Thursday. My father walked me to school about an hour earlier. None of my classmates had yet arrived so I decided to walk in the playground and enjoy the unusually pleasant morning. It was then that I heard a loud shout from one of the classroom’s windows, “Qabacha”. I am sure I was not the only kid smiling at that moment.
PTV (Pakistan Television) viewers heard this funny name for the first time only a night before in the 3rd episode of the blockbuster drama ‘Tanhaiyan’ (which means Reclusion). The name was given to an aimless character Qutub-u-Din (Behroze Sabzwari) by worry-free Sania (Marina Khan). The term became an overnight hit among elders and kids alike. For a long time it was one of the most common nicknames, from play grounds to classrooms, used to tease someone or make fun of.
It’s no surprise that all those who were in Pakistan during 80s have a good chunk of their memories directly connected to PTV dramas. High standards were set as the writers, producers and actors all were professionals with good educational backgrounds. Qabacha is just one character, there are countless others that are going to live in people’s memories forever.
I still don’t know the meaning of Qabacha. The only other person with this name I know of is Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha, the Turk governor of Multan appointed by Shahabuddin Ghauri in 13th century. Probably no-one in Pakistan have used this name for their kids since 1986, so for now it is only going to exist in our memories, dvds and on youtube to bring smiles and take us back in time when 80 million people were abducted every night for an hour at 8 pm by a Pied Piper named PTV.