From eighth grade onwards he attended a school entirely different from the one he had been at earlier. Recollecting his memories from the Jamia College, Gujrat, Abrar detailed how these years of his education left a life-long impact on his personality. “For me, my reality changed as I stepped into that college.” Hailing from downtrodden families of the area, these students posed a major contrast to the lifestyle that Abrar had been used to; students here, even the brightest ones from the class, had to drop out simply because their parents could not afford to pay for their education. The company he found at this school prepared Abrar for the life that awaited him after graduation. He learnt that not all people would be the same and that the underprivileged in our society face problems that more fortunate ones such as him could not imagine. This school took the initiative of devoting a separate class where students were encouraged to take part in social activities. Abrar, along with his other friends, used to fill up buckets with cold water and offered it to passengers arriving at the nearby bus stop, especially children, women and the old commuters.
“It was an indescribable feeling,” he said while talking about this volunteer work. “The prayers that the old men and women used to bless us with, gave me a sense of accomplishment,” he added. Abrar termed this activity as a ‘brilliant training’ that he received at a very young age; by engraining in him the idea of helping others, this experience had a life lasting impact on him.
He had also seen his parents indulging in philanthropy all their life. Abrar’s father, who was a civil servant, made it a habit to travel back to their hometown in Narowal and provide assistance, both moral and monetary, to the laborers cultivating their ancestral land. Besides that, his mother reiterated the importance of holding fast to his family, cultural and religious values. His parents’ focus on philanthropy combined with his training at school instilled a burning desire in him to help others in whatever capacity possible. When his mother passed away, it left a vacuum in his life and he felt he would “never feel happy again”. However, this loss proved to be the reason he would embark upon his life’s most importantwork, as he channeled his desire to bring some good and help others into establishing the SAHARA for Life Trust.
Arranging for funds, assembling a dedicated team and making the trust functional was an uphill task for Abrar as he faced numerous roadblocks along the way; however, his earlier training at school and his personal resolve to accomplish the impossible kept him going, culminating in the building of the Sughra Shafi Medical Complex in Narowal, named in memory of his mother. Along with providing free medical facilities to the poor from this area, SAHARA for Life Trust has also actively taken part in rehabilitating those displaced by the earthquake in 2005 and the flood affectees in 2013. “The best reward for me is when my efforts are appreciated and people bless me with their prayers,” he reiterated.
Delving into detail about his career as a musician, Abrar candidly recalled the making of his first song, which he wrote while preparing for his CSS exams. ‘Billo de ghar’, his debut song, “came” to him as he was out on a run one morning, He found it amusing and sang a few lines to his friends and family; he received a great response and they encouraged him to work on it further. “The song didn’t even have the word ‘billo’ in it initially!” After rigorous editing, it was finally set for release. “I had no idea my fame was just a song away,” exclaimed the singer. No doubt the song was a huge success and quickly became a staple at weddings, Abrar admitted that nothing got him more excited than when he found someone listening or dancing to his song.
Most of Abrar’s songs have run in the same vein of popular culture, with amusing Punjabi lyrics and an engaging beat, aimed at giving the listener some lighthearted fun. However, Abrar admits that of late his music has evolved and has more serious overtones, to reflect the realities in our country that people live with every day. His poetry now focuses on the plight of the masses and on the desperate need for change (Click to view video).
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