This blog is no longer being updated. Last post was “Farewell”.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
If you are a frequent visitor of the 6th-Road-chowk of Rawalpindi’s Murree Road, then you must have seen him at least once.
“I have known him for a long period of time,” Imran was telling me, when he saw my face filled with a curious surprise on his act of giving a rupee-coin to an almost bald, old man. “He always asks for a rupee, and takes nothing else you would like to give him.”
That was my first encounter with that old man… about two years back when I got admission in the university. Imran told me that he and his ex-classmates of his ex-college had been giving that old man 1-rupee coins quite regularly. I don’t know why but I liked that old fellow — almost nil hair on his head, round and chubby face, few bruised teeth, slightly short stature, and wearing shalwar qamiz. And that aura of energy which radiated from his active body. I couldn’t notice it when I met him for the first time… I was too surprised by his frank tone in which he had greeted us and then demanded a rupee.
6th-road chowk is always full of beggars. Professional beggars, I should say. Some would pretend to have a half-cut arm, some would just come and ask you to help them in their own style. “Allah tujhay kamyab karay, Allah teri muradan poori karay, Allah chaand si dulhan de” (“May Allah award you with success, may Allah fulfil your dreams, may Allah bless you with a beautiful bride!”) and etc etc. I once heard a beggar calling out loud outside a mosque, “Allah parrha likha qabool karay!” Help me with the translation here, I couldn’t find such words which could translate this sentence with all its flavour.
Anyway, today we three (Wse, Imran and I) were walking towards the university when we heard a familiar call, “Aik rupiya, baccha!” (“A rupee, kid!”)
We smiled, seeing the old man again. Imran took out a coin and handed it over to the old man. We were about to pass when he stopped me, “Tu bhi de na aik rupiya!” (“A rupee from you too”).
I took out my wallet and scanned it for a rupee-coin, only to find none. I pulled a Rs. 5 note.
“Take it, baba ji,” said Imran, “and return 4 rupees!”
Baba ji peeped into my wallet, noticed a Rs. 50 note, and then snatched those five rupees from my hand. “Chal, tu ameer aadmi hai!” (“Well, you are a rich fellow!”)
We laughed. What else could we do?