This blog is no longer being updated. Last post was “Farewell”.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I was driving my way to home last evening when Hassan called. “Where are you?”
“In the car” was my reply.
“Roll paratha khanay ka mood hai?”
“Kha laitay hein!”
Hassan paused and I imagined his trademark wicked expression. “Khilanay kay baray mein kya khayal hai?”
I chuckled. “Whatever happened to paying your own bills?”
After some random nonsense about trying to decide the venue, Hassan told me that he and Rehan were on their way to the Jinnah Super Market, and they will be waiting there for me.
I must admit that when I had first heard of a roll paratha, I had found the idea to be quite funny. Mainly because it was a brilliant idea. It only replaced the regular bun of a burger with a paratha, but that gave it such a desi touch that people couldn’t help feeling a certain fondness towards it. I must also admit that despite thinking that roll paratha is a nifty idea, I have never really enjoyed it other than just on a couple of occasions. Maybe I am one of those people who always admire but never fully appreciate.
When I reached Jinnah Super Market, the sun was about to set in the western horizon. Hassan and Rehan were sitting around a table in the “eating area” — a sort of open-air place with benches and chairs and tables — and were listening to the constant growls of an electricity generator. Somehow, if you don’t hear the sound of generators when you are outside these days, you feel like you are missing something, no matter how irritating it might be.
Across the road on my right was a plaza, which sported on its first floor the wide glass wall (or huge glass window, if you prefer) of Pakistan Electronics, a “music” shop famous for its display of musical instruments, specially guitars. I had once visited this shop with Talha. He had been saving money for buying an acoustic guitar, and I tagged along with him because he needed a driver and some “moral support”. I lived in Rawalpindi back then, and both Talha and I had just a vague idea about Islamabad and its markets. Thankfully, when we asked a young man if we had reached Jinnah Super Market or just Super Market, he told us that we were at Jinnah Super. Finding Pakistan Electronics was then a relatively easy job. The trip back home, I am sure, was quite a sight: It’s not every day that you see two teenagers riding a Suzuki 100 motorbike, with a guitar wedged between them in a box that looked more like a miniature coffin than a guitar case.
Anyway, last evening when I was looking at Pakistan Electronics and the row of guitars that was displayed in its glass window, I remembered my visit and smiled silently. I was about to mention it to Hassan and Rehan when I noticed something else.
A middle-aged man, dressed in the familiar dark blue uniform of private security guards, came into the frame of that glass window. He was holding a prayer mat in his hands. He paused, probably to take his shoes off, and then stretched that mat on the floor. As he raised his hands for saying takbeer, I saw that when he would prostrate, he would be right under the hanging guitars.
“Look at that, guys,” I said. “Saying prayer under shadow of guitars.”
“Wah!” Hassan exclaimed. “Saaz bhi aur namaz bhi!”
“Deen bhi aur duniya bhi!” I added.
It was only this morning that I realized that the image of a man saying his prayer right under guitars will remain burnt into my memory for quite some time.