|Bengali Bhai frying samosas (pic: Tribune.com)|
Initial reports claimed that Bengali Bhai had been kidnapped by the Taliban -- the "bad" Taliban, if I may say so, because I often get to hear the distinction between the "good" and "bad" Taliban.
I have had the honour of speaking to Bengali Bhai, who crossed over from Bangladesh to Pakistan in 1971, on a couple of occasions. He would speak to me in accented Urdu, much like the way a Bengali would, till one day I told him that my husband could speak Bengali. He excitedly started speaking to me in Bengali but looked disappointed when I told him that my knowledge of Bengali began and ended with "bhalo".
Later, when I would queue at his shop to buy samosas he would make sure that I didn't have to wait much. He would hand me my packet of samosas with -- "bhalo"?
Last year when my father-in-law was in town he had a long conversation with Bengali Bhai, who talked about his business among other things. He said on an average day he sold samosas worth Rs 30,000. The business was brisk in the rainy and winter seasons and peaked during the holy month of Ramzan. He sent my father-in-law home with about a dozen freshly fried samosas.
Ten days after a ransom call for Rs 5 million was made to his wife, Bengali Bhai, who had been kept chained and blindfolded, was found by the police not from the "good" or "bad" Taliban but allegedly from friends of his nephew Afzal -- the mastermind behind the kidnapping.
A couple of days ago, after his shop reopened, I decided to go and buy samosas and also ask him -- "bhalo"? Bengali Bhai was missing from the shop and a relative was informing concerned customers that he was fine and resting at home. I also heard an oldish six-foot plus well-built man offering to be Bengali Bhai's bodyguard for free!
I hope to exchange "bhalos" with Bengali Bhai soon, but for now I am glad he is home and that neither the "good" nor the "bad" Taliban touched him.