A Pakistan posting can be quite tiresome at times. Imagine not being able to visit world famous sites Mohenjodara and Harappa or the legendary Qissa Khwani Bazaar in Peshawar or even Clifton in Karachi; or being able to hear ghazal queen Abida Perveen sing! The list in LONG.
Imagine sustaining on 84-day visa extensions and not being allowed to cross over to one’s own country on foot! Worse. Imagine not being able to vent on one’s own turf without having to worry about neighbours and bais and bhais. Imagine having to go through the motion of soundproofing the house before letting it all out.
In this madness, the only thing that seems right is the company of friends who make life comfortable and fun. We will soon be bidding good-bye to one such couple.
My experience with officer-types, more so their wives, had not been exactly wonderful till I met this couple: simple, hardworking and large-hearted. It was such a pleasure interacting with these two humans who tore apart the artificiality and pettiness of babudom, where feelings, thoughts and gifts seem so recycled.
How else do you explain the officer’s knack for making everyone else brim with importance? Little anecdotes from his life, which no dyed-in-the-wool official would ever dare divulge, made him so endearing.
Fed on legendary tales of snobbery of wives, who take their spouses’ designations way too seriously, it was quite a surprise to see his wife giving a helping hand to an old porter, and on another occasion, pulling out weeds in her lawn to make it easy for the gardener.
It was such a pleasure having a real conversation with the two for whom “how are yous?” meant just that. The little details that the couple took care of to make everyone seem special will be missed. I remember wanting to eat papad and the couple came back from their India trip with about a dozen packets of my favourite papads and also bhelpuri and bhujia. On another occasion we got a supply of rasogollas!
But why just us? They were the first to rush to people in trouble and sadness with uninterrupted supplies of lunches and dinners and cheery chit-chat.
Not that I made it any easy for them, but never once did the couple lose patience. They let me be and when I did make an attempt to apologize the husband made light of the matter and it was back to another round of masala chai and aloo bondas!
Today they touched my heart yet again when they handed me a parcel from India. A parcel I had forgotten about, but the husband remembered to pick up even in his busiest hour.
Here’s more power to you both!