I was hurrying to the shop – the book shop. I wanted to see Zubair, and hoped that the owner would have left. Zubair is a salesman working on that small bookshop situated in a narrow street off the main bazaar. I started walking faster. It was open. I could see a few customers on the counter. Oh! the owner was still around. That means I will have to wait. Cold winds were blowing. It was difficult to wait outside but I had no other option.
The owner is an arrogant person, but Zubair the salesman is a nice person. His name is an enigma for me, I don’t understand it, but I never asked him about that. For me it is simple. He is a Christian with a Muslim name.
He is my class fellow. He opens this shop early in the morning at 6, cleans it, and then the owner arrives at 7. Zubair, then, leaves for school. In the afternoon, he would come back to the shop, and would work there till 9 PM.
Thank God, the owner is leaving. I wait till the owner is out of the small street, and has stepped on to the main street. I rush to the shop.
“There you are” Zubair says on seeing me. I don’t say a single word. He knows what I need. He takes out the newly arrived magazines, ‘two more have arrived, but I will give you one today; the second you can get when you return this one’. I nod in affirmative. It is a routine matter. I already know all the terms and conditions, but he would repeat it anyway.
I get hold of the newly arrived magazine ‘Phool aur Kaliyan’, and before I run away, he shouts again. Remember! not a single scratch or stain or any kind of mark. Return it in mint condition. I want you to be here at 7 before I open the shop’. I run with the magazine and shout back ‘yeah, yeah, don’t worry’. I run towards my home.
I have to go through the whole magazine in one night, and return it to the shop in mint condition early morning so that it can be sold to someone else. If I keep my promise, I will get another magazine tomorrow. and I keep praying to the God that the owner doesn’t find out about this arrangement.
This happened way back in 1989-90. There were no cell phones, no Internet, no Facebook or Twitter. I have earned a lot of money since then, and don’t need to borrow books or magazines anymore. But that Christian boy with Muslim name … I can’t forget him. He made it possible for me to go places, do things, and earn money. I wish I could reconnect with him, and see how he was doing in life. May be, I could help him a little bit.
Note: It is a true story. This shop was situated in a market in Malir Cantt.