General ramblings of an obscene mind VIII

Before scooting off to Malaysia, I was a young, up-and-coming journalist here in Pakistan. I used to work for a major (by Pakistani standards anyway) English newspaper called “Daily Times” that has since gone to the dogs. I mean that quite literally as well: I saw a mut enjoying a hard-fought dinner of cow-innards from a god-fearing butcher’s shop, tastefully served on a copy of Daily Times, the other day.

I am the king of tangents. And aristrocratic hyphenation.

I used to return, worn down from some 10 hours of exhausting and deadline-hanging-over-your-head work at 3am every morning, and I used to stop at this gas station near my place for cigarettes and cell phone credit to waste on a woman who was to – a year or so later – rip my heart out.

There used to be this kid at the counter. He had a friendly smile and an un-gas-station-guy-like demeanor, so over a month or so, we went from me paying and walking out to us nodding at each other.

A year-and-a-half later, when I returned to Pakistan this time around, he was still there. And even though he deals with a thousand people a day, and inspite of the fact that I look significantly different from what I used to look like when he knew me, he recognised me instantly, and came out from behind the counter and gave me a hug. I was touched, physically and emotionally.

To be hugged by someone you used to nod to, well that’s a quantum leap, but he tells me he checked out the brand of cigarettes I used to buy from him, on a whim. He now smokes that very brand, and loves me for the introduction, and for ridding him of the curse that is Benson & Hedges.

On a side note, he also tells me that the gas station’s owner stopped procuring my particular brand of cigarettes after I left because sales dipped like hell, testament enough in my opinion to the ridiculously large amount I used to smoke back then.

I like that kid. He remembered me. I’ll remember him too, not least because he rubbed his liver against me.

As long liveth the merry man (they say), as doth the sorry man, and longer by a day.

Ralph Roister Doister, Nicholas Udall


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