By Armughan Naeem Khan.
I could hear the mute screech of steel belted, tubeless radial tires when my luxurious sedan pulled into the porch of the city’s most posh shopping mall. I toss my visa master card to my son sitting next seat. He gets down the car and walks into the mall, I could see his Nike Hyperdunks stepping onto the escalators. As he ascends the levels of the floors with glimmering and shimmering shops, I decide to sit back in my car. It’s been some days he had been asking for a new iphone. Fully realizing the extent of embarrassment he had to bear each day by clinging onto an older iphone, while his friends had been prompt in switching to the newer technology, I thought tonight is his night. After all shouldn’t one stay abreast with upto date technology money can buy. Since he would be gone for a while, I recline the comfy velvet seat and get down to explore my sedan’s extended luxury features.
It was also two weeks back that I had this top of the line beauty imported from Japan. For four and a half million bucks, it wasn’t a bad buy.
It was a while later, exactly when I was admiring the patent leather upholstery, that I heard a knock on my glass window. ‘Zrrrrrrrr’, down rolled the electric window as I hit the button. I saw a boy who couldn’t be more than eight. As the glass barrier slid away, he went “garam anday Sahib Ji”, while saying so he made a suggestive gesture to a jarful of boiled eggs he was carrying. A head to toe glance revealed a dark complexioned boy with messy hair, wearing torn shoes and long unwashed clothing quite insufficient for concurrent Islamabad chill. One didn’t need to be a Phd in Humanities to strike out as to where the boy came from, his living standard and the burden of responsibilities his shoulders were carrying. The mere attire and outlook spoke a lot who he was. Without stepping out of my car, I take an egg from him and as I start questioning the boy, the puzzle pieces of harsh realities; luck, deprivation, dreams, desires, wishes start falling into place. Just as I believed, the boy came from a poor family. His father had died after a prolonged cancer ailment. The mother was doing domestic cleaning jobs. He has an elder brother and a sister. Like countless other young people, the elder brother is jobless. While his sister along with her three kids is living in the same house, since her drug addict husband couldn’t support her and her kids. Each night the boy brings home twenty eggs on loan from local chicken shop for mother to boil. He then tries to sell off as many eggs he can. Upon return, first of all he has to pay back the chicken shop after which he can spare one or two hundred Rupees to chip in to his home budget. He keeps on narrating but my mind drifts away.
Meanwhile, my son comes back flashing his new iphone. He is surprised to find an egg in my hand. As I drive away, the voice “garam anday” fades away. In the back of my mind some invisible force has ticked off some sort of machine carrying out a comparison of my life and the boy’s. Things like Nike Hyper dunks vs torn unbranded sneakers, soiled clothes vs iphone and fast food chain’s full meal vs boiled egg were making my mind go topsy-turvy. That’s life, luxurious and lavish for some, yet blatant and ruthless for others!!
The author is a seasoned writer, poet, lyricist and analyst.
He can be reached at Twitter @armughannaeemkhan or