Archive for October, 2011

Mithaiwalah Khan

Faiz Mohammed Khan who worked for the native jewellery industry,  restlessly waited outside Dr Murtaza’s clinic located in the district of Mehasana, Gujarat. This was India in the late 80’s with a closed economy. The Sun was unusually glaring as if challenging the already arrived Rain Gods. To much of Rahim Paanwalah’s monetary amusement, Khan by now had consumed 20 Gold Flakes, a brand he otherwise avoided. Today, it din’t seem to matter much, for his wife Begum was in the Maternity ward of the small clinic. Begum had successfully delivered a baby boy who they named after the Sun. Indian families can get very dramatic you see. They thought the Sun had unexpectedly arrived to bless their offspring. They decided to call him Aftaab. This story is not about Faiz, Begum, Rahim or the Gold Flakes. It is about Aftaab.

Unlike most protagonists, our Aftaab is no soul of gifted significance. Aftaab was a healthy Muslim lad who often savoured his Ammi  jaan’s Mutton Biryani  and had no exceptional mental capabilities to his claim. However, it his mystical tryst with Mithais (Read :Sweets) that earns him this story. Aftaab had an intense love for Mithais but for an inexplicable reason, had a strong dislike for its consumption. Yes, he felt strongly for Mithais but never ate them.

When gifted a box of exquisite local Mithais  by visiting relatives, Aftaab often opened the box with great fervour, inhaled the stimulating aroma ,observed the units within as a Goldsmith minutely observed his gold. Then to much of everyone’s bafflement, simply discarded the Mithais . Without even remote traces of consumption. This ritual got Faiz and Begum sufficient social embarrassment and almost earned our Aftaab the unfitting status of a retard. Faiz’s school teacher Nazia ma’am, was a young lady with quintessential Muslim beauty. She was no alien to Aftaab’s peculiar behaviour. When the school once distributed free sweets to all its studying minors, Aftaab remained the only soul to have not accepted this benevolent surprise that otherwise caused much happiness to the other kids.

Nazia called for The Khans and in a candid conversation that ensued, suggested a possible remedy. Nazia’s husband worked in the Middle-east and was soon visiting his charming wife. Nazia had ordered for the most dainty sweets from abroad in strong hope of enticing Aftaab and with this move, they almost tasted success. Aftaab on being subjected to this foreign treat expressed boundless joy. This time around, there were 2 additions to the usual ritual: carefully scouring the sweet cover for details known just to him and his usual discarding act was now replaced with him taking a bite of the chocolate bar. His eyes bulged to the coconut filling that contained within the outer cocoa covering. His countenance clearly expressed amusement and before the other participants of this story could declare glory, Aftaab caste away this unit too.

The Y2k virus had just attained global attention and a Sikh man had transformed the Indian economy by now. The Jamia Islamia School annually hosted a ‘Daawat‘ for the purpose of internal community building. This event required students to get specially prepared food items from home in sufficiently large quantities and make sure they served little of their offering to every other classmate. Aftaab’s Ammi Jaan was outstation to visit her ailing mother. Although Abba jaan could boast of decent culinary skills, he hardly had the time to cook such a demanding quantity. Aftaab barely seemed to complain. Daawat saw an absolutely scrumptious display of Indian Muslim cuisine. Khorma, Keema, Kababs and Biryanis were in handsome exhibition. The only suspicious item that graced every plate was a tiny brown ball of sweet which obviously appeared as some form of Chocolate. Clearing their anxiety, the students quickly took a bite and were delightfully surprised to a sweet coconut offering within.That day,  Aftaab’s Ammi jaan was blessed with countless brownie Karma points. Again,  Aftaab barely seemed to complain.

Aftaab loved making Mithais. Not having them. His folks don’t seem too pleased with this ambition as it is the local Hindu Baniya community that make Mithais and sells them. Not devout Muslims like them.

Nothing makes Aftaab happier than the thought of becoming a Mithaiwalah. He was last heard wanting to launch his brand of Chocolates.

Inshallah he find success and may this country have more Mithaiwalah Khans.

PS:Fiction is NOT my thing.  The only fiction I read is the Times of India headline. It is always fun to challenge oneself though. I am an exhausted man at the end of this challenge.


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