Author: Ghani Parwaz
English Translation: Fazal Baloch
Nabi Dad had been at his shop continuously since nine in the morning. But his mind was on Golsher’s shop more than his own, because hardly a customer had turned up at his shop. Golsher’s shop, on the other hand was so crowded that there was hardly room for anyone to stand or sit down. Nabi Dad lamented over the fact that although he had been in the business of shopkeeping for the past twenty years, after only six years, Golsher’s shop was flourishing much more than his own.
“I wonder what kind of sorcery Golsher uses to cause his shop to flourish?” Nabi Dad thought to himself, consumed with jealousy. “Our shops are in the same street, they’re opposite each other, they’re both the same kinds of stores, general stores, and they both have the same kinds of items for sale. His prices aren’t lower than mine. Still, people swarm to his shop like ants, and nobody even asks about my shop. If his business continues to flourish like this, the day will come when I must close my shop once and for all. So I need to do something. I definitely have to do something or other.”
One day the Assistant Commissioner walked into Golsher’s shop together with the chief of the local Levies and some soldiers. Nabi Dad was overjoyed that something was afoot. The Assistant Commissioner arrested Golsher for smuggling alcohol and heroin on the basis of a written complaint, and took him to the police station. But within a few hours he was released for lack of evidence. Nabi Dad became sad again.
A few days later Rami, a notorious dacoit, kidnapped Golsher in front of his shop after receiving a telephone call claiming that he had a lot of cash and it would be quite easy to abduct him for ransom. Nabi Dad was overjoyed, thinking that even if nothing happened last time, this time something definitely would. But within moments a crowd of people chased after Rami and freed Golsher, and Nabi Dad was even sadder than before.
Some time later, Ramadan arrived. One day, while Nabi Dad was sitting in his shop deep in thought, a sudden announcement was made on the mosque loudspeaker:
“Muslim brethren! The Majlis-e Tahaffuz-e Khatm-e Nabuwwat* have decided not to allow the Zigris to perform the fake pilgrimage. If they try to visit Koh-e-Namorad** and perform the fake pilgrimage, Jihad hall be waged against them. Therefore, on the 21 st of the Holy Month of Ramadan, there will be a religious congregation at the Central Mosque, and on the 25th all roads to their fake pilgrimage site will be blocked and Jihad will be waged against them. All fellow Muslims are requested to participate in both the congregation and the Jihad to fulfill their Islamic duty.”
After hearing the announcement, Nabi Dad pondered for quite a while. Joy and sadness rippled across his face in turn. His expression kept changing back and forth for quite some time, from bright to gloomy and back again. But finally the gloom vanished behind the brightness.
He closed his shop on the 20th of Ramadan and began making preparation for the gathering and the Jihad. He bought himself a new white headscarf for both occasions. He washed a couple of outfits and kept them ready. He took a proper shower and trimmed his grey mustache, but at the same time he lamented over his beardless face, since he thought that a beard was a necessity on such blessed occasions. The next day, having dressed in his off-white clothing, put on the white headdress, and slipped into his soft grey shoes, he looked at himself in the mirror and saw that nothing was lacking for participating in a religious congregation and a Jihad, except for a beard.
On the 25th of Ramadan, in the evening, the news spread like wildfire that Golsher had got into a car and was on his way to the Koh-e Morad along with some Zigri relatives of his, when a group of Mullahs saw them. One of these Mullahs opened fire on their vehicle. Golsher died on the spot and five of his relative were injured. Given the vast crowd of Mullahs, the shooter couldn’t be identified. Even so, a few mullahs were detained and put in house arrest.
The final evening of Ramadan had arrived with a new development. The arrested mullahs had been released. Golsher’s shop remained closed, while Nabi Dad’s was packed with customers. He was busy running the business. It appeared that at long last he was experiencing the true delight of shop-keeping.
* Majlis-e Tahaffuz-e Khatm-e Nabuwwat (The Assembly to Protect the End of Prophet-hood, i.e. the religion of the last prophet, Muhammad): A religious organization in Pakistan.
** Koh-e Morad (Bal. Kóh-e Morád): (The Mountain of Fortune) A sacred site for the Zigri religious community located in Turbat, Balochistan. Each year during the month of Ramadan, the devotees of the Zigri sect visit this site for their annual pilgrimage. Here the word námorád (misfortune) is used as a derogatory terms.
Published by: Ghani Parwaz (1995), Biminzelin Mosafir
Courtesy: Unheard Voices