Saturday, March 24, 2012

The amazing Mrs Pashtun

At Heathrow
My bag burdened by two litres of whiskey
Jack Daniels - Tennessee whiskey
I sigh on a bonded leather seat
With my Jansport

An ancient Pakistani woman
Screeches in Urdu
Hindu, I've lost my husband at the airport
I say, I'm so sorry to hear that

She slaps my thigh
Informing me, technically, I'm not Pakistani
But a Pashtun
Who breathes mountain air
Like my great great grandfather
(One Mr Lodi, it seems, who ruled the Delhi Sultanate)

The Heathrow team stare at my thighs
Ask me to help
I do
As interpreter of sorts between Mrs Pashtun and the airport staff

It's chaos
Her PIA flight is ready to take off
Wireless transmitters beep SOS
Mrs Pashtun is pushed in her wheel-chair
She recites the poems of Khushal Khan Khattak

They trace her husband
In Terminal Three, Area E
Two minutes before departure
He was buying duty-free stuff at Ermenegildo Zegna
For his other wife

Mrs Pashtun says khuda hafeez
She whispers, Hindu, I've almost managed to do something
What, I ask?
Something most Pashtun women have failed to do
Get rid of my husband

I say, okay
She guffaws
Till she is wheeled
Into the belly of the Boeing 777-300ER

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