The checklist was long and taxing, I knew the day ahead was not an easy one, not at least with the Mercury reaching 45 Celsius and the Sun making it more difficult for me. This was not that normal mid-summer Sunday one could spend at home in front of the PC or TV, off course with the air-conditioning on, incessantly. What was the “Loner” to do but to acquiesce to the “snuggler’s” uncompromising demands. We men are born tough! So with a bottle of water and some Lays the “Loner” was off, doing those chores, and slowly ticking off each one of those errands in the never ending checklist.
The whole thing took no less than six hours during which, provisions were bought, knives sharpened, the darned Pressure Cooker repaired, steel nails purchased, energy savers acquired, the cell phone charger repaired, “her” sandals mended, a new dopatta from the “Rang wala” collected, while all this time the moola flew out of my wallet forever. This brought me Saddar main, where I sat for a haircut. With my not so long tresses cut to size it was almost sundown. Depression began to set in with visions of facing my boss the coming Monday. That’s when he called me, asking if I wanted my car washed. Instincts told me to refuse the offer, but then I imagined myself doing the dirty job, resultantly agreeing to his offer, instantly.
The man started doing the job while the “Loner” watched him. It was amazing one could do so much with just two buckets of water in 20 some minutes. I would rather use the water hose and half of my water tank doing not even half as good a job as the man was doing it. That’s when curiosity set in and I proceeded to interview the man, Tariq. A simple soul, who makes a living cleaning cars all day long. On an average day he make Rs. 500 to 700 be it summers or winters. Considering Rawalpindi’s weather I could imagine he would be out of business on rainy days, which happens in Pindi quite often. In between small talk he told me I was his first client of the day!!!
Imagine this, Tariq, has no pension plans, no medical allowance, no recreation margin, he gets nothing to travel from his home to workplace, he’s not given any rations or allowances of any sort, he knows nothing about day off, because he ekes out a living cleaning cars. That having learned, I got lost in deep thoughts comparing my life, earnings, lifestyle, expenses, comforts, likes, dislikes and attitudes, to this example of utter simplicity. Man, I must confess, the “loner” was ashamed. That’s when epiphany set it, I came out much wise, thanks to this small meeting with this giant who taught me so much about life in just 25 minutes. He was amply rewarded for the job, and I could see he was quite happy about it. That Sunday I can never forget, it changed me forever, it made me more thankful, it was epiphany, I guess.