from Karachi Raj

Asia Literary Review Volume 26: Winter 2014


The strongest man on the job fell and hurt his back, and ended up in hospital for weeks, abandoning a lovely young wife to temptation and scandal. Things were never the same for Hafiz, the innocent bystander – not at the godown, not anywhere else.

Independence Day was around the corner. Celebrations should be muted, some of the men argued, all things considered – economy, war, insurgencies. Rain menaced every day, but never came. It was one of the driest seasons on record.

The godown where Hafiz worked was high and dark and covered much of a block. It deserved a dome to crown its twenty-foot height. Located on Muhammad Ali Jinnah Road, not far from the Gothic colonial-era Karachi Port Trust building, it was prime real estate, its value having gone up exponentially since Hafiz’s employer, his old school friend Majid, had bought it a few years before.

Muscular men threw bales of fabric against the ground, producing the thud of obligatory work. A squealing truck slowly backed out of the gates.

‘What are we celebrating?’ one of the workers asked. ‘Will there be a Pakistan tomorrow? Will there be five Pakistans? We’re bankrupt. They just don’t want us to know. Are we independent of international banks? Are we independent – ’

They heard an ominous thump from the far corner, where a man lay spread on the floor.

It was Shafiq, the braggart. He’d lost his step on the rickety ladder everyone had warned him about. One moment he was leaning toward a stack of cartons; the next, there was empty air, filled with the dread of accident.

He looked like a rigid doll, his face resting sideways on the sawdust floor, his back curved strangely. A rheumy film covered his eyes. His toes opened and closed and his paan-stained mouth made no sound. They all gathered around him.

‘Should we move him?’

‘I think his back is broken.’

‘He’s as good as dead.’

‘I think his neck is broken!’

‘He never should have.’

‘That ladder, that arrogance.’

‘The hospitals won’t take him.’

‘A young wife, too bad.’

‘I think he’s dead.’

Abdul Haq, the grizzled old supervisor, cleared his way to the front.

‘Hato-hato! Move aside! What’s this, a tamasha? Let me handle this.’ He bent to take Shafiq’s pulse, shutting the victim’s eyes. ‘Pulse is good.’ He rubbed Shafiq’s heart, stomach, thighs, knees, head, arms, feet. ‘Where does it hurt?’ Shafiq groaned. ‘Tell me your problem.’ Shafiq couldn’t move. Abdul Haq groped all over again. When he pressed his back, Shafiq moaned. Abdul Haq snapped his fingers. ‘We know the problem, that’s half the solution.’

Hafiz’s knees went watery. Here was his own sickening future. He willed Shafiq to shout, rise, break the spell, but no such luck. Shafiq had been prone to boasting. Look at my balance, I can do the impossible, my body does anything, anything! He’d been married a few months to a beautiful nineteen-year-old named Bibi, who he claimed was a distant cousin brought low in the world.

Abdul Haq commenced a monologue. ‘The private hospital is close, but they’d kill a healthy pehelwan. The chief nurse is a slut. The Civil Hospital is farther away, but the best guarantee in a serious case. We could load him in a Suzuki pickup, or call an Edhi ambulance – though they might take a while; they prefer terrorist casualties.’ He yelled at Hafiz. ‘Get a cab! Load him in the back so we can take him to the Civil Hospital. The rest of you go back to work! This is not some tamasha your mother and father paid for!’

By the time the cab arrived, Shafiq was gasping for breath. Why wouldn’t he speak? Everyone was relieved to see him vanish. Hafiz took down the ladder at fault, dragged it to a dark corner of the godown.

Hafiz was one of the youngest men at the godown, though there was a pair of dark-skinned twins who claimed to be orphans of fourteen. He thought of the furniture workshop, owned by his father’s old friend in the Aram Bagh area, where he’d once inquired for work. The furniture makers practised their craft unchanged from generation to generation. Their deliberation and contentment could never be matched by transitory godown labourers. He owed the godown job to the owner of the import-export business, his school friend Majid, who’d done miraculously well for himself. But workers didn’t fall out of the sky at the furniture workshop. Hafiz had spurned that job because it meant lifetime commitment. He would have been an apprentice bound to the whims of a grumpy master. Only flawless skill would elevate him. His own work would be meaningless without group effort: the varnisher waiting for the chair’s legs to be put together, the painter in turn expecting the varnisher to finish his job on time, a moving assembly where many hands worked in increments to create a product owned by no single individual. It was too much discipline, and he wanted to remain free, ready for adventure. Other men had dreamed and fled confinement. Why not him?

Abdul Haq returned from the hospital angry, his narrow black eyes on fire.

‘Idiots! We shouldn’t have shifted him. I’ve seen these cases; they can cause damage. His spine is probably destroyed. What will we tell his wife? Get back to work!’ No one dared ask what had transpired at the hospital, or point out that the decision had been Abdul Haq’s.

‘You, of all people, should have known better,’ he accused Hafiz.

At closing time, without his customary sarcastic farewell, Abdul Haq jumped on his sky-blue Vespa scooter, kicking the starter. He had a way of stretching his body before propulsion, standing upright then crouching toward the handlebar as though searching for something lost on the ground ahead. He would intentionally wobble at the start, a daring feat for a man his age. Today he performed the ritual with more than the usual panache.

He turned around after a hundred yards.

‘Come with me to the hospital,’ he ordered Hafiz. ‘About time you learned some responsibility.’

Abdul Haq was not a man to be denied. From the beginning, he’d taken a proprietary interest in Hafiz. He talked of Majid seth as though they had a secret bond. He only needed to say the word for Hafiz to rise in the ranks. Hafiz’s father hadn’t taught him discipline. Abdul Haq would rectify that. There was a personal element too. Abdul Haq had started inviting Hafiz to his home in Malir – a well-kept white bungalow on three hundred yards. There, Mariam, Abdul Haq’s grandniece, flirted with Hafiz, treating him like a plaything. ‘There isn’t much of an age difference between us,’ she claimed. She was attractive like a Mughal courtesan, or a fast-talking reporter on one of the television channels like Geo or ARY. Sometimes Mariam looked as old as forty, sometimes her face softened to sixteen. She was prone to humiliating Hafiz. ‘Your manners need work, you eat like a ganwar, an illiterate. Just because you live in the Basti doesn’t mean you have to act like one of them.’ Always the Basti, the reminder that he lived in an unauthorized city within the city. Had Mariam once been married? She gave hints both ways. Mariam’s mother, a garrulous red-haired woman, regaled Hafiz with stories of her parents arriving penniless in Pakistan at the time of partition. She gave the impression of never having been touched by a man, as though Mariam had come forth from a virgin. Mariam had been sharp with Hafiz the last time, berating him in front of Abdul Haq for making slurping sounds while eating daal. A hiatus in invitations had followed.

Mariam evoked bewilderment, because she stood halfway between the accessible girls of the Basti, who never excited Hafiz – why were they always so fond of dark green outfits, as though they wanted to declare themselves creatures of the deep jungle – and the ones who did excite him, sophisticated girls with troubling perfumes, tight shalwars, thin limbs, and calculated low voices which conveyed innuendo even when they were issuing ordinary instructions to drivers or chaprasis. Observing such inaccessible girls was a sinful thrill that made him feel drained and enervated, and more than a little guilty, exactly as with masturbation. He promised himself from time to time not to do it: I won’t ogle these girls, I won’t do it! But then the next one trailing the aura of luxurious baths and freedom from work came along and he would become enthralled, his head burdened by impossible dreams of chatting up one of these visions. His imagination was split. The masturbatory fantasies involved girls from the Basti who did his bidding, remained silent as he held their heads down, pinned under him like silent dolls, pliant, submissive, breakable, finished. The other girls he never imagined in bed, only as friends, in swanky cafés where he was full of swagger, a man of the world holding his own in conversation about national and international affairs, a sensitive repository for all of the girl’s secrets, secrets she dared not tell her girlfriends. He’d never been able to visualize a girl who combined the features of these two types of women, both friend and lover. Often on dreary bus rides he closed his eyes and tried to imagine being acquainted with one of his sister Seema’s friends at the university, but would always come up short as the girl whose dainty physique he’d conjured was revealed as someone bereft of worldly knowledge, putting on a show when she was as inexperienced and virginal as he was. It was the perfumed girls with the slick hair and glossy faces, indifference encapsulated in each of their languorous gestures, who captivated him. They moved in the same space as he did, occasionally brushed against him, but a few feet might as well be like thousands of miles. In all this mix, the braggart Shafiq’s wife Bibi had been an enigma. On the surface she was like one of those Basti girls Hafiz imagined silently doing his bidding in bed, but in pictures Shafiq had shown, her eyes questioned reality with something more than innocence.

Abdul Haq wouldn’t let him escape, even though Hafiz loathed hospitals. On his last visit, a dentist had pulled a tooth and left his jaw swollen. One of his uncles had entered the hospital with a mild case of tuberculosis and come out dead. Didn’t television doctors tell you that tuberculosis had been vanquished? For months his family had carted food to the uncle, a widower without children, bringing him spicy snacks for which he had no taste. Hafiz fought off bullies in the hospital playground, once almost having an eye put out by a stone, while Seema sat cross-legged on a bench, munching on what the sick man had left untouched. When Hafiz saw hospital bed sheets, he was reminded of the kafan, the white shroud.

Riding the Vespa, he prayed for life because Abdul Haq drove like a madman on Bunder Road, daring buses and trucks. He pulled up inches from a donkey cart on the wrong side of the road. The donkey snorted in Abdul Haq’s face, snot spewing from its nostrils. The driver whipped the animal, even though there was no way forward. By their side a twenty-foot film poster for Jawani Rangeeli, in flaming red and yellow, covered a crumbling building. A broad-faced moustachioed villain crushed a petite dyed blonde in his arms, like a gorilla. An Edhi ambulance bounced onto the footpath with impunity. The driver parked the Suzuki van and squatted on the ground to smoke.

Abdul Haq paid five rupees to park the Vespa at the Civil Hospital. It was difficult to tell if the greasy parking attendant was legitimate. An elderly couple haggled with a rickshaw driver. Flies swooped in formation over snack carts, going for unsold food rather than sugarcane and mango spills on the ground. Abdul Haq had some trouble locating his favourite falooda stall, but when he found it he ordered two large glasses. The ice cream and sherbet in the milky noodle drink made Hafiz’s teeth ache. ‘Take big sips, it’s not poison,’ commanded Abdul Haq.

They entered the forbidding arches of the fortress-like building. Relatives of the stricken put on brave faces as they streamed in and out in their best clothes. Elderly women worked rosary beads, muttering Subhanallah, Subhanallah. A fight was in progress at the front desk over the disposition of a corpse, and Abdul Haq decided to add to the trouble.

‘You should move my man to the general ward. If he’s past danger, make it easier by not burdening him with debt.’ The Civil Hospital was free. The clerk protested, but Abdul Haq was in full spate. ‘The government can’t run anything. Why should I pay taxes to support hospitals, post offices, steel mills, none of which work?’

The arrival of an authoritative person in a suit and tie silenced Abdul Haq’s tirade.

The young clerk regained courage. ‘This is our M. D. Did you have something to say about fees and debt?’

To get to the fourth floor, first they had to go along a long corridor on the ground floor, punctuated by doors opening onto operation rooms. Doctors, hunched over and streaming with sweat, burst through swinging doors with the air of priests having performed sacrificial rituals, rubbing gloved hands. The public announcement system squawked: ‘Doctor Qasmi, please report to the front desk.’

Their ward was in the far corner, with the door half-open – or broken. The half dozen patients were immobile to the point of seeming dead. There were no visitors other than Shafiq’s wife, Bibi, who rose to greet them. Abdul Haq bounded across the room to greet her.

Hafiz was speechless when he saw Bibi. Shafiq, whose face was covered with a white towel, was invisible to him. Hafiz manoeuvred to the side of the bed where he could see Bibi better. Streaks of tears ran down her pale cheeks – tears worth their weight in gold. She had large singing eyes, pouty red lips, and tiny doll ears. Her long eyelashes tangled with her tears. Her broad forehead was bare, as was her lustrous hair, black with touches of henna. In hospitals the usual rules of modesty were suspended. Hafiz was so happy Abdul Haq had forced him to come.

Bibi talked to Abdul Haq in a soft, slow manner, like an announcer. ‘Shukria for sending me the message. Your man went to a lot of trouble to find our flat. We use a neighbour’s phone, but it’s been out of order, that’s why you couldn’t reach us. I turned off the stove and took a taxi the minute I heard.’

She was a woman of education, it was clear from her tone. Hafiz shuddered as he recollected the crude women of the Basti, who roamed the lanes swaying their wide hips. Abdul Haq hadn’t asked anyone to inform Bibi. Shafiq must have managed to instruct the hospital staff.

Abdul Haq didn’t correct the error. ‘Some of my employees were eager to move him. We should have waited for the ambulance. No, not him,’ he gestured at Hafiz, ‘others, who don’t mind their own business. I’m sure there’s no damage.’

‘We don’t know anything. They’re doing tests. A young doctor just came, looking worried.’

‘They all look worried. They want you to think it’s serious. It’s their job. I can assure you there hasn’t been any damage.’

‘Why doesn’t he talk? He mumbled his mother’s name, his sister’s name, his niece’s name, but not mine.’

‘I don’t know why.’

‘A fracture can take a while to heal.’ She inserted a pink finger into the hoop of her gold earring, twirling it.

‘Don’t worry about wages. I’ll take care of it.’

‘It’s not that. I want him to be strong again. He could lift a Suzuki with his bare hands.’

‘That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. You should tell him to be careful.’

Why was Abdul Haq lecturing this sweet woman about her undeserving husband’s indiscretions? Abdul Haq went through a litany of Shafiq’s recklessness, making Bibi’s eyes moist. Hafiz wished he could slap

the old man.

‘Look, he’s moving,’ Hafiz lied. ‘He wants to say something.’

Abdul Haq didn’t fall for the ploy.

‘He’s a good worker,’ Bibi insisted. ‘He does more than his share.’

‘That’s not the point. It’s the example he sets.’

When would this torture end? How would the poor girl be relieved?

The anxious young doctor mentioned by Bibi returned.

‘You’re relatives all? Accha,’ he said without awaiting confirmation. ‘We’re going to put on a brace to keep him from moving. The fracture should heal soon. He’s not saying much, because he’s on strong painkillers. Now, I have urgent cases to attend to.’

Bibi rose. ‘Shukria doctor. You’re an angel, you saved my husband’s life.’

‘I did no such thing.’ The doctor refuted her praise from the broken door. ‘It’s a minor case. You should see the ones with mangled bones from car accidents and roof falls. Like Humpty Dumpty, I can’t put them together again. I’m a doctor, not a jaadogar.’

Bibi was close to tears. Why did everyone want to make her cry?

Hafiz wished he’d cleaned up, to show off his long dark hair and strong jaw. He wished he were wearing a new shirt and pants. The dust in his hair, the chalky film all over, made him look old.

Bibi startled him by asking, ‘Are you a friend of Shafiq’s?’

No one was a “friend” of her husband. At best, Shafiq was tolerated. How could a ruffian like him have landed Bibi? It was always that way: good men went empty-handed while bad ones took the ultimate prize.

‘We talked often, and he’d tell me how happy he was.’

It was true – Shafiq showed his wife’s picture at every opportunity. If anyone within earshot had commented inappropriately on Bibi’s looks, he would have beaten the man to a pulp, but he wasn’t averse to silent admiration.

Piqued at being excluded, Abdul Haq hurled an accusation at Hafiz. ‘Men ought to get married young, when they’re in their prime.’ Bibi looked down in shame.

Hafiz longed to take a leisurely shower under water that didn’t suddenly shut off, to rub coconut oil in his hair, trim his nails, clip his nose-hairs. The more Seema paid attention to her appearance, looking fresh and rosy for the university each morning, the less careful he’d become about his own looks.

When they were leaving, Bibi said, ‘Please come again,’ and Hafiz was convinced she was looking only at him. ‘His sisters should be here soon. They love him like a kid. It’s good not to be alone in an emergency.’

On the way out, Abdul Haq didn’t raise the issue of moving Shafiq to a different location with the clerk at the desk. Television monitors, mounted at dizzying angles, showed a bus explosion in interior Sind, the police responding with vigour. Not even an hour had passed inside. In the parking lot, men formed an impromptu prayer assembly, led by a mumbling imam.

‘I’ll drop you at the bus station,’ Abdul Haq offered kindly. ‘You don’t need to walk.’

Bibi’s goodness rubbed off on everyone. She was that type of person. The Vespa looked like a harmless toy. She had a mole on her neck, didn’t she?

Abdul Haq didn’t question why Hafiz visited Shafiq so often at the Civil Hospital. Abdul Haq had never gone back after the first time, though he still acted as if he was being continuously updated on Shafiq’s condition.

Shafiq seemed to have taken a turn for the worse. The doctors no longer predicted when he might leave. He had an allergic reaction, breaking out in rashes. He had headaches. When he wasn’t screaming in pain, he ranted against the hospital, against his mother and father, against ruthless employers, and against Bibi for bringing him bad luck. His back still hurt, while his limbs withered from disuse. He didn’t let anyone shave him, and he looked like a mullah in mourning. And all through this, Bibi’s loyalty to her husband never faltered.

Hafiz had to spend time with Shafiq too, rather than just with Bibi, to keep up appearances. The first visit was on a Friday afternoon, when Karachi was lethargic after prayers. Bibi didn’t seem to be around. Shafiq was awake, swaddled in his back brace.

‘What are you doing here?’

‘I came to see how you were doing.’

‘Have they sent you as a spy? I warn you, I’m filing a court case for unsafe working conditions, and I’ll win a big settlement and retire.’

No one in Pakistan filed court cases and won. Cases dragged on for

decades. Shafiq had been watching too many American television shows. ‘Shafiq bhai, I’m on your side.’ ‘You little nobody, you couldn’t be on anyone’s side if your life

depended on it. It takes guts to fight for a cause. What do you believe in? Hand me that chillum, will you? The drugs make me full of mucus.’

Hafiz held the jar while Shafiq expectorated. ‘That’s better.’ After more gurgles, ‘You must be here because they sent you. Will Majid seth visit me? Tell them I’ll be reasonable about a settlement. I just want what’s fair.’

Hafiz couldn’t imagine Majid visiting the Civil Hospital under any circumstances. His friend and classmate, defender against bullies, older by a few years, Majid had lucked out beyond anyone’s comprehension. The source of his meteoric ascent wasn’t clear. In school he’d been a vocal fighter against drugs. He advocated clean living, discipline, honesty. He exposed a gang of students who stole government school books and resold them for profit. He spoke good English because he watched a lot of television and because his mother had hired a private tutor. Everyone had expected Majid to become famous. He was feared because he set the tone for whether a teacher was respected or ridiculed. ‘I’ll start a factory in five years, watch me,’ he told Hafiz when he finished Matric. It had taken nowhere near that long. ‘Remember to look me up,’ he’d said. ‘Whatever you want is yours.’ Now he was rich enough to buy all the factories he wanted. If anyone asked what he did, he said, ‘import-export.’ Or he said he moved money around. After a couple of years of unsatisfactory jobs, Hafiz had looked up Majid at his offices near Habib Bank Plaza on MacLeod Road. Majid introduced him to his partners, three geriatric men bent over ledgers. ‘They think they have the power, but I can decide in a second if I want to get rid of them,’ Majid bragged when they were out of earshot of the mummified guardians. A secretary stopped typing to ogle the former school friends. ‘Go to my godown at 32 Bunder Road. It’s within a stone’s throw of the Port Trust building. Talk to Abdul Haq. He’ll get you started.’ People assumed Hafiz was a protégé of Majid. He would be put through his paces at the godown, then something better would be found for him. The special relationship earned him the admiration and envy of fellow workers. Majid liked to visit the godown in his red sports car and act friendly with the workers. They hated Majid for the presumption, especially Shafiq, who claimed that Majid was a gandoo,a faggot who raped Pathan boys. Majid put an end to the innuendo when he married the actress Hina, famous for her swollen eyes and swan neck. She was often on the covers of magazines. Their romance was said to have taken them from Bombay to Murree. After Hina, Shafiq’s hatred for Majid exceeded words, and Hafiz suffered by association. Hafiz hadn’t been promoted. He remained on his starting salary of seven thousand rupees a month.

‘Get me some cigarettes,’ Shafiq ordered. ‘I shouldn’t smoke, but even doctors smoke.’

Hafiz studied the patients in the beds nearby. They were too sedated to care if anyone smoked. He associated hospitals with white but here there was only grey. He went to a paan shop for unfiltered K-2 cigarettes.

Shafiq smoked a couple. ‘You don’t smoke?’

‘My eyes sting.’

‘Then you’ll live to be a hundred.’

‘Shafiq bhai, doesn’t it get lonely?’ The ward was so quiet. When did Bibi ever visit?

‘We’re born alone and we die alone. That’s the truth, which top-notch businessmen, when they marry world-class sluts, ignore at their peril. That pretender, Majid, is due for a fall.’ He went on a rant against businessmen who exploited workers.

‘Have your sisters been here?’ Shafiq was an orphan, but had three sisters, who had all married well. Hafiz was still fishing for news about Bibi.

‘My sisters! For them I’ll always be a labourer knocked about by the ruthless system. How can they comprehend my pain? Those princesses accuse me of negligence. It’s easy to talk when you’re married to rich men.’

Still no information about Bibi. Hafiz left at last, giving up for the day.

In the corridor he crashed into Bibi, and was forced to grab her shoulders. She was light as a feather. Instead of backing away, she seemed to lean into him. His heart throbbed. She smelled of sandalwood, her hair tangled in her eyes.

He let go and noticed tears streaking down her rosy cheeks. He wished he could take her in his arms again. Shafiq was making her life miserable, anyone could see that.

‘What’s wrong? Is it about Shafiq?’

‘I’m so worried, I can’t tell anyone.’

Shafiq’s sisters didn’t seem to be of any help. ‘You can talk to me. I’m Shafiq’s friend.’

‘He has no friends.’

This was true, but Hafiz couldn’t admit it. It was his only means to reach Bibi.

‘You can talk to me. I’m his friend. I’m . . . your friend.’

It was a daring thing to tell the wife of a fellow worker. Anxiously, he searched for her reaction.

‘There’s a little garden where we can talk,’ he tried. It was the one where he and Seema used to play when their uncle was dying. ‘Trust me, I’m your friend.’

Without protest, Bibi started to walk out, and he followed her.

He couldn’t believe it was happening. They went past the hospital doors, looking like man and wife. The sweepers were frantic. One of them, clumsily handling bucket and mop, sprinkled Bibi’s shoes with dirty water, and would have done worse had Hafiz not stepped between them.

The garden was unrecognisable. It was a jungle of weeds instead of the gentle landscape of plants and flowers that Hafiz remembered. A dirty bench was splattered with bird droppings. A couple of crooked trees leaned into each other, their branches tangled. Hafiz hoped there were no snakes.

He laid out a handkerchief for Bibi to sit on. She started crying. Hafiz didn’t know how to console a crying woman. He thought it best to let her finish.

‘It’s not money, Hafiz bhai,’ she said at last. ‘His sisters can help with that. We’re behind on the rent. He hates getting help from anyone. I had to claim I had the money already saved. How often I had to lie to him! He accepts money each time. What choice does he have? I don’t know where he spent it all. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t go to women. I spend every paisa carefully. Somehow it doesn’t add up. Then the disappearances. For days at a time, he goes away. I’m afraid by myself. There are all kinds of men in our neighbourhood. They know I’m alone at night. He won’t try to get a job through his brothers-in-law. His pride gets in the way. He has no ambition. We tried to have children, but it didn’t work.’ Bibi dropped her eyes in shame. ‘I want to go to a lady doctor. There’s something wrong with me. But he’ll never go. I can tell you since you’re a friend. The landlord has become threatening. He found out about Shafiq being in the hospital. I don’t want to open the door at night, but he threatens to break it down. Yesterday I saw a rat. I threw out all the food afterward. It was as big as a rabbit.’ She shuddered. ‘I wish I had a brother or sister, but I know no one in Karachi. My family is from Multan. If I approached them, Shafiq would divorce me. He’d say I was abandoning him. I’ve written to my uncle, but he hasn’t written back. I wanted to do Intermediate. But after getting married, Shafiq said I should stop at Matric. What’s Matric these days? You can be a kaamwali, wash dishes and clean houses. If I told Shafiq I wanted to get a job, he would kill me. Only the man should work. Even if the wife doesn’t have children, doesn’t have anything to do, doesn’t know where her husband goes away for days on end.’

Hafiz wanted to tell her she should leave her husband without delay; this was no life for a woman like her. Bibi’s dupatta slid off. She had a large head, and her hair was parted sharply in the middle. A lone grey hair shone on her temple.

‘I could help with money. I’m a friend, he wouldn’t mind. Not that he has to know. It would be my honour if you’d let me. I give my wages to my mother every month anyway.’

Bibi started crying. Hafiz tried to calm her but this only made it worse. He was afraid someone would come to investigate. She got up, forbidding him to follow her.

Hafiz’s mother was upset when he asked for three thousand rupees, almost half his wages. He’d never asked for so much before.

‘Your father is out – why did you wait until he was gone? Three thousand rupees! What will you do? I plan for every paisa. How will I make it up?’

‘Amma, just give it to me! It’s my money.’

‘Not until you tell me why.’

‘A friend needs it. If I were in that position, my friend would do the same.’

‘This friend, is he going to pay it back?’

‘I don’t know. I’m not expecting it back.’

‘So we’re just giving away three thousand rupees, spreading the wealth around like crore-patis. Anyone who needs help, apply to Hafiz Muhammad Khan, the wealthiest man in the Basti.’

Noticing his distraught look, she softened a bit. ‘Who’s this friend?’

Hafiz remained quiet.

‘Someone from school? Someone sick? Government hospitals don’t ask for money. If it’s a big operation, it could cost tens of thousands of rupees. Is your friend going to die?’

Hafiz started to leave, disheartened.

Theek hai, here’s the money.’ Aisha went to get it from inside the pipe that went nowhere in the adjoining small room. ‘I’m not happy about this.’ It wasn’t that he was buying Bibi’s affections. It wasn’t that simple. Actions had different meanings with different people. Back at the hospital, he wondered how he should get Bibi’s attention without enduring another of Shafiq’s torture sessions. Luckily he spotted Bibi leaving through the hospital gates. She’d donned a black chadar of mourning, her face devoid of makeup.

He rushed after her. ‘I have the money. You must take it. I’m a friend.’

‘Someone will see us,’ she said, glancing behind. ‘Wait. Who’s that person? Is he following us?’


‘Never mind, it’s no one. I feel like there are spies all over the hospital. Today a nurse asked me to fill out a questionnaire, including my religious and political beliefs. I’m not some Ismaili or Qadiani! Why are they after me?’

‘Go to the garden.’ A garden indeed, surrounded by barbed wire entangled with plants. ‘I’ll follow you.’

He paid for two sugarcane drinks. She was sitting on the bench with the chadar already pulled back to expose her shiny hair. She smelled lovelier than ever.

‘If my husband found out I was going behind his back – ’

‘You’re not. If you got a loan from the bank, how would that hurt him?’

She laughed. ‘You’re not a bank.’

‘Not a big bank, a very small one.’

‘You want me to treat you as a banker?’ She began pantomiming. ‘Please, banker sahib, my husband doesn’t earn money while he convalesces. Please, banker sahib, unlock your vault, give me prize bonds, ten thousand rupees, and oh, some diamonds. Please, banker sahib, can I put my illiterate’s thumbprint on the contract?’ She laughed, spilling sugarcane juice. She was so thirsty he let her drink his glass too. She even swallowed the bits at the bottom of each glass.

‘Have you eaten?’ he asked.

‘How can I eat when my husband may never work again?’

‘What about your sisters-in-law? Do they bring food?’

‘I won’t touch it. I don’t want to be treated like a beggar. They bring enough food for the whole ward.’

‘I could get you something.’

‘A hospital is not such a bad place. Are you afraid of hospitals?’

‘A little.’

‘Why does no one else visit this garden? It’s a good hideout.’

Hafiz glanced at the weeds and wires and stony ground, and he could contemplate only death. Bibi mentioned her school friends, all of whom now had children. Mothers-in-law were said to be softened by the arrival of babies.

‘I’ll throw the money in the face of the landlord, and warn him if he bothers me, I’ll report him to the police.’

She wouldn’t let him feed her, but agreed to meet next evening.

He had time after work to buy food at a decent restaurant. She wore a yellow chadar, and ate like a horse. He regretted not buying more biryani and seekh kebabs. She acted like she hadn’t eaten for days. He bought her apples from a fruit seller at the hospital gates. She kept sticking her finger in her mouth to extricate apple skin from a gap in her front teeth. ‘Can you see? Is it still there?’ She leaned forward, opening her mouth.

‘It’s gone. What did the landlord say?’

‘What can he say? I’m not worried about him. A fat man like that, he ought to worry about a heart attack. Allah will strike him dead if he keeps harassing honest tenants. It’s not the landlord I’m worried about. It’s Shafiq’s friend, the paanwallah, who loaned us money last Ramzan. He leaves notes on the door every night. I keep the lights off so he won’t know I’m there.’

‘How much?’ Hafiz said quickly.

‘What? Banker sahib, you want to go bankrupt?’

‘How much do you owe that rascal paanwallah?’

‘Forget it, it’s too much.’

After much coaxing, she admitted Shafiq had borrowed ten thousand rupees. ‘I can’t take another paisa from you. If you try to give any more money, I won’t talk to you.’

‘Let me help with part of it, so the paanwallah will go easy on you.’

‘Impossible,’ she said, leaving in a huff.

Next day he brought five thousand rupees in a white envelope. This time his mother had been too angry to question him. He didn’t know how many more times he could tap the savings. She wasn’t reserving his wages all these years so he could retrieve them at will. Bibi accepted without protest. She looked broken, eating quietly.

‘What happened?’ Had Shafiq hurt her? Were those sisters of his real? Did Bibi really have no one in her family she could talk to?

‘I hate this hospital.’

He changed the subject to the seaside, films, fashion, things he could care less about, hoping to make her cheerful.

She licked her fingers clean, wiping her mouth with the edge of her chadar. After finishing the food, she always took the paper plates to a bush where the cats licked them clean.

‘Tell me about your family,’ she said.

He told her about his smart sister, his honest parents, his boss who’d made good, his quirky supervisor Abdul Haq. He didn’t talk about life in the Basti. She listened to him as if he were an accomplished storyteller.

‘Your sister sounds wonderful. She must be a genius. I was never good at school myself.’

‘Neither was I.’

Hafiz started praying that Shafiq would never recover. The days became a blur of happiness, and the work at the godown painless, because there was always the evening to look forward to.

Abdul Haq told him Mariam had started seeing a pir, for some ailment he was not at liberty to discuss, as though to put an end to that mysterious chapter. In fact it was an invitation of sorts because he said he presumed Hafiz respected genuine pirs as much as any sane person, and Hafiz had to agree or be accused of blasphemy.

‘So you have a regular pir?’

‘I didn’t say that,’ Hafiz demurred, ‘I’ve never been religious.’

‘You don’t have to be religious to see pirs. Mariam is very open-minded, more than I am, certainly more than Majid seth. Does it take any imagination to marry a film heroine?’ Abdul Haq lowered his voice, taking care lest one of the young new workers, an inquisitive fellow who asked personal questions of everyone, overheard.

Abdul Haq’s pressure floated off Hafiz now, like a dying mosquito, or gentle rain that didn’t turn into a flood. The godown didn’t seem as loud, dirty, or chaotic; a protective screen shielded him from unnecessary entanglements, as though he was one of them but immune from their worries.

In Ramzan, people did all sorts of crazy things that they blamed on the month.

Officially, there were sanctions against eating in public. It had started in Zia-ul-Haq’s time. People were flogged for violating the rules. Habits of secrecy set in. If you weren’t fasting, you locked your office to eat a snack. Powerful businessmen and civil servants held iftaar parties approaching the scale of wedding feasts. At these events, cartels were formed, political parties reorganized and trade policies sanctioned. Ramzan was the time for sleepovers, climaxing with the sehri meal before dawn. Children under twelve didn’t need to fast. But everyone devoured dahi barey and omelette parathas once their sleep was interrupted. Mullahs repeated ad nauseam that Islam had anticipated modern health fads by fourteen hundred years. Namaz was the ultimate yoga, roza the ultimate diet. If people had heart attacks during Ramzan, that was because they ate too much at iftaar, instead of disciplining their stomachs. Whose fault was it if they died? Perpetual fasting felt like the right rhythm for the country and it was a chore to return to a normal tempo after the end of the month. The sweetest excuse was to decline a task because you were fasting and nobody could protest.

All through Ramzan, Shafiq put on weight, being exempt from fasting. The bags under his eyes lightened. The crowded Civil Hospital should have sent him home long ago. But Shafiq complained of pain and threatened the doctors, and nobody wanted to be the one to discharge him. The hospital seemed to have made the decision to forget about him. He liked to complain about being stuck there forever, but anyone could tell he enjoyed the attention: nurses checking in on him, sponge baths from the Pathan boy, the barber who came around daily. He said he was sure he would never walk again without pain, and he would see to it that the doctors who did this to him would pay.

He used crutches to walk to the lavatory, complaining about the pain. He accepted Hafiz as a brother who had nothing better to do than look after his well-being. He said he never knew Hafiz cared so much, but they were in this together, allied against evil Abdul Haq and his machinations. He liked to leave the lavatory door open as he did his business, chattering with Hafiz.

‘I’ll never go back to the godown. Those people never appreciated me. Abdul Haq can kiss my arse. I want a respectable life. I’ve been thinking about the mistakes I made, the opportunities I passed up. I married Bibi, and I’ll just say this: never marry a close relative, and never marry a woman who thinks she’s higher than you. Her parents spoiled her. I married a doll, not a woman.’ He farted. ‘Listen to me: marry a woman who thinks you’re the prince, not someone who thinks she’s the princess.’ He farted again. ‘Islam allows you to marry a divorcee or widow. Why not? They’ve seen it all, and they come to you humble, expecting nothing. Bibi treats the hospital like a picnic. You can finish the leftover food from sehri. I can’t eat those parathas, I’ll get fat.’ He came out of the bathroom, a foetid smell trailing him. ‘How does my beard look?’ He ran wet fingers through its scraggly shoots. ‘Only mullahs and villains keep beards. Time for princes and heroes to keep beards too. Imran Khan has a beard. He’s a mullah and hero rolled in one. Ha-ha-ha!’

Hafiz was setting in motion the worst treachery of all. He’d been talking to Bibi and she was listening. Earlier he’d fed her a plate of biryani from the Mysori restaurant nestled in the row of paint shops. He’d reached over to wipe grains of rice from her mouth. She hadn’t protested. Instead, she leaned toward him. It was the closest he’d ever been to a woman. He was aroused, watching her curves through the tight shalwar kameez.

He didn’t need to keep visiting Shafiq, but he felt guilty. Bibi no longer pretended. She didn’t call him Hafiz bhai anymore. She didn’t complain about Shafiq, because it spoiled the mood. In addition to food and drinks, he brought her flowers. There was a florist on Bunder Road who gave a discount. He’d brought her a sky blue dupatta and kurta set, turquoise bangles, silver earrings, Japanese chappals, a Seiko watch, a black purse, Russian stories in translation (Seema owned the same book but he didn’t want to take her copy), and a blue Swissair flight bag. She always accepted with thanks, saying she’d had her eye on the exact same item. So far she’d been the beneficiary of more than ten thousand rupees. He’d given her all of last month’s salary, leaving not a paisa for his mother, and he’d taken next month’s salary in advance, telling Abdul Haq his father needed cataract surgery. The gifts didn’t cost much, because he knew where to look: chor bazaars, the smuggled goods markets hidden in plain sight all over the city, supervised and sponsored by the police. He grew in confidence every time Bibi accepted a gift. Shafiq was a trivial obstacle, no match for his intelligence. Hafiz was strong and calculating and shrewd. He would defeat his nemesis.

But what if Shafiq left the hospital? How would Hafiz see Bibi then? What if Bibi felt differently when Shafiq got better? He worried about this, but the plan had already occurred to him at the beginning of Ramzan.

It had been chand raat, and everyone was straining their eyes to detect the new moon that would herald the first day of fasting. It was a cloudless evening. Women were excited, having stocked atta, chawal, daal, chini for the month. Children had climbed roofs and poles. Hafiz and his sister and parents were part of the crowd.

‘There it is, look above the pole!’ It was an old man, so weak he couldn’t have seen a naked woman from ten feet.

‘What pole?’ said a young man, shoving others aside.

That pole! Don’t you have eyes?’ the old man retorted ‘Eighty years old, and I’ve never been wrong. The Ru’at-e-Hilal committee gets it wrong every year. The government wants to have the same start and end date as the Saudis. Do we have to celebrate Eid according to the dictate of the khadimain al-haramain sharifain? They can’t increase the quota for hajis, but we want to be their lackeys. By the time the Saudis announce, it’s already the second day in Pakistan, the moon is so big it’s embarrassing.’

Hafiz sharply drew in his breath, calling attention to himself.

‘Where? Where’s the moon?’ Aisha asked.

‘Did you see it? Where?’ Seema also asked.

‘No moon, no moon. I was only thinking.’

It had suddenly struck him that the only solution was to run away with Bibi. The plan started crystallizing. Details drifted to him as though he’d already seen them in a film, where Nadeem and Shabnam make it as far as Murree before the cruel parents realize the elopement.

Of course! He smacked his head. Why hadn’t he thought of it before? Bibi was romantic, full of dreams: she’d go along. She was desperate, she hated Shafiq, she’d see the justice. Fate had brought them together. It would be resisting destiny not to make the getaway. Everything would work out. When Shafiq found out, he’d divorce her. But how would Hafiz and Bibi live together before the divorce? He chose not to dwell on this conundrum. No doubt Bibi would be convinced.

‘There it is!’ a little boy shouted, jumping up and down on a roof. ‘I see it! It’s in the east.’

‘Of course! The moon always comes out in the east, pagal!’ reprimanded another boy.

But the kid was right. The moon had been sighted. It was so visible the Ru’at-e-Hilal Committee wouldn’t be able to claim it had been cloudy and assert that the moon had only been sighted the next evening in some obscure northern town like Chichoki Malian or Vehari.

Ramzan Mubarak, Ramzan Mubarak.’ The men hugged each other, right, left, right, just as at Eid prayers.

The moon had been sighted. Was Allah blessing his plan?

Still, he wasn’t prepared for the lack of outrage Bibi showed, as she heard him out.

‘You have relatives in Lahore?’

Hafiz had suggested this as their destination.

‘No relatives, just friends.’ These were neighbours from the Basti who had left when their son got a better job. The father used to be fond of Hafiz. Surely, they would help. A man’s labour was good anywhere. For Bibi, he would even do something strenuous like the godown job. ‘Anyway, we don’t need anyone’s help.’

‘How long does it take on the train?’

‘Ten hours,’ he guessed.

‘And the train fare?’

‘Second-class, fifteen hundred rupees each.’ He was making it all up.

‘Your friends can find you a job in Lahore?’

‘Guaranteed!’ He banged his hand on the bench, hurting himself.

‘What will I do?’

‘Whatever you like. You can get a job if you wish. I won’t stand in your way.’

‘I don’t want a job. If the man earns enough, why should the woman have to work?’

Hafiz swallowed hard. ‘I didn’t say you’d have to get a job. Only if you wanted to.’

‘I don’t want to.’

‘All right.’

‘I want a good kitchen.’

‘You’ll have it.’

‘I want a small garden for vegetables.’


‘I want the neighbours to think well of me.’

‘Yes.’ ‘I don’t want any shouting, negotiations with the landlord, begging with the dhobi and doodhwallah, lights getting shut off, rats at night, cockroaches in the food, flies, dust, mosquitoes – what am I forgetting? Oh yes, I want to change my name.’

‘What’s wrong with your name?’ ‘I don’t like it.’

‘What do you want to be called?’

‘Parveen. Like the Indian film star.’

‘That was a long time ago.’

‘Bibi means wife.’

‘Or woman.’

‘Wife. It makes me sound old. I’m only – well, I’m too young for such a name.’

‘As you wish.’ What was Bibi – Parveen – saying? ‘So you agree to the plan?’

‘What’s the plan?’

‘I told you. You leave him. We go to another city. You ask for a divorce. Since you’ll have betrayed him, he’ll be more than happy to get rid of you. When it’s safe, we can come back to Karachi. Or go abroad. It depends on what happens in Lahore. The country is big. You can start a new life. You won’t have to put up with him.’

‘He’s my husband.’

‘Aren’t you unhappy with him?’

‘Sometimes he beats me. I don’t know where he goes at night. He treats me like a naukrani. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have children with him. He never asks how I’m feeling.’

‘Then you’ll do it.’

‘Tell me hero sahib, can you guarantee your plan will work?’

‘I have the money to get us started.’ This was a lie, but it could be handled. His parents had savings.

‘What if you give me the same problems he does?’

‘Do I look like him?’

She became shy. ‘I hardly know you. I know you take good care of me, but it’s easy to treat another man’s woman well. I know so little about you.’

‘You know everything. I’ve never been married. I’m twenty-four years old. I’ve never been with a woman.’ She looked down shyly. ‘I – I – I –’ he stammered, groping for the awesome words, which he’d never had the faintest occasion to utter, and which made his heart thump so loud he thought he was having a heart attack. ‘I think I love you, Bibi,’ he said, his voice barely a squeak. He expected a contemptuous laugh. Instead there was a look on her face he’d never seen before, mystical and faraway and melancholy.

‘My husband never said it to me. People say it only in films.’

‘I mean it, Bibi.’ He loudly repeated his declaration.

In the days to come, he kept telling her how beautiful she was. ‘As beautiful as a film star?’ she asked. He told her that he thought of her day and night, that he’d never met anyone so refined, so delicate, so sensitive, so full of life and energy and courage, and that they were made for each other and would spend a beautiful life together.

He’d always observed Ramzan spottily. Now he ignored it altogether, eating a hearty sehri though he had no intention to fast, showing up at work early (so he could leave early), sharing lunch at work with the handful of men – two of whom were Christian – who didn’t fast, all so he could have plenty of energy to convince Bibi each evening of the sanity of his proposal.

‘Do you have a ring?’ she asked him the Thursday before the reckoning.

‘Not yet. But I’ll get it. What kind of ring?’

‘You never got a ring?’

‘I thought once we . . . you know. Jewellery hasn’t been on my mind. ’

Bibi sighed. ‘All men are alike.’ She’d gained weight since Hafiz had started feeding her. Her cheeks were rosier, and her forehead shone. ‘They sweet-talk you, then when you have fallen for them, they stop caring. After that they never tell you they love you. They start comparing you to their mothers and sisters. You should have bought a ring already.’

‘I promise I’ll never be like that.’

‘They all say that. I’ve seen films. Read stories.’

They parted on a note of resolution. That was how he read it. She said she would pack. One suitcase for clothes, another for household things. There wasn’t much.

She also said she had ten thousand rupees in a bank account. She wasn’t supposed to touch it except in a life-and-death emergency. She didn’t explain where it had come from.

‘You said fifteen hundred fifty rupees for the train fare?’ He’d checked since then, and found he was close. ‘I’m committing a great sin, yet I’m not afraid. I must be a terrible woman. But I deserve love, like anyone else.’

She was fragile like a doll, desperately in need of care. He touched her shoulder, left his hand there when she didn’t object, and escorted her into the hospital.

‘When?’ he asked.

‘When what?’

‘When will you be ready?’

‘Come tomorrow,’ she said distantly.

It was Akhir Juma’a, the last Friday of the blessed month, Eid only a couple of days away. Abdul Haq wouldn’t notice if he didn’t return to the godown after Friday prayers. Shab-e-Meraj, the night celebrating the Prophet’s ascension from Bait-ul-Maqdas to the heavens on his horse Buraq, had already come and gone. The Prophet had tirelessly negotiated with Allah over the number of prayers believers would have to offer each day. From the initial mark of fifty per day, on the insistence of Moses who said Muhammad’s followers would never be able to handle it, Muhammad progressively whittled it down to five. Moses wasn’t satisfied with five either, but Muhammad was too embarrassed to return to Allah to ask for a further cut.

No one was in the mood for work. Unexcused absences were forgiven. Eid was the right time to escape. Tonight Hafiz would ask his parents for money, revealing nothing. If they found out about Bibi, they’d kill him. There was no other woman for him. Was there really a time he used to fantasize about pretentious girls? The more he adored Bibi, the more he looked with disgust at other women, even the pretty ones who crossed his path. This was his declaration of faith, the least he could do.

The hospital looked cheerful. Even without the vendors outside, evacuated for the duration of Ramzan, a festive spirit prevailed. It was the same hospital, but he saw it differently. The very walls and windows seemed exuberant and welcoming. Khaki-clad policemen patiently listened to a radio broadcast of the president’s address to the nation. Pakistan would handle terror. The country would get inflation under control. Enemies would be defeated.

Janab beithen.’ Come sir, sit. Shafiq was freshly shaved, dressed in Eid clothes – starched white shalwar kameez – and packed, ready to go.

How was his dear friend, his brother, he wanted to know in his most refined voice.

He bit his lip, where a moustache was growing, like a Punjabi film villain contemplating gory deeds.

‘What’s this I hear about you and my wife?’ He paused for effect. ‘She told me everything. In fact, she’s been keeping me informed from the first day. You think my wife would keep anything from me? You kids have no clue about trust between husband and wife. Where do you think you’re going?’

Hafiz was backing away. Other patients were sitting up and taking notice – perhaps there would be free entertainment, a fight at Hafiz’s expense, dishoomba-dishoomba.

Shafiq loomed tall over Hafiz. He might have a knife. If he stabbed Hafiz, claiming he was defending his wife’s izzat, no one would blame Shafiq.

‘It’s no good trying to leave.’ Shafiq placed a hand on his shoulder. ‘Sit in this chair.’ Shafiq went to open the window, confident that Hafiz wouldn’t run away.

‘I tell them to keep it open. Fresh air doesn’t cost anything. They say the phut-phut of the rickshaws keeps patients awake. Bhai, if you have a broken leg or arm, as everyone in the ward does, what do you care about rickshaws? You’re worrying about life and death. How will you answer the angel when he comes to your grave? Who is your God? Who is your Prophet? Who is . . .’ – Shafiq forgot the sequence of questions all mortals would face in the grave . . .’ – Anyway, either you’ll have the answers at the tip of your tongue or you’ll stumble, and if you stumble, that means rot in your heart, and the angel will know it, and you’ll suffer but your cries won’t do any good.’

Shafiq bounced on the bed. The white sheets were fresh. He parked his sandaled feet on the trunk containing his belongings. ‘This has become like home. I know everything that goes on, even in wards I’ve never visited, in operating theatres I can’t go to. I have eyes and ears in every corner. Strange sounds rouse me at night. I hear machine guns and tanks, soldiers gunned down in cold blood by the ruthless enemy. Airplanes flying low to bomb poor villagers, defenceless people accused of doing things of which they’re incapable. But what would you know? Have you ever been ill for a day? Lahore, eh, you want to run away with my wife to Lahore?’

Hafiz was startled. This meant Bibi herself had told him. If some spy had reported on them, Shafiq wouldn’t have known the details. He no longer cared if Shafiq killed him. He released his clenched muscles, relaxing like a sack of bones, in the grave already.

‘You think I couldn’t have traced you in Lahore? My wife knew that. I would be within my rights to smash you to pieces, dislocate every bone in your body, have you take my place in this very ward. Ha! They wouldn’t have to move you on a stretcher or anything, put you in a damned taxi to aggravate your injury, like that idiot Abdul Haq did to me. I’d lay you down on my own bed, then call the doctors. They’d take good care of you.’

The residents of the ward were alert as he moved close, towering over Hafiz.

‘You’re such a kid! Ulloo-ke-pathey! Bewakuf ! Never in my life would I have imagined, one of my own! You weren’t supposed to be the godown lafanga! I showed you my wife’s pictures. Only Matric pass and you come up with grand conspiracies to fool a real man like me. Criminal gangs in the Basti are rubbing off on you. I’ve heard of Allah Bakhsh. You were trying to be a little gangster, kidnapping my wife, putting her up for sale?’

Hafiz couldn’t say a word. Why would Bibi have done this? Had she been playing him for a fool all along? He hated the world, he hated himself, he hated the lies repeated in books, and he hated how luck was never on his side.

Had Bibi really betrayed him? Perhaps Shafiq had threatened to kill her if she didn’t tell him what was going on. Her happiness must have betrayed her. She must have been unable to contain her good spirits the night before.

‘Be grateful I’m not that type of person,’ Shafiq said in a lower voice. ‘I’m not violent. Violence is the last resort of cowards. My wife is faithful, always has been, always will be. Why should I dirty these hands with the blood of a coward and fool? You called me friend, brother, yet for weeks you were filling my wife’s ears with poison, plotting and conspiring. You wanted to bite me like a cobra. I thought you were my best friend at the godown. I thought you weren’t like those other fellows, interested only in saying nasty stuff about women’s breasts and arses.’

He fumbled through his pockets. ‘Here’s the three hundred rupees she borrowed from you. All paid off, I don’t want a paisa hanging over my head. Take this and never let me see your face again. Go now.’ He shooed him away, like a cat. ‘Give my regards to that fool Abdul Haq. He tried to kill me too. He’ll be hearing from me. My back is better than ever. I can lift twice the weight I used to.’

Karachi Raj is forthcoming from HarperCollins India

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