Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5. Issue 37, Tuesday, September 21, 2010














Writer’s block

The key factor

Fahmeena Nahas

My husband and I used to go to Shillong regularly when my daughter, Rayyan, studied there at Pine Mount School. On one such occasion, my cousins Pervez Rasheed and Luku and their little daughter, Naveen wanted to visit “The Scotland of the East” as Shillong is popularly known.

They had planned to go the day we were coming back after leaving Rayyan at her school. So we decided that Pervez Bhaiya and his family would go to Shillong in the taxi that transported us to the border and we would drive home in his car from Tamabil border.

At Tamabil there is a porter called Babul. Babul wanted me to get a toy car for his son from Shillong. As I got out of the taxi at Dawki border, Babul saw me with the toy jeep in my hand. He came running and quickly helped take our luggage to the Bangladeshi side.

He almost snatched the car key from my cousin and tried to open the car boot. In his excitement he must have turned the key with a violent force causing it to break! We were dumbstruck as Babul looked at us apologetically with half a key in his hand standing beside a car that was locked on all sides.

We asked Pervez Bhaiya and Luku to head off to Shillong with the assurance that we would find a way out.

At Tamabil there's hardly any option of a way out as it is literally in the middle of nowhere.

My husband, Nahas, and I sat there wondering what to do. People at Tamabil, customs officials, immigration people, porters, drivers, and passer-bys included, were extremely supportive with ideas and offers of help. A couple at the customs, the Amins went out of their way and invited us to their home.

A driver offered to get a key maker from Jafflong Bazaar. Babul, with guilt written on his face suggested that he would go too. Nahas stayed at the border while I went with Mrs Amin to her tiny, dilapidated government quarter.

I'll never forget the hospitality this couple showed us on that day. The lady of the house quickly whipped up a lunch with the least provisions she had in the house. Tamabil is not close to any market place and people can't get a lot of things at a minute's notice. But that lunch on that hot day was manna from heaven. In the meantime a key maker was brought from Jafflong Bazaar, who managed to take out the other half of the offending tool from the lock of the boot. But unfortunately, he didn't have the right device with him to remake the key. So the broken pieces were taken to Jafflong Bazar for repair. A jeweller was found who reunited the broken pieces with the material that he uses to join gold. By the time Nahas had the key joined by gold adhesive in his hand it was almost five o'clock. He came with Mr Amin, who was keeping him company at the border, to pick me up. Mrs Amin insisted that he have lunch. Nahas must have been very hungry because he didn't refuse the offer. But, he was very cautious about the insufferable key.

He kept the car on ignition while he gobbled the goodies laid on the table. And soon we were on our way to the town.




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