Sparkling Glass Trays

There is a knock outside. I peek through the door. Naeem Khan is standing there with a glass cup and a glass tray in his hands. A bunch of boxes tied together lay on the ground.

“I am wandering from one street to another since morning, carrying this load of 50 kilos. I have been to twenty streets and have knocked at dozens of houses, but I haven’t sold a thing yet. Please buy something so that I can cover my expenses for today!”

He continues, “these people from Islamabad, what is wrong with them? They don’t wake up until noon. No one opens the door. Look I have blisters in my hands from carrying this heavy load. I challenge you to walk with this weight for two streets.”

“But there is no one at home, and I don’t live here. I am a guest. What will I do with it?” I reply.

“Gift it to someone. They will always be grateful to you for this quality stuff. Or take it home.”

“But I don’t think I have a home. I am always travelling!”

“Why are you joking with me? Alright, if you don’t want to buy glass cups, then have a look at this glass tray set. It’s Iran made. Price 2100 Rupees. For you, 2000. My margin is only 100 Rupees. I don’t own this stuff. The owner covers my food and gives me little commission on what I sell. Please do me a favour!”

“But it’s too expensive.”

“Yaar (friend), this Badbakht (hapless) (PM) Imran Khan from Banigala, he has made everything so expensive. This set was for 1500 Rupees before, but now he has increased its price to 2000.”

Naeem Khan

I am looking at his hands. Dad also used to get blisters on his hands from regrooving tyres at our old tyre shop. I give Naeem Khan 2000 Rupees and buy the tray set. I offer him biscuits which he reluctantly accepts, saying, “I only want to earn halal.”

“Why don’t you buy a cart, so you don’t have to carry stuff all day?” I ask.

“I don’t even have the money to own these goods, and you are telling me to buy a cart?”

Then he ties all the boxes and starts climbing stairs to the upper flats. Before leaving, he gives me his number, “if there is any complaint, give me a call.”

I bring the boxes inside and open them. As I lift the glass trays, they sparkle, much like the eyes of Naeem Khan when they first saw me!

Naeem Khan with his goods.
Naeeem Khan
Glass tray set I bought for 2000 PKR.

4 comments

  • Yes, times are hard for street sellers, and particularly now with Covid-19.
    I like your story, and your kindness. And thank you for reminding me of door-to-door street sellers in Iran and Pakistan, and particularly their calls. The only people who do this here in Europe are Romanies.

  • One thing that comes to my mind after reading this is “The hardship is equal on the other side of the fence”. One of your followers from India.

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