Assamaalikum Doctor Sahiba!
Ali Khans old familiar voice resounded as he sauntered into the clinic for his ANNUAL fix!
khairiyat? I ask … trying to impress with the smattering of Urdu I know..
I distinctly remember our first meeting. Burly in a pathani suit and peshavaris, Ali strode into the clinic and I have never been more surprised!
An unknown ‘middle aged’ Pakistani in Zarah Clinic, what twist of tale could have brought him here?
When asked what was his age .. he counter questioned .. aap aandaaza lagaa saktay hain?
He had salt and pepper hair falling on a thick scarred face , deep set eyes with crow’s feet running helter skelter down to his cheeks..Though he looked 54….
I answered a conservative 45 !
But balked when he said 27!
Quickly trying to cover this faux pas, I immediately distracted him by asking about his life, and the nature of his work.
It turned out Ali had qualified as a civil architect , was out all day on construction sites in the hot Quetta sun , screwing up his eyes looking up at unfinished constructions!
An occupational hazard then ,to develop crow’s feet along with solar aging of his otherwise youthful skin!
”I want to get married ”
He blurted out in all earnestness ,”but girls reject me because they think I am too old!”
Kuch Upaay dilla sakthi hain??!”
Of course I suggested Botox .. am well aware that THIS IS the miracle method which no cream or medicine can achieve to actually eradicate or soften lines. Despite all the myths surrounding it , it is supersafe and USFDA approved and as of today , the most popular cosmetic procedure in the USA.
Took Ali no time to be convinced and soon he was having his first cosmetic treatment!
The first time around ,I applied anaesthetic cream for an hour before giving micro mini injections into relevant muscles .
That was then!
Now ,he is a champ!
Needs no numbing cream …just a little ice and a lot of chitterchatter!
Ammi jaan Kaisi hain??Lahore Ka mahaul Kaisa hai?!
It’s all over in a matter of minutes!
Within 10 days to a fortnight…
the muscles around the eyes and the deep frown lines begin to relax ..
And hey presto a younger version of oneself emerges!
Ali is happy EACH and EVERY time.
The ravages of premature aging are erased so easily !
Who would guess??
That’s what makes him return year after year ,
each time enthusiastically sharing pictures of his growing family , warmly inviting mine to his home .
YES, he DID get married within a year of his very first treatment !
The second time he came he presented me a box wrapped in yellow cellophane . Doctor sahiba, I brought you something, the best pistachios from Lahore.”
Seeing my hesitation he quickly added “No you must take it, it’s for the kids.” Not wanting to appear impolite I accepted the box. Little did I know then ,that this was one of many boxes of dry fruit that Ali would hand me over the years, wrapped in cellophane yes, but wrapped more in respect and affection as the years went by . 10 years now!
Big Ali with a bigger Heart is how I will always remember him.
The political climate in Pakistan is undoubtedly unsafe but the hearts of our brethren across the border are large and hugely respectful of us.
I remember my dear friend Lekha Merchant trying to buy salwar kameezes for her schoolteacher colleagues in a Karachi equivalent of Crawford market being told .. aap Bombay se hain ..aap liijiye jo aap chaahein..
hum aapse paise nahin lenghein!
Now that’s something WE never do!
Botox done, now it’s paytime folks!
Our ‘mehmaan nawaazi ‘pales’ in comparison.
Ali and I end up comparing the neighbor countries and often conclude that our ordinary everyday lives are pretty much the same!
He laughs “our WOMEN and our TRUCKS are probably more colorful than yours!”
It’s true, our silly ‘horn ok please’ truck slogans are NO match for the Pakistani counterparts, which are arty ,veritable mini carnivals on wheels!
What designs ! What colours!
Women? Nah! Ofcourse we can be colorful I fume as I deftly drape my most lively and flamboyant saree of the day ……a blue, black and white busily printed soft-to-touch ‘malmal ‘ with multicolored, happy tassels cheerfully strung along the border…
Will be back soon with another interesting patient of mine!