From Dera Ismail Khan with love

As I sit writing this post, I watch the sun enveloping the adjacent building with its warm glow from my window. It hasn’t been very long after sunrise and there is still a distinct morning-y chill in the air. Yeah, Dubai does get a little cold — but generally the winter is nothing to worry about and a light jacket is probably all you need on the coldest day. A lot of people get through the winters without taking out their woollies at all.. not me though! And specially not today. I’m down with a really bad cold and the fever, headache and the infamous ‘blah feeling’ come complimentary.

So right – back to my topic. I have this really good friend in Dubai who is from Dera Ismail Khan, a city in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province in Pakistan. She was recently diagnosed with appendices, and boy was she scared! I went over to see her and offered her some consolation – but she needed more than that! She did not have medical insurance and the cost of an immediate operation (which she required) was exorbitant.

Her pallor was that of a sick person, her eyes dim and she looked ready to burst into tears. Being of humble background, she did not have enough money to fly to Peshawer and get operated there. Together we raised the money and got a few people to pitch in. And by the grace of the Almighty, she was able to leave the next day by a PIA flight to Peshawer. Thankfully she got operated upon somewhere in KPK, stayed there for a month and a half  and a couple of days back she returned to Dubai.

The woman I had known before was back – here was a smiling, radiant individual, bubbling with energy and DI Khan stories in heavily accented English and Urdu. I thanked the Lord.

She’d gotten some stuff for me from back home and I love receiving gifts! There were two cans of Rani juice, special halwa from Dera Ismail Khan and a white dress for me. I’d never seen her this excited, “The halwa is really special from Dera Ismail Khan,” she said. I found her enthusiasm endearing and thanked her profusely.

I learnt a very special lesson firsthand – never look the gift-horse in the mouth. I mean, you can purchase Rani juice at the small grocery around the corner and well, I’m not too keen on mithai, halwa to be precise. It was the spirit with which she’d gotten me the gifts. The way she waited for me to break into a smile when I saw what she’d gotten, the way she smiled when I insisted I LOVED everything.

I have received extravagant gifts sometimes just because ‘it was the done thing’ and because ‘people’ would think so-and-so is so freakin’ generous, or worse, sometimes to weigh me down! Somehow, those gifts haven’t really – you know – hit home. My friend’s lovingly purchased halwa and Rani juice and the white dress (with huge silver flowers) means so much more. In a world marred by selfishness and questionable intentions, true love and generosity – (simple things really), feel like a breath of fresh air.

I wanted to write on England winning the Adelaide test, but the headache has refused cooperate anymore with my blogging. I’m off — until next time… its ciao, and Khuda Hafiz.


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