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Bargained The Tip

Maryam observes, feels, thinks and then uses a pen. She puts her heart out on the page. She feels herself in the place of her characters.


Bargained the Tip

“Sukaina!” The old man stood in the verandah and called her daughter from outside of her room; in a house made up of mud and bricks. It had merely two rooms, one for the old man’s two daughters and another for him and his wife. “Sukaina dear, please wakeup, you are late for Namaz-e-Fajar (one of the five Prayers for the whole day of Muslims, offered in the morning before sunrise),” he called out again for her daughter. It was five thirty in the morning and freezing cold. The old man did his ‘Wazu (An act of cleaning oneself before Namaz)’ with cold water as he had to offer his prayers of the morning. Yes, cold water because they didn’t have any facilities of warm water in their home. They lived in an area with no electricity or gas; a village a little far from the city.

Sukaina was the elder sister. She was an eleven years old girl and her sister was three years younger than her and named as Noor. They both were very precious to their father. He dreamed of making them self-confident and independent women for their future. They went to a school in the city. A school which was not so good; few classes, few chairs and few teachers. It might have been recognized in government documents but it was not so improvised. Both the girls were very hardworking and good in their studies. Their monthly fees for the college was Rupees twenty per each. They got books from their seniors at the start of their new year in the college at very less cost than brand new books.

Sukaina and Noor came out their room yawning. They rubbed their eyes open and instantly started to tremble because of cold. It was six o’clock then. Their father had gone to ‘Mosque (Prayers place for Muslims)’. Their mother after offering her prayers, sat at the corner in front of a handmade stove to make ‘Chapatti’ for her family. The two girls quickly did their ‘Wazu’ and offered their prayers before the time runs out. Then they tidied their room and got ready for school. Their father returned and they all sat in front of the handmade stove and ate ‘Chapatti’ with some boiled eggs and water; they nothing else to eat with. After doing their breakfast, they all said ‘Alhamdulillah (Being grateful to Allah)’.

Then the old woman, the old man’s wife, went into her room and came along with a huge basket of eggs. She poured water into a small steel barrel and put it in the stove. When the water was warm she put eggs into the barrel in one by one. Soon, the water started boiling and she waited until the eggs were too. Then she took out all the eggs and with a ‘Channa (A type of spatula made up of net)’, she put all of them back into the basket. She wrapped up salt and black pepper powder in a plastic bag; put it in the basket, covered it and gave the basket to her husband. Yes, it was the old man’s business. He sold boiled eggs for living. He bought fifty eggs each day for rupees fifty and sold each egg for rupees twenty. He could save enough for their daily life.

Then the old man left with his daughters. He walked them to school and then went into the streets of city ‘Bazar’ (A place of shops and shopping) and sat on a cemented bench in front of a garment shop. He placed the basket in front of him and uncovered it. He then looked here and there and took a deep breath and started calling in high pitch.

“Boiled eggs for everyone, in just Rs. 20. Come and get it. Good for health, boiled eggs!”

And soon customers gathered and bought eggs from him. All day long he repeated the same words again and again in a high tone. He had been sitting there selling boiled eggs for the whole day. The sun had come up on his head and his stomach has started grunting. But he hadn’t had lunch. He would finish selling eggs and go home and have lunch, he thought.

The day had passed and the sun was going down. There were last five eggs remaining in his basket. He had stopped the call out. He thought of wrapping up everything and go home. The ‘Bazar’ was going empty as well. As soon as he started covering his basket, a lady, well dressed, holding a branded purse and wearing branded clothes and shoes, came near him and asked him about the price of an egg. He told her the price. She asked for five eggs.

“That will be Rs. 100,” the old man handed her over with bag made up of newspaper. It contained the last five eggs sprinkled with salt and pepper.

“I’ll give you Rs. 80 for these,” the woman told the man while moving her hand under her locks spread over her shoulders. The old man didn’t raise his gaze to look at her, but lowering his head, smiled and said ‘Okay’. The woman gave him 80 rupees and went away in a lush car.

The old man stood, held his basket and walked towards home. The girls would be home already, he thought. On his way home, he bought two cotton candies as always of 10 rupees each. He knew how much his little blooming flowers loved the cotton candies. He was home soon.

The lady stopped her car in front of a luxurious restaurant. She sat in a very comfortable corner and placed an order. She sat there waiting for her order to be ready. But the weather was getting chilly and she was cold. She thought of going home and asked the waiter to pack her order. Sometime later the waiter came back with small packages and a bill receipt. It said Rs. 1400. The woman placed Rs.1500 on the bill receipt and said, “Here’s your tip”, smiling at the waiter who smiled in returned saying thank you. And took the packages and went away.

She then again walking with proud, feeling good after helping a waiter in a restaurant, went home in her lush car.

The old man offered her daughters the cotton candies. They jumped with happiness and ate them while doing their homework. Their parents looking at them and feeling happy. They were happy. The comfort and happiness was true and permanent.

The woman, however, was very happy too. She had helped someone at a big restaurant by bargaining from someone on a side of a road.

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