“Bhaiya, how long will it take for the two burgers that I ordered twenty minutes ago?”
“Year they are almost ready, just give me ten more minutes. My burger stall has never been so crowded before and I’m the only guy who has to make and serve the burgers and also to pack the burgers for those who want to have it as take away, so please wait for ten more minutes I’ll make you two special burgers just like old days.” The burger vendor replied apologetically.
What choice did I have at that moment other than to wait for ten more minutes for my order to get ready. Yes, that was very true what he said about his stall booming with customers, that it had never been that crowded. Moreover, it was a weekend night in the never sleeping city of over two crore population of Pakistan.
I’d been coming to that stall for five years. I was back in college when I first ate his burgers and they were as delicious as they were then. Now I was doing my research and that stall was still standing there as it is, like his father before him, who taught him all his business and passed it to his son, and went to the village to spend the rest of his days on the income of that stall. They were never able to turn it into a proper shop as the income was barely keeping the whole family alive. They were just happy with what they had, keeping faith in God who they thought knew better than both of them.
I’d met his father only once on the eve of my result day when I gave a party to my friends as I got the highest grades in my class. It was the same guy, the same spot, the same taste; in front of a bookstore and alongside the busiest road of the block, just on the edge of the road, as not to become a source of traffic jam.
The area has so developed since last two years. Before all the tall buildings and plaza malls, there were dozens of slums scattered all around the society. But thanks to the capitalists that all the marshy slums are now gone. On my house side of the road, there are tall buildings but the other side of the road is underprivileged. And all the slums have shifted to the other side of the road. Now, the slums all the time beg outside the malls parking slot but the guard are always on the foot to beat the slums as soon as they saw any near the commercial buildings. I hope they soon vacate our area too and then there will be cleanliness and no sight of poverty.
There was a milkshake shop behind the stall and its chairs and tables were spread out on the pavement leaving no way for the passengers to pass, so they had to walk on the edge of the road, crossing above the pavement and the burger stall at the same time.
The burger stall was a metal box on three sides, partially glass, and on the only open side this boy stood and made burgers. The metal box had a big metal plate under which a gas stove burnt. There were two cabins on each side on which salads, ketchup, kabab, mayonnaise, buns and dozens of eggs were placed. The whole place would hold as much space as the length of the wide spread hands of Jack and Rose.
It was a very fine night of April, a weather ought to be enjoyed alone in the darkness of the abyss. Slow breeze caressed my face, few drizzles blurred my vision, and the smell of the heat and water colliding with each other was addictive-enlightening a new world.
As I was relishing the scene, my friend called me asking me about the Sunday’s study circle arrangements in a local coffee shop near my university. I discussed plans with him for upcoming topic on the Asian Marxist Review that will be delivered by a special guest from the leading revolutionary party leader himself to mobilize youth and students from different universities.
As soon as I was off from the call, the burger guy packed my burgers for the go. As I pay him, suddenly a roar of thunderstorm sprang out from absolutely nowhere. It wasn’t the kind of thunderstorm that I saw on the sky rather I saw no light from anywhere, all I could hear was the grumbling of a couple of trucks and shouts of dozens of people. Before I had the time to look back, the three waiters of the milkshake shop quickly grabbed their chairs and tables and ran inside the shop. It all happened so fast that the guy from the truck jumped off from the vehicle and with the speed of lightening snatched the tables from the waiters and threw it in the long vehicle, breaking them.
On their trucks, that were blocking the road, was written: L.D.A (Lahore Development Authority), a governmental organization which seals illegal food stalls and fruit vendors. Illegal in the sense that their stalls come within ten inches of the road. Within a few minutes the road was completely jammed and the noise of horns and shouts of angry drivers reverberated throughout the busiest road of the block.
They dealt with those illegal small time businessmen by grabbing their stall utilities and throwing everything they could get into a huge truck. They quickly moved for the burger stall, threw the salad bowl, Kabab mixture, eggs, and burger buns on the road. They dispatched the gas cylinder from the stove and three bulky men wearing torn and stained Shalwaar Kameez, picked the metal box quite comfortably and threw it in the truck, breaking the glass of the burger stall, alongside the fruit vendors’ carts, their balancing tools, and their fruits that were crushed in the process under the jack-boot.
That boy didn’t know what hit him, he seemed quite as amazed as I was with all this drama, looked completely blown and in a shock, as I handed the boy money for my two burgers and walked away with delicious burgers and went on with my research paper on inequality and injustice in Pakistan.