Penniless Crooks in Lahore

By Jamila (Salahuddin) Rahman(C70)

During the final year tour of 1970, all of us being young and carefree, we got lots of freedom from parents and teachers. We grabbed that freedom with both hands and tried to enjoy as much as we could not thinking of tomorrow. Here I am going to describe one of that irresponsible moment. Rukhsana and I alway got along well in college, she was more daring than I was coming from P I B Colony area, she had more confidence and street know-how.

On tour we decided to chip in our money together, it was a partnership. NED mess had a couple of cooks with pantry full of food stored next to our compartment in the train bogy. The two cooks would cook breakfast and dinner for all students everyday on the isolated portion of platform where our train cabooses were disconnected on various stations. The college was to provide us fresh cooked breakfasts and dinners throughout the tour while we were supposed to feed ourselves at lunch.

Everything was going well with the two of us until we hit the shopping at Lundi Kotal where not only you could buy duty-free clothes, much better quality and latest material costing less than Karachi. In Lundi Kotal we were given the whole morning off in case we wished to shop. Being girls we worked on assumption that 'a girl is born to shop'.

Both of us had a list provided by our families to buy. My mother too had provided a long list with alternates which my mother had said in case I have money left I should buy few things from that list. By the time we were in this nomadic bazaar I forgot the words 'a few things if I can' and went ahead number by number down the list and purchased everything with the result I had no money left.

I was not worried and thought I will let Rukhsana feed me for the remaining few days left before returning to Karachi. Meanwhile Rukhsana thinking Jamila will feed her went wild on her shopping spree. After bringing our treasures to train we both discovered how wrong we both were. Both of us did not even have a single rupee between us. We were completely broke with nowhere to look.

I told her not to worry and that I will call my Dad and we just have to manage until Lahore where my Dad's brother and sister lived and we could get money there. I decided to call my Dad from Peshawar telling him my tale and blaming the long list provided to me by Mom. He told me not to worry and that he would ring his brother to give me enough to tide us over until Karachi.

We still had to eat until Lahore, so we both voted to raid the pantry. All the food was uncooked veggie and flour and rice. The only thing we could use were eggs, we saw dozens of them. So for a few days until Lahore we would put three or four eggs each in our pockets, go over to 'chaiwala' and ask him to boil them for us. This he would quickly oblige. Since we lacked cash we paid him by more stolen eggs. This worked well satisfying both parties and filled our tummies. This way we survived until we were able to get money at Lahore.