A Christian, a Muslim, and an Atheist went out for dinner| Part 4

 

Todd

Left to right: My sister, myself, and Todd Shea in a traditional pakol. A photograph at home (Abbottabad, Pakistan). All credits to Sarwar Mushtaq

 

 

(Continued from Part 3 )

Abbottabad, Pakistan

February 2015

“I cannot wait to host her at Abbottabad this week!” exclaimed mum joyously as we left behind the restaurant and our ever loving hosts, Cynthia and Sarwar.

And so, as time rolled on ever so slowly, I counted days till the day arrived when I could finally meet Cynthia and Sarwar again.

The anguishing wait was over; she would arrive tomorrow.

I twisted and turned the night before in my bed, barely catching my sleep in this excitement that wrapped itself around me, and tickled my curiosity so I would stay up imagining what great wonder that morning would bring.

It was around midday when Cynthia told us she was ‘almost there.’ Overwhelmed with joy, I fished out a plate and filled it with the finest pick of Gulab Jamun and barfi, and other not-as-royal sweets.  “Ezza! They are here already!” yelled out Mama, ushering me towards the entrance door.
As my guests exited their cars in our garage way, I noticed the most pleasant surprise: Todd Shea was here, too. My family must’ve informed me that he was invited too but the fact slipped out of my mind amidst all joy and anticipation. I rush towards my guests, hugging Cynthia and replying to her kind Salam as I stuffed her with a sweet, warm Gulab Jamun. Todd was next, and he joyously greeted me and my mum with a salaam, taking another mithai from my plate. I greeted Mr Sarwar and his two talented crewmen, Fajjar and Ejaz. Mum stood beside me, smothering Cynthia’s cheeks with light kisses and uttering kind hellos to everyone present.

We followed Mama inside, till the drawing room, and I excused myself to drop my plastic plate in the kitchen where mum gently chortled for not picking a crystalline glass plate instead of a white plastic one. Oops.

 

I raced to my bedroom and fished out a box of special photographs where I happened to find two amazing photographs with Todd Shea, taking a trip down the memory lane; I met him for the first time on a concert in a Model United Nations in Abbottabad, and raced to him (before anyone else could) for an autograph. This was because I heard he worked with “Guns N Roses”, and I felt very excited to meet him. The photographs captured that very moment when he was joyously autographing a piece of paper, which I immediately folded away when he gave it back to me. Before he began singing, he shared a few slideshows of the great humanitarian work he had been conducting, including that for Pakistan during the 2005 earthquakes. Awestruck by this new piece of information, I stared at the piece of paper I held. I unfolded it to read “Dear Ezza, Pakistan Zindabad.” I instantly felt very proud of the work he had done, and as years proved, continued to do for a very great cause, for a country that now hailed Todd as one of its own beloveds.

I hurried downstairs with the box holding the photographs and nearly fainted when I shared the moment with Cynthia, who was freshening up after the tiresome 3 hours drive. “Do you think we should wait till after lunch? Or do you think he’s not too tired right now?” Smiling kindly, Cynthia said we should share the photographs right now, observing how excited I felt. So I entered the drawing room and very shyly told Todd how I had met him before. I was surprised when he wasn’t surprised, and nodded remembering. “I know,” my jaw dropped. He knew? He actually remembered the conversation we had when he was signing the paper, the event, all of it!

 

There was heartfelt chatter in the drawing room about all things random, from politics to sharing several jokes, when my brothers walked in from I-don’t-quite-remember-where, and my sister arrived from college.  It was time to serve lunch and I was very, very excited to savour food fresh from my Mama’s kitchen.

“After lunch, we will all visit the Ilyasi Mosque,” remarked my brother before we dived into plates of finely minced meat, steaming chicken roast, white rice and Pulao, and a lot, lot more.

 

To be continued…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p7M17s-f1

Left to right: Cynthia Ritchie, Elishbah, Todd Shea at the dining table.

 

The photograph in the ‘special box’: (2012) Left Ezza, right Todd Shea. Before Todd’s concert

The photograph(s) mentioned in the story; the moment Todd Shea autographed


_____________________________________

Vocabulary

Gulab Jamun: a brown colored Pakistani* sweet served in a viscous, sweet liquid.

Barfi: another local white coloured Pakistani* sweet

Mithai: generalised term for local sweets in Pakistan*

Pulao: aromatic rice cooked with various spices, especially cinnamon

 

*These sweets exist in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and surrounding countries.

 

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