Not while I am fasting !

This holy month I prefer to stay away from worldly affairs. These days I am dealing only with emergency cases like yours and I take this precaution of doing so after iftaar only.
Not while I am fasting !
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"He's not available today also?" I asked the orderly pointing towards the empty chair in the office.

"No sir! Sahab will be available only after Ramzan. InshaAllah!" he said with a courteous smile and then peering closely at me he added, "I did tell you that last time as well."

"I thought he might have turned up by now," I muttered. This was really frustrating. I had visited this office nearly a dozen times in the past fortnight. An important work of mine was held up because my papers required to be signed by this particular clerk. What is more the issue was a time bound thing and if I didn't complete the papers within the stipulated time I would suffer a tremendous loss. As I was leaving the office the orderly called out to me. 

"Would you like to contribute something for the masjid shareef?" he said proffering me a receipt book.

"I did contribute last time as well," I said with some asperity and left.

I was feeling really frustrated. There were yet more than two weeks of Ramadhan and I was already late. A couple of days more and if I didn't submit my papers I would be in a soup. And yet I could not submit them without this fellow's signatures.

I approached his superior officer but after going through the papers he shook his head and said, "His signatures are essential. There can be no substitute for that."

"But if he is on leave shouldn't someone be holding his charge?!"

He let out a sigh of exasperation and said, "That would have been if he had put in a proper leave for a specified period. He is just sending casual leaves every now and then.  You know how it is, these people treat their assignments like their personal tilth and of course they reap a lot out of it so naturally he would never hand over charge to anyone else!" This particular officer happens to be an honest guy and the most frequently transferred guy as well. His orderly was listening to our whole conversation and as I left his room, the old fellow hailed me, 

"Tell you what? If it is an emergency you can contact him at his home."

"Is he available at home? But he's not picking up his phone even?"

"He's available for emergencies. You go fully prepared after iftaar. Do you know where he lives?" 

"Yes of course!" I said for I had been to the fellow's place several times. "Thanks!" I added.

"It's Ok!" he said and then taking out a receipt book from his pocket said, "Would you like to contribute something for this yateem khana?"

I gave him a two hundred rupees note and got a receipt for hundred rupees and a jazakallah for the other hundred. Nevertheless I was grateful to him for showing me a way out of my quandary.

I decided to go to this clerk's house and I did but not as the orderly had suggested and therein lay my mistake. When I knocked the door of his house his servant came out and told me that Sahab would meet me only after iftaar. I tried telling him that it was an emergency but he wouldn't budge. So I returned home and then went again near about iftaar time. This time the servant admitted me into the house and made me sit in a waiting room. At iftaar time the servant came with a plate laden with dates and fruit and a glass of juice for me. I broke my fast and continued to wait. Finally after 15-20 minutes the clerk entered the room. 

He greeted me warmly and said, "Did you break your fast? Why haven't you taken the fruit?"

I thanked him and said that I had taken some of it.

"Didn't you go for prayers? Why the mosque is quite nearby!" he said. I muttered some excuse about saying my prayers later upon which he launched into a sermon quoting from the Holy Quran and the Prophet's sayings as to how important it is to pray on time and the additional benefits and virtues of Ramadhan. Finally I managed to get in a word.

"I visited your office several times…," I said.

"Yes I heard," he cut me half way, "What to do! This holy month I prefer to stay away from worldly affairs. These days I am dealing only with emergency cases like yours and I take this precaution of doing so after iftaar only. You know how it is…mostly dirty business and all that!"  He smiled and shrugged and then continued, "Anyway I will be getting late for my taraveeh prayers. You know we have hired a hafiz who is a wonderful Qari and it is such bliss to be offering our prayers with him leading us…" 

He closed his eyes and a beatific smile lit his face. Opening his eyes he suddenly became brisk and business-like and said, "I had already asked my orderly to get your file. Have you brought the documents? You have come prepared in all respects I suppose?" He added with an unctuous smile. 

I took out an envelope out of my pocket and placing that on a box of dates I handed over the same to him. He hurriedly pocketed the envelope and kept the box on the side table. "This is it! Not while I am fasting! Never! That's why I waited till iftaar," he said with a smile and a wink.

(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)

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