Behind the town's main road, Ghulam Joo was the oldest shop-owner in a tobacco bazaar of a conventional town of Kashir. His was the shop of origin in the old bazaar. But, even decades after, in the middle of the bazaar, he was still held, by one & all, to be a small tobacco-seller, for having failed to keep pace with changing trends in tobacco business that was, however, successfully run by other adapting-to-change outlets in the bazaar.
One day, a buyer, while buying tamok (Kashirian word for blend of tobacco-leaves, molasses & snuff packaged in newspaper sheets or polythene couches) from him for his father, asked: "aren't you a lagger at competition, Ghulam Joo sahab?'
"Don't get it, will you please clear, how?" asked Ghulam Joo.
"O ….you know I'm son of your old customer. My father has told me that you originated tobacco business in this bazaar. But…with apology, your shop hasn't picked up the progressive wheels of the business that have been set in motion, since decades, by other tobacconists here …," replied the buyer with sorry in his words.
"Ooh, you think by offering old products of tamoc, Charminars-Cavanders cigarettes, matchboxes, nalichas ( Kashmiri for hookah-hoses of slender sugar cane stalks) naas Kashmiri for snuff.) & earthen-chillums…. for sale, you do good to your business or…. for posterity…, oh no?", the buyer, holding his breath for a moment on hearing words "for posterity" from Ghulam Joo, said quite surprisingly.
The other tobacconists were selling brand new products of multi-choice to their customers without formally advertising them as those hardly needed that. They would, however, hang on their shop-walls the photos of some legendary actors of the world, who were chain-smokers & whose photos added to the shops' beautiful-looks.
Ghulam Joo didn't have such colourful pictures in his shop. He wanted to have some of some widely known smokers of Kashir itself but knew not how & wherefrom to get them. He went to a nearby hillside to be guided by a famous-infamous old charsi of the town who resided in a palatial mansion there & who, owing to his past background, held the information Ghulam Joo wanted to get. His name was Kalkharaab. Originally a hemp-smoker & smuggler, Kalkharaab had made huge assets by smuggling in Kashir the things that were by far unknown to the Kashirians. His charsi-cum-smuggling background had not worked against his name that, however, figured among top ranking well-off politicians of Kashir. He had turned from infamous charsi to famous wealthy-healthy politician of Kashir. One would now, often, find his fingers holding Macanudo Cigars that were got imported for him from foreign; the fingers that, nonetheless, still bore indelible stains of nicotine & cannabis.
"What has brought you here, Ghulam Joo, to my house, after a long time?" asked he.
"Janab, I want to get photos of some brand names of Kashirian smokers for my shop. Can you help me how to get it? , replied Ghulam Joo.
"You mean the same photos as adorning the walls of other tobacconists' shops..?, asked Kalkharaab.
"No Janab ! I want totally some new faces from Kashirian smokers…….", said Ghulam Joo.
"New faces ! O, yes, yes, y..….! I know plenty of them having earned fame but in other countries as chain-vapers & shisha-smokers", said Kalkharaab.
"What is that?", asked Ghulam Joo who didn't know of these new smoking trends.
Kalkharaab explained to him Kashir's new smoking discoveries at international level & said that instead of getting their photos posted on his shop-walls, a calendar of twelve of them, brand new faces, will explode like bombshells among the unaware Kashirians. He said to him:
"Ghulam Joo, we will print a calendar with 12 photos of new faces of Kashirian vapers & shisha-smokers. No Kashirian, I'm confident, will be knowing them except me. No Kashirian , I bet , will be able to take his eyes off these latest trends in smoking habits of Kashirians at international level which will suo motu regain, then, people's interest in your products", said Kalkharaab.
"But it will cost a lot ", said Ghulam Joo.
"O, no, we will print just 100 this year, & watch response from the Kashirians", said Kalkharaab.
"Janab, as you suggest. You have got knowledge & experiences of smoking & smokers. Can't say more, Janab", Short & simple Ghulam Joo acquiesced to Kalkharaab's idea with a melting laugh on his red face.
100 calendars were printed. But to utter dismay of poor Ghulam Joo, the calendar, like a putdownable book, failed to arouse any kind of hoo-ha among the Kashirians. They knew the whole funda behind the calendar was to hoodwink them into believing in something that didn't exist at all. That it was Kalkharaab's political gimmick played under the banner of Ghulam Joo's shop-calendar. It couldn't move beyond his shop as it had failed to apply the whip to his dormant business, which was erroneously expected by Ghulam Joo through Kalkharaab. Ghulam Joo had to, then, sell his tamok in the calendar-sheets thought-out that year.
Note: The piece is a work of fiction having no relation with any person living or dead.