Mushtaque B Barq

Khaliq Kaka

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As usual he banged the door so early to deliver the morning bread. Birds by the farthest casualness might forget to chirrup, but Khaliq Kaka would never fail to remember knocking at the doors early morning. At times his banging serves like morning news authenticating that the rest is alright outside.  The day he knocks late, the news is clear: either the baker had not digested the food properly or his wife had for a change sojourned to her old mother’s home or the city is cordoned by the security forces not allowing the bread to be delivered, making the birds and kids cry.

What enthralls one and all is a mystery: birds follow his moments; his gait would attract any fairy not to talk of little flying machines as his arrival in the street seems a clear hint to the birds and they start celebrating his arrival perched on the old mulberry tree at the end of the street.  Between the birds and Khaliq Kaka, an extraordinary acquaintance is marked by the residents for he breaks the first three breads he receives from the baker in his hem and rolls the warm soft flour into balls and scatters the stuff at the base of the mulberry tree to feed the birds.  These birds would come down to take their share.

Khaliq Kaka, milk man by profession but prefers to deliver bread before opening his shop. This unique quality has earned a paradoxical epithet for Khaliq Kaka ‘Khaliq Lawasa’ for the reason that he would always add a ‘Lawasa’ to your requirement without giving you chance to speak. You might think to argue with him but at the end you would go home with a ‘Lawasa’ in your hand for he is a stone deaf.

Khaliq Kaka has three sons and a wife to hold the family fort. People generally in this age prefer to stay indoors but for Khaliq Kaka, the age is only a digit. 87th birthday cake in some well heeled family would have been ordered to celebrate the occasion but he seemed oblivious of the digit he is being referred.

He is seen holding the morning bread not in the basket or in willow box like others do. He holds it in the hem of his shirt in summer and in the winter his woolen pharan serves the purpose. He holds one end of the shirt or his pharan with his teeth and occasionally with his left hand he ensures the hem not to slip the bread off the hem. At times he would hold the end of his hem by pressing his chin against his breast bone.

Kids of the locality would often pass grotesque remark “Khaliq Kaka, do you add water to milk or milk to water”.

He would say, “Be punctual to school”

The kids would enjoy his deafness. They had a notion that even a blast would go unheard.

Nearby shopkeepers like kids would often ask him, “Kaka why don’t you rest now, you have three sons to earn”

“Is it Hartal Today?”, he would respond.

To make him understand what they mean, they had learned how to aim gestures at him. After decoding their gestures, he would sigh deeply like a silent wind.

Apparently he seems financially sound, with three sons running three shops at Batamallo bus stand, yet he was running his own shop as if he had no one to support his family.

Before shutting down the shutter of his milk shop, Khatij Ded would wash the utensils and carry the surplus milk home. Khatij Ded too had learnt the sign language of her husband; she would make him understand almost everything easily. Kaka would carry the surplus bread in his hem every night to feed the street dogs waiting near the mulberry tree at the end of the street leading to his home.

Whenever Abdul Rehman his neighbour used to suggest him to buy hearing aid, he would raise his hand and rub his index finger against the thumb and then releasing his hand in such a way to make him to understand that he is penniless.

After repeated denials Abdul Rehman decided to ask his elder son, “Why don’t you buy hearing aid for your father?”

“Why should we bring home unnecessary trouble”, he responded.

“Trouble, what sort of trouble”, asked Abdul Rehman.

“Chacha, to make this old man ‘Khaliq Lawasa’ able to hear everything would disturb the peace of our family”, he ruthlessly responded.

Next day Kaka knocked the door of Abdul Rehman who came out to receive the morning bread. Kaka loudly conveyed his neighbour to convenience his elder son to buy for him hearing aid. His loudness this time had a pitch of demand. Abdul Rehman lowered his eyes, but immediately raised his hand to ensure Kaka.

Khaliq Kaka smiled; his smile had all the hopes well decked up on his face covered by his matted hair touching his ear lobes, almost hiding his ear canals which were already blocked. His hard of hearing peculiarity had earned one more epithet for him ‘ Khale Zor’. The snow white beard kissing his breast would at times make him look like a saint, so pure at heart who would feed birds and dogs not to talk of human beings at the age where generally men are bed ridden.

After getting confirmation from his neighbour he whispered, “Now that kids won’t irritate me, Khatij won’t shout at me and my sons won’t ignore me”.

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