I am a bhutta wala- the man who sells inexpensive corn cooked on an open flame with the option of spicing it up by grazing lemon dipped in a spicy masala on the sides of the corn.
Kids love me, at least they used. I remember when I used to stand outside a school and my cart was flocked with children exclaiming”uncle! Uncle!” at the top of their voices. Those were the days- the kids almost always bought enough from me to cover my expenses.
Times change, so did I. My black beard turned white with streaks of black on my chin, my face was now permanently wrinkled due to the constant squinting in the Karachi sun. Ptv lost its position as the sole provider of entertainment and with the outbreak of so many tv channels, I was faced with a new challenge. People were now talking about thing called hygiene, it never mattered before, but now it was threatening my livelihood.
Now before kids reached my cart, their parents would swiftly move them away saying that “Uncle was dirty, chee”. The children would then go to buy a packaged treat- usually a cake of some sort. I never understood what the problem was. I am a clean enough person, I bathe regularly- whenever we have some water. At most twice a week. Due to the water problem I get my clothes washed once a week, but they don’t get very dirty. I always wipe my hands on my shirt after putting some wood to sustain the open flame.
Gradually things became so bad that I had to look for a job, I parked by ancient cart at home. 30 years after working I got my first job as a night guard in a cake factory.
What I saw in the factory was disgusting, the flour used for the cakes was stored openly and on a number of occasions I saw insects in it. The finished product however, was very attractively packaged, with a glossy pack and bright coloured packet.
These were the treats that today’s children eat readily. If they saw how these tasty morsels were made- I bet you they’d go “chee” and come running back to the bhuttay wala uncle