by MW Cook

A Day in the Life of Matt

This morning I woke up, which is a good thing to do in the morning. I have a habit of sweeping the roof every morning. It’s pleasant to do it early before the sun and wind get going, and I find it wakes me up nicely. Right after sweeping I spent some time in devotion before the day starts. Ruth was picked up by the rickshaw walla at about 7:30, like every morning. As she was leaving I quickly got Joseph dressed, tossed an Ajrak over my shoulder and started the walk, with Joe, toward a lovely little chai khana (tea shop) about a kilometre away. I think I might make it a daily habit to visit this khana, the chai is wonderful and the people are very friendly. Also, I’ve taken about 8 cups of chai from this place over the last two days and haven’t paid a rupee! Today I met a new guy at the khana. I can’t remember his name. In fact I couldn’t remember it two seconds after he said it, it was long and Arabic. He’s a Bhutan man; most of his people group live up in the North-West Frontier Province or Afghanistan. He’s also a mullah for a nearby mosque, and a lovely man. Whenever you meet a stranger in Pakistan you can usually anticipate what questions are going to be asked. First you are asked your name, and then you are asked if you are American (to which I reply Nahi! Bilkul Nahi!, “No, absolutely not!”). The next question that inevitably comes is “Are you a Muslim?” I used to say that I was a Christian. But these days that word comes with far too much unwanted baggage attached. So I’ll teach you the handy Urdu phrase I use when asked about religion.

Meh Isa Al-Masih maanta hu (with a nasal sound at the end of Hu).
I follow Jesus Christ.

So today I said that again and the lovely mullah, with a gleam in his eye, started to talk about religion. Unfortunately, my Urdu is certainly lacking and he was talking far too fast, so I couldn’t pick up much of what he said. When he was about to leave he suggested that we head out to a small ‘suburb’ of our city called Josephabad and sit under a tree and talk about Islam. I said it would be fun, but my Urdu isn’t very good. He said that was no problem, he would talk and I could listen. I said we might do that later, although it would be fun to discuss religion under a tree in a place like Josephabad.

So I left the chai khana (after finishing my wonderful chai) and went on the hunt for chicken and vegetables. My buddy Mohammad had yet to open his chicken shop, but I noticed his buddy Mohammad walking around so I knew he would open it soon. I grabbed some veggies at a very good price (less than 50 cents for a half kilo of tomatoes, half kilo of onions and a bunch of cilantro, green chillies and garlic!), and headed to Muhammad’s shop. I found him just setting it up when I arrived, so I sat, chatted and drank some more chai. Chicken’s getting more expensive these days, almost $3.00 for a kilo. After the chai and chicken I kicked it home, but was stopped at the door of my house by the shopkeeper next door, who begged me to sit and (surprise) have some chai. So I sat and had some chai. It was lovely sitting there in his shop, looking out at the street and talking with the people walking around. Pakistan in the early morning is a refreshing, peaceful time. A wonderful way to start the day. By the time I got back inside it was only 9 o’clock and the whole day was still ahead of me.

This morning I’ll be busy preparing English lessons for this evening and I’ll write a few letters, Inshallah. This evening will be very busy with teaching English and learning Urdu. Usually all our work is done by 6:00 or 7:00 and the rest of the evening we’ll relax and pray and talk about our days, like normal married people do.

So that’s generally how my day goes by. The focus these days must be this language, I’m learning a lot, but I realize when I talk to people like my mullah friend, I have a long way to go.

In closing I have two announcements.
One, I have decided to change the name of one of the doves. The dove formally known as Melissa has been renamed Bird. I hope Melissa is not offended by this.
Two, one of my doves, the one named Bird, has unfortunately died. I walked to the roof on day to shut the doves in for the night and saw a cute little kitty standing atop of a bloody, mangled carcass that used to be Bird. Dear Ben was taking refuge on the window sill as I chased the homicidal kitty out of the area and over the wall. Since then Ben has not been the same, he tries to fly away more often, but his wings are still clipped. We decided that when they grow back we will just let him go.

Also, I had recently acquired a one-legged budgie by the name of Lil’ Brudder. Unfortunately Lil’ Brudder also died, though from unknown causes.

The moral of the story? Don’t give birds to Matt.

That’s all, pray for me. Time to read.