Pakol - Hamid

Hamid eyed the array of colorful pakols lined up in front of him, unable to choose.

He wanted to bring back the best of the best for his friends in America; they had wanted him to bring back souvenirs that were ‘watani’ and he decided that pakols would be the best gift for them.

But now there were so many choices.
He was still squinting at the wall, eyeing his options, when he heard the shop owner chuckling behind him.

He turned around to find a short stubby man with a very impressive moustache and a cheerful face. Hamid grinned at him sheepishly.

“Chi shuda (what happened?),” the shop owner asked him.

“I’m having a hard time picking one,” replied Hamid. “They’re all so beautiful. I want to buy some for my friends.”

The shop owner nodded, his demeanor suddenly becoming serious. “you are our mehman (guest) from kharej (abroad”), he exclaimed, noticing Hamid’s accent. “For you I shall pick out the ones that are suitable for even a king!”

Hamid suddenly remembered a Hafiz poem his father used to recite to him when he was younger, and recited it to the shop owner:

شکوه تاج سلطانی که بیم جان در او درج است
کلاه دلکش است اما به ترک سر نمی‌ارزد

(the grandeur of the king’s crown, which is embellished with the promise of death,
Is indeed an attractive headpiece, but is not worth losing your head for)

The shop owner’s booming laughter filled the store and he slapped Hamid’s back proudly.

“Ney, ney, you won’t lose your head for these pakols! Don’t worry!” he exlamied happily.

He continued to point out different material and colors to Hamid, seeming even more enthusiastic than before.

Hamid grinned, feeling pleased with his quick wit. It seemed that quoting Hafiz was a good way to make people smile in Afghanistan.

Maybe he’d get a discount.


Story and illustration by @rasmorawaj ©

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