Unlike any other afternoon on a weekday, the famous eatery Biryani of the Seas (BOTS) wore a deserted look following the fatal attack on its owner and former MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi on Tuesday night.
Laid to rest on Wednesday, Abidi, who had been associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, was remembered by many as someone who “never had any malicious intent for anyone”.
“I have known him for seven years,” said Jamil, referring to Abidi in the present tense. He broke down while sharing his memories. “I’m from Azad Kashmir and he was from Karachi, but he helped me like an elder brother. He helped me set up my juice shack, and despite my protests, he always paid for his orders as well as of his guests.”
Jamil had last met Abidi on Monday night, when he met everyone on the strip, except this time round he won’t be coming there again.
“Usually when people come into power, they ignore those who are not privileged, but Ali Bhai always called us back if his number was busy or if he couldn’t attend our calls. He also guided me about politics and took me to meet figures with more experience. He advised me about the art of conversation and told me to patiently wait for newer ways to emerge than do something in haste.”
Reminiscing about his slain companion, Jamil said Abidi had lost weight recently and on being asked about it, he said Jamil’s lemon juice was behind it. “I told him that he looked weaker and that I would now make pomegranate juice for him so that he gains some strength.”
No one at BOTS had the faintest idea what Tuesday night had in store for them, said Nisar, who has been waiting tables at the eatery for the past five or six years.
“I met him almost every day. We the staffers never once felt that we were the workers and he was the boss. His mannerisms, ethics and his treatment with the employees can’t be explained in words. He met every single person whenever he visited.”
Nisar said Abidi used to make BBQ Seekh himself, and he loved cooking. “My most memorable moments are when he sat and ate with me when I had my dinner. He never ordered anything special for himself and shared the food that we all ate.”
Adjacent to BOTS are two shops that sell poultry and vegetables. Asif, who has been here for two decades, said Abidi met everyone in the area whenever he visited BOTS.
“He always asked if there was any trouble or problem bothering us. I met him last on Monday night, when he had stopped by. When we got the news, we went to the morgue because we were shocked, as we had met him only a day ago.”
“His presence just made all of us feel like we were his equals,” said Iqbal, whose shop is located on the other end of BOTS. He said he was there when the eatery was opened, as his shop has been there for over 25 years.
“I don’t think we can find anyone like Abidi because of his humble attitude and politeness towards everyone. He was someone who didn’t waste words and remained straightforward in all his dealings.”
“Even when he was an MNA, he never acted like he was in a powerful position,” said Sharjeel, whose dry-cleaning shop has been around for two decades.
“I usually leave by five, so my brother often met him and they would crack jokes and light moments. He would sit with everyone like he was one of us.”
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