After a few hours of calling and reaching out to my friends, I was able to get a number of a book salesperson, let’s call them Sherry. I called her and as per the protocol she verified my source and ensured I was the same person. Post which she asked for my order- simple: grade third and sixth books. After which she said she will call me back. She called back shortly, confirmed that some items of my list were short in market but rest would be available, bringing a total to PKR 10,000/-. She knew the supply-demand situation and the amount was not up for bargain. After agreeing on the amount, she said she will message me the details after completing whatever is available of my demand.
I, anxiously, waited to hear back from her. Online classes start soon, kids need to be prepared, time is crucial. My sister wasn’t happy with my progress already, given I am more social than she is. Finally, I got a message ‘Mar 31, 4:00 PM, outside baba jee kulfi’. I knew which ‘baba jee kulfi’ to be at. I was there at the given time, date and place. And I dropped Sherry a message, ‘here’. I saw from my peripheral vision a man walking towards a bookshop door, next to baba jee kulfi. The door was locked from outside and after a funky knock from inside, the door was opened. And I saw a woman walking out that door. That must be Sherry. I have never bought books (like this) before and I didn’t quite know what to expect and didn’t want to give the impression that I am an amateur book buyer.
It might as well could have been someone other than Sherry; she was wearing a mask that covered half her face, dark glasses that hid most of the other half, and had gloves meeting ends with the shirt, not showing an inch of skin. The rest of the body was covered in black loose clothing, only visible were short hair, it might even have been a guy.
Sherry, or whoever that was, proceeded towards my car. I had my cash ready. After reaching my front-door window, she said ‘yes?’. I remembered the code, I said ‘Mrs. Abc’. I remember, this was the name under which I had placed the order. After nodding, she placed the bags of books in the leg-space of the back seats. I handed her the cash, she looked around to check for officials governing lockdown, after ensuring they are not there, she collected the cash and went back inside.
This whole experience was so surreal. I drove fast to get away from the interaction, wore my mask to keep myself from corona/recognition and used sanitizer in attempt to kill any germs that might have been transferred. I was glad, I had the books and had a sense of pride for pulling this off during such restrictions.