The Iron Pills of Kot Radha Kishan

Posted on April 30, 2007
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Poetry, Society, Travel
7 Comments
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Owais Mughal

agar haiN tegh meiN jauhar, jawahir haiN khameeray meiN
idhar zor aazmaai hai, oodhar taaqat kay nuskhay haiN
matab meiN aur maidan – e – daghaa meiN farq itna hai
wahaaN kushtoN ke pushtay haiN, yehaN pushtoN ke kushtay haiN

Traveling by public transport in Pakistan is always an exciting experience.

Especially exciting are the train and bus rides. Here, besides meeting legitimate passengers, one also gets to see super natural beings, people claiming to have discovered new laws of physics, visionary blind beggars, people who sell cure for all diseases etc.

In 1988, I was once traveling in a railcar between Multan and Lahore. From Okara station, a serious looking guy boarded the train. He was wearing ‘sherwani’, spectacles, starched clothes and polished shoes. All this attire gave him a no non-sense look.

At least that is how I initially perceived him.

Poet Anwar Masood has once said:

tu dekh to zara ye mughanni ki jast- o -khez
poshaak ki bhi us kay badan pe bahaar dekh
naghmay meiN koi baat bhi sun-ne ki ab nahiN
” hai dekhnay ki cheez isay baar baar dekh “

He was holding a glass jars full of some medicinal tablets in his hands. As the train moved out of the station, he looked at the passengers and asked aloud:

“Do you know what is the strongest material in the world”

When nobody paid any attention to him, he answered himself:

“It is iron, of course”. He then continued on to say: “Iron is the core of planet earth and if iron can keep a whole planet together then it can definitely keep your body together too. Iron can cure you from all diseasesâ€Â?.

At this some heads turned towards him and he got bolder. He gave a list of diseases that are caused by lack of iron in the body and the list included every possible human disease from a simple head-ache to cancer and AIDS. He then claimed about his own research on iron and how laboriously he had created a formula of ultimate strength. He called his formula the purest ‘Iron pill’ of the world and introduced himself as the owner of a pharmaceutical company called the ‘Steel Mill’. According to him the ‘Steel Mill’ pharmaceuticals was located in a nearby town of Kot Radha Kishan. This person was so eloquent in his speech and so versatile in his sales pitch that it reminds me of this sher of Maulana Hali:

ae bazm-e-safeeran-e-dawal kay sukhan aaraa’
har khurd- o -kalaaN teri fasaahat pe fidaa hai
khulta nahiN kuch is ke siwa teray bayaan se
ik murgh hai khush lehja ke kuch bol raha hai

By now he had got attention of almost everyone in the coach because the range of diseases he had mentioned covered almost every passenger. If there were any passengers still in doubt then this guy brought out a big horse shoe magnet from one of his pockets. He then opened the glass jar and brought magnet near the opening. Instantaneously all the iron pills got attached to the magnet.

Then he exclaimed aloud: “See! Now that is what I call a hundred percent faulaadi goli (iron pill)”

Now everyone in the coach was keenly listening to him. A teenage boy was in a special jovial mood and he asked the guy:

“Can your iron pill cure chronic constipation?”

“Of course it can, son” said the vendor and shut up boy’s mouth by a free sample of iron pill. The guy was also offering 25% discount if someone bought the whole jar from him. I believe nobody in the railcar believed this guy or his iron pill but he had got enough interest generated that many people bought one or two pills from him just to try them out. Some people bought pills just as a pay back to his entertaining speech. A poet (Hafeez Jaunpuri) once said for a similar situation:

pi lo do ghooNT ke kafi ki rahay baat Hafeez
saaf inkaar se khaatir shikni hoti hai

Within no time this guy sold more than half of his jar. Somehow I could never gather enough guts to try out one of his iron pill.

After some time, the train slowed down and stopped at Kot Radha Kishan for couple of minutes. This was the home of Iron Pill guy. He said a loud thankyou to everyone in the coach, disembarked from the train and quietly disappeared in the crowd. Reminds me of a sher by Akbar Allahbadi.

meiN hoa rukhsat un se ae Akbar
wasal ke baad ‘thankyou’ keh kar

Many years have passed since this incident but I have not been able to get it out of my memory. The guy was proably a con artist and tablets were probably nothing but compressed saw dust but after all these years I still have this little bit of regret on not tasting one of those iron pills.

If you’ve had any experiences of meeting strange people on road or rails we would like to hear. Please do share your experiences or thoughts below.

I’ll end the post with this sher of Anwar Masood:

kal ye baat kehta tha ik mareez doosray se
haspataal aa kar bhi sochta hooN kia paaya
kis qadar milaawaT hai adwiyaat meiN bhai
” dard ki dawa paai dard la – dawa paaya “

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7 responses to “The Iron Pills of Kot Radha Kishan”

  1. Babbi says:

    I have been travelling extensively between Karachi & Lahore since my childhood and have seen plenty of these con artists. You can see most of them after Multan or Khanewal upto Lahore because of the high concentration of Stations in this sector. Well, you will not find much of these poeple while travelling between Karachi and Multan. However, there are other characters also such as Boot Palish wala, Naat reciting women, Aaloo Chanay wala, Botal Wala with the Balti and many more.

  2. jahanzaib says:

    Interesting!! reminded me of my journeys in train from sargodha to karachi for 4 years :)

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