If I say it was the sparrow, you will think me paranoid. All the same we have all been smitten by the same affliction, after we went to the same BBQ.
Gujuranwala has a reputation for meat eating and I guess mixed beef and horse burger would not be sniffed at here as long as it comprised halal meat.
After a busy day we set out under cover of darkness in a ‘high top’ – the local name for a minibus with curtains providing privacy – heading for the restaurant zone of town and after driving around for the best part of an hour we found a suitable establishment where we could enter covertly by a side door, and use a private basement banquet room fit for visiting dignitaries. We did our best to appear dignified as we awaited the local delicacies – baby chicken, quail and sparrow. Apparently only cock sparrows are eaten although I have it on good authority that we ate Jack Sparrow’s cousin rather than the house sparrow we all know and love, but whether that was Cousin Hedge, Cousin Tree or some other relative, I cannot tell. Whichever variety, spare a thought for the BBQ widows of sparrow society, poor things.
It was that night that our lurking viral illness emerged in the faculty and within 24 hours all were ill. Coincidence really, as one member was already so unwell he stayed in the minibus and ate nothing. We thought he may have had malaria but the weather has been so cold here, all the mosquitos are hibernating. You may think our menu was the perfect recipe for bird flu and we did all have a severe respiratory infection with backache and muscle pain.
Secretly I know it wasn’t the sparrow’s fault. I knew I was incubating something when I boarded the plane for Lahore, but when I saw the questions on the landing card I decided to keep quiet as I had not travelled from an endemic area. So I ticked all the ‘no’ boxes and carried on. I later saw in the local press fatal swine flu cases in neighbouring India – one reason behind the precautions.
But there you are, never let the truth get in the way of a good story, eh?