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“I started scorpion smoking in the mid 60s,” recalls 74-year-old Sohbat Khan.

It was Ayub Khan’s era, and Sohbat was only 20 years old. He would frequent the famous Jalil Kabab house, which is how he met the vendor who sold scorpions worth Rs1 or Rs2 right next to the eatery. The men got their supply from Peshawar’s Matani area, which is rich in scorpions because of its insufferably hot weather.

Sohbat says he has quit smoking scorpions. His eyes are sunken from years of addiction, and his pale face and hollow cheeks betray a dependence on opium. “Nasha pa nasha khatmege,” he says, smiling— drugs are beaten by other drugs.



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