By Bilal Kuchay
At a ripe age when pensioners start loosing teeth and depend on soft and liquid diets, a Pakistani taxi driver surprises everyone with his appetite for stones.
Liaquat Ali, 65, from Mardan, Pakistan, is addicted to stones and gravel since the age of 53.
The old man breaks stones into small pieces and effortlessly chew them down like a normal meal.
In a day, he stomachs at least 150 grams of stones and gravel and boasts of a healthy set of teeth.
“I first started eating stones and rock particles at the age of 53. It have been 12 years and this eating habit has become part of my life now.
“I have not suffered any illness due to this habit,” he said.
Despite his insistence that eating stones had done him no harm, the grandfather displays symptoms of the Pica eating disorder that is characterised by the desire to eat items with little or no nutritional value.
Pica sufferers usually eat stones, sand, paint and dirt and also run the risk of being poisoned and not gaining enough essential nutrients in their diet.
But Ali rejects any suggestion to curb the addiction.
“My eating habits have no side effects. My teeth are absolutely fine, so there is no question for me to stop eating stones,” he said.
Every day, Ali spends at least half an hour to collect stones from road side or nearby foothills, before he begins ferrying people in his taxi.
He keeps a bag full of rock particles in his taxi and eats them whenever he feels the appetite.
“I always keep a bag full of stones in my taxi. I can skip meals, but not eating stones,” he added.
For years, Ali’s family members and friends have tried to dissuade him from eating stones but nothing has worked so far.
Ali’s eldest son, Ahsan Ur Rehman says: “We have been telling him that it can be dangerous for his health but he don’t listen to us.
“He always says that he is addicted to eating stones like people are to smoking and drinking.”