Part 2 is here! Feedback means a lot, honestly. I would love to know your views about this story. I am trying my best to sketch the picture of a typical Pakistani family, with my words. Please do read it till the end (the last three paragraphs contain words which I was dying to share in some way). Image credits have been mentioned in the end. Cheers!
I walked to where they were all sitting, at a very slow pace. I sat at a lone chair, with the unknown family at my right and my own at the left. So every eye was on me now, naturally. Very comfortable. My mom was the first to break the awkward silence. “This is Maria, my daughter and Maria, they are our new neighbors. This is Arham,” she gestured towards the boy, “and they are Mr. & Mrs. Naveed.” “Hey everyone.” I suck at greetings. “So Mrs. Farhan left?” She was our old neighbor and honestly, she was a nightmare. I posed this question at mom. “Yeah.” She raised her eyebrows. Okay, no more questions, got the hint. “Your mom tells me you’re a…psychologist.” The pause was so pronounced, I actually thought Mrs. Naveed was struggling to say it in the most respectable manner. “Yes.” “It must be a tough job.” Mr. Naveed made an assumption, chewing a biscuit he had just picked up. I noticed my mom had put my favorite ones in front of these unknown guests. God. “Not much, I enjoy it.” I could actually hear what was going through their minds at the moment. It was evident from their expressions that Mr. & Mrs. Naveed were dying to say “WHAT THE HELL?!” “You enjoy being a psychologist?” Okay, I had totally forgotten about Arham. I glanced at him. His eyes were brown, wheatish skin tone and dark brown hair, totally messed up. And there was something else. A playful smile on his lips and curiosity, which he was trying so hard to hide through that smile, shining in his eyes. “Yeah I do.” I stood up. “I’ve got to do some work, so please excuse me now.” I hope I didn’t sound too rude. “And welcome to the neighborhood.” I added with a smile, looking at Mr. & Mrs. Naveed. I presumed that they were actually the ones who needed to be convinced that we were not a freaky family, after all & that their choice was good. Arham, I guess he wouldn’t have any problem in adjusting here. I walked to my room. Unfortunately, it opened to the lounge and whenever I open the door of my room, I always come face to face with whoever was sitting there. Sucks, big time, when you’ve to say hi to dad’s boring friends and there is no way of avoiding it. As I was about to close the door, my eyes, involuntarily (I swear), traced their path to Arham. He was marveling a painting I got ages ago, hanged in the lounge. Thank God, no awkward eye contact. I closed the door as softly as I could. At that very instant, my cell phone rang. It was my brother calling and oh shit, I forgot to call him when I had promised that next time, it would be me who’d call him. Sigh. “Hey Ali.” “Do I even have a sister?” Sarcasm, it runs in our blood. “Unlike you, dear brocteria, I am a busy person. Job all good?” He lives abroad and works in the field of microbiology. So now you know why I called him brocteria. “Yes. I heard Mrs. Farhan left. Is it true?” News move faster than light, in our neighborhood. I wonder who told Ali though. “Yeah. Was it reTina who spread the news? Did she tell you about the new family too?” Tina is our maid. ReTina, well, biology is fun. And my bro has her number, don’t even ask me how he got it. “No, I called mom yesterday. She told me everything. And while we’re talking about mom now, let’s discuss the real reason behind this call. She is worried about you. Why are you working on weekends?” Talk about being a brother who is only a couple of years older. “You know why. I enjoy working there. Why do you guys have to ask me the same question every time?” There was a pause; he wasn’t satisfied. “I like listening to them & you know that.” “I know that alright but this is not good. Take out some time for your own self, Maria. You can’t treat your special ones your whole life. You deserve a break.” I knew it wouldn’t do any good but I had nothing else to say, “I am honestly doing fine Ali, stop worrying yourself about me or anyone here. Mom’s getting carried away with her usual paranoia that I’m over stressing myself, I’ll talk to her.” After talking for a few more minutes, the call ended abruptly. Batter ended. I put my phone on charge, freshened myself up and made it to the kitchen. By now, the other family had gone. “So now you are good chums with her?” I asked my mom at the dinner table. “No, of course not, we don’t know them entirely, but they seem very well-educated and nothing like Mrs. Farhan.” I noticed the edge but let it go. “It was very obvious that they were judging me on the basis of my profession. Well-educated much?” God, this vegetable salad is so good. “Well, it’s a bit unusual. They don’t come across psychologists that often in Pakistan. And you know this yourself. So don’t fret over it. Their views will probably change with time.” Trust dad to be all positive. “Right.” For the rest of the dinner, we were discussing my brother, his work, the food, my mom’s suspicions about my work, etc. As for me, I was contemplating the importance & blessing of having a family. A number of my special ones, never had the chance to know what it’s like to have a good, decent, rules-oriented family. They had siblings to whom they had never even talked to or lost all contacts with them. Parents, who hardly cared about their children, or children, who lived with their parents but only wished them morning and night. Teenagers, who complained constantly of never having anyone in their family to talk to about their general “teenage affairs.” Or families, who had never had a meal together. It was so hard to hear these bitter stories, they literally brought tears to my eyes at times. How can families be torn apart like this? How can people let the usual demands of life get in the way of themselves & their family? How can people stop caring about the people they have a blood relation? How can people just kill these eternal, special and strong bonds? When ever I looked into the eyes of my special ones, I never saw them dreaming about money or riches or wealth or clothes or huge mansions. What I saw in their eyes was something which could be only brought to them by a miracle. Something, for which they would’ve to keep fighting and even then, they couldn’t be sure whether they would earn it or not, in the end. Something, which required patience, not only for a day or two, but sometimes, for their whole lives. They dreamed of happiness. They wanted to experience elation. They yearned for ecstasy. They wanted to feel loved. They wanted to know what it was like to have a life like I had right now. For them, this was the real happiness. For them, this was paradise. This was the miracle they were looking for. This was the miracle they would die for.
Thank you for reading! 🙂 Image credits: https://law.marquette.edu/programs-degrees/family-law