My mum is full of jewels. All kinds. She can watch a news story and state the most succinct, intuitive analysis within seconds. She can listen to inane complaints and offer calm wisdom. She can be faced with injustice and she knows to remain patient. Full of jewels. And additionally—she’s a master of Urdu.
There are expressions in the Urdu language called ‘mahaavaray’ (pl). A mahaavara in the singular, is a a proverb-like, metaphorical saying used to describe a certain situation or person. Mahaavaray are often used in conversation. I can speak Urdu so I for sure arrive at instances where a mahaavara would be fittin, except it’s very seldom I can charge through with one since I don’t know a lot of them.
She can also recall verses of poetry by Iqbal or Ghalib and other poets, ones she learned decades ago, and can recite them perfectly as a summation of the instance before her.
Similarly, she can think of a vocabulary term or phrase on the spot of an occurrence. And so I land on my point:
We’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Salman Khan shows up. Any time a personality comes on screen wearing something slightly out of the ordinary, I tell my dad, “hey that guy’s wearing red pants, you can too!” And he returns a weary look back. It’s a bit of a running joke.
My mom, also looking at the screen says, “people like that are called ‘jaama zeb.'”
“Jaama zeb…” I repeat in wonder.
[JAA-maa zayb], she explains, refers to someone who looks good in any garment, any outfit of clothing.
Jaama zeb. Pretty.
Salman Khan, fitting.