January 12, 2017
I feel like I’ve been eating all day. Sooji ka halwa, one and a half kabab, a paratha. That was breakfast.
Koftay, khatti daal, white rice, red carrots. Lunch.
Cake, mini pizzas, patties, spring rolls, biscuits, chai: Phuppi’s house. We went to visit today. After sitting in the drawing room for a few minutes, I drifted around the house counting memories.
Standing in the backyard doorway, I remembered the swings my cousins used to have, often where we would get over our initial shyness and open up to each other on the first day. There was a table cloth with picnic-y words all over it that we’d eat dinner on. At night we’d sit up watching music channels and talking. I glanced into Saba and Seher’s room and then Phuppi’s. Her wedding picture was up in the same place. Her dresser and bed were also in the same place, same cozy carpet. The lighting was the same, the baby pictures the same. Phuppi delights in old things the way I do. The only new addition in her bedroom was Shoaib’s smiling picture at her bedside.
Her house had things I haven’t seen for ages. The wood closet from Mumtaz Uncle’s old room was there, with the pictures of the two men on each panel. It was full of dishes from Amma’s house. Phuppi had stuff from Burma and around the world. She also had a large bowl of fresh rose petals sitting in the dining room, a scent that captivated us all differently, reminding us of our most precious sentiments. It reminded Phuppi of her mom, my Daadi. It reminded my mom of her days when she lived in Quetta. It reminded me of marriages.
My Phuppi had also set aside two lamps that belonged to my grandfather. She’d told me about them a few days ago and I was interested. When I saw them, I immediately knew I would like to keep one. She picked out the lamp in better condition for me and I carefully cleaned the dust off. My mom wrapped it in newspaper. I loved it. I knew it was something my dad probably loves too. I could already imagine him fixing its wiring and plugs as soon as I brought it home.
I left Phuppi’s house feeling happy, in possession of the first thing I’d been given of my grandfather’s, and half the rose petals Phuppi had for us to place in our own house. As we were exiting Mohammad Hussein and Jaan Mohammed came to meet us at Phuppi’s house. We rode back with Jaan Mohammed as he asked the khairiyat of every possible relative of ours. Mohammed Hussein and Barey Mama rode with our original driver.
We came home and were full. No one planned on dinner. But then I got hungry after Isha, and announced to the moms that I want daal chawal. They both went upstairs with me also agreeing to eat a little bit. Mumaanijaan and Barey Mama, always welcoming, always happy to have us upstairs, turned all the lights back on and flooded into the kitchen. She started making roti and heating things, while he cut up a red carrot for our side snacking at the table. It’s a thing here. Slices of red carrots, cucumber, daikon radish, guavas are always cut up in a plate with meals. He cut up the carrots, right on the counter. Mumaanijaan found the mess and exclaimed a calm “Allah…”.
The rest of the evening was spent talking to the moms. And now the house is asleep. I’m lying on the living room writing, a tray of rose petals fragrant next to me.