Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Signing Off

Happy Families - in the kids books section at Pot Pourri, Lahore

In the Toys section at Pot Pourri, Lahore
"A place for professional misbehavior not tolerated"

Anyone for Gol Gappys?

Biryani for mom eaters

For vehicular witticisms please see Cartistry I and Cartistry II.

Spidey Sense, Water Digestion, Toasted, FIFA Fights Etc.

Urdu homework -
Me: Sabzion kay naam bataain
HRH: Bhindi, baingan, gobi, Avari.


HRH: How was work?
Me: Annoying..I had an argument with someone
HRH: What insults did you give?
Me: You can't insult people..you have to be civilized..so we just had a conversation and then she went back to her room.
HRH: That means she surrendered. So you win! 


VIP movement behind us with police sirens blaring to get us plebs out of the way -
HRH: Where's the chor??
Me: In that black Mercedes between the police cars.


HRH sitting weirdly in the backseat of car -
Me: Sit properly. Why is your butt up in the air?
HRH: It's my canon.To aim and fire.


Playing FIFA -
HRH: Haha..I'm too good for you Ammi
Me (sulking): Whatever.
HRH: That's a rude word. You should set a better example for kids. 


HRH: Ammi I challenge you to a FIFA Home Championship. Me the Goal Master versus you...the Own Goal master. 


Social studies quiz revision -
Me: Tell me the names of the oceans
HRH: Pacific ocean, Southern ocean, Indian ocean, Arctic ocean...and Athletic ocean.


HRH: How do you go to Allah when you die?
Me: I'm not sure
HRH: Maybe angel Jibrael takes you to Him..look it up on Google
Me: It wont be on Google..
HRH: Even the Internet doesnt know?


HRH: Why didn't Spiderman web his own eyeball?
Me: Why would he do that?
HRH: To see how it feels...or web his nostril. That would be a good bogey picker.


Faisal (to me and HRH): Try not to fight when I'm gone
HRH (to me): You always start it.


Urdu revision -
Me: Make a sentence with 'paidal'
HRH: What does that mean?
Me: On foot
HRH: Dabba meray paidal par gir gaya.


Discussing el clasico -
HRH: Messi will eat Ronaldo for breakfast. The score will be 15 - 0...14 goals by Messi and 1 by Villa


HRH: My friend has a crush on this girl in the other section at school...when he told me I was thinking "L-O-L my friend".


HRH rushing to the bathroom after school -
HRH: The teacher didn't let me go to pee during class...so now it's time for the lemonade of 400 years to come out.


On the way home, after a fight at school -
HRH (punching the car seat): I want to kick his... .
Me: Butt?
HRH: No. The word you like to say....ass.


Before school, staring at TV, having not taken a single bite of breakfast -
Me: WHY are you not eating?
HRH: I just had some water. I'm waiting for it to digest. 


HRH: I want French toast again for breakfast
Me: Who makes better ones..Baba or me?
HRH: You're both good...50/50
Me: Really? He's not here...so you won't hurt his feelings...you can say who's better.
HRH: His...but yours are also good.


Message sent on Skype from HRH to Faisal (who had been away for a week on a work trip)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No Mamu-ly Man

My Mamu has always been a father-figure for me, but at the same time, also a friend, a mentor, a confidant and more.

I have lived with him when I was 4 years old for a while and again when I was 12 years old. The first time around my parents were posted in a God-forsaken place which had no schools because of their jobs, and I lived with my Mamu, Mami and his kids in Muscat. I went to nursery with my cousin, his daughter, who was a year younger than me.

I don't recall too much of that time, except for one instance when he punished us kids for not doing something by locking us out on a terrace (which I thought was infested with scorpions) and which he denied any knowledge of happening. :)

I also remember how after he and his family moved back to Pakistan and my family and I were still in Oman, I used to write letters to him. One time I wrote a letter to him, telling him about a poem I had written which had been printed in the Young Times magazine of the Khaleej Times. It was all about having the flu and had to do with snot, phlegm, mucus and more. He wrote back to me saying my poem was too clean considering it was about the flu and he had added on a few verses of his own, to make it more 'real'.

He has always been a very witty man. At family dinners, when the adults would be sitting around the dining table, he would say something along the lines of 'We young people are going to sit somewhere else', and he would come join the kids of the party.

Moron. Less off. That was one of his jokes.

Always a great singer, he would sing hymns, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan qawwalis, The Beatles, Abba and much more, as the fancy took him. His daughter and I, always the best of friends from childhood, would thumb through his diaries of when he was young and had the lyrics of every song he liked written in his own hand. To imitate him, we had our own diaries to do the same. 

When my family and I would come stay with my Mamu during the summer holidays in Pakistan, we would go around in their Suzuki 'dabba' all over Lahore...whether it was all the adults going shopping to Liberty, to Jallo Park for picnics (more on that later) or anywhere else, we would all pack into that vehicle and the whole entourage would travel together. I remember one summer, on a particularly long expedition, and all us kids being extremely annoying (by what I now realize to be our constantly whining) about being thirsty, he advised us 'Bring up your spit...then swallow it".

Every year, we would go on a picnic to Jallo Park. We had this particular field we would go to. It had a little hut, with a horrid little toilet, and a hand pump outside. All the family would set up their picnic sheets in one spot and then my Mamu would organize the games - cricket, football, badminton. Then it would be lunch time. He would set up the fire at the campsite, heat the food, the naans would be toasted and everyone would feast on whatever food had been brought. Post-lunch was snoozing time and then more sports for everyone.

Always one for eating healthy and making sure everyone was exercising, he would be a terror when it came to drinking your milk or eating your veggies and fruit. There was no escaping that. He would also go to bed early and wake up at the crack of dawn (or what felt like it anyway). At 8 pm, he would start yawning and want to go home and to bed. Once we were over at his place and he was looking sleepy and my mother said "Chalo let's leave now", and he said "Nahi nahi...baithain na....garri mein".

One summer, my parents went to do Hajj, and my Mamu came to Karachi to pick my sisters and myself up, to bring us back to Lahore. One of my sisters was 1.5 years old threw a tantrum and lay in the airplane aisle bawling and kicking her legs throughout an one hour delay on a PIA flight (with no air-conditioning, I might add). He was totally calm throughout, saying 'Let her cry', while all the passengers in the aisle seats fanned my sister, thinking perhaps she was too hot.

That same summer, while my parents were away, I ran through a glass pane in the middle of the night, when all us cousins were up and had the bright idea of playing Hide and Seek at 3 AM. Instead of running through the doorway, I ran through a glass pane right next to the doorway. I remember my Mamu dashing up the stairs, picking me up out of the glass pieces and taking me to wash up the blood (which seemed to be everywhere) in the bathroom. I also clearly remember seeing a piece of meat hanging off my elbow during the clean-up and fainting in his arms (The piece of meat had to be stitched back in place at Mayo Hospital a little later).

There was one summer vacation, when all of us, adults and kids alike were crazy about the game Space Invaders. One night I was sitting in the study playing Space Invaders on the computer in the dark. There was a large window right next to the desk. Everyone else was having dinner when suddenly a figure loomed in the window and made a ghostly 'boooo'-ing sound. My terrified screams brought everyone running and outside the window my Mamu was trying to console me saying 'It's just me!' Needless to say he got told off for traumatizing me. 

During my teenage angst years, after my family and I had moved back (post the few months I had spent living with Mamu and his family when I was 12), we had our share of arguments. The same as I did with my own parents. No one understood me then you see. 

On one occasion we were over at my Mamu's and everyone wanted to have samosas and jalebis for tea. I went with my Mamu to fetch them from a roadside shop. There my Mamu asked the samosa frier if it would be okay if we fried them, which we then did.

My Mamu and Mami were the ones who I went to my first ever cricket match with at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in I think it was either 92 or 93. I don't remember much about the match (not even who it was against), except one exceptionally exciting event during it. We were sitting on seats which had a small window behind us. At one point Waqar Younis and Javed Miandad were passing through the passageway behind that window and we got to slip our bits of paper through a crack in the window to get their autographs. 

After I graduated from LUMS, every cover letter and resume I sent to any place went through my Mamu first for proof-reading and general input. Whenever there were any interview callbacks, he is the one I called to ask for advice. What should I ask? What should I say? He would tell me what to do.

When I got my first job, which was in Karachi, my Mamu used to come to Karachi almost every other week, for his own work. Every time he would call me and take me out for dinner. We would chat, catch up and he would drop me off. During the week we would stay in touch over email and chat.

When I moved back to Lahore a year later, and got married and had my son, in the subsequent couple of years, he was always there of course.

The way my son, Eisa (aka HRH) interacted with him, from very early on, was a joy for me to see. The way he would clamber on to my Mamu's tall frame demanding to be carried. I was happy to see Eisa become an immediate fan of his as well.

Everyone thinks their parent/uncle/aunt/any other relative is a gem. But my Mamu is truly unique. He is one of those genuinely nice people whom, whoever he meets, he will try to put at ease and carry a conversation with.

Faisal, my husband, had to pass the rest-of-the-family-test, after the initial approval from me and my parents. He tells me now that my Mamu is the one who made the whole awkward process easier, as I had always expected him to. Every person in my family thinks they have a special relationship with him, because that's the level of caring and love he conveys to each individual person (it's a separate thing that I know I'm the most special of all to him! But that's what everyone else thinks too, and that's a testament to him).

He has been the rock in my family. He holds everyone together and makes sure that whatever issues people have, we all stick together at the important events. He's the Samad Bond of our clan. 

There are so many things that I know and recall about his love, his amazing sense of humor, his take on things and his way of dealing with stuff, which I really can't put in words. He got sick last year which was so out of the blue, that it still seems unbelievable. Life's not fair and it doesn't make sense. It is difficult to see someone who is so caring, kind and just such a genuinely nice person, go through the pain and horror of a terrible disease. To see that someone do so with courage and humor, is inspiring. He gave us the strength to be as brave as he was.

You will be missed Saquib Mamu.