Son, and I returned after a tumultuous two months from Pakistan. Can you believe I lost ten pounds. I became a caricature of my former self with sunken cheeks, and wild eyes from all the worries, and tension I went through. Although this post is more about our day of returning.
Son kept badgering me the whole day about leaving at exactly five for Islamabad. He never realizes that shutting down a house isn’t easy. I have to cover everything with dust sheets, making sure that electricity, and gas has been turned off, cleaning the fridge, and house. Meanwhile all he does is eat, and the person providing him food is me. Thankfully his wife got her spouse visa just in time to come with us.
We left at seven in the evening. At the airport I realized that my iPhone was missing. I became so flustered 😩 with confusion thinking that my Resident Card was missing along with the phone. My ticket was cancelled, and woefully I was resigning myself to staying back, and traveling to Peshawar again. After a terrible thirty minutes of doom, and gloom I found that my driving license was missing (it was in the flap of the missing iPhone) instead of the Resident Card. All was well again. My ticket got re issued, my bags were marked for Houston. Son got his breath of relief after muttering wrathfully at me for the past thirty minutes for forgetting important things.
Glad to be back!
Coco (daughter in law) and I went to Charsadda to attend her sister’s bridal shower. It was raining copiously the day we started from Peshawar. It was non stop raining when we ventured on the road. My late husband’s first cousin had died a day before. I couldn’t make it to the funeral. We decided to go first to the cousin’s house, and then drive back to attend the bridal shower.
Actually we had to attend two functions. The second one was a dinner at the bride to be in laws’ home. I wish I had taken some pictures, but I was totally drained out, and kept falling asleep through out the function.
We stayed for three days at our village home. I ‘m still unable to sell off my home, and land in the village. The buyers give pitiful offers which I can’t accept. My property is worth more.
A mishap happened on our return to Peshawar. Our roads are terribly narrow. With the influx of cars, trucks, buses, wagons, and motor cycles, it’s a wonder we arrived back in one piece. Another vehicle wouldn’t give me any space to get ahead of it. It kept driving in the center of the road. At one point where the road widened a bit I tried to overtake it. It scraped the side of my car. I kept going. I didn’t want to see the damage inflicted on my poor car.
We don’t have car insurances here, so it was no use stopping.
The driver had other ideas. He over took me again, and wouldn’t let me get through. In frustration I stopped. Imagine his audacity in telling me, “I didn’t want to let you pass me, why did you do it?” His ego got hurt by a woman getting ahead of him.He came to pick a fight with me, and wouldn’t acknowledge his own wrongdoing.
Traffic is awful in Peshawar. Narrow roads have been made more minuscule by our ‘dear’ Prime Minister Imran Khan who was going to run metro service through the city. No sign of it though. The infrastructure has made the city more uglier, and vehicles barely move at all. There is utter chaos on the road. Nobody follows traffic rules, and with the influx of motor cycles on the road driving is one big hazard. The motor cycles scrape against the car when the riders higgledy piggledy want to get through. You never know who is trying to cross you on your right, or left side, and you are trying not to hit someone else car, and not to get hit by others.There is ear splitting honking going on, and everyone is in a hurrying mode.
I used to keep a driver whenever I was in Peshawar. Last year the chap I hired to drive me to, and fro was an extremely rude person. I was at his mercy when he deigned to make an appearance, and his majesty would drive me so I could run my many errands. I now have a horror of keeping a driver.
This year I’m driving my manual car (I keep it jacked up when I leave for my other homeland) whenever the need arises, or use a rickshaw when I don’t feel like driving. Believe me I’m happier that I don’t have to deal with the likes of my previous driver.
When I reached here I was trying to avoid using my car. I had forgotten to deal with the clutch, and with the jam packed road conditions here I didn’t know how I was going to cope. Everything is the opposite of what’s back home. I would turn on the wipers instead of the indicator. The indicator is on the right side of the steering wheel here. Son had come with me, but his leave spanned fifteen days only. It was over soon. I crammed as many things on my doing list while he was here. With his departure I was on my own again.
I had to invite some people to dinner, and it couldn’t be arranged at home. The guests were a large number. I invited them to Peshawar Club instead for a buffet at eight in the evening. Now the question arose how Coco (daughter in law) and I were to reach there to welcome them? We asked Coco’s brother B to take us in his car. The party was in his, and his bride’s honor.
There was fifteen minutes to eight left, and he didn’t come. I had started to perspire at the thought that being the host I won’t be present to welcome the other guests. It was really bad manners not to be on time. With nervous fright I managed to drive my car to our destination. I’m glad I took the plunge. Since then I have become reacquainted with my manual car. Masha’Allah!
Son’s marriage happened rather un- expectedly. We were thinking it will be sometime in coming September. Whatever God Wills– it happens. So it was earlier. Son reached Peshawer, at three on the day his marriage was arranged. I had to arrange for everything in a hurry – the marriage itself, car decoration, the sweets to be distributed after the Nikah ceremony, and then the Walima itself which is a second day extension of the marriage celebrations.
The first day expenses were born by the bride’s parents, and second day’s expense was mine. Thankfully everything went smoothly. Both days the functions were held at daylight hours. The second day it was continuous rain.
Son extended his leave to spend time with his bride, whereas I returned to New Bedford alone, and promptly fell sick. Nola (daughter) arrived yesterday to take care of me, and showed me to the doctor, and got me the necessary medication. I’m leaving with Nola for Boston tomorrow Insha’Allah, and then onward to Dallas for a three weeks stay before coming back to New Bedford again.
The bride reaches the marriage hall in a Doli. Her brother (the boy in specs) is one of the carriers. Masha’Allah!
Last year when I was in Peshawar, I needed printouts of my ID, and some other stuff. The ink in my disused printer had dried, and buying ink for it was a costly affair. It was cheaper getting my papers photostatted from a local shop. I asked my driver to drive me to the nearby market. I had barely stepped out of the car, when a little boy asked for some money. “What are you going to buy?” I asked him.
“I would like to eat pakoras.”
I laughed at that, and told him to wait. I didn’t have any small notes to give him, plus I didn’t know the selling cost of pakoras. There were two men ahead of me in line. They were having a great number of printouts, and my turn wasn’t coming any sooner.
The little fellow was fed up with waiting, and came again to ask me. I felt sorry but told him to wait. I couldn’t get out of the line, otherwise I would have lost my turn, as few others had turned up, and were waiting for their turn.
As soon as I was done, I called the little boy, and asked him how much he wanted? Another boy who was older than my young friend sidled up, and told me he wanted to eat pakoras too. I asked them, “Is there someone else with you people who would like to eat?” Two others came at a run. I paid for their treat.
Before leaving I laughingly asked my driver, “Would you like to eat some too?” He smiled and said no, and so we left for running my errands.
How not to get frozen? The thermostat in our home is generating a false cold wave in our home. I drape a shawl around my shoulders to keep the cold hitting my most vulnerable place ie: my back. It seems we have moved to an Alaskan winter in the dead heat of July.
When Son, and I moved to the apartment in New Bedford this year, I would never had anticipated that we will have any problem with heating, and cooling. The management is there, and it’s their headache to take care if there are problems. We gave up, once we came to know nothing can be done. It was that, or getting a flow of experts banging on our doorway at all times.
What basically the most expert one did in winter was, to set the thermostat to 82. While the rest of the house became bearable in the cold weather, my room was an inferno of heat. Now the reverse is taking place. The rest of our home is cool, my room becomes an ice box in which I shiver.
I prefer to spend my time in the sitting area, but come bed time, I have to sleep. I try to get warm while piling on a heavy blanket over the quilt to warm my frozen feet. I have to wait a while for my feet to thaw out. Till then I wait for sleep to take over.
At moments like these I thank God for being here, and not in Peshawar. Can you imagine being without electricity in summers, or winters? It used to be 100 degrees outside in sweltering heat, and electricity being off. Same thing in winter, the whole house a giant freezer — no gas, and no electricity. The biggest wonder is getting the huge bills requiring payments. The charges keep getting higher each year for the minuscule services provided.
After Son got the apartment, he arranged the furniture in my room. He hadn’t told me that mine was a mini room. If he had asked me (I was still in Peshawar– miles away from here), I would have told him not to put the smaller sofa in my room. Now there is hardly any space to move around.
When I saw the arrangement after my arrival, I was really upset over it. We tried to find hired helpers to move it to the Living area. The quotation in removing it from the room was too high for us. Son joked, “Let’s put it on the Craiglist. Problem solved. The person who buys it, will do the removing.
Son clearly forgot. Before moving from Houston, we had put it on the Craiglist for half the price. It didn’t get sold. Yesterday I thought over it, and found a better idea. If the verticals are removed to the recess, there is ample space. The room wouldn’t be so cramped, and I won’t be selling my lovely love seat. That’s a compromise, if only the management agrees.
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The lady who had come to buy the double bed in Son’s room in Peshawar, looked at the rocking chair first, “How much for that chair?”
“I wasn’t selling that”, was my reply.
I wasn’t interested, but she kept asking. I wish I had taken a shot of it. I was tired, and wanted her to leave so I could get some food to eat. I hadn’t eaten anything since my breakfast, which I had very early in the morning. I had been climbing up and down the outside stairs since daybreak. Okay! I named an exorbitant price. The lady snatched the chair up, and pushed it towards her male servant to take it away. She probably feared I may track back.
Oh God what had I done? My lovely chair became a distant memory.
The chair above is my present to myself. It’s my new rocking chair where I live now.
Time to make new memories.
Feb 18, 2018
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Though it’s rude to call someone a rube, but it brought to mind my driver Waqas. He was definitely one. I had to employ a driver, when Son left for Houston in December, leaving me on my own. His new job in Massachusetts required him to reach there by January sixth. I would have coped without a driver, but driving in Peshawar was truly hazardous. Another thing was keeping the car not getting stolen by leaving it without a person to guard it.
Waqas belched when he would have his food. Although I had not signed him for giving him food except his pay. I had to give him food when it was meal times, and he was still with me. For the first few times, I ignored his ill manners. Then I had to find my courage to tell him off. It didn’t work. He told me, “I always belch”. I told him he can do it when he is alone, but certainly not in front of me. It was so crass. I had to repeat several times before he decided to heed me.
Another thing which was very off putting was the smell coming from his clothes in the small confines of my car. Oh God! What am I going to do? It was my reaction every time the smell hit me. For some time I put up with it by rolling the window a few centimeters down. Then it was enough. I knew I couldn’t last a month with the foul smell. I was across my limit of endurance. I bought a nice smelling bag of detergent, and gave it to him to have his clothes washed in it. That took care of the problem.
Next time Insha’Allah I’m coming back the minute Son has to leave.
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What’s there to strut? Even if there was, I wouldn’t have known how?
Since getting up in the morning, I’m packing. It’s at moments like these that I wish we didn’t have to move. Even those essential items are the bases for a terrible headache. My left foot is swelling with no time to put both feet to rest, and my Sciatica is ready to blow up to a horrible, and constant pain. It’s because of the bending in putting things in boxes, and bags.
Getting last minute air tickets to Peshawar has made a bigger hole in my account. Son had assured me that there is a great demand for the apartments where we live. In a week’s time new tenant occupy once one is vacated. It was just a misconception. The manager has let us know that there is no escaping from paying for December, January even if we vacate in a week’s time now. We were going to put our stuff in storage, but now it’s of no monetary benefit to us, so we are thinking of letting it remain here.
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