freedom is the freedom to choose whose slave you want to be.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

'You didn't create your body yourself and it's not yours to keep, so don't criticise it.'
Sometimes her words send me reeling. Could I be more awestruck? It's a small thing to say, but how can someone be so focused on the bigger picture? How can you live each day treating your life as a mere phase? Her disinterest, her indifference makes sense on days like this. She yells and calls me to her room to show me the bird she's adopted that lives, mysteriously, on the neighbour's PTV antenna and she calls him 'Chirpy'. And she tells me that 80% of her is me so if I love her so much, I should know that I should love myself too. I still love her more.

Alone in the backseat of the car, after years pehaps, I sit in the middle of the seat and put my elbows on Ammi's and Papa's seats, aligned with the AC vents and the rear view mirror. I have to keep my head ducked so as not to be in Papa's line of vision, but all of a sudden I remember Karachi, or my childhood, I don't know which. Except that our cars used to be smaller, and I used to have no choice but to be in the middle seated like that, Apya and Faiqa on one side and Bhayya on the other. Why does every day feel like I am only here for a short while? I need to study ammi's face, commit the lines on her forehead and around her eyes to memory. To look at Papa's hands and wonder if any other man in the world has hands like his, do other people's fathers know the names of the shampoos their daughters use? Do they hide toffees under their kids' pillows so they can accidentally find them?

I find them sitting close together on their sofa quietly staring at the floor and panic grips me. What's wrong? Did you just speak with Bhayya? Is everything ok?

At Khala's house the silence is the broken trust. The tray of dirty plates taken from my hands might be love, or respect, or just plain old formality. Death still hovers somewhere near the ceiling, hides in the shadows behind furniture, in headaches and laughter ending in sighs.
As we leave, Maqsood bhai hugs me and quietly says 'Thank you'.


Blogger bluecheese said...

god i don't know how you do it, you suck my breath out of my lungs with writing like this, you are fucking brilliant.

10:15 PM  
Blogger mercury said...

Thank you.

11:49 PM  

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