Thursday, July 16, 2020

When you step out of the plane and climb down the steps at the airport in Pakistan, you are immediately enveloped with this dense warm smoky heat that sends a welcoming kick to all your senses. There are so many nostalgic memories of this country that are formed more from senses other than sight. This is not to say that sight does not play a huge role as well since this Pakistan is brimming with bright bold colours that play an equal role in overwhelming the senses. 

    I want you to close your eyes and take a trip down memory lane with me as I guide you through my life back home and entice you with sensory flavours you will soon not forget. I may be woken up just before dawn by the gentle dim sound of call to prayer (adhan) sprinkling over my ears through the window, or better yet, as a soothing wake up call in the brick backyard of my grandparent's home. The bed I am lying on a "charpai," is made of natural fibers strongly and lovingly woven by a generational Charpai maker whose shop is a fifteen-minute walk away. The charpai is covered with a bedsheet while I drape myself with another one to stay warm during the coolness of the night. As I slowly open my eyes, the morning's silence engulfs me like a shroud because the world is just beginning to wake. The smell of Queen of the Night flower and jasmine caresses my nose with their uniquely beautiful scents that blend together in the most perfect harmony. As I glance up into the clear sky, the heavens display the changing of the colours from dark blue to purple and reds morphing as I blink while the stars twinkle their last goodbyes blinking away as the sky lightens up. And then, to ensure that I am awake, the rooster begins its morning call as if I hit the snooze button on my alarm and the clock once again starts to remind me that it is time to begin my day. 

    Then I hear it, the annoying buzzing of flies and perhaps a lingering mosquito or two trying to get their last-minute snacks off my face before I angrily swat them away. I hate them. The charpai creaks as I slowly stumble off and I am suddenly greeted with the smokey sooty smell of my Nana Jan's hookah. I run over to him and his smile brightens my day as I notice the sparkle in his eyes as he gathers me in his arms and coyly asks me if I want some jaggery. He always has some jaggery stashed away because he adds small pieces of it into his hookah sometimes. My Nana Jan is who I inherited my sweet tooth from in the first place. A golden nugget of jaggery from my Nana Jan is equivalent in deliciousness as any other dessert known to me. This sweet golden delight transports me every time I bite a piece of it. 

    My Nana Jan chuckles softly as I excitedly flap my arms and squeal yes to his question and as soon as my little fingers grab onto the golden delight, I run inside, where I receive a scolding from my mother. I haven't even washed my face or brushed my teeth yet. My Nani Jan never scolded me, she instead chose to walk over to my Nana Jan while loudly announcing her disapproval over giving a child sweets before her meal. I quickly scarf down my treasure before it is stolen from me. The sizzling in the kitchen, to my delight means we are having chicken kebabs and eggs for breakfast with roti. 

    My mother drags me out to the detached washroom to wash and change me for the day but I dig my heels in. Last night, my bladder refused to be tamed in the middle of the night, forcing me to go to the bathroom. Inside, as I squatted over the toilet, a loud fluttering being flapped by me. I thought and prayed that it was a sparrow that may have accidentally trapped itself inside and was trying to escape. This poor being unfortunately was not a sparrow but, to my utmost horror, a trapped flying cockroach. I refused to step inside that building again. 

Until next time,

Photo by Abuzar Xheikh on Unsplash

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