The Family Way

While taking our daughter to the Airport to catch her flight to Scotland, where she worked, we decided, on her insistence, to briefly stop over at her Aunt’s place to enable her to say her goodbyes in person. When what was meant as a few minutes break was seen getting unduly prolonged, my wife sharply prompted her to hurry up and get in the car. My daughter’s smiling response: ” Can’t you see how wide her girth is? I have to hug her goodbye in installments, frame by frame.”

My sons were very keen to cast their vote during the National Elections in May this year, but while checking with the Election Commission/ NADRA database via SMS, they were horrified to learn that both their CNICs had been blocked. When they later tried to ascertain what the problem was, they were made to shuttle around half a dozen times between the NADRA office at Awami Markaz and e-sahulat(which was anything but) before realization finally dawned. NADRA had apparently installed a new facial recognition software a few years back; this couldn’t somehow distinguish between the photographs in their CNICs and thinking( perhaps this isn’t quite the right word) that one person is holding two cards, instinctively blocked them. So now they have to prepare affidavits and appear in person for verification before their cards can be unblocked. Its true that they happen to be twins and used to resemble each other when in school but now the similarity is not that striking. The troubling aspect is the hassle that they are still going through to correct a computer glitch, with no system apparently in place for guidance and assistance of the type which is needed.

One of the most touching moments of my life was when, on arriving home from work one day, I was greeted by my children, aged 7, 4 & 4 years at the time, all immaculately dressed, with cherubic smiles on their faces, wishing me a happy birthday. Each of them proudly held out a small present for me, bought out of their pocket money. On their insistence, I unwrapped the gifts: a box each of crayons, water colours and a geometry set. After the mandatory candle-blowing and cake-cutting was over and I had just settled down in the lounge with a cup of tea in my hand, when my twin boys approached bashfully. ‘We were just thinking’, one of them said. ‘………. what you would do with kid stuff like this’, the other concluded. And before the cup could touch the lip, the presents had vanished.

We wanted our daughter, our eldest child, to gain admission in a prestigious Convent school. It was quite a hassle just to obtain an admission form; my wife spent the better part of an entire day in its pursuit. The next hurdle was the mandatory entrance exam, even for those trying to get into kindergarten. Anyway, on the appointed day, we noticed that each child was being led inside to a classroom for a private interview. When our daughter’s turn came, she silently clung to me and refused to be parted. And that spelled the end of our Convent aspirations: just as she refused to budge, so did the Sisters. We next applied for her admission in the DHA Model School. The entrance exam could not again be side-stepped, the only difference being that this time we were allowed to stay with her. This was again a disaster: our daughter simply refused to answer or even to point out the answer. The journey back home was passed in sullen silence as we didn’t wish to disturb her further. Once inside the house, my wife couldn’t hold herself back. ‘Those were such simple questions, Sweetheart’, she said, ‘I’m sure you knew all of them. Take the one about the two piles of marbles for instance; couldn’t you make out which one was larger and just point it out?’ ‘Everyone knows’, she answered matter-of-factly, ‘that eight is more and four is less’. ‘You ……’, my wife blurted out, ‘You even counted the exact number in each of the piles and yet didn’t simply point out the larger one!’

My daughter once hurt her hand and appeared to be in considerable pain. Her mother decided to take her to the hospital for a precautionary X-ray to obviate the possibility of an hairline fracture. Aged five at the time, she was terribly scared of hospitals which she associated with syringes, needles and all things painful. As soon as they reached the x-ray room, she, as expected, raised hell and refused to budge; no amount of persuasion or cajoling seemed to work. It took a full twenty minutes to calm her down sufficiently to get her hand placed somehow on the x-ray plate for the split second that it was needed. The trip back home was spent in sullen silence. As they neared the house, my daughter suddenly asked, “But how will this help?” “Sweetheart”, my wife responded as patiently as possible, “I have repeatedly told you that the x-ray works like a camera, only that it takes a photograph of the bones and shows whether the bone is broken or not”. “No”, she shot back, still resentful, ‘I mean how do you find out what is wrong with the right hand by taking an x-ray of the left”. It was then that my wife realized that amidst all the commotion and confusion at the x-ray room, they had pinned the wrong hand down. Needless to say, neither mother nor daughter were in the right frame of mind to go back for a rerun.

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