Where do I begin?
This is Bilal.
This is how he looks like all the time. His expression never changes. It’s freaky.
Bilal’s my cousin. I’ve spent 23 years of my life being either annoyed, ignored, or verbally assaulted by him. I’m pretty sure he has a crush on me.
Bilal’s also scary lazy. His idea of a good day is sleeping 18 hours, during the day. The six at night don’t count. Whenever he’d be over at my nani’s, nobody would be able to sleep on the bed because all 6’ 2” of him would be sprawled on it. Diagonally.
He’s monosyllabic, but the one syllable he’ll be able to spew all day will be dipped in acid. Guess where the acid dipped arrows usually land?
Now me, I’m very witty- with a keyboard. That backspace key is my best friend. But Bilal could make a simple “yes” sound like the biggest insult in the world. It was a gift. It’d take me ten minutes to think of a comeback and by then he’d be asleep.
Back when we were kids Bilal used to be obsessed with flying kites. Once he made I and my brother run up and down eight flights of stairs in his high rise apartment (no electricity hence lifts wouldn’t work), just fetching and carrying odds and ends so that he could fly his kite on the roof upstairs. We were exhausted and he was barely able to lift the damn thing above his head. Trust Bilal to want to fly a kite on the one day there was no wind.
When we were kids he used to eat four toasts for breakfast, dipping them in sugar- flavored tea. He lived on a diet of daal chawal achaar, and eggs; it was hardly fair he reached 6’ 2” while I stayed a measly 5’ 1” regardless of my protein heavy nutrition. He grew tall, I grew fat. God is a man, hence proven.
Somewhere around a few years ago Bilal and I grew up. We stopped being fren-emies and just became first cousins. I guess time had a lot to do with it. Boys and girls can’t stay friends in a jamaat-e-islaami family. We decided simply throwing each other a taunt once in a while was enough to keep familial relations going.
Two years ago, Bilal joined the army. My khalu made him leave IBA in his third year, for whatever reason, and packed him off to the PMA.
Bilal graduated on Monday. He’s home now, but in a week’s time, three days before my wedding, he’ll be reporting for duty in the artillery unit at Waziristan.
Please pray my cousin comes home safely.
People say I think too much. How little they know. I try not to think at all.
When my friends look through old university or college pictures they always say how much they missed that time. I can’t ever agree with them. I don’t miss anything. I never wish to go back to my school days, or college or university. I wouldn’t even want to go back to a few days ago, though it’ll mean more time with my family. Thinking back is a waste of time; thinking forward, pointless. Thinking of the present is asking for a headache. Solution? Don’t think.
Easier said then done.
My mind exhausts me. I wake up tired. Basic conversation is like philosophical discussions on Kant to me right now. Even random, meaningless questions seem either a jibe, or patronizing.
“Where are you getting your make up from?”
There’s no right answer to this question. Any answer, even if it was Nabila’s (which it’s not), would be a cause of consternation to the other party. If Nabila’s then from whom exactly, and why not Bina Khan who is much better? If not Nabila’s, then why not Nabila’s since no place else is good enough.
Oh, Sabs? From Saba Ansari, you mean ?
Um. No. Hiring her’ll cost more than my shadi dress and atleast that can’t be wiped off with baby lotion.
Make up is make up. The main difference in all these beauty salons is the price.
“Where are you going for your honeymoon?”
Well, I don’t know.
“Don’t go to Malaysia, pitt gaya he”
Err…ok, any ideas?
“Why don’t you try Greece?”
Thank you. Great idea. I’ll just sell my jewellery and S. can liquidize his assets or whatever and we can go there. In fact, why don’t we stop over at Switzerland for a weekend?
So what do I do? Act sweet and pretend that I don’t find this in the least annoying, or go on the offensive? After all they can’t do anything to me now, I’m getting married.
“So what do you plan to get me as a wedding present? Oh please, not that cheap set of dessert bowls you gave whats-er-face!”
“You are getting new clothes made for the shaadi na? You should check out Umar Saeed’s latest collection- it is to die for! And Nickie and Nina are totally worth the 15000 rupees they charge for a single outfit, if you can afford it!”
“Yeah…meri shadi ho rahi he. Feels weird but S. is a darling…absolutely devoted to me. So when will you finally nab a guy?”
Sigh. If only I could.
S. thinks I’m pretty.
It’s one of the reasons I love him. He’s delusional.
I know the hallucinations won’t last. A year, or two maybe; then he’ll notice the bitten off nails, and the dark circles and the not-so-glossy lips and he’ll think he was bewitched and probably want to have me burnt on a stake…I’m kind of ready for it when that happens. I’ve spent my entire life being told how completely unpresentable I am.
When anybody compliments me on anything physical I can’t believe them.
My mother has spent the last decade pointing out various flaws in my personal make up. Nothing I do is right, nothing I do is up to mark. I’m too dark, I’m too fat, my nose is the wrong shape, I don’t wear make up. My mother is my greatest, most persistant critic.
It’s what she does- that’s her job, she’s a mother.
She criticizes you so that nobody else does.
If she won’t tell you, who will?
It’s supposed to help you. It’ll make you a better person; a stronger person.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Congratulations ammi. You’ve made me very happy I’ll be leaving home in a week.