“Curse of the Shami Kebabs; The Rishta Aunty”

 

” Curse of the Shami Kebabs: The Rishta Aunty”

As she engulfed
The Shami Kebab,
Stuffing it deeper
Into her oral cavity…
The Rishta Aunty
Said to me conspicuously,
” Lose weight ,
And rejoin the trade,
People demand
A girl; haseen and fair.”
She looked me up
And she looked me down
Her eyebrows
Knitted into a frown.
She took another bite
Of the meaty treat,
And I started to retreat
Into self-conscious defeat.
So I stand no chance
At all , after all.
She’s going to search
The haseenas, et al.
Intelligence, or
Perseverance,
Has no importance
Of course.
They
Require a lady
Without a trace of remorse.
No emotional scars,
And especially
Not physically marred.

Then she took
To relating her tale
Of her daughter’s
Wedding laid to bare.
And I kept thinking
“Must I hear?
Should I care?”
The Rishta Aunty
Then disclosed the dread
That after her daughter’s wedding ,
She felt the empty nest.
And kept cursing her decision,
Indeed, a terrible test.
Unconsciously my eyes
Traced the path
To look at my mother’s expected wrath.
But instead,
My mind reeled a few steps back,
Realizing what a horrible , horrible mess…!

[I deliberately excluded
And cropped
What I think should
Had gone to the halt.
From my abode
Right up to Malir Halt].

I’ll have to include the gory details
Of my gori friends
All discussed
At great length.

My cousin sister’s rishta was discussed,
As I looked at the rishta aunty with disgust.

It’s me right here
It’s my house, you see…?
Can you stuff that
Pretty please?

And stuff she did
Two whole Shami Kebabs
And a couple of bites
Of biscuits with crumbs.
Drowning them down
With peach fruit punch.

So, ladies…
It’s for you to see…
Always keep a pic of
Whoever- you-know-and- please,
For when these ‘ladies’ do the rounds,
You might actually get to be the next ” rishta aunty in town”!

Dr Hafsa Siddiqui ( 2017)

Simon : A Case Report

Persian Himalayan Cat laying on gold pillow looking up

Simon:

He was heroically saved from the evil clutches of the children playing on the streets two weeks back by Ahmed, the spiked-hair boy of Ashfaq Bhai, the “Big Dada” of the family. Simon was fed on a diet of milk and cat-food bought from Naheed’s Supermarket.

Breakfast = Bowl of milk

Lunch = Cat food (read “expensive cat food”)

Dinner = Bowl of milk

The parents are conspiring against the four legged “gentle-cat” , but the children have grown affectionate towards the feline. He was brought to the birthday party of the kid , Mohammed Azaan, which appeared to be a giving away of the pet.Hence he  was actively advertised as a potential adoptee to yours truly and the lanky guy who lives upstairs with the spiked hair resembling a triceratops(read my younger brother).

Simon was lovingly given a bath earlier that same day with Johnson’s baby shampoo and the “hair ” was impeccably dried with a hair dryer, all done by fifth grader Zoha Ashfaq with her salon treatments. It was stipulated that he hails from the Siamese breed (although he is a Himalayan citizen) and does not shed much hair.

Simon was found playing “Statue-Statue” with the children in the drawing room, glaring with his steel blue eyes, amid his “gnome “like place in the garden, wedged between two shrubs. And while the cake was being served, meticulously divided into equal rectangular pieces, with slivers of pineapple neatly sandwiched in- between by the father of the birthday boy, the tabby cat sprawled on the sofa, patted his black furry tail like the desi Punjabi lovingly groom their coal black moustache- “mooounch ko taow“.

When questioned about the possible thought of being possessed by a jinn, Mme Zoha stated, “NOOO!! We have asked him many times that if there is a jinn inside… then GO AWAY! We will not say anything or hurt you.”

Therefore, currently, Jinn status = Nil (as yet)

It was a night of mixed feelings as noted by this scribe, when the children were preparing to ride back home with their pet back in the safety of their laps.

Farewell:

Simon,we adore your steel blue eyes with the little specks of darker blue in the irises and the hole that is your pupil, and the white whiskers that frame your eyes and the nose. The brown coat of yours that looks like a lady’s expensive fur coat bought from an elite shop in Paris, and the pink soft cushioned paws that you ever-so-gently lick. But we are sorry, we cannot adopt you despite all these demure features, because our hands are already full and the access inside the house is DENIED.  Presently, we already have two adopted cat-children; both fraternal twins , one a skidder like a mad motorcyclist, whom the elder brother has named as an “anxiety sufferer” and the other who is a kleptomaniac of all sorts.

The cat children are ill mannered, but “Who hates their babies?”

(2009)

Picchal Payree

 

The awkward and disrupted notes of my favourite song, “Star Light, Star Bright” on the flute that I was proudly playing were lost, suddenly as a strange ringing of the bells was heard. The “practice session” which was taking place in my balcony- yes, my balcony – was stopped short of an encore.

It was a black night with only the faint glimmer of a tired moon shining above. And I was practicing my flute. In the balcony. At night.

My family was trying to catch some sleep as the power breakdown continued. Two hours had lapsed since the electricity had “gone”.

The bells were heard again. This time, I tried reasoning to myself. It cannot be our door bell. Certainly cannot be a lady’s anklets tinkering in the night. Or could it be…?

My mind raced towards the age old sagacity of the numerous stories that my friends had retold me during my span of 12 years of age.

It could only be a “Picchal payrree” in the black of the night!

“Abbaaaaaaaaaaaa!” I screamed, dropping my flute, and running to my dozing father.

“Abba, please, wake up. Recite the Ayatul Kursi on me!”

I couldn’t bring myself to give him any reason for my reason. If I mention the cause, she will get me. The Pichhal Payree.

Knowing his daughter, Abba recited the Holy verses, giving me into the care of Allah. Climbing onto an arm chair, consoled and feeling safe, I welcomed sleep forgetting all about my flute practice.

The next day while getting ready for the school- the realization dawned that the ringing was still audible during day-time.

A “Daytime Picchal Payree”?

The mystery was soon resolved. With Eid -ul -Adha being near, one of our neighbours had brought a sacrificial animal for the holidays. The anklets were tied to that goat.

Picchal Payree, indeed!

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  • Picchal Payree: An Urdu word for “Banshee”; a “lady-ghost” with her feet twisted backwards.
  • Abba : term for father in Urdu.
  • Ayatul Kursi: Literally, “The Verse of the Throne”- a verse from the Quran praising Allah. This invocation is widely recited for protection from all harm.
  • Eid-ul-Adha : A Muslim festival celebrating the sacrifice that Abraham (May God’s mercy and blessings be upon him) carried out to please God. His son, Ismael, was saved by a miracle and instead, a ram was sacrificed.