Just Another Story of my Neighborly Neighborhood
Asma Qureshi, 17, Pakistan
Crash! That was not the sound of a window being broken by a cricket
bal,l 'cause let's face it--the mode of living has become advanced
and we have aluminium sliding windows instead. That was the sound
of a plant pot that was just broken. The yelling was by my infuriated
mother: "You rascals, you scoundrels, why don't you go and play
in the parks...........blah blah blah!" (sigh).
That's the daily routine of our one-of-a-kind Pakistani neighborhood,
(sigh again!) with a pot being broken daily and my mom' going
Oh well. Whatever, I'll carry on with my story........ HOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAATT!
(that was a big one) accompanied by the loud and wild hooting
of the guys outside. It indicates the cricket mania in our street
(or may be every street in Karachi). I vaguely remember the whole
lot playing outside this insect-named game and swearing that they'd
never play this dumb game (they're right for once in their life!)
again, since the heartbreak (or was it a heart attack?) they got
from the ever wonderful Pakistani team (hmph) in the world cup!
Why, oh why, does it happen to me .... and they're back again
with playing this ... this .... stupid game.
Now, keep in mind this pandemonium is kept company by the little
toddlers wailing next door.The twins scream out their lungs for
their mother while she seems to be out shopping with her so-called
posh (choke) best friends every time. The babysitter (who's busy
yakking on the phone) doesn't seem to notice the angels' cries
(poor dears). Next, we have the Punjabi family that lives on our
left. These guys have high-pitched family discussions that begin
just past midnight with the eldest (some innocent girl's mother-in-law)
yelling at her son for being a "Joroo Ka Ghulam" (a husband who's
his wife's servant). Let's not forget their way-past-midnight
snacks with the clanging of pots and pans; something or the other
seems to be cooking every single minute in their house. This has
left such an effect on my nose that I can no more distinguish
between the smell of a French perfume and the odor produced by
a skunk (P.U.)!
The son of the neighbor living behind us is in that oh-so-sensitive
stage of his life, always seen dressed in a Romeo kinda get up
.... you know with gelled hair and a red rose in his hand. You
guessed it right -first love and probably at first sight. This
stage seems to have taken on a menacingly eternal note with him.
He insists on listening to "Na Tum Jano Na Hum" (translation:
"Neither You Know Nor I"), an Indian song from the movie,
"Kaho Na Pyar Hai" (translation: "Say That You
Love Me"), by none other than LuckyAli, day and night. My
four-year old cousin can even recite this Indian song by heart.
As for me, I want to be sick each time I hear it. (but i'll tell
you this open secret: personally I love this song)!
The neighborliness doesn't end here, but as soon as the electricity
does its magic act of vanishing, the generators start roaring.
This leaves me tossing and turning all alone in my bed, suffocating
and burying my sorrows under my five pillows and cursing the KESC
people at 1 o'clock in the morning. Imagine the irony of the neighbors
with generators and the lament murmuring of "Na Tum Jano Na Hum".
Imagine my agony struggling to study during exams at late hours.
Did I forget to mention the happenings of my own house? Imagine
this: rebelious sibblings gaffing and fighting over the Saturday
newspaper, both wanting to read it first while the paper has met
its fate (that is, it has been shredded to pieces). Then, again
another fight over who shredded the paper and another fight over
whose fault it was and so on and on and on...... Oh and don't
forget the Young Jackie Chan (my brother) heeyaing and aheeyaing
the world's famous karate chops. I swear my mom's gonna BAN the
Jackie Chan movies in our house for LIFE because of the broken
legs and fractured bones of me, my sisters and my brother too!
No, the torment doesn't end here, I, being the eldest teen in
the house, try to complete this piece of work with the volume
of the music system at the highest peak so that all glassware
is about to shatter while my mother is trying to control the wild
and frenzied environment. (I have sympathy for her!) My gramps
(grandpa) confuses this noise with something from World War II
and gets ready to fight like a soldier. Poor man--he had been
a major in the military. Ofcourse, he repeats his ever-famous
line, "C'mon, come out of your hiding and fight like a man if
you are!" Above all that the whole neighborhood's elderly adults
come to my mother with the same complaint about her horrendous,
audacious and mischievous daughter (me!). Her daughter is the
only girl in the neighborhood to have caused such trouble (even
more than the boys). Well, it's about time somebody made a change
and broke the old traditions and records of troubling the most!
Being brought up in the States, I surely have grown into a wild,
out-of-control (until that look on my mom's face) child.
So that adds a little more spice to our neighborhood life. But
what will happen when my neighbors come up to my mother with a
complaint like, "What an interesting article your daughter
wrote." I can just imagine the look on their faces! Anyway,
if all of this hustle-bustle hadn't been here, then the neighborhood
would have turned into an asylum--how suffocating! All this whoobub
and hullabaloo adds up to the Spirit of Neighborhood. So this
hubbuboo goes on ...... "Aay Meray Dil Tu Gaaye Ja...." (translation:
"Oh My Heart Keep on Singing.....).