Tuesday, December 15, 2009


MY family has become more like a United Nations summit. Every time I have to make a visit, I have to take care that I do not disrupt relations between myself and other nations. If I visit one, I have to visit the other. Regardless of how much time I have, also make a mental calculation that I spend equal time in both places. That’s what I did yesterday. I don’t know why I remembered it. I wanted to forget it all night. It took me 12 hours. Now I’ll think of it for 12 hours.

I hate it when I have to attend family gatherings prepared like a diplomat in a Pakistani embassy. You are given a run through. Briefed and told what to do, how to behave what to say. Stick to the plan, is always the quote. Yes. It might get messy back home if you blurt something. And don’t forget to smile. You have such a grumpy face, would it kill you to smile? Actually, it would. Considering that expression would be stuck on my face for the rest of the evening. I’d rather be killed. That ain’t even the worst part. It peaks when they sit you down. The entire consigliore with you. And across the table you watch as they make you an offer you can’t refuse. The second gulp of the air within your thorax is stuck not knowing where to go. Up or down, sir? You just smile and nod your head. Your opinion is dumb. You ain’t even grown up. Act responsibly. How? Listen to us!!

You escape from one place to another. The frying pan to the hell hole. You then walk across the street to the next gang. They stare you up and down. You try to ignore the reception, but the chill is unmistakable. They know where you been, kid. Play cool. Soon the talk veers to its fated destination. What’s your plan? Let me make a suggestion…. Words you just don’t wanna hear. Times you question the ‘evolutionary’ intelligence of having ears without doors to block out the unwanted. The plan comes out rushing and tumbling. Before you know, the budget is sorted out, halls are being earmarked. You breathe in to catch up like an out of shape sprinter in a marathon. The wind hits you in the stomach and knocks you out. The next few moments are a blur as you nod an acceptance to everything. You walk out of the door, with a sense of fear, guilt and a terror of the double cross that this will cost you. This must be what james bond feels like in Dr NO’s den.

Families are complicated. They make you feel the most comfortable before throwing you down the cliff. They push you to the wall, stick a gun up your nose and ask you to breathe . Families are the mafia of the middleclass. They are everywhere, they know everything and will have a say. Even if you don’t. But they have a way of doing it. Till the end, I felt like I was the one planning my father’s 60th birthday.

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