Alarm rings and I come out of my rutted pattern of sleep deprivation. The loud snoring from the other side of the bed helps me clear my brain fog and I unwantedly set out for a never-ending day. My overly fatigued body pretends to recharge itself and I find myself in the kitchen to serve pre-breakfast snacks to my father and mother in-law. In the meanwhile, I hear the mumbling from upstairs which would shortly turn into anguished shrieks. This is the youngest one who never forgets to harp on the same string about not going to school. Waking up the elder daughters and simultaneously getting all three of them ready for school is maddening. The boy is feeling miserable for having a new teacher in his pre-nursery class who doesn’t seem to fit into his frame of lofty aesthetics. Both girls have the similar problems. One is grouchy about her sash which always appears to her improperly ironed and rugged. The middle one is not finding her purple pony. To her, the source of all her miseries is her elder sister who is overly privileged just for being the eldest. Where is the shoe polish? My water bottle is missing. The school bag is too heavy. Where had I put my pink eraser? Why don’t you place things back after use! I retort to all these statements.
My husband is helpful but according to him he has limitations. He is supposed to attend a conference call by a European client at sharp 9 and he complains for being late already. He is also extra conscious about having just single crease on his trousers and he loves to communicate from the toilet. “Yar, do sort out the clothes and bed sheet of abu, he shouts”. My father in law has been a chronic patient of urine incontinence and uses diapers. The smell of urine somehow stays in my head most of the time and lately it has started coexisting with my smell and taste receptors from washing the urine drenched inners and sheets to giving presentation in the boardroom of my office. Oh, it reminds me of my today’s presentation which is still not ready. I am supposed to give it to a local philanthropist who is too keen to hear about the return on his investment. The very thought of that interaction makes me shudder despicable.
The chain of my thoughts gets broken with another announcement from the toilet, “Yar, you will have to call the laboratory guy to collect the blood sample of ammi which is already delayed and I will not be able to pick Abdullah from his school today. You are good at using Uber, just manage it”. This message intensely jolts the already swaying titter-totter in my head. My effort to convince him for not dragging me into this proves in vane and I foresee the pain of unavailability or nerve-racking wait of Uber, high rate in the rush hours and above all the cancellation of ride by the captain at the last minute. On the other hand, my meeting with the donor is scheduled almost at the same time when my son is supposed to be picked up. We have a brief argument as soon as he gets out of the toilet. He keeps calm and shows his confidence in me telling I will manage. On my silence, he fondly asks to have a quick aalu ka paratha instead of toasted slices which are causing him constipation. Like a magician, my hands and mind are doing all the jugglery. I have to buy new underwear for my son noticing couple of holes in it. Ayla doesn’t seem to straighten up her hair. “You are 10 now and you still want me to comb your hair… when will you learn to do things yourself”, I snap at her. The kids are getting late too and none of them seems to taking or finishing the breakfast. Here lies an uneaten piece of French toast and there are mugs still filled with milk. A boiled egg is squirming to get inside Abdullah’s mouth and his eyes are glued to the cartoon network. Whilst preparing sandwiches and nuggets for kids my mind runs to and fro in the pursuit of finding right answers to the potential questions of the donor. The cab driver is continuously honking the horn. Girls get picked up and I forget to insert their lunch in girls’ school bags which adds on to the complexities of my agonies. Parents have taken seats for the breakfast to be served. My husband and son leave home too. I walk them to the main gate with prayers on my lips. I start washing the dishes as the maid comes only for cleaning the house. My husband can’t put up with eggy-smell which he thinks can never go if the dishes are cleaned by the maid. I have yet to take bath and prepare for the office. Just receive a reminder text from my boss who wishes to have a final look at the presentation. My heart sinks. The mother in law asks for another cup of tea. I inform her about the lunch which I prepare every night for the next day use. It’s so tediously irritating to think of what to cook today. Coming back from office, I will be buying fruits, yogurt, some grocery items and chicken for the next day meal.
I receive call from my husband who informs me about some guests who will visit us at the evening tea. I have no nerves to receive any guests. He assures to bring something along but asks me to have home-cooked items ready as well. I leave for office around 8:50 am. I have to drop lunch boxes of my daughters and stop by a nearby bank to use the ATM. Amidst all this, the gloomy face of my eldest daughter emerges in my mind who has entered her teenage years. The biological and emotional changes are taking its toll on her mental health. I think of my son who might have to go through a surgery for his plaguing tonsils. My biometric will report late entry in the office as usual. I again receive good morning text message from one of my senior male colleagues who never cease to irritate me. “You are getting too flabby from the middle. Yar set your walking routine”. I recall the comment made by my husband last night that intensifies my mounting frustration for being late. On my way, I glance over the newly constructed high-rise. My heart fills with a desire to have my own apartment there.
Saeed ul Hassan is an educationist, policy analyst, campaigner, poet and entrepreneur. About two decades ago, his career began as a volunteer in a public sector office. He later rose to senior leadership roles in international and national nonprofit organizations. Saeed is a published poet. As a writer and public speaker, he talks on personal, organizational and social change. Twitter @saeedulhassan7