The Great Floods of 2017 (because I've realised there's one every year!)
Sister: Why does it take you so long to answer?
Me: We are flooded.
Sister: What do you mean?
Me (stating the obvious): …sh!t ……water…… in….. the….house.
Sister: But you blocked the doors and raised the gutters!
Me: Yup, the water found another way to get in.
Me: Front door, it was gushing in so hard I couldn't even open the door anymore!
Sister (panicking): Where's mum?
Me (turning phone camera to mum): Here, it's been two months and the thing that finally made her laugh was seeing me ankle deep in sh!t!
Mum is laughing, but no sound leaves her mouth. Her vocal cords don't work so well anymore, but there's a twinkle in her eye.
Sister (really concerned): Where's papa?
Me (turning the phone to papa): Here, he refused to stay upstairs.
Dad (waving at sister): We can carry her up.
Me: No papa, I seriously don't need another handicapped parent to look after today.
Dad does a very good job of ignoring my comments when I suggest that he is in fact old.
Mum is still laughing.
Sister: OMG! OMG!
Me: Calm down, they are fine (flashing camera at both parents), upstairs is ready, we are better prepared this year, mama and papa are fine and will stay that way.
Sister: I'm not worried about them.
Me: Excuse me?
Sister: It's the house.
Me (a bit irate): What do you mean the house? Who cares about this old pile of bricks!
Sister: I just renovated it! It's going to get RUINED!!!!
Me (giving my best sarcastic one-eyebrow-raised look): Great, you're more concerned about your paint job getting ruined than your family being stuck in sewage water!
Sister (matter of factly): That's what you're there for, you always fix everything and they will be fine. Emergencies are what you deal with. But the HOUSE!
Me (rolling eyes): Whatever, I'm going outside to shout for help.
Me: Well, the nurse and I can't carry mum upstairs. Good thing we are in Karachi, health and safety isn't much of a concern here so I think I will be able to find some men willing to walk through sh!t to help us.
Sister: OMG, you're hilarious! Call me when you're done, I want to hear everything
At least she didn't lecture me on walking outside in my PJs and messy hair!
Me (mustering all my sarcasm): To quote Jane Austen badly, “What are we here for but to create amusement for you and our wonderful neighbours, my dear sister."
Sister (laughing): I'm sure the street has missed the crazy Khan women.
Me (giving her a smile): Yes, I'm sure they had absolutely nothing to talk about before mum and I moved back!
A good thing about Karachi is that people are always willing to help, they take that 'be good to your neighbour' stuff very seriously. As I walk through the backyard, I see a mouse (or is it a baby rat?) perched on top of the raised gutter top. I stare in an attempt to store the scene in my mind so that I can recount the entire encounter to my beloved older sister, who after all had insisted I call her back to tell her about my adventure (doesn't matter that she has a massive rodent phobia!).
Me (to the rat): Today, following our family tradition started by my mother the great Magdalena 40 years ago, I call a truce in this time of mutual suffering. But come sunshine and cleared water, there will be blood (shaking my fist in the air)!
No, don't insult me, I have not watched too much GOT, just read too many books.
Dad, as stubborn as ever, is following me despite me telling him not to.
Me: Damn, that man doesn't listen. I thought I got my stubborn genes from mum, but dad's proving me wrong. Papa, please go back inside! (just realising I didn't want him walking through the backyard on his own) Wait, stay at the gate and hold onto something for goodness' sake!
Dad gives me his best scolding look that was once intimidating but now is amusing since I may have inherited that from him too.
I'm standing in the middle of our outer driveway connecting to the road, very attractively smelling of sewage, with soaked PJs and hair plastered all over my face. Unlike what most of my dear guy friends may think, we women don't wear ultra-hot sleepwear. It's more like that old t-shirt that you've worn so well it's become your comfy old friend and an embarrassment to your fashionista sister when you still wear it over an old pair of jeans (she should be happy this one is without holes).
Where are all those gossiping chowkidars and drivers when you need them? The street is dark, flooded, and empty. I think the entire neighbourhood has seen me and most of my household in their PJs by now (having run out with mum in emergencies), but even though I've seen a few of them in theirs when they've come to help out in the same emergencies, we are not allowed to ever mention that bit. Before I start shouting 'help!' in the middle of the street, a gate opposite me opens.
Me: Hello there!
I see a man across the street in a t-shirt and shorts.
He waves, looking a bit stunned and embarrassed.
Me (ignoring his obvious embarrassment): I need help carrying my mum upstairs, you strong enough to assist?
Guy: Umm….let me put on my shorts!
Im a little confused as he already is in shorts. Or are those boxers that he's wearing? Great, now I get to see them in their underwear too! Poor lad turns out to be my neighbours 18 year old son. As he comes across, I have to give him specific instructions on how to cross – as a true Karachiite, I have a blueprint stored in my head of all the potholes and gutters on the street. He better not get hurt or his mum won't be too happy! Great, I've turned into a bloody aunty as well. Good thing he didn't call me an aunty, or I would have had to smack him!
DISCLAIMER: Copyright belongs to the author. This blog cannot be held responsible for events bearing overt resemblance to any actual occurrences. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of CCIT or AKU.
About the Author:
Dr. Anokhi is a pediatrician with many special interests, as well as a public health specialist and epidemiologist.
She is managing partner of her own pediatric clinic, The Apple
Tree Pediatrics, and as of Feb 2020 she is also Assistant Director of the department
of Maternal And Child Health IRD Pakistan. Further bio can be found at appletreepeds.com