Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Story that Happens at the Dining Table

It is a hot and humid night, a few stars are gazing lazily at the dwellers of this planet.

They think about the shenanigans that the inhabitants of the earth engage in, and they start yawning. The thought is boring.

“Ha! Look at the people casting stones while sitting in a glass house,” exclaims Sirius the brightest star.

“And there are piped pipers too who seem to be having delusions of grandeur,” says another bored star.

They yawn. Suddenly one of them starts twinkling real fast. “Look, finally there is something interesting happening on the earth,” he sparkles with joy.

They peep inside the window of the house on one of the streets in Lahore.

They have Google street maps so it’s easier for them to find the exact place.

There is light, there’s food, there’s the laughter of  children, and a sense of expectancy. A perfect setting. 

Waft of something crispy, salty, tasty, settles on the dining table, it blends with the laughter, settles on the tongues of Mobby and Roshan.

Amma comes, bearing a dish of mouth watering home made KFC style mini burgers. The dish is placed on the table.

And then it happens.

 “This looks like a turtle…well, almost a turtle,” Roshan has spotted a turtle among the burgers.

Sure. There is one turtle. All I need is a pair of cloves and a dash of tomato peel.

I am so good at sculpting eatables.

“One turtle is looking, while the rest of them are hiding inside their shells,” Mobby observes.

“ Invite your friends, introduce turtles to them,” I tell them.

I want visitors to admire my sculpting skills. I want to be famous.

A teddy comes and sits near the dish of turtles. “They look so cute,” he says.
Another friend comes. And then another.

“They are such darlings,” say the teddy and the froggy, and they bend down to kiss them.

“These turtles smell like…smell like…something yummmmmy,” they open their mouths.

The turtle, the one that’s not hiding in its shell, tries to run away…

Ah! It’s the cloves I taste first.

Teddy and friends have gone back, and they never admired my sculpting skill. I am not famous. But I am satiated, and it feels good.

A happy ending.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Of Tooth Fairies and Sparrows

“They travel at night and collect teeth. In the morning they set to work and fashion those teeth into gleaming white pearls and make necklaces. In the evening they get dressed, wear tooth pearl necklaces, and dance. And they sing, ‘we are happy, we are pretty’,” I tell Omar when he asks me about tooth fairies.

“And they give gifts to children?” he asks.

“Yes, they like to do honest business. So they barter gifts for teeth.”

Omar seems indecisive about something. But after a while he shows me his key ring and a wallet with brand new notes. “Look, what the tooth fairy gave me last night.”

I am excited about Omar’s new found riches and tell him so. After all, this comes as a replacement of his seven year old tooth. A long held treasure.

Something is still bothering Omar. And he asks me, “Do you actually believe in tooth fairies? I think, Amma put these gifts under my pillow when I was sleeping.”

Omar is facing an existential moment.

“Of course, I believe in fairies, all kind of fairies. Why would Amma wake up in the middle of the night to do so, she could have given you these gifts in the morning,” I am in my defense- counsel-for-fairies mode.

Now Roshan joins the conversation. He is also a beneficiary of tooth fairies’ largesse. “I got a big teddy bear. Shops are closed at midnight, and I didn’t see my mother going to the market in the morning to buy a teddy bear.  I think there are tooth fairies,” Roshan seems to be reassuring himself.

Omar is not entirely convinced. “Dado, were there tooth fairies when you lost your teeth at seven,” Omar asks grandma. He is now looking for historical, empirical evidence for tooth fairies’ existence.  

“We used to give our teeth to sparrows. We would chant ‘Sparrow, sparrow, take our old tooth and give us a brand new one’,” Dado reminisces.

“At that time in history, tooth fairies weren’t mobile. So they asked sparrows to collect teeth for them. I believe, the fairies paid those sparrows handsomely,” I am a loyal counsel.

If I want my tooth back, will the fairy give it back?” Omar asks.

“No, I don’t think so. It has already been turned into a pearl,” my loyalty knows no bounds.

“What kind of a fairy is she if she can’t return my tooth?”

Omar and Roshan look at each other meaningfully.

 Ah! The real world. The world where tooth fairies don’t exist but dentists do. The world of skepticism, doubts, disillusionment, and questions with no answers. What a momentous transition. We do need tooth fairies to mark the moment, to make it easier. Maybe, a dollop of enchantment with stay on. 

Yes, I believe in tooth fairies; and I  believe there were sparrows who used to run errands for fairies.