I started writing my childhood memories, and they got so many I figured I should submit them in two parts :O
I grew up in a village in Swat. A famous village the name of which is now all over Youtube because, thanks to our recent/current war, it has been one of the most-affected ones. It now lies in utter annihilation. Khwdey de ubakhee …
When my mother visited Swat a few months ago, she was telling me how much it has changed, and I don’t and won’t believe it until I see it all for myself. I dream of going to Swat – or any Pashtun region, really – and I imagine that the moment I reach there, I’ll get out of the car and literally kiss my soil. I will prostrate there and open my arms to God and shout my thanks to Him for reuniting me with my land. I tell you, I will not care if people watch with open mouths or laugh at me; I won’t mind if my family/relative who will be with me mock me and feel embarrassed by what I’ll be doing. It’s a dream … and I will make sure it happens whether anyone likes it or not, ka khairee.
As you all know, I’ve been longing for Swat these past few months – rather, since the end of 2007. What is keeping me from visiting/going, you ask? Well, nothing, to be honest. I have absolutely no excuse not to go . . . :S I guess maybe the fear that seeing Swat this destroyed will kill me. I guess I’d rather enjoy remembering everything the way they were ten years ago than to go there and be haunted for the rest of my life…
Khair, lemme share some precious childhood memories here.
~ My most favoritest one: How my friends/cousins and I would pick up chewed gums from the ground and eat them like it was nothing. No one ever stopped us – yeah, we never did it in front elders because we knew they’d beat the hell out of us. hah.
~ In the morning, when my sister and I would be walking to school, we’d come across a lot of butcher shops, you see. They’d have these butchered animals lying on the floor, in different positions, waiting to be chopped into pieces and then sold. One morning, this one cow was lying on her back and her tummy was huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge. Sama parrsedalee wa and stuff, like a humongous bubble. So I thought it’d be absolutely COOL if I just stepped on it to make all the fluids inside it pop out :S I lifted my leg and came THIS close to bursting that bubble ... I was only showing my sister how I’d do it, and then I saw this teacher of mine who was standing there (he had been my teacher some year before that time), watching me and was about to burst into laughter and then I was tooooo embarrassed to do it! So I didn’t… and we continued walking to school in the usual boring way, nothing exciting other than wishing I’d be able to pop the tummy of the next cow I see. Never happened.
~ I loved, loved, LOVED Wednesdays because I didn’t have sabaq (Quran classes) on Thursdays. One Wednesday, I’d just gotten out of the house of the lady who taught us Quran and was running home. It was just a few minutes before evening prayer, and I was crossing the Mosque. Now, I wasn’t just running but shouting really loudly as well (hey, it was my way of celebrating no-class the next day, all right?) :S This rrrrrreally, REALLY old man, who had just … umm… I shouldn’t say, but basically he was getting ready for prayer. He saw and heard me, and apparently, I musta scared him half to death or something because he cursed me so bad ~cries bitterly~ He said, “ITA KHWDEY DE RRANDA KA!!!” :S And I started crying because I hadn’t done anything to deserve his such evil khairey! Those khairey stuck with me for years because I used to cry that one day, I’ll go blind because an old man wished it so, and old people’s prayers/wishes/requests come true, I was taught (I don’t anymore believe that khairey come true! No one deserves them, k! I was hardly maybe seven years old, and he wished such evil upon an innocent, harmless little girl who hadn’t done anything to him!! HOW CRUEL!!! ~cries harder~)
~ My aunt (tandaar) sews. Often, she’d ask me to buy her nache/threads, and often, I’d return with them. There would come times, though, when I’d just … go to the bazaar and buy me a rupai-waal cake with the money she’d given me for a nacha! (WHAAAAAAAAT! Those cakes were SO GOOD! Do they still exist? I remember how much I longed for them allllllll the time. Each time I won a rupai, that’s all I got me :D) I’d come back home hours later and avoid my aunt for as long as I could, until when she’d ask me herself where her nacha is and I’d say, “What nacha?” I’m not sure how I ever got away with lying, lol.
~ There was a cemetery right next to my house. In it was a huge olive tree, large enough to have several children climb it and stay in it for a long time and tell stories and jokes and stuff. My cousin and I would climb it and spit on people below us :O We ruled the neighborhood; no one could ever hurt us, lol.
~ There used to be this crazy and weird man in our village; we used to pass his house on our way to school and the chawk. We’d stop by his house, and his door had this big creek in it, enough for us to see what the house looked like, what weird things he had inside it, which trees he had, etc. EVERYTHING was ALWAYS in the EXACT same position; never did he seem to change things around, to change the location of his shoes – which were ALWAYS placed right next to the door on this platform-like area near the door – his beds/katuna (those beds you put in the veranda/courtyard), or anything else. And his door was always locked. He was known to be a crazy man, and we told each other and everyone else that “Never open your mouth when he’s around because he might count your teeth. When he counts your teeth, you’re going to die. Everyone knows this.” So poor man, when he would be near us, we’d press our lips tightly together and stare at him, as if to challenge, “hahhahahaha! You can’t count my teeth now!” But, really, he WOULD stop there in front of us and, without uttering a word, he’d point to our teeth and open his mouth, showing his own teeth, indirectly asking us to show ours as well! So that’s why we were scared, you see!
This same man would visit the cemetery each Sunday at 9:00. He’d sit by this small grave that was right beneath the olive tree and pray. Then he’d leave a few rupees on the grave and get up to swing on this big branch of the olive tree for a while. All us kids would be watching him from a distance, and once he’d leave and be out of sight, we’d all rush to the grave to get the money he’d left :O
Up Next: Childhood Memoirs - Part II