• 30 Dec - 05 Jan, 2018
  • Ayesha Adil
  • Fiction

It’s all over the place. The entire world is waiting with bated breath. The year 2018 is round the corner and I am forced to assess how I spent the last 365 days of my life. Did I accomplish all what I wanted to? Did I even meet half of my New Year resolutions? Have I done anything worth mentioning with my life?

It was a busy day at work but my mind was on overdrive. I began to multi-task like my brilliant wife without much thought into what I was doing.

I envied Saima to a great extent. She had the privilege of looking at the world through the eyes of a teacher. For her the New Year was always the new academic year and she didn’t have to put all this undue pressure on herself.

She could sit back and let the whole world fret because for her the New Year had already begun. In fact, the Academic year 2017-2018 was already half over.

I could sense someone at my desk. I looked up to see my irritating peer, looking at me closely. I resumed doing my tasks like he didn’t exist.

I made a plan; tonight I would sit down with Saima and both of us would contemplate over the passed year and make some plans for the new one. It was something to do at least. It sounded productive.

I reached home later than usual; the end of a year is not a happy time in the accounting arena.

The house was awfully quiet. No sign of Saima. She was on her winter break lately and was super active catching up with her friends, so when I couldn’t see or hear her anywhere, I thought she had gone out. But I was surprised to find her napping in our room.

For a second I got a little worried. Is she sick? I gently touched her forehead. No fever, phew.

Then, I noticed that the room looked spick and span. All our things were in place and everything looked very orderly.

It must have been a cleaning day. She was just beat. I didn’t want to disturb her, so I tiptoed my way out.

I went into the kitchen and thought of heating myself some dinner. Saima always made sure the fridge was stocked. And if it was cleaning day, there must be some food pre-prepared.

In this reverie, I started my task. My thoughts didn’t leave me. I had to put 2017 to rest to begin afresh with 2018.

While my plate of yummy food was heating in the microwave, I reclined in our living room couch and closed my eyes. My house was so peaceful, even I was envious of it. What a strange thought. I did not realise when I dozed off and heard my mother’s voice calling me from a distance.

I was back in my childhood years. I was home with my parents. Was I dreaming? I felt like I was in a psychological limbo. I was suddenly struck by a thought; Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts in Christmas Carol! Was I being brought back to the past for tackling some unresolved matters?

“Fawad! Give me my book back!” My sister was screaming, as she chased me while I ran away as fast as I could with her book clutched in my hand. I missed my eldest sister. She used to pamper me and bring me treats from college. I had not talked to her in a long time. I made a mental note to call her soon.

“I tease you because I love you. I feel like you care when you run after me.” I called out in my dream. Touched, she held out her arms to hug me. I ran into them and hugged her back.

I don’t think I ever said that to her in the past but I was dreaming through adult eyes. I could access the meaning behind my past actions more maturely now.

Dreams have a strange way to blend past, present and future.

Suddenly, my ears rang with my mom’s screams. I could hear her cry uncontrollably, while my dad consoled her.

“He has a better job opportunity in Karachi. He has waited so long for a splendid job like this. We have to let him go,” his voice resonated.

My mom always seemed so happy seeing me accomplishing my dreams. I never knew why parting from me made her so upset. I kicked myself in the butt, proverbially and metaphorically. How long had it been since I went to Lahore to meet my parents? Did I bother to make it my New Year resolution? I didn’t. I was really hating myself right now.

My dream fast forwarded while I desperately willed it to end. The job, my marital bliss, Saima, my life in a nutshell.

My brain was stuck in a vortex of memories. I could hear laughter, tears, fights and words.

“I wish he could understand my pain,” Saima’s voice sounded painful. What is she talking about?

I listened more intently. When did she say that? Then I remembered. It was from years ago when Saima and I were trying to start a family. When Saima couldn’t conceive, we thought of adopting a kid but neither of our parents was supportive of our decision. “You’re still young,” they said. “You should continue trying.”

Saima was heartbroken. She thought that it was God’s way of telling her to house one of the numerous disadvantaged children out there. She felt that with so many loveless children in the world, it would be selfish to try having their own, when they could be extending their affections to the less privileged. “Why does our society hold giving birth on a higher status than bringing up children well with love and affection? When would this biological competition end? When?” She often asked.

This must have been that time and I was completely unaware of her pain. In my dream I could feel myself aching. The pain was real. How can I let down my loved ones so badly?

It was then that I felt someone touch my arm.

I opened my eyes and saw Saima’s friendly face. Relief washed over me. I smiled.

“How long have you been out here? It’s almost one o’clock. You must be cold,” she said.

“Not for long,” I replied, still smiling.

She sat down next to me.

“Why didn’t you wake me up when you came back from work?” she inquired.

“You looked so peaceful asleep that I didn’t want to disturb you,” I explained while rubbing my eyes. But then I abruptly stopped and stared at her.

“What?” she asked, looking visibly puzzled.

“Saima, I have some serious New Year’s resolutions to make!” I announced.

“Humph. You say that every year. Go to the gym, read more, relax, work less,” Saima was imitating me like a parrot.

“No, this year will be different. I have other things on my mind,” I exerted. And this time, I looked so serious that she became silent.

I had resolved to be more empathetic; to really feel what others around me felt and needed. And I would start by calling my mom and telling her that we were coming to see her.

Then, Saima and I would have a serious discussion about adopting a baby.

She began to salvage my slightly burnt food that I had forgotten in the microwave earlier.

The ghost of Christmas past, present and future had opened my eyes to realities that I was completely blind to.

And as a New Year’s resolution, I vowed that I would never let down my family again. We would start again as a family in 2018. With that thought, I joined Saima in the kitchen. •