It's Little Things That Count

  • 28 Oct - 03 Nov, 2017
  • Ayesha Adil
  • Fiction

I always tell Fawad that I didn’t choose teaching but rather teaching chose me. He used to laugh, “Like a cat finds a home and an owner, and not the other way around.”

He made me laugh at my own silliness. But it was true. Teaching found me. That’s another story though, which I can get to later.

Soon it was back-to-school time. The vacations were over and I was geared up for a new academic year. I was super excited but I was also missing my kids.

“You love them more than you love me Saima,” Fawad often whined.

Obviously, this wasn’t true. (Ok, maybe a little bit! Especially when I’m upset with YOU!)

The new classroom, the buzz and the energy… I simply loved it. That’s why I began to bear down on my students with so much passion.

If you’re not a teacher, you won’t understand. And if you are, you will only know too well. Teaching is hard work! Getting through the minds of the youth is tough business. There are so many distractions, so much mind control, and so much information bombardment from all angles. And the irony is that most of this information is not ‘good’ for them. It will not contribute to their intellectual development or improve them in any way emotionally; it is just a waste of time.

As I stood in the classroom during a difficult lesson in Sociology, I could not help but plea!

“Uff. Tell me something real. Do you think WhatsApp, Twitter or Instagram represents anything that is real? Social media is filling your head with nonsense.”

I could feel myself getting emotionally involved in this debate and I was glad the bell rang when it did. I took a sigh of relief and audibly told my students, “class dismissed.”

The new generation, the newbies; what will become of them? As a teacher, I just could not clock out – maybe I should sometimes.

I couldn’t help get personally involved in my work. I didn’t study Sociology to simply teach students to pass their exams. I read the subject so that I could educate and make a difference, but now it seemed the harder I tried, the more I failed as the stimuli around them was just too much to take on. In fact I began to think that I was creating a group of students that were misfits. Better to follow the status quo – don’t teach them to think freely.

Fawad’s word reverberated in my ears, “They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening.” I know, I know George Orwell said that in his book 1984 but it was Fawad who reminded me, the smart reader that he is.

I went back to my office like a typical grouch. My day was practically done for me. I really couldn’t get any real work done after that.

I began planning the weekend in my head.

Cooking, cleaning, buying groceries; maybe we could squeeze in a movie marathon.

Fawad and I had begun to watch some very interesting movies lately. It was more a conscious effort. How easy was it to fall into the trap of watching the main frame feature films? The Hollywood-Bollywood rush; the trailers; the madness.

No one talks about the movies that are deep, powerful tales that actually affect you at a different level.

Last week we managed two great ones: Detachment and Trust. Not super famous at all, but with an amazing cast, and of course more than your run-of-the-mill stories. I often watched movies to recommend to my students too – teach them a topic and give them a name of a movie that is relatable to the same subject content. They watched the movies gladly. How cool was it to tell your parents that the movie they are watching is homework. And when they come back the next day the concept studied is super clear; almost unforgettable. I chuckled to myself at the thought. I was clever now, wasn’t I?

Gloating never really suited me though and right about then another thought came to mind. Wasn’t I serving the same media by default? Filling their heads with the same ideology that I was trying so hard to challenge?

Argh… utopia does not exist!

“I give up!”

I concentrated on the weekend; a safer option at the moment.

I was looking forward to a quiet evening. Maybe we could takeaway and not even cook. The thought made me smile. I could really relax now, couldn’t I? Done with corrections, done with meetings, planner done, basically all done. It felt good to tie the proverbial ribbon around my week.

I packed up my things as off time neared. I messaged Fawad telling him my plan. There was a quick response.

“But I was planning a night out with you. I’ve made reservations too.”

Okay. This was tricky. We, married couples often come to this fork in the road. My will against yours – whose choice is it?

I remember my mom’s excellent advice, “Pick your fights wisely.”

Now, as a woman, you know that we can get our way if we want, but Fawad rarely made spontaneous plans so evidently he had been thinking about this for a while. I didn’t want to disappoint him. But I couldn’t ignore my aching feet and breaking back either.

I made my decision.

I replied, “Ok. See you at home!” I tried sounding cheerful.

I began to pack my stuff getting ready to go home.

I should be excited. Wasn’t I complaining some days back that we needed

to get out. I didn’t think it would be

so soon…

“Tough luck, Saima. You asked for this with the proverbial ‘I do’. There’s no getting out now.” My inner voice so ready to chide, to counsel.

I’m doing it for my husband, right? Then what’s the fuss about? Oh! To calm down a woman’s mind.

All packed and on my way home.

Fawad got home a little while after me. His presence filled up our house. I always liked his entrances. The door opens, wallet, keys, bag and all his other stuff on the side board.

“Hey! How was your day?”

Some might think that the ‘usual’ or the ‘ordinary’ was boring. But I knew better. In this day and age when we flick through a bombardment of stimulus constantly at our finger tips, the ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’ are blessings – the fact that we take out time even for that, counts. And if he asks me the same question every day, than I know he cares.

And today was different, wasn’t it? He was taking me out!

“My day was great. What about yours?” I will bore him with specific details later; for now I just wanted him to freshen up and then we would go out.

I had laid out my clothes and was genuinely in on this!

Fawad sensed my impatience. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Oh, its nothing. Remember our plan though. A quiet dinner followed by a movie.” I smiled cheerfully. “Now that’s your plan, is it?” He came and sat down.


“What’s on your mind, Fawad?”

“Dress up, we are having a night out!”

“Oh yes! I know!” I said happily.

Marriage is all about compromise now, isn’t it? I laughed inwardly.

Fawad got up, picked up his phone and went to shower and change. I just sat there trying to soak up enough rest for the night out. I wanted to please him. Who wouldn’t want to? He was great and he was mine.

I don’t even know when I dozed off. I woke up to the sound of a doorbell. I could faintly hear Fawad talking to someone. How long was I out? I looked at the clock; it was 10 o’clock. Oh my God!

What did I do? Here I was telling myself that I will please my husband. Cater to his needs and I fell asleep!

I was horrified. I quickly went into the room and began to get my things together. I don’t even know when he walked in.

I turned around expecting him to be dressed up but he was wearing his night suit. He gestured for me to come out into the lounge area.

I was almost in tears. Tears of guilt, guilt piled up high and strong.

The lounge lights were a little dim. A very neat and orderly dinner table was set up; pizza and burgers, drinks, crockery, cutlery and glassware; it all looked so nice, so homely. I could cry again out of sheer happiness. Our movie was on pause on YouTube.

“What are we watching?” The words barely came out of my mouth.

“Roman Holiday. Your favourite.”

“Fawad,” I started… he put a finger to his lips to quieten me.

Ok, I know you know it. I know it too. I started to cry.

“Did I do something wrong?” Fawad got confused.

“No,” I said. “You did everything right. Everything.” •