The Servant

by Maniza Naqvi

Ar-nagori-1-jun04It’s rotten! Completely, eaten through! Take this out immediately throw it away—When was the last time you bothered even to clean in here? Didn’t you see this? No—stop! First take your shoes off—they are filthy!—Beta—how many times have I told you not to come in here with your shoes on! Why can’t you do as I say? No! I don’t want to hear a word from you! Don’t answer back! Look at this! When was the last time you cleaned this closet? Before the rains I am sure of it! Now look at this outfit! Ruined, infested—eaten through—crawling with insects! Just lazy! Plain careless! Beta you aren’t a child—you are twelve years old, you should know your responsibilities. I told the sweeper not to throw it out until you had seen it for yourself! I’ve been waiting for you to get home so that I can show it to you! I wore this only once on my last trip abroad for my speech at the conference and everyone complimented me! Now it’s ruined! A waste! No, don’t talk! That is another unending problem with you! You always have an excuse! You never listen. Why are you so late today? Your classes finish at noon and it’s now gone past one! This is what I get in return for sending you to Koran school! It’s just around the corner and you’ve taken so long in walking back. I should have never decided to educate you and send you to school! I thought that getting an education would make you smarter and that this would help you in the future to get married to a decent man–but no—you remain as lazy as ever! I’m going to tell your parents that I can’t send you all the way back to your home for Eid if this is the thanks I get in return for keeping you in my house, giving you a job and educating you. I have been telling all my friends, that they should follow my example. If we don’t do this who will! But you make me ashamed. I will have to tell everyone that I made a mistake and that it is simply no good sending you to school! I mean, if nothing else, if you don’t care about anything else, our reputation, our trust, our generosity, then at least, for the sake of Allah, you must take into account that money doesn’t grow on trees, I’m not made of money. I am generous I know that and maybe that is my sin but please don’t skin me alive for being kind! I am sad to see how ungrateful you are —Beta—we try so hard to make it clear that you are part of the family. Now be quiet—Silence! Let me listen to the news, get out of the way so I can see the breaking news. Oh Allah! Save us, not again! Tsk! Tsk! What is to become of us! I must update my status on Facebook. What we have to endure on TV, the things we suffer on TV. When will the real moral and good leader appear on this blasted TV? I pray and I pray for it. Always these ugly scarey looking crazy mullahs! Where are the decent looking ones? There must be someone we can say we can have over for dinner–sit with at a party—socialize with? —-Hand me my IPAD—no not that that’s my IPhone—over there—bring it here! Get the remote, switch the channel to Al Jazeera—No that’s BBC—okay stop let me watch CNN! What are you sniffling about? Are you getting a cold? I can’t afford for you to fall sick! Move the heater closer to me. There is so much work to be done and I have thirty people coming to dinner tomorrow night, to celebrate Fahad Rizwan’s award for his documentary, you know this very well, you have spent all of yesterday afternoon taking out and washing all the crockery and polishing the cutlery! And tomorrow before you got to school we have to rearrange the dining room. Go change out of your school uniform at once, wash up and make sure the cook gives you lunch—fatafat—be quick–eat in five minutes and then lay out the lunch on the table for Zohra and Tahir–Go check with the guard at the gate–has the Pizza Hut delivery arrived–I ordered it an hour ago, it must have—the children will be getting in any moment now from school. Zohra had a mathematics and physics exam today—you know that! She is going to be so tired! And both Tahir and Zohra have to get to their tutors for their after school tuition for chemistry, math and English by three. Here take this—put it on the dining table–Make sure they take these vitamins! These children, my God, Alhamdolillah! Mashallah, mashallah!! Inshallah they will do well in their O levels. Mashallah they are all so hardworking! Jazakallah!! Now go! There’s no time to waste. Get going! I have to say my prayers. And oh yes, iron the outfit I’ve hung up in my dressing room! It’s brand new. Be careful, if you burn it I’ll skin you alive!! I’m going to wear it tonight to the fund raiser for schools in Swat. It’s the last charity ball of the season. I’m tired. So tired of all that I have to do!! We are going to be late tonight so make sure you stay awake till we get home. You can watch TV in the lounge downstairs. And here, take this, don’t put on that stinking outfit that you’ve worn all week. Take this, I’ve made a pile of clothes for you, these don’t fit Zohra anymore—now go! Go quickly and change. And say your prayers! And take these two dupattas as well—they are white so you can cut them up in half for making at least four hijab scarfs for your school uniform. I can’t have you wearing the same thing on your head every day—it is filthy and what would people say, after all you are associated with the respectability and honor of this family! And stop scratching your head—if you get lice—I’m warning you—I’ll have your hide! Now, quickly tell me: What did you learn today—have you finished memorizing the twenty first Siparah? No! Not now!—I don’t have time to listen right now! Oh for the sake of Allah!!! I’ll listen to you later when I have a moment’s peace. But recite it all the time to yourself today– I will test you later. And remember to mention my parents by name each time you finish reciting it. And after we leave tonight, make sure you mop the corridors on the second floor; Zohra spilled Pepsi there this morning. If I had time I’d ask you to massage my feet but I have no time at all right now, maybe when I get back tonight, the high heels I’m planning to wear I know will kill me. Now go get me a cup of tea.

Other Writings By Maniza Naqvi