Muddle. The worst of it’s kind.
Six mattresses, not the ones that are fat and firm and take twelve weeks of jumping to finally be able to give you a restful sleep but the soft thin ones that fold and zap back into shape, were piled one on top of each other on the right hand wall of the room. One mattress lay down sloping from atop the pile. This served for moments when one wanted to simply send someone rolling down to the floor. It was actually quite entertaining. Not for the person who had to give the push but the one who ended up on the soft brown carpet beneath. And that was where she was at that moment.
Uxi had begun from seventh in line (Izzah, Sarah and Mansoor all had rolled twice) to finally achieve that glorified triumph of maneuvering down the great big slide. It was not that simple see. You had to lie straight on your side, watch the landing at a flat angle, close your eyes and shout out ‘AYEE YA YA YA YAAAAAAAA!!!’
As soon as she had stopped spinning, the other sounds switched on again.
‘Pidddiiiii!!!’ (An amusing creation of Shams)
A misdirected tennis sized ball of wrinkled up paper, wrapped twice in scotch tape, hit Uxi on her head. She looked up to see everybody laughing. Even Furqan. This could have been an excellent opportunity for Ghaiz to wake up and escape the smelly sock Furqan was targeting in his open mouth. Meanwhile Ali, in total lack of control, laughed himself down the mattress on top of Uxi. The room rung with more laughter.
Uxi looked like she would cry. Her lips quivered. And then it happened.
The corners of her lips turned upwards slowly and then she burst into laughter herself.
That was Uxi. Small, light brown hair, eyes that sparkled…and laughter.
Every time I think of Uxi, I see our childhood memories.
Nights on the charpaai under the starry sky of Pachnand.
Uxi swinging hard on Nana Abu’s carved rocking chair and everybody warning her, ‘Slow down Uxi, you’re going to fall’ and Uxi swinging harder than ever until the wooden chair fell back. Laughing herself crazy, Uxi stayed there for a minute and a half until the camera was found and clicked away for future reference.
Afternoons of swinging ourselves crazy on the green hammock behind the garage.
Hugging trees and looking for Smurfs in the wild mushroom growths.
Holding little Uxi’s arm to support her while I bathed her (‘thunday thunday paani say nahana chahiye! Han nahana chahiye!...’)
Huddled in a circle, concentrating on UHU-ing pink and olive sequins on Apa’s wedding cards at 2.50am and Uxi suddenly sitting up to say ‘Guys! I just realized!’, everybody looking up to expect the worst and Uxi finishing, ‘We’re having so much fun!’
Playing on the swings in the ‘
We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the wine and the song
Like the seasons, have all gone
There is laughter in these. There is hope in these. The only thing missing are the sounds. I have tried to hear more. But failed. In the background of these, all I now hear is…
(April 1990 – March 2007)