In the Absence of Women

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There had been some talk, that all women would go on a strike next week. But I had assumed that these were just rumors.

(The day of the strike)

When I woke up I wondered why Imama hadn't woken me up for my usual cup of tea. Then I realized that she was still asleep.

I heard Chandana the house-help singing in the garden and called her. She refused to come saying she was on strike. So I decided to go and try to fix myself some breakfast.

I seldom went to the kitchen. Maybe once or twice I may have ventured there for a glass of cool lemonade that Imama (my wife) always makes.

I first tried scrambling the eggs but I couldn't break the shell. And once when I was successful in at last breaking the shell I ended up being smeared from head to toe in egg. The second egg broke without struggle and a part of the shell fell down with the egg on the frying pan. I scrambled the egg thinking that the eggshell would make it all the more crunchy and yummy. When the egg was done I started eating it ravenously as I was famished by that time. Instead of being crunchy, the eggshell cut my cheek, causing me to spit it out and throw the rest of my egg in the bin.

Frustrated I put the fish to fry while I went to bathe (as I was still smelling of egg). Then I returned and started to watch the news while it fried. It seemed that the whole world was in a chaos, all the schools were closed (and it was exam time), even hospitals were not admitting patients due to lack of nurses, the farmers were worried as women usually help them make the hay in the sun and today was the last really sunny day in the week( it was forecast that it would pour the whole of next week).

When I returned to the kitchen after watching the news, all I saw in place of fried fish were charred bits and pieces!

Angrily I left the kitchen and went to little Salar's room. He was already awake and throwing tantrums.Somehow he got angry at me and started throwing each and every thing in sight at me. Soon the room was a mess. On the way out, he stamped on an ink-pad and left prints all over the parlor floor.

Five year old Aisha was the worst nuisance. For the first two hours she sat quietly and painted while I scrubbed the floor and tried to clean the carpet. Then, without warning she started screaming like a banshee and wouldn't stop until half an hour later I upturned a bucket of cold water over her. 

Aha! that seemed to stop her! But no she started wailing after ten minutes of silence. And that made me mad! I dried her and put a cello tape on her mouth (sigh) at last she stopped.

All this while Imama was watching me while having her breakfast and reading a book. Completely ignoring everything that was going on. Seeing her sitting like that calmly made me even madder.

I just banged the door while going out.

That disastrous day we went out to eat at Arsalan's Restaurant. At night you couldn't recognize my house. It was as if an earthquake had come and wrecked havoc upon the place!

Written by Mariam Jamal when she was in Grade 8.


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