Oooo! That must have hurt. My brother (Superman wannabe) had just done a belly flip into my private pool, situated in my rather luxurious residence in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan; this is where I lived at the time. I think I must have been ten then, and when my dad asked if I wanted to go somewhere, I replied:
“No dad, it’s too hot and I am tired.”
Laughing, my dad said that he asked me if I wanted to go abroad on holiday. Excited like a kid’s first day at school, I got out of the pool, took my new Chicago Bulls towel to dry myself and sat by the poolside, next to him. I asked:
“Are you being serious, we just came back from Florida, I mean, not that I mind going, but it has only been two months since we came back home.”
So all that came out my dad’s mouth was:
It was then that I asked him where we were going. He told me that we were going to head for the world’s largest cheese producing country, the country where drugs are stupidly legal; the country which has the world’s second largest cycling community. First I thought: mid-life crisis. I mean, what in the world was he on about? When he mentioned that drugs were legal in that particular country, I thought we were going out into space for a second, because I had no idea there was such thing as a country where drugs are legal.
My brother, who was rudely eavesdropping, just came right into my dad’s face and said:
“Where are we going?”
My dad said:
So when I told my mum about the news, not giving my dad time to even ask her, she went all hyper etc… She started arguing with my dad telling him how a holiday is only required once a year and wasting money like that was not right. I remember it like yesterday when my dad said an unforgettable phrase:
“You live once and once you stop living, you don’t take your money with you?”
Oh boy, I mean with all due respect, did that shut her up or what?
The following morning we were packing our belongings and in that same evening we were on a late night flight heading for destiny!!!.
To be honest I can not write much about the flight because as you would probably imagine, knowing that it was a direct flight to Amsterdam, and it was night time, I slept for most the way. The only time I did wake up was for dinner! I knew that we were flying with PIA, Pakistan International Airways. Therefore I expected boring old Pakistani food. But surprise surprise, there I was eating succulent and mouth-watering chicken drumsticks with fried rice and diced potatoes. For desert, chocolate cake with custard. Yummy, nice, mmmmmm, I don’t care what you call it, I liked it all!
Just before landing at the airport, my dad gave us all a shocking piece of news. We were not in Amsterdam for tasting the cheese, smoking cannabis, or even to ride bikes around the city. (We weren’t?!) No, apparently I had a mystery uncle along with his wife, two daughters and two sons waiting to pick us up at the airport. And we never even knew that !
My first feelings were indescribable. I was at a till in the airport paying for my snacks with my brother, when I turned around, I tapped him on the back as well and told him to look at my dad. There he was hugging a man who looked a lot like my grandfather. We both then went up to him and got hugged as well. Our mystery uncle then briefly introduced us to the rest of his family, with which we shook hands etc…
When we arrived at his house which looked more like a mansion, the first and last abnormal thing I noticed was the computers in every room and the stock of computer peripherals etc… in the basement. After looking at the amount of astonishment in my round eyes, my uncle told me that he was the head of ICT at the University of Amsterdam and also, he made his own customised and made to requirements PC’s in the basement, for friends and relatives only that was, at a very reasonable price. Impressive eh? So all that explained the mansion, two cars and six computers!
As the days went by, we (me and my stupid brother) got closer to our cousins and start talking. Well not exactly, because I forgot to state one rather big difference between us and our cousins- you see the thing is my uncle is my dad’s step brother because my grand father got married twice and his wives were both from different states of Afghanistan, my country of origin. Therefore my cousins spoke Pushto and Dutch. While me and my brother, spoke Dari, Urdu and French. But Pushto and Dari were a bit similar so it all went quite well. As for the elders in the house, they spoke both Afghani languages.
Anyway, more or less everyday, we went out for a daily bike riding session out and about in their area. When we did, I had to ride my smallest cousin’s bike which was for his age group, 4-6 years old. Close to my uncle’s house was a park with an enormously deep river attached to it. As soon as I heard that there was a river, I could just sense danger…
After one particular wet and windy morning, we decided to go bike riding in the afternoon as the weather had calmed down. It was still slippery, but I thought who cares- I am Superman remember? There we were in the park. I tried cycling over the river. I succeeded. I was Superman!
Well not exactly, this is what really happened: I said to my cousins and my brother to watch me do my stunt. I said that intending to brake right at the edge of the river. I got on the bike which really was too small for me. I started pedalling towards the water scared to death even though I knew that there was nothing to fear as I was going to brake. Why was I scared? Well, you see this so called Superman was kind of afraid of water. Yes, that’s right; I could not swim back then! Very amusing isn’t it?!
Anyways, my pedalling got faster and faster. As I got closer to the edge I saw this metal pole at the edge and it was then that my heart really start beating like it never had done before. Obviously I tried braking. The worst unexpectedly happened: my brakes failed, they broke because of the pressure on them. There I was in front of the metal pole; the bike did a flip into the river with me riding it. I was in the river not having a swim but drowning! You might wonder how in the world I swam back home, in my own pool, well my pool was shallow and I had armbands so…
Back to me drowning! The first thing that went through my mind while I was in the water was: I am going to die. But then I got the silliest and most pointless idea ever. I thought, if I drink all the water, then I might not drown. I know, I mean what went through my head?!? I was desperate. Do you blame me? I was ten year old and all I wanted was to live an extra 50 maybe 60 years at least. Reasonable request isn’t it?
It was then that God spared me by giving my cousins and my brother an idea. They picked that same old rusty meta pole and helped me get back to the surface. I was alive. I realised how much life was: Priceless! I was so happy to be alive and very grateful. My eldest cousin and her sister said to me: “I believe that was flying into the water, not flying in the air. And by the way, local men urinate in that river, so I hope you have not drunk the water thinking of it as a beverage!”
I can’t believe it, they were mocking me! I had drunk that water not knowing that it was mixed with urine.
If I went home and told my dad the catastrophe that unluckily happened to me, he would not have had kept his temper as low as I prefer it to be. Therefore, here I was soaked in urinated water not being able to go home incognito. Fair enough, no way in through the front door but who said anything about the back door? I believe… NO ONE!
I went in quickly, told my mum and my auntie about the whole scenario and how it went wrong. Following a humiliating minute of being laughed at by mums, cousins etc…, I went in the bathroom for a foam bath and couldn’t stop thinking about the urine… After a rather long but well worth 1 hour of bathing, I got out and dressed myself and went in the kitchen for hot fresh orange juice (really nice try it and judge it for yourself!) accompanied by this real nice cake which apparently was a Dutch speciality.
I do believe that one major fact was being forgotten about, that’s it, the bike isn’t it? DUHH! My organisation skills came to use there and then when I saved up all my spending money for the next week or so we were there. What for? My cousin’s bike or what? DUHH! Enough of that DUHH thing! I am writing to myself, how sad you might think? Well do keep your mouth shut because dear sir or madam (who ever is reading this forthcoming novel!), for your information I am not sad.