The Pakistani Guide to the Rishta Process…. tips, tricks and strategies. Part 7



You thought they’d never come. You thought you’d die waiting for them. You thought that all these years that you waited for a Rishta mom to come to your place would go in vain. You thought this was all for nothing. You thought this moment was going to be one of those surreal moments that come and float over you and disappear, without substance, without any registration of them happening. You thought…….wait……… what is this smell? Where is it coming from? It seems to be wafting from the general kitchen area but there are no rubber tires in the kitchen. And this smells like burning rubber.

You run to the kitchen to investigate. And lo and behold! He’s done it! He has prepared his masterpiece for the evening. He has proved that chicken isn’t the most necessary ingredient in roasted chicken. He has made………….. tofu chicken.

Now tofu is a very suspect ingredient in the eyes of many. First of all because it comes from the Far East it has always been eyed as a conspiracy food with dog as the main ingredient. And may be dogs were used to make it in the past but currently Asians are branding it under soy bean and that’s enough for you to eat it. You have an ethical stance against animal eating, not all animals but animals that bark, and this is the only thing that you could ever really bond over with Lisa Vanderpump. Otherwise she and you won’t be having coffee together in this lifetime.

But why does it smell like burnt rubber? You ask the chef as he stands admiring his tofu creation and he looks at you as if he hates you for questioning him and sorry that you’ve never enjoyed the fine dining that he lives to make happen for people. He explains that he actually made tofu out of extra plastic in your kitchen because he had forgotten to bring the chicken. Now it’s your turn to stare at him. You ask him if plastic is a legitimate ingredient to use. He corrects you like he’s explaining a math concept to a particularly thick fifth grader. He tells you that plastic isn’t, but the byproduct of plastic which is carbon is a legitimate ingredient because it’s found in everything. When plastic is heated and turned to carbon, it can be molded into anything. He shows you again the chicken he has fashioned out of the burnt plastic. You ask him if he serves it at the restaurant too and he confidently says “All the time”. This is it for you. This is all the reassurance that you needed. If people pay thousands of rupees to eat this then your guests would be lucky to eat it for free. Before leaving you spray the area with what you think is an air freshener. Unfortunately it turns out to be Lysol. You become concerned when some of it lands on the tofu but your cook calms you down and says that this would just be another step towards sterilization of the food and he sees it as a good thing. Having received this reassurance, you peacefully walk out of the kitchen and decide to make use of the full-length mirror in your mom’s room to see the full effect of your ensemble.

This isn’t an easy job because there is so much happening with your look that it’s hard to point out one thing that’s working better than the rest of it. You take a critical look at your makeup and try to see if it could be improved. If truth be told your own make up skills are probably worse than the baby beautician so you let that be. Honestly it doesn’t look that bad. At least now people can’t tell what your face really looks like. This takes care of part of the insecurity about your looks.

Your outfit looked pretty decent until yesterday. Until you had seen what your older sister was wearing . Until she had bedazzled your eyes with her glittery outfit. Until she had revealed that she had been working on her outfit for the last three days. You become a little jealous at the kind of autonomy that she practices over her choice of clothing just by virtue of being married. Your older sister is wearing one of the outfits from her wedding functions. It’s a ball gown with embellishments all over. It has a certain Cinderella effect and you can see that your sister went to the trouble of hiring someone competent to do her hair. Her hair is snatched up in a chignon with some strategically loose tendrils that frame her already pretty face. You immediately feel her a threat even though she’s married. You wanna ask her why she’s trying to steal your shine but then you comfort yourself with the thought that no one can steal your shine. You’re after all the bride. Or soon-to-be bride. Or you will become a bride after this woman who’s coming to see you today puts you on the map and has other women come see you. It’s a long process, you realize, but glad that it has started in some capacity.

Your younger sister strolls in. She’s the rebel, hippie, junkie and anomaly of the family. She has no regard for societal rules and married a guy twenty five years older than her just because she liked him (what the hell?) . She’s dressed exactly how she was dressed the day of her court marriage. She has ripped jeans on, torn at the knees, with a bruised knee showing, worn out sneakers, no makeup but a chewing gum in her mouth to complete this look. You heaved a sigh of relief. Even though she looks pretty in a boho-chic way, this isn’t the look that boys’ moms ever go for so you’re safe.

Even though she’s the anomaly, she’s also your rock. She rushes forward and hugs you. You feel tears stinging your eyes but the precariousness of your eye makeup would best not be tested so you quickly blink furiously a few times and keep the tears away.

She looks a long look and you and exclaims with displeasure. She doesn’t like anything about your look. She shows her disapproval by instantly dabbing at your face with her smelly hanky. You want to stop her but are momentarily paralyzed by the smell of her hanky and instead focus on keeping your nostrils out of it. Just then your mother walks in and announces the arrival of the guests.

This doesn’t have the effect that your mom was expecting. May be because your mom put your older sister through this drill enough times to create a certain indifference to it. Or may be because this isn’t what your younger sister wanted you to settle for. She always encouraged you to find your soul mate. She actually found four soul mates herself during her college days and then married the one that your parents didn’t agree with. Such is the strength of her spirit. You wonder where she got it from but you suspect that she was born with it.

Your mother hates the disconnect with her announcement. She reiterates the arrival of the “boy’s people”. Your sisters withdraw in their shells a little more. You start to feel dread coming on a little more.

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