“Mom! There’s a guy”.
“What do you mean?”
“Errr. That there’s a guy”.
“Like a guy guy?”
“What’s a guy guy?”
“Is he a man?”
“What do you think a guy is, Mom?”
“So he’s a man?”
“Well, err, I think so. I mean, yeah, he’s a man”.
“Okay. So he’s a man. Why wouldn’t you say you want to talk about a man?”
“Because…… anyway…… we have been seeing each other for the last six months and he kinda wants to meet you and Dad”.
“Where are you seeing each other?”
“What do you mean?”
“Where is it that he sees you?”
“Well, Mom, we work together so we see each other at work and then we have been grabbing lunch and dinner together lately also”.
“Oh so he’s like a friend?”
“Well, yeah, sorta! We started out as friends but it kinda got……ahem……..more than that”.
“That’s fine! So now you have breakfast together too?”
“What? No, Mom! Please! Don’t say that. Getting breakfast together? We haven’t gone that far”.
“But how is grabbing breakfast different than grabbing any other meal together?”
“Because it implies…..”
“What? What does it imply? Breakfast is the healthiest meal of the day, honey!”
“It implies…..something else. And breakfast isn’t the healthiest meal of the day, Mom. That myth has been busted years ago”.
“No way! Remember always! People who don’t have breakfast get dementia, infertility and hypochondria”.
“Where did you hear that? Scientists categorically say that all meals are equal and we should just focus on eating healthy. Some scientists who believe in intermittent fasting will even tell you to skip breakfast altogether “.
“What? Damn science!”
“Don’t damn science, Mom! It is the only thing I believe in”.
“What about Islam? You don’t believe in Islam?”
“That’s a different type of belief. I can believe in science and Islam”.
“Thank God, sweetheart! Thank God you still believe in Islam”.
“But that’s not what I was saying, Mom. See, there’s someone I know…….”
“What’s this intermittent fasting?”
“Huh? Oh, Mom, it’s just a way to live life where you fast for an extended period of time and then eat for a brief window and then fast again. It’s very healthy”.
“Well, I already know it’s healthy. Islam told us about fasting thousands of years ago”.
“Yes, Mom, I agree. Can I talk about my thing now?”
“Your thing? What thing? You got a pet?”
“What? No! My thing that I’ve been trying to discuss for thirty minutes. And by the way, pets aren’t things”.
“Pets aren’t things? You have become completely wayward. This is the problem with living here. Kids just change everything. If they’re not things then what are they?”
“Pets? They’re living beings. Like you and me”.
“Ha! I’d be damned if I compared myself to a goldfish. I’m a HUMAN being. They can be living beings if they have to be something”.
“That’s what I said, Mom, they’re living beings”.
“I distinctly remember you saying human beings. What’s this now? Your feminism? Cats are going to get rights too? They’ll march? Get up in my face? Pretend they don’t get attention? Mess up the whole system that men made for us? Ugh! Where’s my blood pressure pill?”
“I’m sorry, Mom, but this isn’t about cats or goldfish. Can I talk to you about my boyfriend?”
“What? Your boyfriend? What the hell? We’ve been here for thirty minutes and NOW you bring it up? Tell me! Are you still a……. you know……. are you preserving…… or conserving……. I think it’s something that starts with a C but it’s NOT consummating…….. what is it? Yeah yeah! Are you still celibate?”
“Celibate? Mom! Can I talk about my relationship?”
“No! You may not. What am I going to say to our entire family in Pakistan. They don’t get these things. They marry nice boys from nice families. Their daughters aren’t calling them one fine evening and telling them about a relationship. Darn you!”
“Our family in Pakistan? But, Mom, our family is here. All of them”.
“You’re so deluded! You don’t even know. What about your paternal uncle’s wife’s great-great aunt? She lives there. With her daughter-in-law and her six pious girls in Karachi”.
“Erm… Mom! One of those girls just got married to her coworker”.
“So? What’s your point?”
“They marry people they like.”
“No, they don’t! They marry people their parents like”.
“No, Mom! And even if they do, that’s not right. Can I bring Ali over?”
“Who’s Ali? That’s a nice name.”
“My boyfriend, Mom”.
“Is he Muslim? You didn’t tell me”.
“And a Pakistani!”
“A Pakistani? From Pakistan?”
“Well, his parents are from there. He’s from Long Island”.
“Honey! We are all always from Pakistan. Is he an engineer like you? Oh! How amazing! My daughter is in a halal relationship with a Muslim Brown Pakistani. Oh! Thousand prayers for this before and after your wedding”.
“Thanks, Mom! He’s not an engineer. He actually is a concept developer”.
“Wait! What’s that? I’ve never heard of that career. Where do they teach it?”
“There are courses for it. He went to school for it”.
“I don’t get it. You’re an engineer. You should either marry another engineer or a doctor or a lawyer. Something that we can tell people about. What am I going to tell people about what he does? That’s the first question.”
“Can’t you say that he’s a concept developer?”
“Are you kidding me? Where do you get the nerve to even suggest that I say that stupid profession? Have you lost all your shame? You pick a guy out. You spring him over me on a day when I’m already under so much stress because Umera Ahmed’s drama is ending and today is the climax. You don’t know how my heart aches for that girl who can’t get the love of my life in that show. And also, today happens to be Friday when your godforsaken paternal side is always landing here at our place with one excuse or another and eating our biryani. Are you really my child? Did I birth you?”
“Mom! We can talk about it another time. Don’t stress yourself. We are in no rush. And we don’t want to not have our parents’ blessings. His parents are in Hawaii for an ophthalmology conference anyway this week so he’s going to speak with them next week.”
“Ophthalmology conference? Are they doctors?”
“Yes! They’re eye doctors”.
“Why didn’t you say that before? That practically makes Ali a doctor too. Now I don’t have to worry at all. Anyone who asks what he does, we will just deflect that one by telling them what his parents do. Get it?”
“Another thing! Don’t see him anymore until he puts a ring on it. Play hard to get. Men like that. Don’t be so brazen”.
“Mom! We work very closely together. It’s hard to be so hard to get”.
“That’s another thing. No working closely together. REMAIN. A. VIRGIN”.
“Mom! I won’t have sex before we get married anyway, which is, if we get married”.
“Why would you not?”
“I don’t know. Things change. We just wanted to tell you and his parents because we’ve been feeling like we might have a future together”.
“You don’t feel. You know. Knowing is everything. I know. I know he’s the one for you”.
“But you haven’t even met him”.
“I can tell these things without meeting people. Ask him to call his parents and have them call me”.
“I will certainly not ask him to do that”.
“Then I won’t approve”.
“You don’t have to, Mom. I’m going. Let me know what you think”.
“Wait! Wait! Uh…. ophthalmologists! Concept developer! What the hell is wrong with parents these days? Why don’t they send their kids to competitive careers? They themselves went to medical school and look what he’s doing. Oh boy! This one’s tough. Conference in Hawaii? May be they’ll take us one of these times too…..”
“I’m waiting, Mom! What are you muttering under your breath for?”
“I give up, honey! Go live your life. It’s hard to say no to the son of two ophthalmologists”.
“Thanks, Mom! Can I bring him over tomorrow?”
“Sure, honey! Can he wear a shalwar kameez? Your grandmother is going to be here.”
“And can he say he’s your colleague? No mention of the developing concepts. This way people will assume he’s also an engineer”.
“Honey! If you want it, then go with the program”.
“There’s a program?”
“Yes, honey! There’s a program. This is just step 1. Tell Ali. He probably knows it already”.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Mom”.