16th December 1980: ‘Ding-dong!’, the door-bell rang. I was in my bedroom preparing for my Bachelors final exam. ‘It must be someone from Citi Bank claiming to confiscate our home as the loan taken by Abba has still not been paid’ I thought to myself’.
“Rashida switch off the lights and pretend as if no one is at home.” I whispered to my younger sister.
Ever since I remember, we have been living in the same two bedroom apartment in Nazimabad. Abba was an accounts officer in a small government organization and amma used to teach Quran to kids in the neighbourhood. In this way, my parents earned monthly income just sufficient to meet our home expenses and to get me and Rashida a good education. Four years ago, Abba took a loan in order to pay the fees of my four-years university education. However, he did not get the salary raise which he was expecting due to organisation’s politics and thus has been unable to pay back the loan.
“Bhai, for how long do we have to lie and make excuses to the bank. Why can’t khala pay the loan for us?, Rashida asked me. Rashida was right but she was only in grade 5 and didn’t know anything. Khala was the principal in a renowned school and used to live in Defence. But she has stopped helping amma since the time amma fell in love with abba. She used to call amma often, not to generously help us but to know about our financial condition. All my maternal relatives were against this marriage as according to them abba was not of their status. Since the marriage, amma’s relatives broke the link with her including khala. Rashida would know this all when she grows up so for now I diverted her mind into cartoons.
It seemed that the men on door had gone as there were no more bells and door knocks to be heard. I timidly stood up and switched on the lights. When I went near the door, to my surprise, I saw an envelope which was slid from the door. It read ‘Jarir Sons’. What is this…? I thought to myself. I slowly opened the envelope and found a letter with ‘Congratulations’ written with a large and bold font. ‘You have been shortlisted for the position of an Assistant manager for the Electrical department in Jarir Sons. Interview is to be held tomorrow in Pearl Continental at 8:30 a.m.’ Oh my God!! I was flabbergasted as I just applied for this position knowing that I wouldn’t be selected four months ago and have completely forgotten about it. Amma Abba both have remained tensed the whole year due to the payment of loan but this news made them extremely happy.
Next day I went for the interview and within two weeks I got a positive reply. I had been selected for Kuwait branch of Jarir Sons for this position out of 250 applicants. “Things are to change for good, my son” exclaimed abba. And they surely were. God helped us in time when we needed it the most.
20th May 1981: I completed my Bachelors in Electrical engineering and went to Kuwait the next week to start my job. During last year, we got the final notice from Citi bank to leave the home as the loan wasn’t paid yet. Hence we rented a small cottage nearby.
My job career was about to start. I was scared in the beginning but I knew I had to work hard and get my parents not only the home back but also to get them respect from my amma’s relatives. Initially it was hard for me to adjust in an unknown Arab speaking country but I worked with full determination. I used to get back home at 6 pm and used to teach Physics and Mathematics tuition to earn extra income.
I got promotion after six months of work and immediately paid the Citi Bank loan. Now half of my aim of coming here was accomplished as we got our home back.
I got a call from amma late at night telling me that khala called her and was stunned to hear that Hassan has got a job-that too in Kuwait and have paid the loan. “Amma, one day I will get you your respect back and tell your relatives that marrying Abba was not a wrong decision. It is not the status or the wealth that matters but love.” I told her after which she got emotional and prayed for my success.
I worked in Kuwait for 10 years in which I saved a decent proportion of my income and came back to Pakistan because of Kuwait-Iraq war otherwise my job was stable and I was satisfied. During this period of time, we shifted from Nazimabad to Defence. Rashida got admission in a good college and I asked Abba to take retirement as I would handle all the household expenses. Moreover, as amma’s relatives came to know about our status upgrade who once humiliated abba of his low status, called her and asked to forgive them. Amma has forgiven everyone and Khala now visits our home quite often.
Jan 1991: I have settled back in Pakistan and have got a job in Abott. Both my objectives of going to Kuwait have been fulfilled. Time definitely changes everything. But from the experience of my parents I have realized that it is the wealth that the world is running for. Once you gain wealth everyone will become your friend and if not, then people will humiliate you just like in amma’s case.
To be continued….