Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Snippets from my memoir # 3

By the time he was eleven years old, signs of Zaki’s puberty had become fairly evident. Not only did his voice break and the down on his face and underarms become heavier, he would walk around with an erection, oblivious to the world. So as any self-
respecting parent would advise, here is what Zoya would say to him pointing at the subject in question, “Zaki you can’t walk around like that sweetheart. You have to push that down or go sit on the pot and put cold water on it.”
“I can’t help it mama”, Zaki would say with not a care in the world. He had no idea of the implications of an erection, till Zoya took it upon herself to enlighten him.
“I know that you can’t help it Zaki and its something very natural beta. All males go through this. You know this means that you can make a baby if you...,” Zoya was explicit and to the point in educating Zaki about sex. She did not know how much of what she told him, Zaki understood, but her objective was to make him conscious of his erection so that at least he knew it was not right to walk around with it. The topic of ‘sex’ would come up every once in a while as Zaki became more and more aware of his manhood and the opposite sex. Zoya was least embarrassed to elucidate on the subject, since Zaki was not a typical teen and needed the matter explained repeatedly.
Unfortunately, the only direction that Zaki was not growing was upwards. He had always been short of stature but the onset of early puberty proved to be detrimental for his height. Zaki managed to grow till five feet and no more after that. A bone-age x- ray had revealed that that would remain his maximum height.
For a child who had a fair amount of awareness about himself, as could be gauged by Zaki’s conversations, a short stature, where clearly his brothers were going to shoot past him very soon, presented a challenge. Despite being told that, “You don’t necessarily grow taller with each birthday,” Zaki would insist the day after each birthday to measure his height with a defiant, “I am older and so I must have grown”. His hypothesis was amusing to his brothers who would laugh at Zaki in jest, but to Zoya it was heart breaking that her son who already had a much more challenging life than the other two had also been short changed in the area of physical growth. She prayed from the bottom of her heart that Zaki would gain an inch or two, for hadn’t Uncle Noor said

that if she wanted something desperately enough, Allah would grant it to her? Astonishingly, no matter how hard she tried to pray for Zaki’s height, the prayer never felt sincere. Every time the words came out of her lips she knew in her heart that they would not be accepted. This only meant one thing; perhaps growing taller was not in Zaki’s best interest. Allah Mian knew best and at times what seemed unfair was actually a blessing in disguise! 

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