Painting wisdom, friends & tenants.
My Life

Painting wisdom, friends & tenants.

“I might as well accept my life as it is, and stop calling it ‘crazy’…. I mean that is how it is, and that’s exactly how I love it.” Let me show you what I mean.

Yesterday morning…. as usual I had my breakfast in bed. Porridge, aumlet (made deliciously with chopped tomatoes and onions in it,) toast, and a cup of tea served on a bed tray by my batman. (I finally, decided to stop being prudish, and allow the gentleman into my room. So, I could have this luxury.) – of course, I drape a shawl around my shoulders…. And sit up. Usually, I’ve read my prayers, and am in process of reading my Siparah. This process of breakfast and prayers takes around an hour, then I’ve started being a bad girl and laze around, watching morning shows or my favorite DW channel. It was about the part of the brain that is developed when you navigate yourself around the town without using the GPS and how good it is for you to use your brain to orientate yourself around town yourself. It said that 85% of children’s brains are already developed for it. We grown-ups have to use this consciously as much as possible. I just loved the program. Why can’t they have such programs on other channels? Of course, Germany is Germany after all.

So, it was about 10.30 am when Sabir came along saying

“Baji, Dastagir is here, he wants to meet you.” I remembered that today is the last day of painting up of my house. It has become a ‘normal’ drill. I remembered the first time I walked into that paint shop four years ago, looking for a painter. It was a Dulux paint shop in F-10 Islamabad, and I asked them about painting up the basement, which I was planning to rent out… I had bought the paint myself and decided to get it done myself instead of asking for help from others. (ofcourse, ‘myself’ means without help of the architect.) The owner introduced me to Dastagir saying he will help me…. Now, I just give him a ring, he brings all the paints I need, and the labor and gets the work done in record time. “These men work quietly and methodically…” my Dad said.

It is true. Dastagir, knows, I’m going to  trust the men to work properly, so he sends me highly skilled and trustworthy men. This time, just two men have done the work. He also knows I’ll pay over and above what he asks me, plus I try to give them tea and food whenever possible. Laborers and poor people have a soft corner in my heart. (I know exactly how it feels to not have money…)

The other day, my tenants’ wife Kishwar was saying “My husband says, these people really rook Mrs. Najeeb and over charge her for chores they do for her.” (He is in the building business himself, he is building a plaza and other housing projects.) I felt like telling her, “I know. But they give me more in return. I pay by the project, not by the day, so my work gets done faster. I pay more, so they give me their best. I am aware of the fact that they are not insured also. I pay through my nose to the lawyers, yet, these laborers do more work for me. So, why not pay them more?”

On the dot of 10.30 am Dastagir came. I always value and respect punctuality. I felt guilty that I didn’t have the money to give him and told him, I’ll just bring it from the bank nearby. But it turned out, it was good as  he had not done the two black gates, which had not been considered in my budget earlier. But then, we agreed that it is best to get it done now. So, he went to get the paint, and asked his men to do that too. While they worked, I brought the money, did some more grocery shopping, and asked my batman to prepare lunch for the workers, as it was their last day.

I got a phone call from my cook’s daughter, that he won’t be coming as there is no transport today due to the hanging of Qadri the killer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in January 2010. I remembered how Waliya and I had been nearby, and witnessed that murder. It was gruesome. So, I told Rahim’s daughter that its ok. I know, he will come if possible.

So, there was that ‘nihari’ of Saturday, so we all had it one more time, and there was enough for the laborer, Dastagir and his son (whom he brought home from school.) they had lunch sitting in the porch on the garden chairs and table. I felt good that they had not only done the basement banisters, two gates but painted up the table and bench as a special gesture. (I didn’t have the heart to tell them, that the bench and chair were supposed to be unpainted! I told Waliya, “Its too late now, as they have already done it. So, I didn’t tell them…”

On way home from the bank, I had received a phone-call from a new friend of mine Humaira. She wanted to invite me for her marriage in mid-March. So, I said “I’d love to come.” My friendship with her, is another story, another time.

So, after lunch, I went in to relax and came across a long-lost friend on skype. Someone I had lost track of and given up long ago.  I had heard once “Let go of the one who leaves…. and accept the one who returns… because this is a quality of God.” One can’t help but feel there is some Higher Intervention in one’s life.

So, in the evening, what happened was that my tenants were to come for the basement (which I had been getting cleaned up for last two days.) So, as a special gesture, I got a basket of fruit ready for them and added two glasses of  strawberry smoothie made by Nadiya, and sent these down. Earlier I had rung him up, welcoming him and his wife, and expecting a happy response from him for all our efforts. He asked me to come down for a few minutes please…  I found there was a detailed sms from him: the tenant. a pilot had an incoming  stream of unhappiness. I took Nadiya my daughter along, and we went downstairs to the basement. His wife stood next to him quietly as he went round showing me what a dirty basement I’d given him. I told him, “my maid is pregnant and she cannot do more than this. If you want more cleanliness, bring your own people to do it, I’ll pay up Rs.2000/- for two day’s cleaning.” We parted happily with offers from him for getting us anything from anywhere in the world and especially from Dubai, since he is a pilot. I told him,” I have everything I need here in Pakistan. But will certainly ask if needed.” We ended our conversation on a happy note. With due apologies, the couple went off to spend the night in a hotel, as the place was too dirty! This was his first home in Pakistan after 25 years….

I remembered, all the scrubbing and cleaning my husband and I used to do when we went to any new home. It was part of the process. We both would don our dungarees and joggers and put on loud music and get going and the kids always joined in too.

Nadiya and I came upstairs to our lounge and joined my Mom who was sitting there as usual with earphones attached to her Ipad watching a drama. We looked at our two Persian cats and the dust bunnies all over our sofa set. Then Waliya joined in and we told them the response we got for all our cleaning. She said “maybe we can give them a whiff of my cat’s litter box!”

So, we all had a good laugh as Nadiya reconstructed our visit downstairs, and had everyone in stitches due to her comical narration. She acted out my response to them, and I pointed out how she told them “who gives original paintings to tenants?” Well, it all ended well, because we realize, when people come to Pakistan from abroad, everyone can’t bear the ‘dirt’ not realizing that here we have very big homes. It is easier to clean up two room apartments. Here the sizes are enormous and the cleanliness standards are rather laid back. We all reminiscence on how paranoid we all had been when we came from Kuwait and England. I remembered how finicky one is in the beginning of one’s marraige. Then nature gives you children and you have days and nights spent cleaning ‘poopies’ and ‘pippies,’ and all that vomit which also has to be contended with! Your whole perspective changes and using too many chemicals in your home is no longer a priority. Nadiya said “I was like that too, till I realized that either one can be squeaky clean or happy!”

So, that was another typical day in my life.



Thank you so much for reading all the way to here. Stay blessed!




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