Alifbehpehrian for extended family
By Amaan Hyder
And when they visit, where will you put them?
Bahut means many in Urdu.
Pareshan means worry.
Two of you will have to sleep in the lounge.
Ten of you will be in a photo,
smiling by the Tower of London.
Jegga means place and space.
Chamcha means spoon and flatterer.
Hosting means keeping the house
khamoosh while they stay. Quiet,
don’t talk about anything controversial.
Don’t think they will budge; they know you will
zigzag, tethered to the diaspora.
Roll out the red carpet for your guests.
Zinda means living, zindagi means life.
Say we go to the mosque at Eid.
Show them your school certificates.
Surrender the more comfortable sofa.
Zaroor, of course, is your answer
to their requests. You want them to leave
with no upset to report to the wider family.
An epigraph for the visit might be:
Ghazal for an in-law. Or,
Family means poorly matched.
Can we all squeeze into a car,
keep to each other’s laps?
Gari is car, ghar is house, but don’t mention
land or who stole what back home.
Mohabbat means love, mehnat is hard work.
No conversation is as precarious,
verbatim, as it is with relatives.
How late they go to bed. How gently you tread,
do chasmi heh
You must visit us next time. Inshallah.
When we see you then, no English, only Urdu.