The invasion of the Lahori relatives

Published: October 29, 2016

With this lot it’s just a natural progression from salam to sugar to goda gittas.

There are times when one must write. The alternative is to burst – which would be messy. Because they came today, the rellies (relatives), while I was playing Scrabble on Facebook in a pleasant state of mindlessness.

Have you ever played Scrabble? It can be exciting but right then the game was slow. I had just played ‘qi’ which, short as it is, often gets well over 30 points but this time I only got 22. Then my opponent somewhere in Australia played ‘hick’ which got him 18. Obviously he wasn’t having a good day either. Then I played ‘koi’ and he played – ackackack – no, that wasn’t his word; it was the rellies entering the door and that’s what they sounded like.

Relatives are fun. Many of them. But this is a branch of the family in which each individual talks at the same time as the other; very loud, very fast, and very, very much. It’s fair to indulge in a spot of onomatopoeia to say that the general effect of any contact is the equivalent of an attack by an ‘ackack’ gun.

This is also a branch of the family in which each person considers it a point of honour to prove that she (we’re talking about the shes now) is iller than anyone else in existence, ever, before or ever again till the end of time. I’m not sure if ‘iller’ is even a word, but you can judge the residual effects, they linger for a while; the effects that is – the rellies didn’t. Not beyond 56.5 long minutes. It could’ve been more, but for the grace of God.

So they came in and settled down. After the initial greetings were over it had to be established who was worse off than the other, health wise, since they last met (a month ago). They all ‘have sugar’ so that was a no brainer, but one of them had an edge over the other with levels of 400 as opposed to 350. The third however won the day by describing the time she almost died when her levels dropped to 30 or something. She had obviously used the month to obtain an unfair advantage, I thought.

The second bout consisted of a comparison of the state of individual ‘godas’ and ‘gittas’, one each on this leg, one each on that, three persons, so six godas and six gittas in all which makes 12.

You might not know what godas and gittas are if you’re a Karachiite. I didn’t until I moved to Lahore, since when, to quote Mr Bennett when speaking of his wife’s nerves, I have developed the utmost respect for them because they have been my constant companions for the past 10 years and I have learnt not to bring them up, in conversation I mean, or suffer the consequences. I didn’t bring them up now either. With this lot it’s just a natural progression from salam to sugar to goda gittas.

And I still haven’t explained what goda gittas are. Everyone has godas and gittas. They’re always mentioned together without the ‘and’, and always in capitals, which illustrates the reverence they command. It’s what knees and ankles are called in Punjabi, so we all have them. But the goda gittas of people in Lahore have a life of their own. They’re swollen, they’re red, they’re more painful than anyone else’s, and they shriek if they don’t get parathas. Okay, just kidding, but its close. It’s why Lahoris can’t walk. It’s why they don’t walk. It’s why five separate doctors told them not to walk, although it’s a moot point; which came first – the pain or the not walking. I have my suspicions but I try to keep them to myself.

So anyway, sugar covered, goda gittas exposed and it having been established that each individual was worse off than any person living, now or before or ever again, and certainly drastically worse than any person in the room, the rellies settled down happily to not being able to eat any of the kebabs, cakes, samosas and cookies that had been served. Except this one time.

It’s been a couple of hours since they left but I can’t bring myself to play Scrabble just yet, although I spot an ‘aargh’ on my stand but I don’t think that’s a word; though, it really should be.

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