Moment of realisation

By Zainab Khawaja
Tue, 07, 19

I arrange the plates and cutlery on the mahogany dining table, while Mama adds final touches to our dinner.....


I arrange the plates and cutlery on the mahogany dining table, while Mama adds final touches to our dinner. The tang of spices and ginger waft up to my nose, and I instantly smile. Our family of four sit around the table, bathed in the warm light of the mini chandelier, trading fragments from our day. Funny tales, philosophical statements, and embarrassing secrets are revealed. A few sarcastic, but fun remarks are passed. After dinner, I serve the Tiramisu I made the night before. We don’t have dessert every day, but it feels good to have some once in a blue moon. I nervously watch everyone devour my creation, and thankfully, compliments drift my way. Dinner is my favourite part of the day, and not just because I get the chance to savour my mother’s delectable food, but also because it is the time when we meet as a family, as one unit. We all lead busy lives and spending these few moments with each other are quite priceless. Enjoying each other’s company is the tonic, which makes us feel ready for the next day, no matter how chaotic.

Our merry banter continues as my sister makes tea - strong and aromatic. We then go on to discuss a new mystery thriller I recently read, my sister’s Science group project, and a friend’s engagement party. What I like about this time is that even if the four of us quietly sip our tea and no one says anything for a while, discomfort does not swell in the room. Instead, I can see ease on everyone’s face, and I feel profoundly peaceful myself. That is the beauty of spending time with the people you love. Noisy or quiet, it never gets uncomfortable. Finally it’s time for all of us to split, as work awaits us. As always it is difficult to break apart, but the hope of sharing yet another dinner together gives us the motivation to do so.

Sounds like the perfect family, doesn’t it? Well, things were not always this pleasant. There was a brief period in my life, early teens, when I could not even imagine sharing any secrets with my parents. I hardly told them about my dreams and aspirations, just because of the fear of being judged. I never asked about what was on their minds, and how we can work together to overcome any challenges they are facing. Enveloped by the angst of adolescence, I was trapped in a world of my own.

My attitude towards my parents started shifting when I had to leave our house in Saudi Arabia, and move to Pakistan for higher education. Despite being surrounded by loving relatives and supportive friends, I missed the joyful chaos of the house, that had been too cosy, too lovely, too much mine. I missed the familiar sights and smells. Random memories swirled around in my mind when least expected. My father deftly cutting fruits for his legendary fruit salad. My mother soaking almonds overnight and then coaxing them into me the next day. Living without them was hard, and it was then that I realised what I was missing on. I could build a wonderful bond with my parents, if I put in the effort. The next time I went to Saudi Arabia during summer break, I started working on improving our relationship. While living in Pakistan, I learned that a change can be a bloom or a withering. It was up to me to decide what direction I wanted to choose. So, here are a few guidelines I followed, which will help many of you to realise that parental love is unconditional and forgiving. Hopefully, they will help you build a stronger connection with the ones who love you the most.

Think of them as your friends

Opening up to my parents, and sharing my perspectives about different aspects of life helped me feel closer to them. Interestingly, I noticed them doing the same. As I started to spend more time with them, they began to share their own experiences and memories with me. My dad told me about his adventurous trips to various countries, and how naughty he was as a child. My mother shared gripping tales from her college days, and the struggles her family faced when her father passed away. Gradually, I learned there was so much to tell each other, and I had kept quiet all these years. Also, another advice would be to go to fun places with them. Try that new little chic cafe or watch that movie you have been waiting for. They will definitely appreciate your desire to spend time with them. No matter how busy life gets, spending some gratifying moments with your parents will feel like a breath of fresh spring air!

Small gestures go a long way

Parents appreciate every little thing you do for them. I started observing this after coming back to Saudi Arabia. Even if I would cut some watermelon for my father, or make a cup of chamomile tea for my mother, they would give me lovely, grateful smiles as if I had done something huge. It is so simple to please parents. So, just keep an eye for the things they love, and you can pull their heartstrings in a matter of seconds! Small acts of kindness like presenting crisply written poems, cleaning up the house, and making breakfast for everyone go a long way.

Give your parents privacy and time

Sometimes, we start to expect a lot from our parents. We want their lives to revolve around ours. We want them to do our work, and not take some time off for their own selves. We choose to ignore the fact that we are being plain selfish. But there is always room for redemption. The first step is to accept that they are individuals, with their own identities and interests. Their lives should not be just about you. Give them some space and time, so that they can have some fun, and explore their own relationship. I became aware of this when I was around seventeen years old. My parents were desperate to get away from their hectic lives for a while, but they were hesitant as they did not want to leave me and my sister behind. Seeing how hard they worked made me realise they needed to take a break every once in a while. They needed to go somewhere where they would enjoy each other’s company, and their exotic surroundings. I finally convinced them to go to Dubai. Knowing that they would have fun was a beautiful feeling. So, help your parents to accomplish everything on their bucket lists!

Be respectful even when you disagree

It is definitely okay to have your own opinions about things, opinions that are different from your parents. That just shows your individuality, and boldness. Nonetheless, the issue begins when we start arguing with our parents to prove our point. What we do not understand is that there is no need to quarrel. The same perspective can be demonstrated in a gentle manner, which will have a greater impact, instead of shouting like a maniac, where no one gets anywhere. You might sing a tune different from your parents’, but you can certainly try to get the drift of what they want to put across. After hearing them out, lay down your own case, and let them listen. Believe me, when you take the compassionate route, miracles are bound to happen. You might even end up changing their mindsets for the better!

These were just a few ideas, which can help you to create an understanding link with your parents. It does require some hard work and time, but these two beloved beings are definitely worth it. It is their love, devotion, and prayers that get us to places. Hence, it is our duty to respond to the warmth they emit.