Sunlight entered the newly painted room, through the window that Kabir carelessly forgot to shut before sleeping. By the time the alarm in his room buzzed, the smell of jalebis had already engulfed the house.
Kabir woke up, rubbed his eyes, searched for his spectacles. Somewhere between his laptop and kindle, he found his spectacles hidden under the pillow. He put on his glasses and checked his messages on Whatsapp.
‘Kabir, come soon, breakfast is ready’, shouted his mother.
Kabir got up and scratched his hand that had red rashes, proving that the mosquitoes had done their job well. He walked towards the window and looked outside.
The only thing he loved in his neighborhood was the fort built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan. He noticed how beautiful the fort looked. Everything looked peaceful. He took out his phone and uploaded an Insta-Story- ‘#BeautifulMorning’.
‘Kabir, will you come out tomorrow morning for today’s breakfast?’ shouted his mother at the top of her voice!
‘Moooommmm! Don’t scream. I’ll brush and come’, replied Kabir.
Sunday, he thought, is indeed the best day of the week! He had no work to do, other than playing football or helping his parents with the household chores. But the best part about Sundays was the food! He knew he couldn’t miss the breakfast.
Kabir hurriedly brushed and sat on the table. His mother served fluffy hot oily puris while he already ate a spoonful of chole-aaloo kept in the casserole. The jalebis melted in his mouth. His grandfather believes that these jalebis that he has been buying from the same sweet shop for forty-five years are made of pure gold. Kabir couldn’t deny!
Toffee started barking loudly. ‘I think your father is back from the market, go open the door’, said Kabir’s mother. Kabir’s mother is an English teacher in the same school that Kabir studied in and is also the best cook in the city! Kabir often boasts about how his mother prepares the best Biryani in the whole world! No-one could ever counter that. Sunday and Biryani were synonymous in their house. Kabir opened the door and helped his father with the huge shopping bag. His mother had already started preparing for their Sunday lunch. Kabir washed the mutton and gave it to his mother.
He changed as soon as he could and rushed for the football match. While driving towards the football field, he wondered if he could talk to his parents. As he waited for the traffic light to turn green, a young girl with a baby in her hand knocked at his window. He avoided making any eye contact with her. She kept indicating that the baby was hungry. Kabir knew that this is nothing but a racket. After a point, his heart melted. He pulled out a ten rupee note from his wallet and gave it to the girl, who smiled with all her heart. Somehow, that smile gave him the strength to talk to his parents.
As he opened his muddy shoes outside his house, he could smell the aroma of his mother’s special biryani. He ran inside. ‘Should I taste and see if the mutton is cooked, Mum?’ he inquired. His mother gave a loving smile and shouted, ‘Take a shower first. How could you enter the kitchen in your sweaty t-shirt?’
Kabir’s father read the newspaper and discussed the national news with his father, Kabir’s grandfather. He asked Kabir if he has read the news about the SAARC summit. Kabir replied, ‘I will, Dad’, and went to his room. ‘What’s with kids these days, they aren’t even interested in reading the newspaper. It’s sad that countries pulled out of the SAARC summit. And my son here has no time to read the newspaper!’ he exclaimed. ‘He reads it on his phone’, answered Kabir’s grandfather while sipping his third cup of sugar-free tea.
Kabir came out of his room. He realized he had not switched off the electric mosquito repellent in the morning. He went back to his room and turned it off. He kept staring at the switch. He did not know how to tell his parents. His phone buzzed. His best friend had commented on his story, ‘Great Click‘.
As he looked at his story, he clicked on the hashtag ‘Beautiful Morning’ and saw a picture of the Red Fort that someone had uploaded. As Kabir looked at that Red Fort’s picture, he opened his window and wished he could have taken a similar picture where the sun would appear to be resting on the tomb. He quickly shut the window and decided to focus on the situation at hand. He decided to tell his parents after lunch.
As they finished their lunch, Kabir announced that he had something important to share. His parents could sense the worrisome tone. Kabir’s grandfather took another serving of the kheer and left the room. His father washed his hand, picked up the newspaper, and continued reading.
The silence broke when his father said, ‘go ahead, Kabir’.
‘Mum, Dad, I need to tell you that I like someone who I want the two of you to meet’, Kabir said that in one breathe and heaved a sigh of relief!
His mother smiled.
His father asked, ‘Naam bataao?’(Tell me the name)
What seemed like a decade in his head were only a few seconds. Kabir kept looking at his parents. His mother had already started chopping onions for the evening snack. She had kept some mutton in the fridge to make kebabs.
‘June’, he sheepishly answered.
‘It’s November’, replied his mother with a puzzled face.
‘No. That’s the name’, Kabir said.
‘That’s a Christian name, is it?’ asked his father.
‘It is a Christian name’, Kabir said, without looking at his father in the eye.
‘Are you mad, Kabir?’ shouted his father, ‘How did you think we will allow you to marry a Christian girl?’
Kabir kept looking at his father’s angry face. His mother added, ‘I had told your father not to send you abroad.’
His father looked at him and his wife angrily and told Kabir, ‘you can’t let someone who doesn’t follow our religion become a member of our family.’
His mother said, ‘Anyway, you have to go back to Zurich next month. I will find someone nice for you before you leave. Junes will come and go’.
Kabir almost had tears. As he saw his mother get up and walk back to the kitchen, he said, ‘But Dad, listen to me‘.
His father threw the India Today right at Kabir’s face and walked out.
As Kabir held the Pakistan Today in his hand, he opened his window and looked at the Lahore Fort outside; he wondered if there is someone who would understand him.
While Kabir kept the India Today back on the table, he deliberated if he could tell his parents, someday.
Both of them wished, they could tell their parents that June is a boy.