“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on” (Robert Frost)
Chasing the Time…
The title says it all. We all earthlings are chasing the time, questing for happiness, hiding our tears, hoping for peace, begging for mercy, seeking a justice, digging our graves, listening to the whispers, silencing the outcry, watching the cruelty, praying the pardon, facing the warned….
But above all…
We are chasing the time…
And this chase continues and time keeps defeating us again and again and again.
There was a home where I came to my senses, and I began completing my tenses. I began learning how to eat and wear the clothes, I began reading how to become able to life by …….. passing your academic exams. I began searching the lost soul of wisdom. I began dreaming high where the guardians forbid. There was a home where I celebrated my birthdays as the years went by and never realized that a year of my life existing on earth had its final say. There was a home where I came to an age of enticement and abide.
But there was a home where I never came to understand, I never came to realize that all my life was a ‘bloody LIE’, deceived by my own, humbled by a beast within me, truth never exposed or juxtaposed, cries never listened but heard… Yes… there was a home, missed by miles. Held my nerves, breathed and carried on.
There was a home I lived for two decades, where I began to talk, where I began to read and write my name, grew up, succeeded and lost….. Then all of a sudden in 2004, I lost my home… I lost my world… I lost my shelter… My eyes saw it destroyed, had no power to stop… Held my nerves, breathed and carried on.
“The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed” (Eminem)
Indeed justification of life is unpredictable. And that is what happened when I lost that 20-year-old home. I had never expected what was coming in next 10 years. My family in the Kingdom then faced the most expensive outcry of breathing the alfresco i.e., the home I lost was not the last I moved. We were bound to change our residence three more times in next 8 years.
It was 12,000 SAR yearly rent of my 20-year-old home, a decade later I recently moved to my 5th home with a yearly rent of 26,000 SAR… For the first time in 30 years, I left the area where I grew up because of recent house-shifting crisis. And for what reasons?? Lemme blog out…
It was a perfect FML script written by someone above the rainless clouds. So allow me to speak a chapter of a turnaround in one expat family.
For years, we fed a cat since the day it began shouting from the back base of our building. It began climbing the stairs and sensed the familiar scent at doorsteps. It became a routine and soon all neighbors realized the cat-human real-life bond in their building. It became a disturbance, kids of our neighbors got scared and routinely began shouting all over the building.
Time passes by and natural phenomena began to reveal from the cat’s belly. It became a threat for us as we knew from our old experiences that cat never bore less than two kittens at a time. She gave birth to six kittens down the backyard of the building. Three of these died earlier but the rest also began to tweet the mother. Neighbors blamed the running circus on floors of building on us and warned they would kill all of these creatures if we didn’t manage to keep these stay away from the stairs. So we were bound to pet four kittens last year and they grew to adult age. This re-state of keeping cats as pets was not that expensive like before but of course, money talks.
Now let’s walk the talk. This last residency was a fly drown in a glass of water. In the beginning, the man to whom we signed the contract, left the building in few days and we realized that there is some years-long rift between him and his brothers. We kept receiving threats from his mental brothers to leave the spot but threats were harmless. Once one of them took my brother to the counselor and things were not that same. It was hard to consider another shifting of residence in such an expensive living environment.
A couple of months ago, my mom left to India after a long waiting state of applying for the visa. Soon she left, a couple of cops marched our doorsteps in few days to leave the building asap. It looked alarming situation but we were confirming from the owner of the building. The day came when the owner gave the painful briefing to leave the building in not more than a week. A week!!!!
The owner was in a very sorry state with the explanation that his brother registered the property case on his brother in court and a short notice issued to evacuate the building in a week. The quarrel was blundered between the brothers but the most to a gash and suffer were we the tenants. With heart in our mouth, here began Wacky Races between the tenants of searching their next residency with a global-warming acidic yearly rent to confront.
“Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor” (Sholom Aleichem)
Due to big-money rent pay involve in every ‘House for Rent’, the option to leave our area of 3-decades-stay become mandatory. It was the most disappointing search due to the reason. I was observing where the world is meeting its end, where are we going, how things are getting expensive, how life is getting complicated. With all our efforts to make a flat our home, we somehow began struggling to look for a new flat to pretend it a home and chasing the time again.
Then comes another painful time when we paid our final goodbye to our first ever car. 1982 model of Mazda 929 was our very first car bought back in mid 90’s. My father, myself and my brother learnt driving and the vehicle became the base of our normal routine with millions of golden memories. Last decade, it couldn’t afford the strength enough to stay long with us with many problems. It became a patient with regular medic visits. Later on, we bought Chevrolet Optra 5 years ago. We became used to of it. Then I bought Hyundai Veloster last year and then this Mazda became a history. Dead for a long time, the goodbye was very emotional. The dead car was in such a shape to bring a feeling as if a long-run loyal and faithful horse is finally giving up life to its owners.
As the days passed by, the short notice period came close to our throats. The cruel the nature of terrible fate was the absence of a wife/mother at home which was enough to break us badly. The quest of shelter continued and survival of the fittest finally met in last remaining 120 hours (almost close to Aaron Ralston’s fate).
“Often when we lose hope and think this is the end….GOD smiles from above and says, ‘Relax, sweetheart, it’s just a bend, not the end!’” – Unknown
Living in Faisaliyah district, once questing in Bawadi district meeting a disappointment and returning back with a kind friend helping me in my quest. I was about to take a u-turn to my home with a mourning face to end another day in grief unfinished business, struck a hammer on my brain to take my chance near to Al-Salamah district with few remaining minutes to Maghrib prayers. The questing session in Al-Salamah looked fade with no sign of hope as usual until our eyes met a building with a signboard ‘House for rent’. ’twas like if the most beautiful girl offered me her life…..
Anyhow the location was observed and was far beyond than a level of satisfaction. This home was bought with no waste of time in taking the decision at 26,000 SAR (after bargaining btw). The next challenge was……….. shifting without mother!!!
To our good luck, when shifting was to be done, the weekends were about to began with the most possibility that our friends will help us in such critical situation. And that did happen, saying a humble ‘Thank You’ wasn’t enough nor was I able to make words or phrases to express the support I received from them.
A large vehicle was too expensive and unaffordable. So the camel of a carriage was one of our friend’s pickup. So expectations of numerous rounds of shifting were already expected, and efforts of more the time-consuming on moving and dropping objects at a pace were on the count. We had enough friends to help us on that particular weekend of exhaustion and combustion.
The real session was taking all the home stuff from top floor to base. Plus the packing especially the kitchen accessories required mom’s assistance. In her absence, my father and brothers had to repeatedly co.ordinate with her on Skype, through a video chat she had to view every inch of shifting stuff and decide what to reject or not. Thanks to technology which made it lil easy to co.ordinate our complicated home shifting without her presence but presence.
The interesting scene was of cabinets of the kitchen. The newly bought home had only one cabinet. Buying the new was within our financial reach, the only idea brought things to accept reality was to take the existing cabinets with us. My father proposed this idea and my brother seeking permission from the owner, he gave his consent. Within few minutes, the owner called and gave us consent to take all the cabinets (he did permit to show his anger for sure on his brother’s case filing attempt). Opening the cabinets, you need a special mechanism to un-wall. Our pickup friend helped out, with other friends altogether put the heavy labor of hours to take household shape in our matters.
Under 48 hours my father and our friends had unscrewed all major furniture and fittings, every single piece was poured down from one stair to another. Housing in 2nd floor, a friend proposed an idea that each of us must stand on each corner of stairs down till the pickup and movement of objects can be made faster in different hands at a time. The plan worked, energy saved, morale boosted. In almost three days, the whole of household items was moved. Physical exhaustion had its peak.
The view of home shifting in the building was an absolute madness. It was expected that moving of tenants within a week will make things look abnormal but one brother’s fight for power and hunger for money messed the whole situation with the funny part that he himself was the tenant of this building. They were four brothers in all once living in this building, the rest you may understand…
The day shifting began, was the day of presenting household items in shape of an open exhibition. Not only were we moving our stuff with a pickup waiting outside, also were three other tenants joining the household labor parade with two trucks parked and congested the place with no cars to move a big space. The 4-tenants open exhibition produced a dozen labors plus ourselves bringing down the items, and a lively atmosphere of children of tenants playing outside. It was an outcry.
“Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life” (John F. Kennedy)
With the beginning of a new week by night, we introduced all of our four cats to the new home. Naturally, they didn’t accept the change. Confound and feeling betrayed, sniffing and wandering. With new home installed on the ground floor, guests of Al-Salamah were about to face their toughest challenge, meet the local cats of Al-Salamah. The local salamah.fm began to invite the outbreak outside our home, as the local cats surrounding outside the netted balcony looked like the White Walkers of ‘Game of Thrones’.
With all the cats struggling to accept the change, one of these could not qualify and met to its disaster. Rebuilding a new enthusiasm of unpacking, screwing and placing all the items, we fell mentally disturbed towards the nature of this cat. Unnaturally it went shouting for 12 straight hours. The next morning my father began shouting that it was hitting his head on the wall and walking like a blind. He was right, that cat dramatically lost his eyesight, he wasn’t able to see or understand what lies ahead of its walk anymore.
In few hours, we met another sign of horror from it, the cat was now not even sensing normally. Shaking, moving its head, lying like a dead, eyeballs getting wide and not attending us like before. We rushed to the vet clinic where the doc stated a temporary brain injury by perhaps a hit on its head allowing blindness. Brain injury meant it would not last for long. We could not hold tears and return home hopeless.
The other story broke in India when I came to know that mom had a terrible sprain on lumbar spine which pulled her nerves. She wasn’t able to walk or sit. Therapy was going for weeks. She didn’t inform us due to our shifting crises. My mother could have completed her therapy in India with a genuine delay, but yet again the local Kingdom procedures of iqama renewals made her return to Kingdom soon. These surely were the hardest times of life at a very wrong time.
My brother and I began cleaning the brain hit cat. It was kept in balcony alone for days due to the fact that it went crazy with other cats and was a possibility to spread its problem in other. The cat wasn’t able to move or walk. It passed its urine on its own body, in addition of bags of dust and litter already occupying its skin. We realized that further dirt will increase chances of increasing the disease or such a massive pain will kill it severely. We put the cat on bath by pouring water on it, lice-shampooed its body, brushed and combed it. Cleaned and washed the balcony. Mom had advised us to manage Zamzam water for its drinking and wiping it while praying some supplications.
Things worked as the cat struggled to survive and tried to bring things back to normality. In these days, Alhamdulillah it is active and can sense normally but lack the eyesight. On the other hand, my mother began walking and returned back to the city. How strange the life can be, she left to India in one home and returned in the other.
More stories and incidents will enter my life. Until now this is one critical chapter really needed to blog off. The reason behind writing this blog isn’t a personal diary to open. My purpose of narrating a sudden panic in life is to tell the reader how a common man in the Kingdom gets hypnotized of a situation when a second person indirectly kicks you and makes your life miserable. How a citizen becomes an expat.
While reading the whole, one will realize a socio-economic issue is persistently prevailing. Being a common man, I am not physically tortured but wounded with a burning fate trying to escape. The man who filed the case was no one to me, and life of the whole family got messed. The one who will collect family iqamas indirectly made mom’s health at risk but with no intention. Had there no such rules, my mother had fully and quickly recovered in India. The doctor who stated the cat suffered the brain injury was incorrect.
Last of all, I would like to thank my friends who helped us in our critical times of home shifting. Although I don’t write names in the blogs but I should mention due to their efforts. I would like to thank Moizuddin Bhai for helping us out in the unstoppable quest for new residency and supported/guided us when required. I would like to thank our friends Faizan, Alpha, Taha, Maroof and Rizwan who helped us in home shifting and worked day and night. In the end, I would like to especially thank Waqas and Umair, without whom this amount of work would neither have been finished nor the shifting would have ever been possible. May Allah bless you all.
It is all about only one person to rely on, cheer, motivate and make him/her powerful to survive the life and make him/her run with time. YOU. Believe in yourself… Time will pass by and will never stop and we all will grow more and more and more. So
I AM SAMI NAIK