On 21st December 2016, I set out to do something I had never done before. I decided to surprise my parents, by coming back to Lahore 3 days prior to my expected arrival back into Pakistan for the holidays. So a day before, I told my parents that I am travelling to London, and that I will be busy, don’t call, plus the reception will be terrible (I don’t know why I told them that). I packed a small suitcase for 2 weeks, which was full of gifts. And together with two other friends I went to the airport. Normally when I would be travelling alone, this was the time my parents would call, ask me about the boarding and the flight etc etc. But no one was checking up on me, and I was a free bird. My friends however, did have parents calling them and checking up about their flight schedule. There began a series of events that will illustrate the struggles of how to effectively surprise your parents.
Once boarded, I purchased the in-flight internet, just incase my parents wanted to contact me. My Whatsapp was flooded with messages from my family, asking about my whereabouts and why haven’t I spoken to them in so long. I had also blocked them on snapchat, keeping up with the whole surprise charade. My father wanted to talk to me, and I kept telling them I cant talk on the phone. I was in the aircraft for another 5 hours, and the sound of the airplane would have given me away. My sister in her overdramatic way was messaging me, trying to convince me to talk to Abu. I kept insisting on Skype-ing with them the following day, but they wanted to talk to me on the phone in that moment. I did feel bad, but I also laughed at the situation. I nearly caved, and told them I am on my way to Lahore. How I kept that secret for those crucial 18 hours, I have no idea. The longest I have gone perhaps without sharing anything with my parents.
Thinking that I had pacified my parents, I relaxed a little. Stopping over in Dubai for about 6 hours, my friends and I devoured our first halal McDonald’s in 87 days. After the customary ritual of chocolate shopping, we settled into the Marhaba Lounge. When I finally sat down in a chair to put my feet up, my phone started to buzz, and Abu flashed across the screen. He was direct calling me. I lept out of my chair, and ran towards the washroom, and into an empty cubicle. By this time the call had disconnected, but Abu called again. Doing the hard mental math of which time zone I am in, what time is it in England, what time is it in Lahore, I decided to tell him I am going to sleep. And that I just got back from London, and that I am at home, and I will Skype tomorrow. Finally, I had managed to satisfy my father. But as I opened the cubicle door, I had 6 desi aunties staring at me. All had heard my conversation with my father. All had made assumptions about my character, and how I was lying to my poor father. Imagine their horror, listening to a girl telling her father she is back in Coventry from London, while in a washroom cubicle in Dubai. I casually walked to the vanity to wash my hands, ignoring the 6 set of eyes boring into my back and then escaped into the lounge far from their prying expressions. I could hear their silent judgements. The entirety of the situation, and the horrified aunties did crack me up.
Finally, boarded on my flight from Dubai to Lahore. My friend was to drop me home, in her car. Thrilled at the thought at surprising my parents and my sister, I ran inside. Only to be surprised in return. No one was home. My mother had left to pick up my sister, and had planned an extensive trip to the tailors, and my father, he was out of city. I decided to wait for my mother, and didn’t call my father because I did’t want him to rush drive into the city. So a good 45 minutes passed, and my mom didn’t show up. Finally I called her, and my sister picked up. And as I spoke, she hung up the phone on me. Annoyed at her for thinking someone was playing a prank on her (imagine that!!), I called again. This time mama picked up, and I told her I was home.
After that, I took a bath, and slept in my fathers room, waiting for him. Around 6pm I finally called him, to ask when was he coming home. At first he thought it was my sister, and then when I told him, he couldn’t believe his ears.
So folks, always surprise your parents after getting their days itinerary, and don’t just show up hoping they would be at home sitting around wasting their days waiting for you.