One morning I woke up to the pesky sound of the doorbell. Usually, I don’t get to hear it much often—just once per day when my husband returns from work or occasionally (twice a week) when I order a box of Ferrero Rocher (which I devour within three days) from the departmental store conveniently located a few steps past our apartment building—thanks to my residence in a foreign country. So, this sudden shrill racket at an unusual time startled me, almost tricking me into believing that it could be a dream. Or a nightmare.
When I opened the door, a bright smile greeted me. Yes, a smile, because I literally couldn’t see the face amidst the teeth. When the grin subsided, I recognized the owner of the visage. My penny-pinching uncle, who is so far up our family tree that he wouldn’t be visible even if I searched through the branches one by one.
Two days back, I received a call from my mother saying that he would be temporarily shifting to Qatar, minus his family, and asked me to call him over the weekend just to be polite. But looks like someone dropped him my address instead of a phone number.
Honestly, I wasn’t happy to see him. I mean who would be happy to receive a guest at eight in the morning, the hour at which even your husband wouldn’t dare to stir you awake?
It’s okay. He’s here on his way to work. Mom might’ve missed out on an important piece of detail—that she gave my freaking address to a man, whom I have known only from an old photograph of an ancient get-together and the new one she whatsapped for reference. But it’s okay. Not a big deal.
I shook my head to ward off the residual languor and invited Uncle in. We exchanged pleasantries. We exchanged awkward looks. Then we exchanged apologies. Me for not calling him after he landed; he for not informing me before dropping at my place like a thunderclap.
He stayed for breakfast. Predictably. He returned after work in the evening alongside my husband, sharing his cab ride. As expected. Annoyed us with some irrelevant and silly anecdotes. Embarrassingly. Stayed for dinner. Unanticipated. Returned the next day. To my horror.
He kept bouncing back to our place persistently like a boomerang and we could do nothing but accept him, although my warm welcome smile receded with each passing day.
Among our relatives, he had a name for being a miser. He’s a reputed freeloader who would stop at anything to retrench even if it’s a single buck. I concluded that he was trying to save money through meals and got entertainment at our cost by tagging along to malls and picnics during the weekends, leaving us no room for privacy.
Although it had been a challenging few months, the whole thing introduced me to a new perspective on life and I’m going to get a little philosophical here.
Just like an unwanted, troublesome guest, problems knock on our doors when we least expect them. As long as we face them headlong, without fear, a solution will always show up. If we don’t, then they would just keep coming back.
Sure, in my case, the “problem” vanished after three months. But it won’t always be the case. That’s when we have to develop shatterproof resolve and wear it like a body armour before getting down to engage in a battle. The longer we fight, the shorter the distance between you and victory would get.
In order to drive the unwanted guest away, we first need to dispel the fear and uncertainty from their comfortable abodes of our minds.
Back to my undear moocher of an uncle, who, after three months, has left the country with three Tupperware boxes (mine) containing three different varieties of curries (cooked by me) packed to last for at least three days.
Let’s just say each of the dishes missed out on some key ingredients that would keep him off from leeching for a while.