I had the strangest day last week and, like most major events in my life, it began with a visit to a psychic.
Well, actually, the psychic.
I had been trying for months to get an appointment with the Komal Tariq, a clairvoyant who became famous in the 90s for her uncanny predictions. Most of her clientele tended to be young girls or women from the middle and upper classes who wanted to know whom they would marry next, but then again that’s almost everybody’s clientele here, from clairvoyants to waxing-walis to haute couturiers.
I mentioned to you a few columns ago that I had been to her once before as a teenager. Recently, I got her landline number from a friend but apparently Komal just doesn’t pick up her phone. Eventually, my sister got the appointment for me. (I’m convinced Komal’s answering machine has some kind of ovarian screening process.)
We arrived outside her pleasant house just off the canal a few minutes before our appointment. A guard led us to her waiting room, which had baroque-inspired furniture and several paintings with the name of God drawn in multicolored calligraphy. There was also a picture of a cottage in what looked like Switzerland. She came out of a side door and, briefly, looked like she wanted to cry (rumour had it we were actually scheduled for the next day.) Still, she’s a sweet lady and happily agreed to see my sister anyway, recalling her face from a cold day in 1995. While I was waiting in her lounge, there poured in a steady stream of visitors to see the Great and Powerful K: two poker-faced army officer types; a young couple; two large women, one visibly suffering from an illness. Sitting next to me and speaking in a mixture of Turkish, Arabic and Urdu were two others like us – psychic junkies – and I started chatting to them about the Psychics of Lahore and beyond. (“Have you been to the one off the Main Boulevard? Too scary I tell you but sometimes he can predict an illness!” followed by “Uff, no! You must try Shagufta above the United Bakery on the seedy side of Sector Y. She knows names!” and finished off with the trump card “Well, the best ones are in Indiaaaa of course…”)
Then my sister came out looking relieved but confused, and Komal gestured for me to step into her inner sanctum. “We have a few minutes,” she said and smiled conspiratorially. “Let’s see what’s what!” We sat on a sofa and she lightly grasped my fingers, stared off into a space on the far wall and began talking rapidly.
[quote]The weird thing about seers is that you, the Seen, usually make sure they’re right one way or another[/quote]
The crux? Well, she said my life has been a waste since my early 20s and but that it’s all going to change magnificently in the next 15 months (which, on reflection, sounds like what every other psychic has said). I’m going to be thirty in about that time, so I imagine she’s just picking up on some post-late-adolescent existential angst. (Seriously: who approaching 30 isn’t worried their life has been a waste and hopes it can only get better? The thing about having lived out your “youth” is that a very harsh, very honest part of you inevitably turns around with a ciggy dangling from its bitter mouth to ask in a Russian accent: “Vos that it?”)
I felt Komal knew more than she was letting on, like she saw some great cataclysmic disasters which she wanted to pass off as a garden party. She said my household would change in a few days, which can mean anything from a wedding to a car crash. The more I asked the more she kept saying that everything will simply be “fine” as long as I live in the “moment” (why thank you, Oprah). I sat with her for five minutes before there was a knock on the door for her next appointment.
“Come and see me before you move in May,” she said with a smile.
“Wait, what? Where am I moving?” I asked.
“Come and see me in May,” she repeated, and had she been wearing a shawl I swear she would have swung it around dramatically at that very moment.
On our way home we got a call from a dog trainer I’d been in touch with. Ten minutes on, I was standing on a dingy roof in Gulberg staring at three of the most adorable Labrador puppies that have ever been birthed. I chose “Lucius”, the black male of the litter, and was on my way out when a small pup began gnawing at my ankle. She looked up at me with the earnest eyes of a Dakota Fanning-level child professional, and I melted. It is the most irreversible last-minute purchase I’ve ever made. (You should have seen my cook’s face when I exited my car holding two fur coats that moved.)
I’m now sitting in my room covered by torn blankets, half-chewed shoes, urine-soaked carpets and spilt basins of water as I watch my two black puppies – Lucius and Bellatrix – try and work out self-awareness in the large mirror they’ve just discovered. Thus far, that includes them running into it repeatedly and with no real end-goal in mind. When they tire, they will crawl into my lap and pass out like Homer Simpson, only to repeat the show every hour. These are the first animals I am raising on my own, and I am terrified all the time. I’m scared every yelp is a dog stuck in the heater, every whine a broken bone, and I have one ear out for them at all times of day and night (“Welcome to parenthood,” my father half-joked). So far we’re doing well, my dogs and I. Mrs Marzi, the 80-year-old Terror from next door has already dropped by to say that dogs are haraam (true Muslims, she tells me, are always cat-persons), but scandalizing her has now become my raison d’etre.
Turns out Komal was right about my household. That’s the weird thing about seers; you, the Seen, usually make sure they’re right one way or another. I mean, look at me. Last week I was watering plants and now I am a single parent of two puppies with bladder issues. Who could’ve predicted that?
(My mistake. Silly question.)
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