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     Volume 5 Issue 87 | March 24, 2006 |

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Thinking Out Loud

Uzma Tahiya Khan (zoya)

Just when you think everything is starting to work out and things are finally going your way, Life exclaims, 'Hah, that's what you think!' and throws you into even more chaos and confusion. As the saying goes, Life isn't always fair but it sure has a sense of humour.

It all started when my Mom's childhood best friend moved back into town along with her daughter, Sarah, the current hate of my life. After much wailing (and bribery) on Mom's part, I selflessly agreed to let Sarah hang around me at school to prevent her from becoming a social outcast.

'What did you do?' Sarah's mother screeched, gaping at her daughter. Gone was her unkempt hair, baggy clothes and oversized men's shoes (oh, the horror!). I had transformed her with a head-to-toe makeover.

'I think it looks fabulous!' Sarah gushed, twirling around and beaming at me.

'Totally,' I replied proudly. Not only did I just single-handedly save Sarah's social life by imparting my vast knowledge and wisdom, I also performed a public service. Think of how many people would have been shocked and traumatised… their eyes violated from seeing Sarah as her old self.

I'm very mindful of the well being of my fellow citizens.

The problem with some people is that you try to help out by inviting them into your life and they just settle down as if they live there.

It was Friday and I was feeling euphoric at the thought of Sarah spending the weekend visiting her Grandparents. Hah hah, freedom!

Mom and I were doing our daily routine, stretched out on our mats, surrounded by scented candles and soothing music. Mom's a very successful therapist / yoga instructor and she insists on cleansing my aura before starting each day. Dad pretends to be in sales but he's actually a special agent working for the government. He usually manages to hurry off in the morning before Mom starts burning incense and distributing prayer beads. In case you're wondering, we're not like other families.

'Sarah called while you were in the shower,' said Mom in between her chanting.

Oh, no. Oh, no. I could feel my earlier euphoria and newly found spiritual enlightenment evaporating fast.

'Her mother and I had so much fun when we were your age. By the way, her trip's been cancelled since… what's wrong?' Mom sat up, alarmed by my dazed expression and frozen smile.

'Nothing, Mom. It's Sarah. She's just so…'
'Oh,' she interrupted, 'Don't you like her?'
No one likes a buttmunch, I thought, but noting the concern in her voice I said, 'Of course I do. She's just great.' Knowing Mom, if she found out how I really felt about Sarah, she would make us chant mantras together to connect on a higher level or insist on hypnosis in order to settle our differences. By the time we did connect on a higher spiritual level, I'd be ninety and probably die two minutes later of old age.

Mom nodded in agreement, positioning herself into what she calls the 'flying fish'. 'It's wonderful how close you girls are getting.'

Hmph. A little too close, I grumbled to myself. Every time I turn around, there she is. I go to school, she's there. I go to the mall, she's there. The phone rings, it's her. I try to spend some alone time and walk home from school, she's right there beside me. And when I do manage to sneak out and run home… oh yeah, she's already there.

'Oh, by the way Sarah said she's coming by later. She wanted to help you with your science project. Isn't that sweet?'

'Yes, yes. She's very sweet.' Die, bi-atch!

Later that evening, as I sat cross-legged on my bed, forced to look at Sarah's latest photo album, I marveled at my level of tolerance. Not only did she insist on helping my quite-capable-self with the science project, she somehow managed to invite her oh-so-annoying-self to dinner. I've always believed that everyday is made up of little tests and so far my biggest challenge has been being in the same room with Sarah and not strangling her.

'Here's a great one of Daddy cleaning the garage,' Sarah said excitedly. She paused to smile at me and asked, 'Isn't this fun?'

Sure. This will make a great memory, I thought sarcastically. Another thing you should know about Sarah is that she's a dedicated photographer and takes about a dozen pictures a day. I've lost count of how many times she's jumped up from behind bushes and trees and blinded me with her flashbulb. She likes her 'work' to be spontaneous.

This is why you should never try to do good for others… it will only blow up in your face.

Pushing away thoughts of violence, I turned my attention back to the pictures. Reaching into her backpack, Sarah pulled out some more. 'I just had these developed this afternoon.'

Gasp. Oh, no! As I flipped through the pictures, my earlier boredom was rapidly replaced with sheer panic. These were all pictures of me.

Embarrassing pictures.

I stared in horror at pictures of me making funny faces while cooking… me wearing my avocado face mask with rollers in my hair… me in my pink pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers, dancing around and lip-syncing with my hair brush… Aaargh!

Sarah continued to ramble, quite oblivious to the sound of my head exploding.

'What did you… how did you… when?' I finally managed to splutter, outraged by this blatant invasion of my privacy. Taking deep breaths, I forced myself to calm down. Chillax, girl. It's not like anybody will ever know. All I have to do is burn these pictures and the negatives. Whew! Problem solved.

'Aren't they great?' Sarah gushed. 'So natural. Everyone really liked them.'
(Long pause)
Wait… what? 'Umm, who is everyone?' I listened in disbelief as Sarah recounted running into some girls from school before coming over to my house and (of course) proudly showing them her latest handiwork.

I wonder how many years I'll have to serve if I shoot Sarah with my Dad's gun. Then again, they might let me go if I plead 'justifiable homicide'.

Life is like a bird it's pretty, until it shits on your head. Sarah has managed to bring me crashing down from a source of enigma, the epitome of popularity and coolness to a lowly laughingstock. All day in school I could hear people snickering as I passed by. Some geek who works in a pet store gave me a bunny rabbit. Sigh. I miss being unapproachable.

A damaged ego is a frightening thing. I never realised before what a lovely word 'revenge' is. Notice how smoothly it rolls of the tongue. R-E-V-E-N-G-E!

Excuse me while I do my evil genius laugh, mwahahahah!

Every year our town hosts a talent show to raise money for charity. Fifteen minutes before curtain call, I quietly tiptoed backstage and making sure no one was looking sprinkled itching powder on Sarah's costume.

The plan:
1. She would start to itch while performing her song and scratch wildly at herself.
2. Everyone would laugh and point at her jumping around on the stage.
3. She would be humiliated and people would forget all about my pictures.
Things that went wrong with the plan:
1. She tripped while scratching herself.
2. Fell off the stage.
3. Sprained her ankle.

Payback is supposed to feel great but right now watching the paramedics taking Sarah to the hospital, the only emotion I'm feeling is guilt. Things are not going my way lately I locked myself out of the house, locked myself inside the house, caused several small fires in the kitchen, almost drowned in the bathtub and got bitten by a crazy bunny rabbit.

I finally broke down and told Mom everything and she said that I'm unconsciously sabotaging myself because of my guilty conscience. Yesterday I couldn't get out of bed because of cramps and Mom said they were sympathy pains. Weird, I didn't even know I cared that much. I'm an eternal optimist, always managing to find some good in every situation but right now things seem hopelessly depressing with no chance for improvement. For once I'm at a complete loss for what to do.

When in doubt, shop. Whoever said money can't buy happiness obviously either didn't know where to go shopping or didn't have the money to go shopping with.

And it was in the midst of trying on these gorgeous pair of heels that I had a sudden moment of clarity, a revelation. Sarah's a freaking annoying, joy-sucking bore with no sense of style and she can't change that. That's just who she is. But what I did to her was calculated malice. Mom's right. We are all sacred links in the eternal circle of life. We should learn to…

A high pitched squeal beside me broke into my thoughts. 'Oh my God,' a woman gasped. 'My water just broke! Excuse me… miss? Can you help me? I'm in labour! Miss?'

'Uh, hello! Do you mind?' I snapped. 'I'm trying to have a character defining moment here.' Hmph, how rude! Some people are just so self centred.

Ah, what a beautiful morning! Last night I came clean with Sarah, who much to my surprise and relief forgave me. Sarah realises now that she has some boundary issues and has agreed to stop pestering me all the time and give me my space. I was wrong - people can change.

Things are finally back to normal. I'm no longer at risk of self-induced death by guilty conscience, I'm once again an object of admiration and worship amongst my peers, Dad just returned from a hush-hush undercover spy mission in Russia and Mom's working on her latest book, 'Itching: The True Test Of Friendship'.

I skipped down the stairs and whistling happily to myself entered the kitchen. 'Hello, family! Isn't it a lovely… what the…?' I stopped in mid sentence and stared open mouthed. Sarah, wobbling around on her crutches was serving my family breakfast.

She beamed when she saw me and started chattering, 'There you are! Come, sit. I just made pancakes. Listen, I was thinking we should go to the book fair today. Pick me up at four. We'll get some pizza later on. By the way I'll have to stay over tonight, they're re-painting the walls in my room. I told them to do it in pink. It'll look really cool, don't you think? Oh, we'll have so much fun tonight! I just put in a new roll of film… let's take one now. S-m-i-l-e!'

(Momentarily blinded by flashbulb)
Sigh. I'll go get the gun.

Copyright © Uzma Tahiya Khan 2006, All rights reserved

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