Dad watches talk shows in the morning

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Dad watches talk shows in the morning. There’s one that’s the Pakistani equivalent of Loose Women. This morning they’re talking about getting through hardship. Their target audience being housewives, they give examples of husbands not helping out enough, as well as stress related around children, general family life and careers.

The host, a young woman with soft features, stops the two other women on set often, to recite her mantra of God’s role in everything, including difficult times. Lots of chatter ensues about staying patient and showing strength. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Every woman in the audience claps and nods at this, egging on one another in a harmonious display of optimism.

Dad watches all this. While they talk about stress related to children, when they mention how the balance of home life can tip unfavourably towards mothers, children getting ill… And suddenly it clicks.

I mean, we always joke about it. Dad being our Mum too, just because there isn’t one in the house. Just because he gets the shopping every week like they used to together. Just because after all these years he can now clean the house to that same impossible standard, the kind that could previously only be achieved by Mum and a bottle of Flash. Just because he’s a culinary artist, in hiding. Just because he’s there for us, even when we make that really big mistake. Or we live life without showing any care for him. Or when we take paths he really doesn’t want us to, but he lets us anyway because somewhere in him lies deep trust. Mostly in God. The trust that has kept him loving the people who sometimes cause him heartache. And keep living the life that keeps kicking him down.

The sea of claps and cheers from the women continue. Dad watches all this and nods quietly to himself.

Aroob Sajjad