I saw a writing prompt on Pakistani bloggers group a few days ago. I was in a train and 40 minutes away from my destination. I got to typing, and wrote this story. It is part fiction, part reality. Let your imagination decide which is what.
Aladdin Park had recently opened doors in Karachi and it was an important event for entertainment deprived, 7-year old me. I desperately wanted to visit, and join the conversation at school. I had only been to a waterpark once before – it was in Canada, where a woman four times my size almost drowned me. It was time for some new memories.
After endless nagging and begging, my dad agreed to take us all (my sisters, cousins and I) to the said waterpark on upcoming Saturday. I spent the next four days obsessing over every little detail of the trip. It was going to be epic, I bemused.
The day arrived, with much fanfare and excitement. My three sisters, two cousins, a set of parents and I boarded the high roof van. The drive and scenery blurred, as I fidgeted in anticipation of what awaited us at the park. Checking out roadside hawkers and snarling donkeys would have to wait for another day.
As soon as we arrived, I rushed towards the changing rooms to get into water-appropriate clothing, and then ran towards the closest pool. The water felt delicious against my bare arms and legs. Karachi’s scorching summer can be merciless, and the cool water was a much needed relief. Much like a toad, I hopped from one pool to another, enjoying myself immensely. I always did enjoy my company, and today was no different.
Hours melted and sun slipped into the horizon. I was exhausted, and dangerously close to dozing off while on my feet. Mother India packed our bags and got us back in the car. It was difficult to sir upright and I slouched further down with every passing kilometre. The return journey was uneventful in contrast, until my eldest sister realised that something was amiss. My youngest sister!! She was five, and had a penchant for slipping under the seat at every possible opportune. But this time, she hadn’t. She was not with us. In all our exhaustion and ruckus, we had managed to forget her behind.
As if on cue, mom had an emotional breakdown. She was borderline hysterical, and I was annoyed. Why couldn’t mom realise that we don’t need her anyway. I’d like to be the youngest and with her disappeared, it was now actually possible.
Unaware of my devious thoughts, dad calmed mom down (or so he thought), and called Aladdin Park’s hotline. They confirmed that they had found a five year old girl, in lemon yellow t-shirt and brown shorts, and we could come collect her.
Dad drove us back at record speed. It was a 100-step staircase to the management office, and we all climbed it without as much as a whimper. I can tell when a tantrum could result in a week-long dish washing duty, so I kept it zipped. We reached the top of the stairs, and paraded inside. Their air-conditioning gave me instant goosebumps.
We immediately spotted her, perched on top of a chair, sipping Fanta. She was smiling from ear-to-ear, and had a charmed audience circling her. She turned towards us, looking straight at me, and telepathically snickered, ‘not so fast! I shall remain the youngest, and you are destined to be the unimportant middle child!’. I could hear her evil laugh ringing in my ears. Insufferable brat.