Saturday, June 26, 2004

A day in the Life of the Queen of deNile
I was about to turn 50 in a few days and my doting family was asking me how I wanted to celebrate. Despite their protests, I decided for a low-key celebration of dinner at KFC, followed by a homemade cake at home. The evening before, hubby and I were out shopping when I spied a plastic jewel-encrusted tiara on the store shelf! There was my birthday hat and it only cost 60 rupees! I promptly bought it and put it on as soon as we got home. “I’m going to be Queen for a day!” I announced. Suddenly a 50th birthday had morphed into a Royal Jubilee.

My first royal order to my family was: “You will borrow a wheel chair from the next door neighbours and push me round the neighbourhood, throwing rose petals in my path.” My subjects didn’t approve of that idea so I began to fanaticise about renting a horse drawn carriage and driving down Faisal Blvd to the Blue Area (downtown), past the Parliament House, then back home via the Kashmir Highway, with me wearing my crown, dressed in a lovely pink rosy rayon shalwar qameez and doing the royal wave the entire time. I knew it was only fantasy since horse carriages are banned from the capital. I began to imagine my Royal Jubilee celebrations tomorrow.

Me, a Queen…. (cue the reality morph music) What adventures lie ahead?

Crown still firmly on the regal head, around 10pm, I went downstairs to throw a load of towels in the washing machine. The royal family was all hanging out in our private apartments when Aniraz, affectionately known as Owl, spied smoke coming from the laundry room. The White-Haired Knight (my hubby) rushed in to find the room a deadly combination of smoke and hot water! The hot water pipe connected to the washing machine had burst, spraying hot water all over the room and right onto the back of the washing machine motor, the surge protector and the step-down converters. The floor was flooded, the electrical appliances were all wet and hot water was spraying everywhere! It was only through the grace of God and the fast thinking of our brave Knight that averted loss of life. He quickly shut off all the appliances. The blame lay with the knavish plumber, who hadn’t installed a shut off valve, so the brave Knight hammered a piece of wooden mop handle into the valve, stopping the gush of hot water. We, Her Royal Majesty, tiara and all, were in the thick of things, backing our knight and suggesting battle strategies even at grave risk to Our Royal Person.

Just when we thought that disaster finished, Abez the Ever-Vigilant, informed us that flood waters were rising in front and back basement bathrooms. The washing machine and the basement plumbing are below the city sewer connection, so waste-water goes into a septic tank to be pumped up to meet the city sewer line, but because the washing machine had been pumping hot water into the tank for hours, it had over loaded the sewer and overheated the pipes and caused both the pipe to break and the sewer to overload. The royal princesses Owl and Abez stemmed the tide by stuffing towels and rugs at the doors as all evacuated upstairs. All this happened at midnight, so of course, no plumbers were reachable, even the knave aforementioned.

The next day, June 25th , the day of Our Royal Jubilee, dawned. The festivities had to be postponed as royal responsibilities weighed heavy. Tiara regally in place and still dressed in regal robes of plaid flannel, we toured the devastated area of our small nation. It was then that We realized We must be the Queen of deNile, since there was flooding in both upper and lower portions of our Queendom. After the tour, We feasted on Wheatabix, followed by a gingerbread cookie and slice of orange flavoured dark chocolate and Pepsi. (We had decided to dine decadently all day, as was befitting the occasion.)

We then greeted our loyal subjects, Wafadar, Head of Security. She was given triple rations and a cask of Ale to drink our health. The Ale she passed on, but gorged herself on frozen raw chicken bones till her stomach bulged noticeably.

Mid-morning We held court with Princess Abez. All present agreed that the knavish plumber responsible for the devastation should be promptly beheaded, but We awarded the fool clemency on the occasion of Our Royal Jubilee. We then read the daily news and passed judgment on several cases reported, most notably in the case of the evil Staff Reported. That scoundrel must be tracked down and brought to justice since the daily newspapers continually report his daily mayhem- “Three Men Shot, by Our Staff Reporter”, “ Woman Kidnapped, by Our Staff Reporter.” In one day alone the knave was committing dozens of heinous crimes against our citizens. Obviously this Staff Reporter is a menace to society.

The afternoon found Us engaged in humanitarian rescue work at the site of the devastation. All wet rugs and towels were toted upstairs and hung off the back wall to dry till the washing machine dried out and could be repaired.

The Brave White Knight spent his morning bringing craftsmen to repair the damage, install shut-off valves, and even bring lunch from the restaurant. My Hero!

We then had luncheon with the royal family and faithful retainer, Najma the cleaning lady. Our royal hands sliced the fresh veggies and made the dip. Though Her Majesty doesn’t really cook, it pleases Us to serve our royal family fresh veggies cut by our own hand.

Later that afternoon, We went out in public with the two royal Princess, without Our tiara (tight security you know, we must protect our the princesses and give them a semblance of normal life.)

That evening the Royal family, (disguised as commoners) attended the local KFC to partake of finger-lick’n, chickeny goodness. It pleased Us greatly to be out with the common people. We then returned to our home Queendom where the tiara was donned, and enjoyed cake and quiet evening at home our beloved Royal Family.

A fiercely fought battle of Scrabble followed, won by the Owl, the Wise and Beautiful. Then a battle of the bed…. As the White Knight and Ourself prepared to retire to the royal bedchambers We found the Princesses had usurped the royal waterbed: the coolness of the AC and wonderful scent of the Fressia bouquet, being much preferred to their own chambers in the affected area that were still smelling slightly of sewage. The White Knight declared defeat as he was unable to battle against females, so We, the Very Queen, Herself, dived in tiara-first! A fierce match of pushing, tickling and some kicking below the belt ensued but Her Majesty had to concede, since plastic teeth from the tiara were being crammed into the Royal cranium. It turned out to be a mock battle with the Princesses relinquishing the newly won territory. (Very wise decision)

And so... Dear Readers, lest you think the life of royalty is easy and enviable… now you know the truth. My day as a queen was weighed with public service, danger, and responsibilities despite it being a day of festivities. But… all told it was certainly a memorable 50th birthday thanks to my loving family.