US

Hackschool Project # 28 Intentions and inclinations

US
By Iqra Asad
Fri, 05, 20

Let’s welcome back the Moin family. It’s the summer holidays, but academic issues are not on break for the three siblings....

COVER STORY

Let’s welcome back the Moin family. It’s the summer holidays, but academic issues are not on break for the three siblings. Last time, we left the eldest sister, Leena, busy in her mission to get her younger brother Jasir to utilize his college scholarship opportunity. Jasir, on the other hand, just wants to enjoy his school days without thinking too far ahead. Inaya is too busy worrying about her own upcoming O Levels result to contribute meaningfully to this issue. Make way for the parents.

“You do make a fuss about things,” Mama said absent-mindedly while passing plates to Leena to carry to the dining table.

“This is worth taking a stand for.” Leena stood as tall as she could, holding the plates upright.

“Well then don’t go taking a stand here in the kitchen, I need you to go to the dining table with those plates,” Mama said, turning around with half a dozen glasses in a tray. “I have these waiting for you to take when you get back.” Seeing the look on Leena’s face, Mama added, “Don’t worry about Jasir. Your Papa will handle him and show him how important it is to earn money.”

“You mean, earn merit-based admission,” Leena said automatically.

“No, to earn money,” Mama said. “The top university will get him a top job which will earn him good money. What other reason is there to make it this important?”

Leena turned around and went to set the table. When the family gathered and ate, she put her fork down between bites and said, “Papa, don’t you think Jasir is being irresponsible?”

Papa chewed his food thoughtfully, swallowed and then answered after a pause, “You will need to specify what he is being irresponsible about, Leena. With Jasir, you could be referring to almost anything he does.”

Leena nodded quickly. “He’s not going to use his scholarship offer because he doesn’t want to study for college admissions.”

“Oh,” Papa said. He turned to Jasir. “Jasir, do you want your own car to go to college in?”

“Depends. Do I get to choose?” Jasir asked, brightening up, his spoon midway to his mouth.

“The car or the college?” Papa asked.

“The car, of course! If I have my own car then it doesn’t matter,” Jasir said, setting his spoonful of food back down on his plate, watching Papa eagerly.

“Done,” Papa said. “You choose the car, and I choose the college, according to the scholarship offer.”

Jasir picked up his spoon again and took a mouthful of food happily. “Done!” he said.

“Don’t speak with your mouth full,” Mama said immediately. Jasir only looked happier.

********

A few more mealtimes passed with Jasir lost in the clouds dreaming about his future car, Inaya gripped in the fear of her upcoming exam results and Leena absent-mindedly arranging and rearranging the food on her plate. Finally, Papa said that he had an announcement to make.

“What is it? It must be important that you are bringing it up now,” Mama said, setting her fork down on her plate.

“I have thought about something,” Papa said. Leena, who had been pushing her potatoes to the left of her plate, paused, then started pushing them to the right. Inaya kept staring off into the distance, unaware that her food was going cold. Jasir waved his spoon around, making car engine revving noises with every swing.

“Children.” Papa cleared his throat. “Finish your dinner quickly, then we can do something fun.”

“Listen to your Papa,” Mama added.

Inaya shook herself awake. “Fun?” she asked.

“There’s a surprise,” Papa said, smiling from ear to ear.

The three siblings looked back at him, their reactions ranging from doubt and suspicion to curiosity and cautious interest.

“What could it be?” Leena asked.

“Are we going to redistribute the kitchen chores? I’m tired of drying plates,” Inaya said.

“Is it a trick?” Jasir asked.

“No more talking at the table,” Mama said. “Finish your food first.”

“Papa started it,” Jasir said, but then quickly resumed eating after a glance from Mama.

The surprise turned out to be a box in the middle of the living room. Jasir poked it. “What’s inside?”

“See for yourself,” was the answer.

Inaya opened the box to reveal a note. She picked it up and looked at it closely. “It says to go to the freezer.”

“Beat you to it,” Jasir said, speeding past Leena to throw the freezer open. “Oh, look, we have orange popsicles.”

“One is already missing,” Leena said, leaning over to grab the pack.

“I already noticed it earlier,” Inaya said, putting the note back in the box.

Papa beamed at them. “How did you like your treasure hunt?” He was met with confused looks followed by being unceremoniously handed his share of the orange popsicles.

Leena finally spoke up. “A treasure hunt usually has more steps than that,” she said.

“I wanted to surprise you,” Papa said.

“Well that was...unexpected,” Inaya said, grabbing a plate to hold under her popsicle to catch the drips.

“I knew it was a trick,” Jasir said between licks. He ate it fast enough to avoid it dripping.

“I won’t have one right now,” Mama said, waving away the unwrapped popsicle Inaya was holding out to her. “I don’t want to have it right after a meal.”

“More for me, then.” Inaya grinned.

“It’s just going to melt...” Leena stood up without finishing her sentence and snapped half of the popsicle off the stick before Inaya could stop her.

“That’s not fair!” Jasir jumped in to grab the remaining half, but as soon as he held it high in the air in a celebratory pose, the popsicle slid off the stick and onto the floor in an orange mess. There was a moment of shocked silence before three different voices spoke up at once.

“Oops,” said Jasir.

“Jasir!” Leena clapped a hand to her head.

“Inaya,” Mama said automatically. Inaya rushed to mop up the mess.

Later, Leena followed Jasir to the family computer, where he was in the middle of starting up his favourite computer game.

“Do you know what that lost popsicle reminds me of?” Leena asked.

Jasir didn’t take his eyes off the screen. “What are you talking about?”

“Wasted opportunities.” Leena nodded seriously.

Jasir threw his hands up in frustration. “Leena, the only thing I’m losing right now is this game because you won’t stop nagging me!”

“Listen to me, then!” Leena put her hands on her hips. “You should work hard with your tutor this summer, understand? The better you score, the better college you get into.”

“You’re just jealous that I get a car for studying and you don’t,” Jasir said.

Leena glared at him and reached out in the direction of the power button.

“Oh no, you’re not,” Jasir said, shooting out a hand to cover the power button, but Leena pulled the power cord instead. The computer screen went blank. Jasir kicked back from the computer table and drifted across the room on the wheeled computer chair as Leena left.

Sibling fight! How to make things right? We will see next time in Hackschool Project.

“Don’t worry about Jasir. Your Papa will handle him and show him how important it is to earn money.... The top university will get him a top job which will earn him good money. What other reason is there to make it this important?

“Do you know what that lost popsicle reminds me of?” Leena asked.

Jasir didn’t take his eyes off the screen. “What are you talking about?”

“Wasted opportunities.” Leena nodded seriously.