That night, after their visit, I called my parents to learn what they’d thought of the place where I work. My thirty-eighth floor office? My boss? My co-workers? My floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over Buffalo Bayou and all points west?
I love my workplace and I hoped they would, too!
But Ammi was silent. She did not wish to say.
“What is wrong, Ammi?” I asked, gently prodding. All I got was more silence.
At long last she spoke and said, “Nasreen, I do not like that place.”
Well, this troubled me. What was it I was not seeing? What was so awful that she could not even bring herself to name it?
“I did not want to say it,” Ammi said, “but the keypads on your doors are bad.”
Wha-?! The keypads on our doors are biometric. I walk up, I press my thumb on a little red square, it reads my thumbprint, and the door opens.
“When we visited Faisal,” she continued, “he watched a program on the television where the people had keypads like those. Then bad men came and cut off the workers’ thumbs to break into the office!”
I did not laugh. I said, “Ammi, Faisal was watching ‘The Blacklist’! It is a crime drama. It is not real.”
She said, “Do not laugh at your mother, Nasreen!”
I did not laugh at her.
I did not laugh at her then. I did not at her laugh later.
But I did send her this groovy picture of me and my cousin to prove that our thumbs were intact: