By Eisha Sarkar
As a tutor with Pax Populi, you bond not just with your students but sometimes with their families. Muhammad Qasem Jami and I had only started our sessions for the Intermediate course, when I asked him if he could get his five sisters to Skype with me on his day off. He agreed.
I got a text message from him on a Friday morning about the ‘appointment’ with his sisters. I was so excited that I logged in half an hour before the allotted time. Then Jami called from his cellphone. Dressed in a white t-shirt he walked me through the courtyard in front of his house with white walls, pillars and arches.
Jami kept telling me how happy he was to Skype with me while I eagerly waited for his sisters to come in front of the camera. And then the moment arrived. All five of them, together! I was speechless! Beautiful girls, some wearing their headscarves, lining up to greet me with “Hello, how are you?” I responded with, “Salaam! Man khubam (I am well).” It was magical.
He introduced his sisters one by one: Frahnaaz, the eldest of the sisters and a year younger than him, Friha, 23, is studying Fine Arts at the university, Freshta means “angel” is 20 and has just finished her high school, Nadia ,18, who is still studying at high school and the youngest, 12-year-old Sahar, who studies in elementary school.
Then Jami introduced me to his mother, Shaymaa, a housewife and his second youngest brother, Unis, who studies in second grade in elementary school. “So should I call you Eisha jan?” Shaymaa asked in Dari, which Jami translated to English. “Of course!” She blessed me for teaching the eldest of her ten children.
It was time for their lunch so the sisters gathered giggling and laughing and waving goodbyes, leaving me awestruck. I tried to map their faces, the eyes, when Sahar decided to turn away from the camera. The image stayed with me. I created a piece of art with oil crayons called Five Sisters. I now have them with me.