Ma'am Saab | Photo by Rūta Smith
Family of Four

I’ve always loved stories, specifically fables. Beyond the many reasons why everyone loves fables, I personally enjoy working my way through the moral which, most of the time, is revealed at the end of a story; like a riddle. Even though fables are pure fiction with animals or objects as main characters, the conflicts are relatable and solutions are tough, yet simple. Like real life.

In our non-fictitious, real-life story, we are the main characters facing, or sometimes creating, all sorts of conflicts challenging our passions, determination, relationships and at times, ideals. As we work our way out of these dilemmas, and if we are open to it, we will discover  the learning we receive by persevering through these situations. In real life though, this “moral” is also referred to as hindsight, and it’s always 2020. (Pun intended.)

Understandably, I also didn’t have this hindsight when, in our very real life, I decided to start my own made-to-order food delivery service three days into everything closing down due to COVID-19 back in March. We just had an idea and an ambition to give it a go. And that we did.

Maryam Ghaznavi | Photo by Rūta Smith

As a family, we embarked on a journey never traveled before, on a path leading to an unknown and a route full of obstacles. None of us knew how bad this pandemic would get and where we would be once and if we got through this as individuals, as a community and as a nation overall.

Even in fictional stories, usually there are family, friends and mentors (sometimes even sidekicks) who can step in and help you through the conflict at hand — we could have none. The pandemic had kept them all away from us. So we, a family of four, became each other’s sidekicks. It was a love-hate relationship! One could say, if I were Batman, I had two Robins who were constantly told to keep their pants on as we zoomed around in my (not) Batmobile delivering freshly prepared dinners six days a week.

Raheel was Superman. We all know that Batman can get himself into situations from which only Superman can rescue him. I had Raheel and all of us were each others’ heroes. Parenting roles were dramatically reversed as “Mama’’ was constantly away for work and “Baba” was working from home navigating everyday life-altering conflicts such as why doesn’t 15 crackers and a jug of chocolate milk constitute a healthy breakfast for a 7 year old. Life was tough around here.

It got tougher every day. With each success Ma’am Saab had, each milestone we overcame, our challenges increased. But so did our efforts. With every sleepless night (which were all of them), we woke up with new ideas to improve our processes. When we realized it was getting more and more unsafe to take our little Robins out with us on deliveries, we reached out to other superheroes. These conflicts were and are helping us grow. Helping us get better at what we are doing, and growing pains need nourishment.

Our nourishment comes from the hearts we touch through our food. The love of our family and friends keeps our buckets full. My mom is with me in spirit everyday when I make a fresh batch of Sooji Halwa that reminds me of my youth, when the smell of semolina roasting in ghee would fill our entire house as we all flocked to the kitchen. When they say the restaurant business is a family business, I understand now.

In hindsight, the morals of this story are endless. But the best lesson is to live your way through them.