BabyZ, childhood, happiness, life

A letter to my boy from his working mother

Dear Z,

I really hope that when you are reading this you’re a healthy, happy young man. Amma is going to try to explain something to you today but it might take a while because I need to understand it better myself first. Before we begin, let me tell you that ‘writing’ about things can sometimes help you figure out what’s going on in your mind. It’s a way to clean up the mess that’s in there and by the end of it, more than often, you feel better than how you started. I hope you also appreciate writing one day and learn to use it for your benefit.

Your mommy has always been an ambitious person. She has always dreamt big and took challenges to be somewhere in life. In the words of a famous author, ‘I’m not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard.’ I hope that by the time you’re old enough to read this, I have succeeded to become a ‘somebody’ in this very competitive world. My point being Z, I’ve always gone the extra mile to do well in my career. I never took the easy way out or comforted myself with an excuse to take a backseat – even if that meant painfully long drives when I was pregnant with you – I worked. I was asked to go to your nana nani’s house for your delivery which is the only reason that I quit work – I was 7 months pregnant then. In my mind I had it all planned out – a 6-month maternity leave and then back on the field. But things hardly ever go the way you plan them.

11th of July, 2015 my life changed forever. I had the most beautiful blessing of God that a person could ask for. I had you. The days flew by in a flash. I was completely indulged in raising you in the best possible way that I could. From being just a corporate lawyer, I had suddenly become your full time consultant, caretaker, chef, nurse, friend, teacher, everything – I was your everything. And with every passing day you made me realize what an important job I was doing. You appreciated me with your cozy hugs and a smile so warm that it would take away my worries and melt my heart.

But I will be honest with you Z, there were days when I just wanted to get out of the house and do something – be something. That bug which was deeply inculcated inside of me kept itching for some kind of self-achievement. I have always loved you more than life itself but there were days when I wanted to be more than just a mother. I wish I knew better.

You have always been an above average baby Z. You were an early crawler, an early walker, talker and what not – you just didn’t want to slow down! And I’ve completely enjoyed watching you achieve your milestones with so much confidence and grace at such a tender age. Before you turned 2 you knew your numbers from 1-10, you could point out and name 5 continents, you knew almost every ‘first word’ from your surroundings (be it food items, vehicles, toys, animals (you would call a porcupine – ponka ponka ponka!)). You knew who Allah is… you would sit with me when I recited the Quraan and point your bubbly little fingers at the words and say ‘Alif, baa, jeeem, haaa’. I can just go on for days boasting about how smart my baby has always been.

It’s a common belief that children generally are very adaptive to changes. Mold them whichever way you want and the little ones just follow. You were always very cooperative with your mama Z. Ever since you were just a couple of months old, you have been very patient with me – especially when we were passing through difficult times as a family. You have always been my pivot – the center of my balance and I cannot tell you how thankful and proud I am of you for being my strength.

It’s been a little over a month since I resumed my job. After many failed attempts to secure a job I was finally hired by a company which has one of the most intimidating and challenging auras that I have ever faced. It’s a daily struggle so far. More so, because I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I have gone from having a multi-tasked 24/7 routine with you to just being a lawyer and that to for someone else.

1st of April 2017, your baba and I dropped you to the daycare for the first time. I was composed for the first hour – thanks to you because you were such a confident and happy baby – but then I just broke down. I sat in our car outside your daycare and I cried. Leaving you there was one of the toughest decisions of my life. To know that you will be fed by someone else and taken care of by someone else and rocked to sleep by someone else. It just ripped my heart. Despite of being an emotionally strong person, parting away from you even for a few hours was one the weakest moments for me. I had to repeatedly console myself that it was ok, that you were ok and happy with your new friends and that sooner or later, you needed this exposure to grow as a strong individual.

During your first week at the daycare, there were noticeable changes in your behavior that worried me all night. You were suddenly becoming cranky and throwing tantrums at every little thing. Your appetite had gone down and it seemed like you were no longer as happy as you used to be with me. I just didn’t understand why. I was making sure that every single hour that I got with you, we were making the most out of it. I would finish all the house chores before it was time for me to pick you from the daycare just so I could spend all my time with you. But something was wrong. I kept having anxiety attacks – I kept getting paranoid that all of this was going to make me fall down on my face.

I asked the daycare in charge what was the matter and she wisely pointed out that the problem was not with you, it was with me. You see Z, a mother and child share a very unique bond. From the time when a baby is in the womb and then perhaps forever, a mother and child are always connected. They reflect in each other’s being. My panic reflected in your behavior. When a mother panics, the child inevitably gets scared because then they don’t understand what’s happening to them and why mommy is going so crazy! The cause of my panic was my guilt. My constant guilt. I was just living with the fact that I was doing something wrong. That instead of being with my baby and playing with him at home and looking after him, I was going out and working. And the feeling multiplied itself by infinity on days when you were even slightly ill. I can’t tell you how much it killed me inside to wake you up in the morning and drop you at the daycare to be able to go to work. In the past one month I have contemplated resigning at least 10 times.

But then I ran into other working mothers. Mothers of more than just one baby, mothers of babies who were just a few weeks old, mothers of children with special needs, single mothers and the list goes on. The world is made up of so many stories Z, so many stories which you and I are not even aware of. Every household has its set of challenges. Every child, every woman, every man wakes up with a dream and then the many hurdles that he or she needs to make way through. I gained support from such many examples around me and more so ever, I had the support of your amazing father, your Aaji and your nana & nani who always stood by me and calmed me down on my crazy days. They were the ones who trusted me and told me that I was capable of fulfilling both roles. That I could be a kick-ass lawyer and an even better mother, both at the same time.

There is another aspect to our situation – the importance of ‘separation’. Like I said above Z, you and I are already connected in a very magical way. It’s plain nature and nothing can ever change it. You have always been and will always be a part of me – literally. And that’s amazing – watching you is like watching a piece of my heart run around and sing adorable nursery rhymes. But you see, despite of being attached naturally, our attachment needs nurturing. That is where separation comes into play. I kind of understood this phenomenon when I moved away from your nana nani after marriage. But the importance of this sensation sunk in when I was separated from you – even for just a couple of hours.

Separation is so important in relationships because due to that separation you realize that you will be reunited. You need to know that the person comes back. That feeling you get when you walk back into the house or for me when I would park the car outside your daycare – my eagerness to see you and to be able to hug you and kiss you after hours, which seem like years, cannot be contained. The excitement just overflows. And I long to hear you scream in your adorable squeaky voice every time I come to pick you at the day care, ‘Mama aaaagaaiiiiii!!’ – those are the most eager few minutes I spend before I can actually hold you and hug you again. This is the importance of separation – it enables you to eagerly look forward to meeting the one you love so much.

I know my job has a new presence in your life. It’s a huge unknown block in our fun-filled bubble of mommy and Z. But I need you to understand that right now it’s a big confusing thing for your mama as well. Even I’m trying very hard to figure it all out and have my life back in control. My job has not only changed your life, it has impacted my own. And most importantly Z, I need you to know that I am working not because I would ever…. EVER choose work over you – I cannot choose ANYTHING over you – but simply because work is also important.

Work is what will allow your mom to support our family. Work is what will allow us to do the things that we want to do as a family. Work is what will encourage mommy to grow as an individual – to be stronger and more confident in her thoughts and decisions. Work is what will urge mommy to learn and be at par with the world. Work is what will perhaps make mommy the kind of woman that she wants you to see and admire. Amongst everything that you have so beautifully learnt my little Z, amma wants you to learn and know and respect women for their individuality, for their opinions and for their emotions – and I pray that by the time you read this, you can proudly say that your mother is an example of women who are strong and respected for who they have struggled to become.

Love & hugs & a million kisses,

Amma

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my happy place ❤
BabyZ, belief, childhood, dreams, happiness

A new journey with Z

My upbringing was done in quite a unique manner perhaps – it has always been a perfect blend of everything – and when I say everything I mean all the rights and wrongs, all the Easts and Wests – never was it one straight road to simply walk on. Obey the rules but dare to go against the fray; don’t harm anyone in any manner but be crazy sometimes. You know, very oxymoronic (not sure if that’s a word). Thanks to a job well done by my parents, that’s quite the way I’ve lived so far – spontaneous decisions and mostly madness – no regrets. Surprisingly, some major decisions of my life were taken in the spur of the moment – for instance, let’s study law! eeermm why?…. Well, because everyone else seems to be doing BBA! You see, the simplest answers are usually the right ones.

So that’s how it’s been – just jump into a random idea and then explore. Some of my mental rantings have actually either shaped into my professional career or a successful hobby (such as blogging…. ‘let’s just start a blog!’) while some ideas took a backseat midway. But one thing I know for sure today – staying within the given limits or going by the book is not at all conducive to one’s growth and learning. You must dare to take up spontaneous ideas and make them your own. Sometimes you will fall right down on your face and sometimes you will feel an adrenaline rush. Rest assured, you will look back at the madness and be happy about it.

In my father’s words, there are certain “ground realities”. Lord knows how much I love this term! He uses it often and I really like it when he does. It reminds you of your core – it reminds you of where you are anchored. As life goes by, no matter how rebellious you may be, certain rules become set. A basic foundation is laid inevitably and deep within you also become content with it. You have a profession – you have a few set hobbies – you have a certain bunch of friends – you have a favorite color – you have a life which has some ‘ground realities’.  And it’s all going good. But then one day, you have a baby.

You see, having a baby is not just ‘you having a little funny thing to take care of and love endlessly’. No sir. Having a baby also means that now you are someone who that baby is constantly looking up to – more like awkwardly staring up to. So all of a sudden – you become super self-conscious –going from a carefree dare-doer to a role model; an ideal; a mother. Obviously, no one wants their baby to get hurt or go all crazy with life right?! But at the same time we want our children to experience everything that the world has to offer. There are certain facts about the world that you, during the course of your life, have learnt the hard way and would want your baby to trail away from. So what do you do? You aim to become what you want them to become.

Unknowingly you become conscious of your own self and your surroundings. You watch your words, your actions, the way you dress, the people you meet, the way you eat – basically the way you do, think or say everything. You reassess and recalculate each of your decisions because every single thing is being imprinted onto your baby’s fresh canvas. You make sure that your baby sees you as a sorted, strong, civil and composed individual – one that is heard and respected. Someone who knows who they are and what they believe in.

Often, after Z, I have questioned my capabilities and even my values and beliefs. I found myself doubting my thoughts, my feelings and my decisions. I want nothing less than the best out of my Z. I want him to be kind and thoughtful, strong and determined, successful yet well rooted and for him to be all this – I have to be an example who he can look up to. Inevitably you start to hide all your negative or weak traits because in the form of your baby – life has actually given you one more chance to be who you idealize.

There are many things that I have always liked but I never really dwelt into enough. With Z I have had the opportunity to dive into a few things and explore its wonders. I’ve always loved to read and so I try to read to Z almost every day even though I barely get to read on my own any more. He has always been fond of his books and flash cards and I hope he will become an avid reader one day.

I was never too good at geography but I remember when I was back in third grade I really enjoyed learning about continents and oceans and islands etc. So my husband and I decided to cut out the continents and oceans using our amateur drawing skills and some colorful chart paper and turn one of the walls in Z’s room into his world map. He now recognizes almost 5 of the continents and its super cute the way he calls Australia – Austray-lalalalallalala! This way I also get to brush up on some geography myself!

I absolutely love travelling and so did my mum and dad which is why I’ve had the chance to visit quite a few countries. Z has been a traveler too – he had his first road trip when he was only 5 months old! There’s still a whole lot more that I wish to show Z – we still have to travel a lot more – so that he can explore and experience the wonders of different places and learn to appreciate different cultures.

Music is another favorite of mine. But as I mentioned in my earlier post, so far Z and I have been doing all sorts of nursery rhymes. In fact, he knows a few jingles by heart now. Just yesterday when we were on our way home Z started humming a tune and I asked him, are you singing for mama? He nodded. And I requested, can you please sing for me again? And there it was – his adorable little hum again… Hopefully, he will love singing as much as I do.

Art. Alright, I must admit, I can appreciate art but when it came to painting, coloring or drawing myself, I have always dilly-dallied with it. I did do a pencil sketching course once and completely enjoyed it but then never really built up on it. But since I want Z to have a feel of everything and be able to explore all the adventures of life – for the first time, I decided to buy a few paints and a paint brush – not for myself but for my little Picasso.

I really want Z to know the importance of art for I believe it gives you a perspective which is not commonly known to all. He needs to see beyond what appears to everyone and what better medium than art. I still don’t know if painting will be one of the things that Z will excel in but I hope, I really hope that he grows up to appreciate the relevance that art offers for the heart and mind. Hence, it was time to finally embark on a creative journey with Z and do something which I had always loved only from a distance.

So my husband and I planned an activity for Z to do day before yesterday. We got some old newspaper and pasted it all over the floor. Then we cut out an apron from a grocery bag (just Z’s size!), set out three bowls each with a different color of paint and got a few cardboards to act as Z’s canvas for the day! Ta-daa!

Z was absolutely ecstatic for his painting endeavor. He loved his apron and very gracefully wore it throughout the activity. He placed himself right in the centre of the newspaper sheet we had laid down for him, picked up his paint brush and off he went on his colorful journey. At first he carefully marked a few strong strokes of red and green on the cardboard sheets but eventually he realized; ‘what’s the harm if I paint my arm?!’!

My husband and I sat back and enjoyed watching Z explore the colors and the magic they could create. Neither of us can paint but we surely felt therapeutic just watching our little Picasso enjoying himself so much. All three of us wrapped up that activity feeling very accomplished. You see sometimes, even though you have spent all your life in a certain manner, it takes an adorable two-year-old to teach you that it’s ok to color outside the lines.

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My little painter at work
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Z’s artwork
belief, childhood, happiness, memories

What father’s do best

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He’d tip toe into my bedroom every Thursday morning and slowly pull down the comforter from my face, brush his hands through my hair and whisper ‘wake up princess’. Then he’d tickle me for a bit until I’d be sitting up on the bed staring at him with my big curious eyes wondering what he had planned for this weekend – we’d either go out for a long drive by the sea and have ice cream or I’d tag along with him to his office and feel smart because I knew how to use Microsoft Paint. As a kid, I absolutely loved my Thursday mornings.

We live in a cruel world where who and what changes when is absolutely unpredictable. As much as parenthood took me by surprise when I began to realize what parents were all about – the idea of being a father daunts upon me even more. I sometimes, quite often actually, don’t understand this selfless way of living life. I know for sure that I’d be an epic fail at fatherhood.

Fathers teach us well. They tell us how to use a dictionary. They help us write our essays and teach us how to tell the time. They are always standing right behind us while we try riding our bicycles & every time we ride a few steps forward we turn back to make sure that they are there – and they are always standing there telling us how great we’re doing. They give us the push while we’re on the swing and we feel like we’re almost going to kiss the sky fearlessly because our dad is right behind us to catch us if we fall. He’s that silent voice in the back of our minds telling us constantly ‘I know you can do this!’.

They taught us to sneak candies from the jar when our mums were busy washing the dishes. They took our pictures when we were caught hiding under the table hurrying up finishing off our junk food right before dinner. They would get us the latest Disney movie and watch it with us until we fell asleep in their arms. They pushed our hair out of our faces while we’re busy setting up our doll house or coloring our minds out. They would walk past us and rustle our hair when we’d be done with the task of our day. They would stand in front of the stove on Friday mornings and cook like they’re our heroes while we would sit on the kitchen table, swinging our legs back and forth  admiring how cool our daddies are! Right from giving us a ride on their shoulders to cheering for us on our graduation day – they’ve always been there like our backbone. And most importantly, they never say ‘I’m scared’ or ‘I’m worried’ or ‘I’m nervous’ – and we never think they are.  =)

But one day, we grow up and we become all smart and we have a fancy degree and a flashy job title – ‘We know the world  better than you dad’. It just makes me smile. Because fathers..? They were always our role model – always our heroes. We grew up feeling safe and warm because we believed that they knew it all. Nothing could touch us because our dad was on the watch all night while we slept under the glowing sticker stars that he put on our bedroom ceilings. Yet sometimes today, when we ‘know-it-all’ and we know that something is bothering them, they just pat our backs and tell us to ignore the damp corners of their eyes – ‘It’s nothing, don’t worry your little head, everything’s just fine princess!’. It makes me smile over and over again. They always told us that their 5 hours sleep was all that they needed and it was absolutely fine to drive a hundred kilometers back and forth to pick us from one place and drop us to the other and then pick us up again. It makes me smile today thinking that back then I had no idea how much a kilometer was and it all looked so easy to do..

And so it makes me think that all of that since forever and what’s their reason??

My dad drops me at work almost every morning and as I jump out of the car and say ‘bye abbu!‘, he reminds me every day not to forget to text him when I reach my desk and I’m all settled in to start the day. Every day when I text him ‘I’ve reached. You have a good day and take care and please smoke less today!’, he replies ‘You take care too and have a great smiley day’.

That’s all that he asks for. That’s all that they all ask for – stuff like ‘take care’, ‘text me and let me know if you’re okay’, ‘call me when you reach home safely’, ‘have a smiley day’ –  Thinking of what they want in return does make me smile.

Love you loads Abbu..

I may be fairly good at vomiting the random ramblings of my mind in words, I may have a degree and I may be good enough to go get another one, I may think I know today’s world better than you but I could never be as good as you are and have always been if I were to be a father. You are and will always be my hero Abbu! Love you loads! =)
Happy Birthday!

belief, childhood, happiness, hope

To the girl on the swing

So we’ve all been told atleast once in our lifetime that we must stay positive, dream big, make mistakes and learn from them and eventually move on. We all know that in the end this life is about ‘survival’ and why not stay happy while it lasts? But no matter how much I know today either because of time or experiences, I still secretly wish that someone had whispered all this in my ear earlier – much earlier.

My parents made a home video of me when I was about 2 years old. It’s all about what my day would look like back then; right from brushing my teeth in the morning to jumping on the bed before I’d fall asleep at night. I love watching that video. There’s a part in it where I’m sitting on a swing that my dad put up for me in the house – my mum is giving my swing slight pushes while my dad zooms in and out with the handycam. They were throwing rapid questions at me and were making me tell stories just to capture what funny ideas and huge dreams my two year old mind had. There’s one point where they ask me if I knew a word that started with the letter Q and I said ‘Queeeeeeenn!’ and it didn’t end there.. I continued to say in my jumpy mood ‘Nazan will be a queeeeen one day!’.

I sometimes wish that this older me, who’s on the other side of the TV, was the one with the handycam in my hand watching a younger me swing her heart out; I’d probably pause the recording for a bit, stop the swing, kneel down and look at the younger me in her big bright eyes and tell her a few important things that I know she will want to know and believe in and need while growing up gets in her way…

You must always, always feel that rush of fresh air that you were feeling right now when you were swinging back and forth – you must remember to breath in and smile as if you are on top of this world. You must dance and sing and jump around while you’re at it because at that moment you’ll feel free. Be as joyful and carefree as you can be, for as long as you can. Always bask in the opportunity to act and think like a two year old – amongst the seriousness that life will bring, trust me you’ll want to dwell in such opportunities. Throw your arms up in the air – as high as you possibly can – and play with the stars and clouds. Life will try and get serious with you, but you tell it to go away. Make sure you don’t let it take its toll on the happy, playful you. I want you to remember that there will be a lot of seriousness and stressful stuff .. like big, bad stuff.. but in the end, when you look at the entire picture as a whole – all that won’t even be significant. The prominent parts of that big picture will be flashing at you in pink and blue!

In a few years the only thing on your mind will be a virtual race. Everyone is a part of it – at school, at University, at work.. everyone is always competing, wanting to put the other one down so that they can move a step up – closer to what they call ‘achievements’. Remember little one, those will never be the achievements that define who you are or what you have made out of your life. Yes, it will look like the most important thing at that moment but you must keep your focus on building yourself – on collecting those pink and blue memories that will define your life.

Be an individual and always be true to yourself. A lot of situations, a lot of life’s ugly tricks will put you down and break your back but you must never let them define how you look at yourself. Don’t be a bully and limit how others look at themselves – nobody deserves to be treated badly – not you and not anyone else.

School will seem tough but make sure you make the most out of it. You’ll miss it once you’re through. Work will be the one thing that will try and consume you as a whole – resist it. Give your best to your work/career and be driven but never forget to play. You must enjoy what you’re doing – if it doesn’t give you time to be happy – then it’s not worth it. There will be a lot of times when you will have to take big decisions – big and important decisions. Those might be the reasons for a turn in your life. Hold your ground, take a deep breath, pray to God and listen to your heart. And while you’re doing all this, just before you blurt out what you want, make sure that your decision keeps you content if not necessarily happy. That feeling always lasts longer.

Enjoy your childhood for as long as you can. The title of being a ‘grown up’ will eventually come to you and I hope it comes to you in bliss. Be confident. Stand tall and bold. Value the words: individual, self respect and love. Hold onto your manners, remember that ‘thank you’ is a magic word, remember that a smile is always warm and everyone loves it. Treat your parents well; they are the only ones who will love you unconditionally. Never miss a chance to tell anyone; family, friends, colleagues, even your pet that you love them or you miss them or you wish that they were with you or that you were with them or that they make a difference in your life and that they are important. Don’t hesitate to apologize – but make sure its heartfelt. Remember relationships are meant to be treasured and they must strengthen with time. Do and say what you feel; those will be one of the ‘pink and blue’ moments of your map at the end.

Make good friends. Those who make you smile. Those with whom you can be yourself. Those who make you more than what you are. Life will throw in its tricks but despite of everything, if you have that friend by your side in the end – hold tight to him/her. Share your stories with them, lend them a ear, stick up for them and if that calls for a fight; fight. Choose your friends like you pick your favorite colors from a box of crayons. Look for compassion, honesty, humor and kindness. You will need such friends by you when you fall.

Your heart – it will be your best friend at times and it might hurt the most at others. Never run away. You will want to find a story that matches up with the fairy tale dream that you built but always think about the big picture; the ultimate map of your life. There, only ‘you’ matter. Be sincere and love with sincerity. Many times you will want to rebel against your own self but be patient instead. Find someone who will not define you but will let you be good on your own and better with them with you. Find someone who not only accepts but respects your dreams and forbids you to give up on them. Find someone who you can talk to for hours, always. And when you’ve found that person, look for a million ways to keep them with you forever.

And before I let you swing again, I want you to promise me that you will always hold onto to every dream that you have today. No matter how wild or impossible they seem later but never let go of them. Never let anyone tell you that your dreams are a fantasy, that they are irrational. Never listen to them because who knows if you let go of your dreams someone else just might snatch them up and live them instead. Hold onto who you are today and hold on tight. It’s a rough ride ahead. All of this that I have told you might help you when you’re down but don’t bother trying to analyze and understand life. Here are two huge secrets; life is temporary and it makes no sense at all. Just believe in yourself and follow your heart. Cry when you feel like it, be kind to yourself and to others, give warm hugs, kiss with passion, dance like no one’s watching, smile even without a reason, fall but remember to get back up, ask whenever you need help, don’t stop learning and let life be simple. Let it be as simple as it already is right now.

*play/record*

childhood, culture, happiness, memories

Green Forever!!

I ripped a square patch from the bunch of coupons that was with my ticket and I got myself a cup of coffee to soothe my aching throat. My friends and I had been jumping out of our seats, screaming as loudly as we possibly could with both our hands stretched above, throughout the first innings of the World Cup 2011 semi final match played between India and Pakistan. As much as our throats were sore from screaming, our palms were red because of all the super powered high fives that were part of the celebrations. But the silence that took over the crazy euphoria amongst a nation of cricket lovers in the second innings was eerie.

For most of my life I’ve lived outside of my home country and as much as I remember, I didn’t enjoy spending my summer vacations in Pakistan. As a child, to live in Pakistan meant to be surrounded by mosquitos, to embrace the idea of load shedding with open arms and to not open the door of a room when the ‘AC’ was on otherwise ‘cooling nahi hoti’. Survival in this part of the world seemed impossible after you’re used to bouncing in between luxuries.

I can still recall my last day in Jeddah. That day is etched in my memory and is crystal clear even though it’s been around 5 years now. I was too busy making sure everything was in place – I couldn’t take any chances because I was travelling with my uncle and paternal grandparents; both of whom were partially immobile and severely ill. I hugged my dad and sister goodbye at the airport and marched towards the boarding lounge holding four tickets carefully tucked into each of the passports. That was it. I had no time to process the fact that I was leaving the place where I had lived all my life only to go to a place that I never really liked. All that I knew was that staying optimistic wasn’t going to be easy.

Five years flew. Literally flew. Today, I don’t remember how it felt to be 18. Today, I don’t remember what exam stress was all about. Today, I don’t have childish wishes to go back to where I came from. Today, I only wait to explore what else the future has to unfold.

Apart from the electricity woes and zebra like mosquitoes that gave me dengue, this country has given me a new spectrum to look through. Had it not been for this place, I might have never driven a car. Had it not been for this place, I might have never become half the doctor that I feel I am. Had it not been for this place, I might have spent the rest of my life wearing jeans n t-shirts; refusing to look anything like a girl. Had it not been for this place I might have never found the strength to hold myself together when everything around me would be doing its best to shatter me into a million pieces. Had it not been for this place I might have never found a way to tame my temper. Had it not been for this place, I might have not lost a friend I thought I’d have forever. Had it not been for this place, I might have never ran into some people I will hold onto forever. Had it not been for this place I might have never learnt not to take every single relationship too seriously. Had it not been for this place, I might have never realized how patriotic I can get sometimes. Had it not been for living in Pakistan for the past 5 years, I might have not evolved as much as a person that I have.

I am not at all a sports lover but I have always enjoyed watching cricket. Cricket, especially when one of the teamsplaying is Pakistan. Cricket, more especially, when the other team is India! But then again, not until last Wednesday, I realized that I am not a huge cricket buff but that I am, without a doubt, a huge Pakistani supporter. A part of me laughed at myself for holding onto that hair thin string of hope until the third last ball of the match, waiting to witness a miracle and cheering for Pakistan’s victory. Such patriotism might seem ridiculous but I’ll tell you what, it was there. It was there in each and every person who watched the match with me that day. Uncles, aunties, boys, girls and even the children who gave us a migraine by having their own ‘whistle competition’ would jump up screaming whenever Pakistan would take a wicket or strike a boundary. I don’t know why this match was so much more than just a match; maybe because our country has been tagged with enough negativity in the past few years that we needed this win to prove ourselves or maybe because the game was against India? Either way, every Pakistani, living in Pakistan or abroad, would have taken that breathe of relief if Pakistan won that day. The win would have been our silent scream to the world that we are resilient, we can be winners and that corruption and terrorism do not define us. But some people fate had other plans perhaps.

I was too shocked to acknowledge how patriotic I felt that day. Two strokes of green and white on my cheek had managed to engrave the ‘go green’ spirit in my heart. With every breath, I prayed for our team to win, for our nation to hold its head high amidst all the accusing fingers. But I was in greater shock when I didn’t feel too upset at our loss. I was certainly disappointed; for all that matters I still don’t understand what was wrong with Umar Gul’s arm that day and whose wedding reception was Misbah taking a walk in?! I felt angry for the first 15-20 minutes of our announced loss after which I was as happy as I could possibly be after an extremely eventful day. Here’s why..

During the first few overs of the game, my friends and I took turns to get our face painted in different patterns of green and white. It just brought us into the whole ‘crazy cricket fans’ character 😛 All of us, guys and girls, got the paintings done and posed around like the rest of the crowd. All but one; this friend of ours refused to get his face painted. Nevertheless, he was very enthusiastic about the game and he screamed and danced like everyone else in the hall but he just wouldn’t get the flag up on his face. We watched the second innings rather quietly, with occasional jumps and high fives whenever a player would hit a boundary but when Pakistan lost its 6th wicket and when the last 10 overs or so were left in the game, each person in the hall knew what was going to happen. I rocked back and forth in my seat with both my hands clipped together, hoping to witness a miracle when our friend nudged me and another friend and said ‘hey lets go out for a walk’. We told him to shut up because he had been taking his so called ‘walks’ (cigarette breaks) much too often as the game became critical. After insisting that we accompanied him, which we didn’t, he left the hall alone. Five minutes later when he came back to his seat we asked him ‘karliya sutta?!’. He smiled at us and turned his face so that we could see his cheek and there it was – the green and white flag twinkling with the help of all the hope in his eyes! We exchanged high fives and got back to watching the game but something was stuck in the back of my mind. There was an unknown excitement, an unexplainable zest running up and down my spine. Despite of having to watch our team lose, my heart was full of an alien ‘happy patriotism!’. The green flag – on T-shirts, on faces, on hands, on his face .. it was celebration in itself.

This freak got his face painted when the whole world knew Pakistan would lose the game! The thought of what might have been going on in his mind makes me smile. His face beaming with all the hope and all his expectations pinned onto 11 players makes me smile. We always have hopes and fears for our cricket team. Even though we topped our group before the Semi finals, everyone knew that Pakistan was an underdog team. And given the unpredictable nature of our players and the game of cricket itself, no one can say what would happen.

Yes we lost. Yes a lot of things went wrong in that game. Yes we all know what some people fate did. Talk shows and newspapers were full of derogatory statements about the players of both the teams and the speculations seemed to be never ending. But facts remain facts. And the fact is that we lost a game. The fact is that some people got a good deal by crushing the hope of 180 million Pakistanis. The fact is that we reached the semi-finals by exceeding everyone’s, even our own, expectations. The fact is that our captain did not give a single immature statement against India or the Indian team. The fact is that our players kept their calm and did not see this game as ‘war’ with India. I once read somewhere that pictures speak louder than words.. and to watch moments when Afridi, the Pakistani team’s captain – my captain, patted Sachin’s back and when Wahab Riaz fell to the ground in prostration… now those are some hardcore facts! I couldn’t stop smiling and gazing at the crowd before my eyes when stuff like that was happening on the big screen – elderly men and women would be flying kisses towards our players, guys and girls would be dancing in celebration and the children.. well they just blew their stupid whistles harder *eyebrow raised* 😛 But jokes apart, the feeling was unexplainable;  it was magnanimity at its best. We lost a game but the nation came together as one. Hopes were shattered but dreams continued to run wild. I felt my patriotism for my country touch unbelievable proportions. I feel so proud to own the green flag! We Pakistanis are way too stubborn to settle down as losers because of one cricket match. We will not be bogged down by this. We will play again and on one of the days, the game will be ours!

30 day Letter Challenge, childhood, happiness

Once Upon a time there were just rainbows..

Letter 15 – the person you miss the most

I have sat for hours trying to think of someone I’ve missed all this while & well, someone to whom I’ve not already written one of these letters to..  The past 10 days have been a thick mixture of good and bad for me; thankfully starting off as bad and then gradually getting better. But one thing I’ve realized in these 10 days is how much I miss a girl I once knew, someone who laughed more often, someone who was carefree and adventurous. Despite of being that girl I can’t seem to find her in my reflection today.

I miss being free, carefree.. I miss saying ‘I’m busy doing nothing!’ and not being depressed about it. I miss being not so tired all the time that I’d fall asleep as soon as I hit the bed. I miss being able to pull all nighters on any given day. I miss when it was harmless to sleep till 4 in the afternoon only to get up and crash on your sofa and watch tv for the rest of the day. I miss experiencing life on my own terms. I miss living a routine free life. I miss being the carefree, stupid girl I once was.

There’s so much seriousness surrounding me today. At work, with friends, with family… I don’t really like it but I neither regret it, probably because I know this won’t change. There are small ‘time-offs’ when you get to see a glimpse of the carefree life; when everyone just lets go for a second and laughs at the lamest joke ever. I wish those moments could last a little longer than a few minutes and if you’re lucky, a few hours. There happens to be too much of everything these days. Like I wrote in one of my earlier posts (Wonderland Syndrome), too many expectations, too many ambitions, too many dreams, too many goals, too many people and too many.. ah, just too many.

In a few months I’ll be turning 24 and it’s hard to believe how sometimes I feel so tired that I want to dump everything and just have a good long vacation; one that does not come with a visa expiry date, preferably. But that’s just stupid.. escape has never been the solution.

My life is pretty happening in its own weird ways and it’d be unfair of me to say that it’s no fun. I meet a new face almost every day, I encounter some sort of challenge at work every now and then and out of these little moments in life, I often happen to get some laughs. But whenever my brain hits the rewind button I can’t help but wonder how tremendously things around me have evolved. There were times when I fought with my sisters for ‘my side of the bed’ and now I just need a place to crash. There were times I’d cherish every new dress I bought and now I grab whatever I get my hands on in the morning and leave for work. There were times when getting homework for three subjects a day gave me the absolute right to hate my teachers and now learning lies in every little experience of every single day! It’s funny yet scary how my mind is occupied all the time, sometimes even when I’m asleep – call me stupid but I dream of screaming at some client when I know I won’t be able to do it for real.

Once upon a time there were just rainbows..

I miss sitting in class, next to my friend, both of us making paper planes because we were just too tired to concentrate to what the teacher had to say. I miss playing ‘It’ at school and then being summoned to the coordinator’s office for creating havoc. I miss being able to say ‘my homework’s done!’; which meant I was free as a bird for the rest of the day.  I miss the days when chocolate, coffee and all the sugar rush actually worked on my body.  I miss the times when all that I was concerned with was coloring the rainbow and not worrying whether or not there’s a pot of gold at the end of it.

Sometimes, I just tend to miss me.