Thursday, December 8, 2016

On Missing "Home"

Ever since I left my home country and migrated to a new one, people often ask me “So do you miss home?” and I baffle every time thinking what to say. And I give them a different answer, every time. Sometimes to simplify the answer and cut the conversation short, sometimes to avoid the question because I don’t like thinking about it, and sometimes because I don’t know if I do miss it, or what “home” means to me now.

I think people leave “Home” for 2 main reasons:
1: to get something they don’t have
2: to get rid of something they already have

People who fall in the first category are perhaps looking for better education, security, more money, fame, happiness, I don’t know, things like that.

And people who belong in the second category are somewhat confused about what they want, but they sure have had enough of what they have had.

I belong to the 2nd category, mostly. But I often overlap it with being the first kind, especially when I am explaining to others the reasons for leaving “home”. It is easier to explain. I mean c’mon … you can’t get into a long conversation with your deepest darkest thoughts and life experiences with everyone. You don’t have time, and they don’t have time for it either … at least not always.
So … Yes, I did leave “home” because I wanted more security for my children, and I wanted better education for my family, and I wanted us to have more freedom to say and do what we want to do. And I wanted cleaner environment, and electricity available 24/7, and all those trivial things that make the daily rut of life smoother. But to be honest, it was all not that difficult to get. It was challenging but not impossible. We did get around getting all that, one way or the other.

But truly, why I left was because I needed a change of my emotional landscape, of the soap opera of the life I had. For 12 year, I fought. I fought. And I fought. Fighting and Losing both my parents to cancer. Standing up to the extended family’s lust and greed. Secrets which were kept for me for 22 years, and I treaded on their sacred graveyard as carefully as possible not to wake any dead. And living in the memory of who I thought I was, and couldn’t find time amidst that personal war to ever really live up to that.

So, I left. I actually ran…. fled. Leaving a plethora of unhappy friends and family, who never knew the extent of the pain I was in. Who never bothered to understand the agony behind the laughers. Who never understood that I probably would have suffocated to death if I didn’t just did what I did. But I selfishly did it. After a very very long time, I did something that “I” really really felt was needed for “Me”. So, I sold and packed up my ancestral home in one week’s time. And I moved. Thousands and thousands of miles away!

Yes! I miss “home”. The home that was many years ago, when I was young, and my parents were healthy and when life was simple.
Yes, I miss “home” the beautifully cherished peace of haven my parents had crafted amidst their troubled lives.
 Yes, I miss “home” that protected me from all evil, once by my father, and then by my mother till their last breath.
Yes…. I miss “home” that lays buried under heaps of dust in the graveyard of Miani Saab.

But I left, because I knew, it wasn’t “home” any more. I left, because I couldn’t live in that ghost town of memories and pain any more. I left, because I didn’t know what was there for me in my future, but I was scared of what I felt I would have, if I lived on the way I was living.

Home …. Changed. It changes constantly. Every second, it changes. Like water under the bridge they say. It’s never the same. it’s an illusion of constant-ness, but in reality, It’s a devil, the fear of change, that stops us from tearing the dead skin off, which grow and grows, till it covers all our orifices and we can’t breathe any more.

So, I tore it. I stabbed myself and set myself free.
The house, the things, the memories…. I set it all free.

.....I think.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Democracy..? Are you kidding me?

Democracy...? What Democracy..? Pakistan is not a democratic state bhai jaaan! If you have not been able to understand and accept that so far then I m sorry for you. But I can help you make some observations in order to facilitate the coherence of it all. Ok.
So as it has been sadly happening since our Prophet(PBUH) left the earthly plane , kya saints and what politicians , everyone near the chance to be a ruler has relentlessly fought to grab the throne. And tried his best to pass on the legacy to his sons or brothers...unless beheaded by them or someone else. The pattern has been very steady and perhaps has more to do with the human condition rater than being a Muslim notion. I mean its a natural kinda behaviour
..scientifically also. Every living creature is designed in a way to be able to pass on its genes to the next generation, so the species procreates and doesn't become extinct. And we, the human species, has evolved so highly, that we have divided ourselves further up ...we have
                 Races !
                Cultural and Social Belief systems!
Political Parties!
           Left and Right Viewpoints!

And lots more that can divide us all and put us in these pseudo compartments that make it feel so real and put human against human in such a way that killing the other only seems just OK... Just cannibalism is not a norm yet since we are human and it only deems right for the wild animals only who can kill and eat other species.

So why is it not accepted that a political leader will favour his own brood! Every living creature will strife to survive! Weather that means they will cheat , buy or rig the elections! If they have to sleep on the containers in the rain ...they will do that! And I am sure each one of these political party leaders sincerely believe that they are good human beings...good people. Trust me ...none of them laugh the filmy Evil laugh when they are alone with the other evil ones( cuz only you perceive them as evil...for their kind they might be holy as hell!).

Hence Democracy in a country like ours..which is still dividing , where people (accept it my reader that people like you and me too!) take pride in these divisions... Is not happening yet. This so called democracy is obviously will be the next few probably. It won't be a true democracy till we learn to love each other as a nation....
 Till we accept the lefts as lefts...accept the rights as rights..and let each other be. ...
Till we stop proving the others wrong and our kind right...
Till we grow up to be the humans we truly are and are not conformed to the mould of a fake classified humanity any more.

In a situation like ours we need a good evolved and powerful he or she is democratic, in boots, or bears a different skin color. We all need the kind of democracy that puts us in our place...just like it does on the motor way or Lahore's mall road. As long as you know that "camera's eye is watching you" and you will have to pay a fine for breaking rules, we become such good drivers and citizens...and as soon as we get out of that zone ..we suddenly transform into the the unevolved free animals that we truly are.

So democracy? What democracy? You are kidding right?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

back to school years ... 30s is the new pre teens!

Once you finish school and enter the anticipated magical realm of College, you feel liberated. How long that liberation lasts varies from person to person. But never in your imagination you ever again go back to junior/high school again. Never to have regulated home work hours and tests for which your parents can judge you...ever again.
You probably weren't seeing the future as a parent!
Yes... i believe now that history repeats itself ! and someday are repeated in a worse way perhaps.
Where it was your job just to wake up, now you will be waking up your own self as well as others... preparing breakfast, fixing school lunch, cursing yourself for forgetting to ask the kaamwali to hang the ironed clothes in the breakfast area.... scolding the kids for taking off the shows somewhere that no one can find now... terrified to be late... hating the weather for being too hot or too cold.... fighting with the hubby for misplacing car keys.... and above all regretting to put the phone alarm on snooze! Why the hell did they even create the snooze button? I am sure..sure sure sure...that no one has ever benefited from it! Perhaps there should be separate MORNING ALARM in every phone, WITHOUT  a snooze button!

Any ways.... i was only whining about the morning blues so far. The day is just beginning.
So those of you who have put their kids into fancy shmancy big named schools, you all know how the traffic is ****ed up around there? Not to mention post Shahbaz Sharif's azeem awesome idea of closing all opening on MM Alam road, the two round abouts at the edges are an everyday hell hole for drivers at home time schools hours! So the 5 minute drive from my daughter's school to my place generally end up being of 45 minutes at least every single day (i'm not even gonna mention the Friday fright!)

Yeah then comes the lunch part...well since that has nothing to do with being back in your school regime, i wont bug you with that. But future parents..BEWARE!
Since our great National non-unified education system follows different rules and curricula for every single school in Pakistan, your coming face to face with home work tremors will vary . I never knew that even the various franchise of the same school follow different patterns of teaching! O yes they do! So depending on your patience, ability and interest of your child, kindness of school teachers, distance from TV, Computers, PSP, V, X Box, and Toys, and the kind of food (sugar and carbs specially) , your home work time could go very smooth, or very bad!

And after you are done with all this... comes the bed time... and with it...THE STORY TIME! The first few years of your child's life will define the following years of story time. If you are a first time parent (like us) you 'd have spoiled your child in pre-school years with story time...and now ...those times take revenge with BED TIME. i have observed an equation:

Story Time = Time Remaining to Wake Up x The Length of the Story
                                    The Questions Asked by the Children

so the less time is there for you to sleep that night, the more the story gets dragged!

But once the children are in bed and you thank God for the beautiful day that you just had, looking at them fast asleep... fills your heart with joy and love of a kind that is incomparable. In the thick silence of night , motherhood seems like the best thing ever, and you think "its not that bad. perhaps i can handle more of these creatures!" and you smile to your self quietly. And maybe someday, you even utter these thoughts to your husband
 "Honey! you know i was thinking, perhaps we should have one more child?!"
and he looks at you with eyes wide filled with anger. And he stabs you right there in your chest...and blood fills the room. You tear your shirt open to pull out the dagger and run outside in the lawns which are being sprinkled, and you are like

and that's it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

One World Citizen

The term World Citizen has been fascinating me for quite a while, and i kept thinking that perhaps it is a notion coming from someone like me living in the 3rd world country , being unhappy with the socio-political conditions. Until recently i came across the whole movement regarding this phenomenon. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the idea here are some Wikipedia extracts for you:

World citizen :

World citizen has a variety of similar meanings, often referring to a person who disapproves of traditional geopolitical divisions derived from national citizenship. An early incarnation of this sentiment can be found in Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412 B.C.), the founding father of the Cynic movement in Ancient Greece. Of Diogenes it is said: "Asked where he came from, he answered: 'I am a citizen of the world (kosmopolitês)'".[1] This was a ground-breaking concept, because the broadest basis of social identity in Greece at that time was either the individual city-state or the Greeks (Hellenes) as a group. The Tamil poet Kaniyan Poongundran wrote in Purananuru, "To us all towns are one, all men our kin." In later years, political philosopher Thomas Paine would declare, "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion."[2]
Albert Einstein described himself as a world citizen and supported the idea throughout his life,[3] famously saying "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."[4] World citizenship has been promoted by distinguished people including Garry Davis, who has lived for 60 years as a citizen of no nation, only the world. Davis founded the World Service Authority in Washington, DC, which issues the World Passport (usually not considered a valid passport) to world citizens.[5] In 1956 Hugh J. Schonfield founded the Commonwealth of World Citizens, later known by its Esperanto name "Mondcivitan Republic", which also issued a world passport; it declined after the 1980s.

Global Citizenship:

The term "citizenship" refers to an identity between a person and a city, state or nation and their right to work, live and participate politically in a particular geographic area. When combined with the term "global", it typically defines a person who places their identity with a "global community" above their identity as a citizen of a particular nation or place. The idea is that one’s identity transcends geography or political borders and that responsibilities or rights are or can be derived from membership in a broader class: "humanity". This does not mean that such a person denounces or waives their nationality or other, more local identities, but such identities are given "second place" to their membership in a global community.[1]
In general usage, the term may have much the same meaning as World citizen or Cosmopolitan, but it also has additional, specialized meanings in differing contexts.

Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all human ethnic groups belong to a single community based on a shared morality. A person who adheres to the idea of cosmopolitanism in any of its forms is called a cosmopolitan or cosmopolite.[1]
A cosmopolitan community might be based on an inclusive morality, a shared economic relationship, or a political structure that encompasses different nations. In a cosmopolitan community individuals from different places (e.g. nation-states) form relationships of mutual respect. As an example, Kwame Anthony Appiah suggests the possibility of a cosmopolitan community in which individuals from varying locations (physical, economic, etc.) enter relationships of mutual respect despite their differing beliefs (religious, political, etc.)

A global city:
A global city (also called world city or sometimes alpha city or world center) is a city generally considered to be an important node in the global economic system. The concept comes from geography and urban studies and rests on the idea that globalization can be understood as largely created, facilitated, and enacted in strategic geographic locales according to a hierarchy of importance to the operation of the global system of finance and trade.
The most complex of these entities is the "global city", whereby the linkages binding a city have a direct and tangible effect on global affairs through socio-economic means.[1] The use of "global city", as opposed to "megacity", was popularized by sociologist Saskia Sassen in her 1991 work, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo[2] though the term "world city" to describe cities that control a disproportionate amount of global business dates to at least the May 1886 description of Liverpool by The Illustrated London News.[3] Patrick Geddes also used the term "world city" later in 1915.[4] Cities can also fall from such categorization, as in the case of cities that have become less cosmopolitan and less internationally renowned in the current era.

and it all of course brings ideas opposing it, and sometimes complicating it. e.g :

Anti-nationalism denotes the sentiments associated with the opposition to nationalism. Some anti-nationalists are humanitarians or humanists who pursue an idealist form of world community, and self-identify as world citizens. They reject chauvinism, jingoism and militarism, and want humans to live in peace rather than perpetual conflict.[citation needed] The Abrahamic religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism offer a critique of territory-based nationalism that recognizes nationalism as a form of compelled pagan religious belief, as articulated in a range of sources, including the University of Columbia academic and pioneer of innationalism studies Carlton Hayes in his 1960 text Nationalism: A Religion.[citation needed] The imposition of nationalism as a belief or identity system, particularly when in conflict with more established and self-sustaining identity choices can be understood to undermine the legitimacy of territory-based nationalism. They do not necessarily oppose the concepts of countries, nation states, national boundaries, cultural preservation or identity politics.
Some anti-nationalists oppose all types of nationalism, including ethnic nationalism among oppressed minority groups. This strain of anti-nationalism typically advocates the elimination of national boundaries. Variations on this theme are often seen in Marxist theory. Marx and Engels rejected nationalism as a whole, stating "the working class have no country".[1] More recently, certain groups descended from the Maoist tradition of Marxism have moved towards this fiercely anti-nationalist stance in a different way than Trotskyists, saying that although it may be a painful and unpopular position to hear, ultimately opposing all nationalism strengthens proletarian internationalism. Many Trotskyists, however, such as Chris Harman, were critical of nationalism while advocating support for what they saw as progressive national struggles.[2]
In recent times, Islamism has been described as an anti-nationalist movement,[citation needed] calling for unity of all Muslims and discarding the notion of nationality.
Anarchism has developed a critique of nationalism that focuses on nationalism's role in justifying and consolidating state power and domination. Through its unifying goal, nationalism strives for centralization, both in specific territories and in a ruling elite of individuals, while it prepares a population for capitalist exploitation. Within anarchism, this subject has been treated extensively by Rudolf Rocker in Nationalism and Culture and by the works of Fredy Perlman, such as Against His-Story, Against Leviathan and "The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism".[3]
In his "Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life", Arthur Schopenhauer rejected nationalism, seeing it as an abandonment of personal identity.[4] The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche can also be seen as opposing all forms of nationalism, although he opposed virtually every other form of social movement and ideology as well.[5] Søren Kierkegaard's philosophy is a criticism and vehement rejection of Christian nationalism.[6]


Existential migration is a term coined by Greg Madison (2006) in Existential Analysis, the journal of the Society for Existential Analysis. Madison's term describes expatriates (voluntary emigrants) who supposedly have an "existential" motivation, unlike economic migration, simple wanderlust, exile, or variations of forced migration. ‘Existential migration’ is conceived as a chosen attempt to express something fundamental about existence by leaving one’s homeland and becoming a foreigner.
As well as the new concept of existential migration, the research proposed a novel definition of home as interaction; that the ‘feeling of home’ arises from specific interactions with our surroundings that could potentially occur anywhere, at any time. This is in contrast to the usual definition of home as a fixed geographical place. The new concept also challenges our usual definitions of being at home, the experience of foreignness, what constitutes belonging, and the nature of homelessness. The insights gained from this new concept elaborate our existing understanding of migration in exciting ways. Existential migration suggests reformulations of the psychological underpinnings of migration studies, cultural anthropology, tourism studies, cross-cultural training, refugee studies, and psychotherapy. Madison's research presents its subject matter in a clear and evocative way, emphasising the actual stories of voluntary migrants in order to convey the poignancy of the topic.
The phenomenological research that gave rise to the concept of existential migration (Madison, 2006) also suggests a cautionary note regarding the psychological impact of increasing globalisation. While globalisation is frequently presented as an economic evolution of capitalism and as a market necessity, there is scant discourse about the impact that these profound changes in world structure may have upon the experience of people in their daily lives. Although the phenomenological research on voluntary migration needs further critique, the first research does suggest that the world community may in fact be entering an age of global homelessness. Of course recent economic turbulence has curtailed the increasing expectation that young professionals should be prepared to live abroad in order to enhance their career prospects and indeed many, especially in the financial sector, are unexpectedly returning home after foreign assignments. However, even these returns home are often more problematic than expected and rather than return, they seem to resemble yet another migration due to the subsequent changes in person and home environment since the original leaving.
The concept of existential migration has generated considerable comment from voluntary migrants around the world as well as psychological and social science researchers, though there remains precious little in print about these fundamental existential motivations for migration. The concept has commonalities with some of the work on cosmopolitanism by the anthropologist Nigel Rapport. A book on the subject, entitled The End of Belonging, is available publicly. The research is increasingly cited by new international researchers exploring the experience of voluntary migration.

interesting right?
for more, research and think on your own ... i have planted the bug :P

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rituals of Funerals and the star gazer

The rituals of death are as weird in our south asian-sub continental-pakistani- middle class- muslim- Lahori cultures, that i get surprised after all these years , still! I am sure its similar all over the world to some extent but we take the trophy i am sure when it comes down to the variety and contortions of these practices.
How to present your dead ones is one thing, but how to touch them, what to recite and blow on what part of their bodies, and what to do and what not to do that will take them to heaven straight, when should the Qul (recitations) be held the next day or the one after, how many thursdays should be family GT prayers, and when should be the Chaleeswan (the 40th day of prayers held for the deceased) etc. The funny thing about Chaleeswan is that i don't know its origin, and neither do most of the people around me, apart from its coalition with the Chilla (40 days after giving birth to a baby and the mother's stay home period).
Anyways. I have observed the presence of certain characters at these unfortunate occasions. Being a woman, i cant categorize them in the men's compartments, but in the ladies areas, there always is this one alpha female who Know It All! She can be a relative, neighbor or friend; mostly in her late 40s/early 50s; generally a widow and is well dressed with good skin and donning a mute make up also. This character will come up with traditions seemingly unknown to everyone else but she will demand them in such a way that everyone will pretend to start working on them in agreement. For example , a certain Surah from Quran to be recited in a particular number, or while standing at a particular place around the dead body, or even be recited by a certain relative. Or not to put flowers on the deceased skin, or not to touch them on face by females, or placing the photocopy of a certain Surah of Quran under the Kafan (the cloak) before taking him/her to be buried, etc. Se can be found reciting Quran louder than the others as well!
      Then there is always someone present at the funeral, who is in a hurry. She keeps looking at the clock, or incessantly shaking her leg, or quickly finishing her recitations, Sipara or the Date Seeds whatever. She is completely oblivious to the sad people around and can't even have the courtesy to look sad. This person is mostly over dressed, with painted nails and a designer bag.
       You will also for find mourners. As a distant cousin's daughter (7 years old) once asked me at a funeral "Why is my Mama acting so much today? " and i was like "What do you mean sweetheart?" and her reply amazed me and i found it hard to put my smile away. She said "you know whenever someone new walks in, Mama starts crying, and then she is fine and talking, till some new guest arrives!" And that is how the moaners play their part.
      But i guess all these people have just found their place in the society by where and how the society and circumstances have placed them. Of course there are genuinely hurt people, who wish the best for the deceased's family and help out with chores honestly. But sadly these are the people that go unnoticed, and only the other truly caring ones notice them being busy with the needful tasks and the true traditions.
      And how can we forget the actual sad ones, who have lost their loved one! They are completely oblivious to these characters surrounding them and living on. Orhan Pamuk has written something beautiful on the first page of his superb book, "My Name is Red". It is the corpse addressing the reader: "...  Before my birth there was infinite time, and after my death, inexhaustible time.  I never thought of it before: I'd been living luminously between two eternities of darkness."

( P.S: it is so typical and cliched of us south east Asians to begin or end a speech/ piece of writing with a famous person's quote etc :P )

Thursday, August 15, 2013

when the providers become the dependents....

  Life never ceases to teach you... the learning never ends no matter how old you get. There always is a new chapter, a new lesson, a new word or a new aspect to the same old story that you had not properly grasped. And there you are , rubbing your nose into it, learning it all over again.
   I was 21 when my father was diagnosed with cancer. Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Last year of college couldn't have been any tougher i guess. Being the only child and being the best friend of my Abbu , I didn't want to finish college the same year, but he couldn't bear me wasting a year of my life because of his illness. So he forced me to continue, amidst all the chemo and all. I was lucky to have the tutor i had (Rashid Rana) who really supported me well and i ended up with the distinction and an award. Now when i look back, i really don't know how i managed all that! But that couldn't stop my father from leaving me. Exactly a month after the thesis show he passed away, leaving me and my mother in a state that i don't have words to define even today, a decade later! Wow. it has been 10 years! and i have survived without him...unbelievable!
    But here i am a decade later, facing a worst situation with my mother. Knowing what she is going through, dealing with another cancer, unable to stop her from slipping away, is again undefinable. I have a roller coaster relationship with Ammi, where we have to disagree on every single thing every day, and yet come together in the end. But today she didn't resist , today she didn't deny .... and i feel at loss winning an argument without her opposing me. 
   What the hell ! 
A person who has never asked for any sort of help from anyone, whatsoever, when comes down to a point in life when they can not stand up without support is painful to see and i don't really want to know how it feels! The circle of life seems too wicked to me today. Its nature...almost merciless. Its cycle... pointless. 
   I remember, a few days before my father passed away, the son of his long lost friend came over to visit (that friend who he hadn't met for over 25 years also died one week after Abbu's demise) , and Abbu said something that rings in my ears from time to time. He said " Can i tell you something Lalay dear... In the end only memories remain. But if i tell you the truth, a point comes when even they cease to exist."  ..............................
And here i am trying to jot down the memories, the experiences, the life...... 
only for it all to be withered away.... someday.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Independence, Pride and Shame

The currents on which all the urban Pakistanis are riding, is on the ship called Pakistan, and it has two terraces. The one for those who are ashamed and the other for those who are not. Why , What and How can be discussed and debated for hours and hours and never come to a resolve .  But we can generalize them loosely.The ones on the Pride Dick, i'm sorry i meant Pride Deck are the ones who enjoy emotions like Heritage, Separations from the non-believers, Ancestry, Lineage, Patriotism, This land is mine and That is yours, This is my religion and That is yours, I am right and You are Wrong, Narcissism, and a joy of being happy with who you are etc. etc.. While those who are on the Ashamed Terrace also enjoy some of the feelings enjoyed by their nemesis like Narcissism, I am right and You are wrong etc, but they also have other emotions which might not be too joyful ; for example the looking at the bigger picture, the understanding of religio-political conditions, safety situations, the practice to one's basic rights, availability of opportunities and facilities to common man etc etc.
    Now it is very very difficult to decide who is right and who is wrong, but on the auspicious day of our independence from the Goras, who ruled us Muslims for a very long time, while we had ruled the Indians for so long in our worries, that is how the history goes right? I am not complaining or complementing, i am just observant to the fact that Every dog has his day :P right?
    Since we all have a purpose to the phenomenon of our birth, i just wonder at times...Why now??? Why here???
hmmmph ....???

Anyways...Happy Independence Day to you all... wish us to be truly independent and truly free someday from the prison of the self and all the narcissism that it runs on by default.