The empty life
warm shade of time
It was abandoned yesterday
It is still barren
A shoulder for a moment
Don’t let me sleep
Don’t let me live
I am the flock of sparrows
I will fly away one day
I will fly away
Dear Mother, I got your letter, I am still holding it. It makes me feel as if you are holding my hand. Don’t let it go. It’s been raining here for past two days and I am sitting inside the house.
Do you remember, how much I used to enjoy playing in the rain. Father would always get mad at me. That would make me do more naughty things because I knew you had got my back. I would look towards the sky and asked the God to send in more rain.
Do you remember, that one time when it was raining a lot and you had to drop me to school because father was out of town. You car had a flat tire, so I didn’t go to school and kept playing in rain. Guess what? I took out all the air from the tire!
Father would always get mad at me and forcefully take me inside holding my wrist. I would run to your lap and cry for hours. Because you couldn’t argue with him, you would get mad at me instead to take out your frustrations.
Mother, no one gets mad at me here, no body fights with me here. You loved me so much, then why did you send me so far away from yourself? How is Father? Whom does he get mad at now? Who talks to the love birds? Who irons your scarfs? I wanna write so much, but my moist eyes are making it so hard for me to write. I miss you so much!
The vultures are hogging the door
Forcing me to leave
To go to a foreign land
Take these keys of the home O mother
I will fly away one day
I will fly away
Mother, are you angry at me? If not, then why haven’t you written in such a long time. There is so much that I need to tell you. So much had happened. Stop looking for your green shawl, I hid it in my bag before leaving. Whenever I miss you I take it out, I hug it, and it feels like I am with you. The pen that father gave my sister on her graduation, I took it too. Now when she will look for it she will miss me. I also brought your broken glasses with me. I keep trying to glue the broken pieces of glass all day, and It feels like you are sitting right in front of me. These little activities make my days pass.
Mom, I saw a dream last night. You, father and sisters were sitting in the courtyard. You all seemed very happy, but I got very sad. That swing of mine, that used to hang from the mango tree, I couldn’t see it there anymore. Why did you remove it? Please put it back on, I still sit on that swing and eat the sour unripe mangos. It was so unfair of you guys.
Sisters and my father
Gazing the mango tree
The writing of fate
All my prides
Shattered into pieces today
I will fly away
I am the flock of sparrows
Inspired by: Tufail Nizai’s “Sadda chirriyan da chamba”
Still of that love
Many debts remain
Still from that journey
My feet hurts
Still from that betrayal
Every wound is fresh
Still those murdered dreams
I haven’t buried
Still the wet eyes
Still from the agony
I haven’t escaped
Let these wounds fill
Let some days pass
Let the tides of suffering
Go back down a bit
These wounds still reek
Let them dry, then i’ll think
When to get destroyed again…
When you came to my home, I was in a dream
From the smell of your hair, the whole courtyard was a fragrant gleam
My hands were burning, your forehead was warm
On the misted glass of window, a reflection of two faces was drawn
My head was on your shoulder, I drowned in the fantasy
That is how the night of the beginning passed, like a gust of ecstasy
The flowers of morning bloomed, the hand of sunlight set free
Holding the cold umbrella of shade, a tree stood behind another tree
The bright red and green lips of sunlight, kissed your hair breeze
From the curiosities of your reflection, the flowing stream now freeze
That is how that night passed, like a dream burning in my chest
What a city of stone it was, a city beneath the city at rest
All the people of the city were stones, their complexions also stones
In the blind narrow streets, I held your hand through thorns
The mute valley would hear the thud, when a stone would fall on the ground
It was the silence of midnight, all the stars were dancing around
Hanging from the wall of bricks, a mirror was looking at you
Smelling the fragrance of long gone days, I felt alive too
Like a blinking doll from my childhood, your reflection was looking at me
There were pieces of jungles, rivers and deserts, couldn’t tell what was beyond thee
I had to go somewhere else, don’t know why I had lost my way
Seeing the glimmer of your country, I ended my journey there
The pearls of mist were on the forehead, the kajal of eyes was smiling
Until you would fall asleep, I would stay awake admiring
One day when we were just hanging, the paranoia engulfed thee
You had packed up to leave, even before my morning tea
When I couldn’t find you around, how restless had I got
The garland of dried magnolias, was hanging alone on the doorknob
In the storm of midnight, an empty paper was talking
How barren was the house without you, the walls of house were frightening
The streets were lit off like the evenings, the moon also decided to drown
You were in the rush to leave, and I couldn’t stop you around
Riding the boat of your conscience, I traveled across the river
The night was short, the journey was long, I landed in a valley of quiver
The flocks of so called friends, flying over my bed
Taking a few memories and some fragrance, I departed that valley of distress
I passed through your city again, reminded me of the journey we once took
On the thirsty loneliness of mine, the rivers of eyes laughed
How do i tell the story of my journey, the next turn was the turn of separation
Whose bracelets are these, who wore that ear stud of our adulation
What times does these toys belong to, who used to play here
Say something the sparrow of my soil, did you take my name in despair?
Every moment a thorn would prick, what kind of love it was
Some old paranoia, probably messed up your head, Alas!
I was a traveller and you were in rush, It was the time of departure
On one demolished platform of a train station, abandoned stood the traveller
The pain of loneliness was intense, I cried rivers
When the branch of comfort dried, the flower of loneliness shivers
That heaven was hidden in my heart, which I was looking for outside
Loneliness is heaven of my heart, I was and I am the one left by my side
It was not your fault, that I thought you were mine
Now I understood, now I remember, why that day you were very quite
What should I remind you, it was all a betrayal
The heart hurts for no reason, after all it was a very short conjugal?
What is there for me to cry upon,
It was nothing but a mere lamentation
One day this happened, what I had never expected. A letter came addressed to me. The addressee was unknown. It was a very familiar smell that I got when I opened the letter. It was the musk of the soil. A soil that was very familiar to me. A musk that I grew up around. I could smell some rain in it too. It felt like someone just came over to visit me from my childhood. I never expected a letter from my childhood. I was surprised to my core and I had no idea how to respond or react my inner emotions. Putting the letter on the table, for a long time I kept looking at it while smoking a cigarette. My wonderments were racing all over the place. I didn’t know how to or what to expect from that letter.
Who could be writing me a letter? Who could it be that doesn’t want to give me a call instead? My dad never wrote a letter to me, let alone a letter he never talked to me when I was there with him. The last conversation that I remember was that he told me that I should leave the house. A wall of pride shattered into pieces that day. That was the first abandonment I felt in my life. When mom died, I didn’t feel so hurt as much as I felt hurt and broken that day. I put the letter aside and went out for a walk as my anxiety was kicking in and I didn’t want that anxiety to get any worse by reading that letter. I walked the streets for a couple of hours and was dreading to go back home. I was haunted by the idea of entering home and that letter on the table would be staring at me. I wish I had someone with me at that time who could read the letter for me and let me know in few words that ‘its alright’.
Could it be one of my sisters? May be, but they had contacted me through Facebook before, I am sure if they wanted to tell me something important, they could have used it again. Was I never close to anyone of them that they couldn’t pick up a phone and make a call to me? But then they probably didn’t have my American number, as I made sure I wouldn’t give it to anyone so they could not reach me whatsoever. But how in the world would they get the address. What could possibly they have to say after all these years. Are they sorry? I highly doubt that. Especially if it is the elder one, she never say sorry. Younger one couldn’t have dared write me a letter without the elder’s permission and if she did they must have vet through it and whatever is there in the letter is not her words, its their’s.
Could it be him? Probably! He is very likely to write letters. His un-confrontational attitude could have made it possible that he wrote me a letter instead of making a phone call. He has written my quite a few letters and notes in the past so I believe he is trying to get my attention again since I haven’t given it to him in a very long time now. Most of his letters/notes had been rhetorical, primarily because of his fears. I don’t know why wouldn’t he want to listen to what I have to say. What I understood was that he was too scared of what I had to say because mostly my words were like mirrors and he used to see something which he didn’t like. I know this for a fact because he has told me that in one of his letters. His exact words were; “I usually don’t agree with what you say and then I get upset because I know what you are saying is true, and then I get repulsed by myself”. I seriously wish this letter was not from him. After all this time he should have grown slightly mature especially after all the rehab and recovery. But you know what; the most important steps of recovery from the twelve of them are eight and nine. Without amends, no one can ever recover. One can run away from people, but one can never run away from his/her own conscience. So is this letter a way to make way into his amends? I don’t know…
Who is left? My mom? A letter coming from somewhere up there might be really weird if that happens, and I really do not believe we have reached to that level of technology where any mail from heaven could come to us. So that was not really a possibility that crossed my mind to be very honest, although it would have been really nice. I haven’t heard from her since November 2004.
But the smell of paper coming from the letter wasn’t suggesting that this letter was sent from within America. To be very honest, as the time was passing I was getting more and more sure that this letter didn’t even come from Pakistan. But this musk was so familiar.
So I decided to go back home and find out for myself. So when I got home, the letter was still laying there. I sat down, and started opening it. My heartbeat was racing as I was opening it. As soon as I opened the letter and read a first few words, my anxiety and surprise went all down the drain. The letter was from me.
Hi Self, I am sure you must be really surprised to see this letter. You must be thinking why would you write yourself a letter. But let me tell you, sometimes the answers that we are looking for already exist in our mind. All that we have to do is just look into ourselves. I noticed that you were not doing that for quite sometime so I thought I will have to write you a letter so you can read this anytime you are getting off the track.
I am not going to give you any advices or a lecture over how to live a life. I am only going to tell you a story. It is not a very long story, nor it is very old. Its your own story just a couple of years ago.
It was a sunny afternoon of January. Karachi doesn’t get too cold in the winters. You were sitting on the back seat of a car and going for a client meeting when two guys on a motorbike stopped your car. Instead of coming to the driver or passenger seat of the car where your colleagues were sitting the person with the gun came directly to your window. He wanted to take you out of the car. You didn’t know if he wanted to kill you or kidnap you. It was all happening in fraction of few seconds that it was impossible for you or your colleagues to comprehend what exactly what happening. You were lucky that the traffic cleared up and your colleague got you and other guy out of that situation and rushed you guys to a nearby cop car. By the time you got to the cop car, your mind had already figured out exactly what was happening. In your head and heart you knew those people were not there to get any mobiles/laptops from the car, they were there for you. They either wanted to kill you at the spot, or they wanted to kidnap you, get all the money that you transferred in your account, and then kill you. The money that you got a few weeks ago from selling the property that was given to you by your mom when she was alive.
When you guys were safe, your colleagues started asking you if what just happened. They were still not being able to understand why was this incident that just happened so different from a very usual street crime that happens tens of times a day on the streets of Karachi. Why didn’t they just walk up to the driver, put a gun to his head, and ask for all the mobiles, laptops and wallets in the car? You were too shocked and overwhelmed with the situation, but you still managed to come up with an excuse that “may be because all the laptops were laying next to you on the back seat, that is why, they were focusing on you, and if there was any other agenda that they had, you had no clue about it”. They talked about going to police and filing a report about this incident and you talked them out of it because you knew if this situation went to police, they would investigate, and the people who wanted you dead/kidnaped were influential enough to use police against you and get what they wanted. ‘People’ in this case was your family! You knew they were capable of doing something like this.
That night laying in bed you made yourself a promise, you are getting out of this country. Next thing on your mind was applying for US visa so that you can get out of that country and will never have to look over your shoulder ever again. I cannot stress enough on this how your higher powers intervened in getting a US visa, which is considered one of the most difficult visas to get in that country, but you got in the first attempt. You cannot forget how you spent the next month and a half packing up your whole life in two suitcases and flying out of the country and came to America.
You cannot forget this date, March 19, 2014. It was 3AM when you were sitting outside the Jinnah International Airport with two very close friends of yours who were there to drop you. They were sad and telling you NOT to go in every other statement that they were making. You know very well how much you wanted to NOT go, but what they didn’t know and you know was your life that you had spent. By the time you got through the immigration and was waiting in the CIP lounge, it was almost 6:00AM. It was getting bright outside, it was the dawn of your new life. You remember when the pilot said the words “we are ready to take off” your heart skipped a beat. It was in that moment you told yourself that you were about to take off from the ground of the land where you grew up and spent your entire life, and that you are never touching that ground again.
You being an aviation geek, always take the window seat. As the airplane rose and was approaching the clifton beach, you looked down and tried finding your house as you knew that all the international flights that are leaving Pakistani airspace always fly over your house because you used to live only 5 minute walk away from the beach. You found it, and several tears ran down your eyes. I don’t think you can ever be able to explain this to anyone how you felt in that moment. You cried for a long time, almost until you were about to land at Dubai International Airport.
After a few hours layover in Dubai, almost 20 hours later as your aircraft was making its final approach towards the runway of JFK International Airport. You were sitting on the window seat looking at the ocean which was getting closer and closer. All of the sudden you saw the land. Do you remember the feelings that you had when you looked at the land of free, the soil of United States of America, for the first time? Do you remember that feeling of feeling safe? Being a Pakistani national entering United States for the first time, you had so much anxiety/fear for going through the tedious immigration process. Those three hours of immigration process were rough, but the feeling of being safe and not looking over your shoulder was quite worth it. After being inside the airports and aircrafts for almost 23 hours, you were dying to have a cigarette. That first breath you took in the cold March evening of New York is something that you should never forget. That was not the breath of your freedom, that was the breath resultant of your strength.
Who does that Self? Only a person who is strong enough like you were can do this. A country where you knew no one, a country which might never accept you, you left all your life behind, burned all the bridges/boats and came to the land of free to be free. To live a life the way you wanted it to be. Tell this story to anyone and they will tell you that only a strong person like yourself can do this. Remember when you told this story to your shrink, she told you that “I have never told this to anyone, but you actually are an inspiration”.
But then what happened to that strong person? For something as ridiculous as a disgusting addiction and your mental obsession you were going to kill yourself? That was not the Self, who fought the whole world, gave up so much to be honest to yourself, flew all the way from other side of the globe and came to America to live a life you always wanted to live. I want you to promise me Self, that you are going to wake up every morning, stand in front of your bathroom mirror and tell yourself this story time and again and tell yourself how strong a person you are. This strength is a gift that you have that no super hero that you have known possess. This is the story that you need to tell all those people whom you think are going to give their lives away just because they are under the grip of their addictions/obsessions and are being unable to see that strong person in the mirror.
I cannot say no more, I cannot stress enough on the fact that you need to know how strong you are, and no matter how many times you tell yourself that, it is never going to be enough. I am going to sign out at this note: You have made choices, great choices in your life. Just because some of them were not too great, doesn’t mean you have right to kill that super human that is in you. You have said this many times yourself; “we always have choices, but we should only make the ones, that we can live with”.
Have a great life Self.
I put the letter away, looked at the horizon outside the window, and told myself;
I love you Self.
It was a new morning, a new day, and a very new myself. A morning when I didn’t wake up with tears on my pillow. I saw a dream, a dream that I cannot share and a dream that I dont think is going to turn to reality this time. I felt normal. My dreams had been haunting me for past several months and had been turning into reality. This one seemed like it wont. Guess I do have a very strong intuition.
A very close friend of mine told me that she got indifferent when she was in my shoes a few months ago. Guess I have become the same. I had always been the follower of my heart and I am not going to change that. I suffered pain, I suffered humiliation, abandonment all on my own, just because of this heart. Today I feel no pain, I feel no regrets. I gave it all. It was never meant to be mine. May be life has something better in store for me. In my heart it was the best. They will say that your heart doesn’t know it yet. I will tell them they dont know my heart. I sincerely wish him the best of all the future, may no misery ever harm him. He betrayed me and was not loyal to me but I was loyal. I loved him unconditionally, how can I possibly wish him any harm. If he is happy without me, then I am happy for him. I would probably never want to see that though because it will hurt me a lot. I am not going to run away from anything.
I know he will knock at my door some day. I am not waiting for that day. One day when he will understand my love. It may be too late by then but at the least, I will proudly say that I taught someone the meaning of true love, a love that was unconditional. A love that I didn’t even realise I had in me. May be it was in there for so long that it erupted like a volcano and even though it was love but eruptions always cause damage. They say exaggeration of anything is bad, may be my love was way too much for both of us that it was bad for both of us. I still don’t understand why he did what he did. I still not understand how can anyone do what he did. But now I am at peace. Peace with myself. Peace with the life. A life that now I have to live by myself, loving myself and those who will give me respect and cherish me for what I am.
In this new day, I will only be thankful to all those who stood by my side in the time of my need, even though they didn’t have to. In this new day I promise myself that I will also stand by them who are abandoned by the world. Because I know the pain of it. I know how it feels. I know how it can shatter us into pieces, and if we are lucky enough to survive the tremors, it may change us and most likely incline us towards a bad path. Not everyone might be strong enough to go through it, I don’t know how I did it. The oldest saying seems so true; What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.
They always say; you need to love yourself and only then can you love someone else. I don’t know the meaning of that. I just know one love and that is that you can truly love someone else when you stop loving yourself. May be it is a mistake in today’s world. May be I am wrong. May be those whom I loved selflessly did not deserve that love or did not know how to reciprocate.
Am I ready to make that mistake again? Am I strong enough to make that mistake again? I would definitely love to. Why? Because I don’t know of any other love.
But I don’t think I am ready, yet! So may be I should love myself till then? But I don’t know how to…
Tea smelled intense. Or maybe it was my sleepless night that every sip of the tea was kicking in instantly. Not for single moment I was feeling sleepy. Roaming into various rooms in my PJs i was trying my best not to feel any excited or overwhelmed. I should have been!
I got to know about this day only a week ago. I was not sure if there was enough time for me to prepare. It’s not like I never dressed up in past 16 years. But this day was very important. I was checking the clock again and again. I had never been a big fan of wall clocks, but i had to get one for the kitchen because I usually have to check it while cooking. I opened the fridge and looked for the ingredients of warm bread pudding. Last I remember he used to like it a lot. Especially the one that I made. I decided to add an extra ingredient today as I had been working on this recipe over past 16 years to bring perfection into it. The only problem with this dessert is that you cannot make it before time. It has to be baked right at the spot. Vanilla ice cream on the other hand was nicely frozen in the freezer.
It is 7:21am. The flight lands at 12:45 PM. It was a direct flight so the chances of getting it delayed were minimal. I thought of checking the flight schedule on my phone. This new app that I had recently installed on my phone for this very day. I guess all these things that i had been doing for past one week are a little abnormal of me. I usually do not do all that otherwise. But I have my reasons.
I sat on the balcony looking at the rising sun which was brighter than I thought for a winter day. Signifies a clear sky, another reason for no flight delays. With a cigarette in one hand and a mug of tea (without sugar) in the other I kept repeating my words in my head, analyzing them and re-analyzing them. The words that I am suppose to say today. The words that will answer to all the questions that he will be asking me.
But what about all my Questions? They are not going to be tough to answer as compared to what he will be asking. But these questions that I am going to be asking should be well phrased and well rehearsed as I might not have much time with him and I have to make up for the past lost 16 years.
The usual preview of the big day is normally quite different from what I am portraying. But for me this day has its own festivity, its own guests list, its own preparations and its own longings.
When I was done with my morning tea and a smoke, I walked to my closet and fished the clothes that I had thought about wearing for the day. And yes I did not buy new clothes for the day, nor I pressed them and hanged them in a hanger the night before. These were the things that I had never done in my life and no, I am not going to be doing it on any big day ever. After looking at a few different shirts I decided which one to wear. A denim is what I always wear at any given day. The major reason for not getting new clothes for today was because I wanted to look myself and not someone who is specially altered for the day. I strongly believe in WYSIWYG (Google it if you don’t know what that is).
Shower was nice and warm. I used my favorite shower gel, it has cocoa butter in it and it smells astoundingly heavenly. I was out of the shower by 8:45. My short hair didn’t need drying, not that I didn’t have much time. I spent fairly longer time in front of the mirror today. Most of the time I was just looking at myself. Back of my mind I was probably just rehearsing the words but majorly it was just the empty mind which is racing to comprehend a lot of voices at the same time. I know this all sounds very weird but I was just clueless about what am I going to be doing today at the airport when I will get to see him, touch him after 16 years.
Last time I saw him was also at the airport, he had tears in his eyes. He didn’t want to go, but he had to, I had to let him go. I knew it that day that this day will come when I will get to be with him again, I just wasn’t sure when. Sixteen years are quite a long time, its almost a quarter of an average human life span. I wonder how much he had changed over all this time. We never saw each other in all these years.
By 9:35 I was ready to leave for the airport. I was nervous, I was happy, I was scared and I was hopeful. I was nervous because I don’t know if I will be able to say all that I had been rehearsing for past one week. I was happy I will be seeing him after such a long time. I was scared, what if he will not like what I will say. I was hopeful because hope was the only thing based on which I let him go sixteen years ago.
I entered the freeway at 10:04 AM to be more precise. It is going to take me at least one hour to get to the airport from here. I had all the time to get to airport, so I thought of stopping over some gas station and get some munches, and may be another cup of tea. But I also had planned to stop at some nice place to have coffee or tea with him on our way back from the airport. I am not sure if he likes coffee or tea more. I am hoping tea!
I don’t mind another cup of tea so I stopped over a gas station which has a nice cafe in the service area. I had been to this place many times before. This had always been my route to airport even if I am going by myself or picking someone up. I don’t know but I had never felt tired for going to airport anytime of the day. Whether I have to pick someone up or drop someone off. It always unwinds me. I don’t feel ashamed saying that I had been to airport all alone sitting in the parking lot or on the drop lane for hours looking at the landing and taking off airplanes. The people from my past know that. Some of them have even accompanied me there many times.
By the time I was out of the cafe, it was already 11:10, and I was now 15 to 20 minutes away from the airport. The traffic on this route is usually heavy, some percentage of traffic are the cars which are heading towards airport. Nowadays people have stopped going to airports to pick and drop their friends and families majorly because the airports are built a little too out of the cities and secondly the bus/cab services are very efficient, and costs very cheap as compared to someone coming and picking you from all the way inside the city. These cabs can be even booked from within the flight menu. You are also given a bus schedule inside the flight so you may choose to pick which bus will take you to your destination, depending upon your landing schedule. Sixteen years ago I remember back in days in my motherland, people used to come to airports in caravans and wagons filled with relatives along with garlands or bouquet for the person who is arriving. Especially for those coming back from Umrah/hajj rituals. Also the ones whose only son working in middle east or somewhere in Birmingham are welcomed warmly to show the appreciation that how much we value pounds and dirham that he had been sending to feed the families. I never understood why would there always be a cricket bat on the trolleys that they bring out of the terminal. I always thought we used to export all these things from here, why are they bringing them back? But this was a different country, and a different decade.
I reached airport exactly at 12:33pm and I believe the flight was about to land, if not landed already! I was standing outside the arrivals, along with a few others who were also there to pick their loved ones. When I looked at the arrivals board, there were still five minutes to the landing time. I thought I should take a walk. So I started walking towards the drop ramp. If you walk to the end of it, you can see the runway from there. As I told earlier I used to go sit on these spots sixteen years ago. As I got there, the view from their gave me a déjà vu as I saw a plane making its final approach. Gears down, flaps down. Except that the déjà vu was real. It had happened sixteen years ago. The only difference was that sixteen years ago it was a Boeing 737-200, and now it was an A380. Another significance of that flight in my deja vudéjà vu for him was that it was his first flight. Oh and yeah, this time, the poor thing got a seat of his own 🙂
Touchdown of that big metallic bird has always given me Goosebumps. This time it gave me a skipped heart beat. I wasn’t scared, but my heart was pounding. Even in such a brilliant whether my forehead and hands were sweating. As soon as the aircraft got lost behind the main airport building, I took out a cigarette from my pack and lit it. I wonder if he smokes now or not. I am not sure if what would I favor.
It will still take him at least 45 minutes to come out, so I thought I will have some beer. I went up to a beverage shop in the airport and got myself a bottle of beer. I started walking towards the arrivals gate. Still trying to recollect all those things that I had to say to him. I still didn’t know if I will even be able to utter a single word. I would rather like to look at him for at least next sixteen year, but let’s be realistic, sixteen seconds is not that bad, or is it?
The first person that came out of the gate was an old man with a shoulder bag, and a documents folder in his hands. The passengers with no checked in luggage are usually the ones who come out first, nothing changed this behavior in past sixteen years 🙂
Somehow I knew I will easily recognize him even after all these years. His curls couldn’t have gone anywhere. I am sure he would be as tall as I am. He was a fair guy back then and he would sure as hell be a fair guy now. Plus how many Pakistanis would be coming out of this flight anyway. The door would slide open and a gust of air conditioned air would hit my face and I could see inside for a moment. Every time it opens I try to scan the crowd for him. Maybe I will be able to see him before he sees me. I was sure he wouldn’t have much of a difficulty in recognizing me. Not to forget I was the only desi standing there anyway. The doors were not tinted but during this time of the day when sun outside is stronger than the dimmer fancy lights of the terminal, I could only see my own reflection in the glass doors and windows
I remember those days when people used to stand outside the arrivals lounge with bouquets and garlands. If I ever have to go pick someone up from one of those flights coming from UAE or Saudi Arab I would make sure I reach airport at least an hour earlier. Get a cup of tea and light a cigarette and watch the show; you can witness some real drama. I have witnessed fake tears, fake laughs and even fake passing out by family members. We desis are one hell of a drama queens I tell you.
As more and more people were coming out of the gate my heart was pounding faster and faster. As the heart was accelerating to pound the things in my mind were getting even more blurred. I was completely losing it but that was not what I was worried about. More than being worried I was excited about getting to see him, hear him, and touch him after sixteen years and that too right in front of my eyes. I had been waiting this day for years.
The door opens and came out a guy who was about five feet nine inches tall. He was wearing sunglasses and a backpack. In two seconds I figured that he wasn’t the one. I turned away to see if the sun was actually out there. In this part of the world, seeing the sun is like a blessing.
As I turned back to look at the gate the guy with sun glasses was almost at an arm’s length from me and there it was that moment. The moment I had been visualizing since ever. The glasses guy turned away and I saw him looking at me with a soft smile, walking towards me with those shining bright eyes filled with tears. It might sound cheesy but now I know why they make the movies go in slow motion in such situations. I guess long time back some crazy guy did actually experience what I was experiencing in that moment. It felt like slow motion but the way those three years that we spent together flashed in front of me like a time lapse was something that I can never explain in any words. He was now standing right in front of me.
As he stood there, looking at me while carrying that backpack and a hand holding the baggage cart, I saw so much in his eyes. One thing I was sure about was that it’s not going to be as tough as I thought it would be after all. The sparkle in his eyes was clearly suggesting that he is glad to be there in that moment. Yes he wasn’t as excited as any person who is meeting some loved one after a long time, but plus side of this was that it wasn’t as bad as that when two people are meeting up to decide over something whose either outcome will be bitter for both of them. I wanted to touch him, but my all senses had bailed out on me. The only organ that I felt was running was probably my heart, whose pounding could probably be heard even at a couple of yards away. I think he noticed too. But he wasn’t really paying attention to detail at that very moment like myself. I tried moving my hands to make gesture of demanding a hug but they failed big time. I took a step forward and put my right hand on his left cheek, as a tear rushed down to fall on my shirt.
With a crackling voice I could only utter a word, and that was a “Hi”.
And he said: “Hey….., how are you baba?”
The world has been divided into so many different aspects that it is actually quite difficult to keep a count of it now. There are geographical divides, socio-graphical ones, economic, religious, color, and many more. Then there are further subdivisions in all of them. An easy example would be various religions, or even religion or no religion for that matter. Today I wanted to bring your attention to another divide. This divide has been amongst us since day one, but not many of us has seen or contemplated its existence. I might some day, am still trying. So pointing out a new divide might be a good experiment. But then how many people actually read my blog, I am sure it wouldn’t hurt much.
So the divide that I am going to be discussing today is very simple. There are people who are emotional and then there are those who are not. I shall call them “Emo” and “Nemo” hereafter. Before getting into the details of why did I feel the need of even exploring this domain, I think I need to analyze myself a bit first. May be I will just trash this document and never publish it after I have done my personal analysis. So if you are reading it, you should know that I did find it worth publishing somehow. So am I an Emo, or a Nemo. Well, I usually don’t always think about the science of things all the time. Yes I do have a lot of interest in their origin/mechanism/objectives, but I really don’t care if pizzas were baked in a charcoal oven or a gas one [E0-N0] (I think it’s a tie). Sometimes I walk on the beach, thinking if I keep walking along it, will I travel all the world and come back to this same point ever again, [E1-N0], I doubt if any jet packs are readily available in hyper marts, and it obviously is a very rhetorical desire. I love chocolates [E2-N0]. I think reproduction is a brilliant phenomenon even if it is not one of your own child which is coming to the world [E2-N1]. Using the word “child” instead of “baby” is definitely a big Nemo. I think I have cried probably 3-4 times in last 8 years [E2-N2], although it deserves double score for Nemo. I never drank when I am depressed [E2-N3]. I never cried over any of my past relationships after the breakup [E2-N4]. I don’t think Notebook is a very good movie [E2-N5]. I hate to console with people at the funerals [E2-N6]. Writing this article, [E999999e – N6].
Hence proved that I am an Emo, and quite recently I have figured that quality out. Someone even said that I am very sad which, again is a very major point in the Emo scoring. Nemos usually do not get very sad, but that’s what they think. Or should I say they have a very good talent of hiding their Emos. Whereas Emos are bad Nemos, when it comes to pretending, until or unless they are cornered. Emos can be dangerous to mingle with because they usually have a lot of baggage. But this doesn’t mean that Nemos don’t have baggage. It is just that the baggage of an Emo is a little too fragile, where as Nemo’s baggage is usually cushioned and hard packed without a tag of “handle with care” on it. Now I am not implying that either of them are good or bad people. All I am saying is that their handling could be different from each other.
Since I have already accepted that I am an Emo (although not many people in my circle of friends believe that), so I won’t be discussing Emos in a detail. I know how they are and again I will reinforce; not every Emo deals with their baggage the same way. So if you think you are an Emo, you do not necessarily score the same as mine in all the possible attributes attached to this divide.
The thought just struck my mind, why the hell I am even writing this, what the hell I am trying to prove here, Emos or Nemos, doesn’t matter who is better. So I gave myself a justification for writing this. How do Emos and Nemos communicate with each other and with the ones who belong to the same sect?
Emos to Emos:
It is essential that we do establish here that Emos usually do not think through, and most of the time they are not using their brains for any given situation at hand. This syndrome is abundantly present in the women. Men do have it too, but they usually try to cover it up or at least that’s what they think they are doing. But this little portion of the whole Emo sect who thinks they are good with covering it up does not fall under the category of Nemos at all. They are Emos and they like to be perceived that way, they are just not very comfortable in their own skin. Primarily because of several reasons, society and peer pressure for starter.
So when Emos are establishing any kind of communication be it professional, personal or irrelevant (Emos like to talk to strangers at times). Emos are usually focused on to the choice of words the other person is using, they do observe the surroundings, they have a very observant eye and they usually are maintaining a score card like hall of fame in their head. I wouldn’t say that they are judgmental all the time, because my last sentence might be interpreted as if I am implying that. But being judgmental or not has nothing to do with Emo or Nemo, it is an equally shared quality of both the sects. So while Emo is communicating with another Emo, the score card is maintained on both ends. An Emo can easily sniff another Emo and they usually become guarded immediately, unless they themselves are in denial that they are an Emo. The key here would be to give as minimal data to the other party as you can, without being unfair, because the other party is also an Emo and like I said, quite observant and may become guarded too, which will lead to nothing at the end of the day. Two Emos can peacefully live together under the same roof as long as there is no clash of basic emotional requirements. If both needed attention, we are looking at a catastrophe in near future.
Nemo to Nemo:
Nemos are usually headstrong; they do not usually listen to the other person’s point of view. They love to talk, and love to be listened. Since the ratio of women in this sect is very minimal so this communication is usually holding between two men. Now it could be professional, and it could be personal too. The funniest one would be when they are discussing emotions and the awkward one would be when they are discussing emotional attachment between themselves. Nemos are usually space conscious; they are very protective about their personal space. They are usually not very vocal about it. They usually assume the other person should identify it by themselves. Reason being that since they think they are very realistic and practical, and this reason combined with the “not listening much to others” makes them think that the other person should know this by default.
Some Nemos are better than the others, but I am not saying that any Nemo is better than Emo or any Emo is better than Nemo. I reinforce, they all have baggage. Since the Nemos are usually guarded and when two of them are communicating at any level, they most likely are relaying a half duplex communication. It is very hard for anyone of them to establish any conclusive argument if they are working against each other. However they are one hell of a pair if they are working together. Yes, of course there could be a clash of titans, which may lead them to a farce ending, but if intelligently handled (which they think they are) some desirably lucrative results can be achieved.
Two Nemos be it two men, two women or one man and one woman living together under the same roof requires a lot of muscle and brass. But like I have already said, that if they start working against each other (which usually is an unavoidable situation in a relationship), it could cause a lot of damage. However since they are the practical and realistic ones, they can easily find a peaceful, non destructive and sometimes even a constructive way forward. Don’t be surprised if you find that peace offering made in a PowerPoint slide show. At the end of the day, it is not how you reached a closure, what is important is that no one got hurt. Nemos usually do not get hurt, or that’s what they like to tell themselves.
Emos to Nemos or vice versa:
Now here is my favorite one. Several physics laws such as gravity, force, electricity, polarization, magnetism and what not, do specify that this dichotomy is phenomenal and usually produces great results. Commonly known as: “Opposites attract”. This is an ancient phenomenon and well proved over the laws of nature. But this phenomenon was derived by the people who were majorly Nemos and didn’t have much experience in human relationships; there still is a chance for us to pragmatically re-analyze it for current times over human behaviors.
Emos usually are demanding when it comes to attention, Nemos can’t give much. Nemos are usually space conscious but Emos not necessarily understand that need of Nemos but on the other hand Emos along with their baggage may also require space, which could be a good combo for both of them. Nemos usually think that they have their own intellectual collection of vernaculars and they might find a lot of pride in showing that off to Emos. Emos in return might find that satisfactory that their listening powers are fulfilling Nemos desire of being heard.
As described in the start of this blog, there are certain Nemos who are good with pretending to be Emos for a while but at the back of their mind they are always standing guarded and the moment they feel threatened they go back into their Nemo mode and shut all the doors behind. Emos on the other hand are either behind the door, or they are out in the open. They find it hard to adapt into various situations and contemplate. If caught red handed being in disguise they will not run back to their guarded doors.
Now these two creatures are quite unique and possess very different attributes. This could cause a huge friction amongst them but on the other hand if quarantined and applied properly can produce great results. It is like fuel and air. Given fire, they will explode. Without air, fuel won’t burn, and without fuel, air will only blow. Now explosion has rhetorically very negative connotation. However, the energy obtained from this explosion of fuel and air if channelized properly is sufficient enough to keep the engine running, and then as they say, sky is the limit.
A whole book can be written upon this divide, but my objective here was just to establish that there is a divide and that does affect on the lives of a lot of us. It is always good to think, it is always good to preempt possible irregularities and it is always good to rationalize. Since I gave myself in by saying that I am an Emo, I do not condemn being Nemo, so if you are a Nemo and you think I went wrong somewhere, you might be correct. Like I said my objective was just to point out this divide. So if you think you can point out any of my irrational statement, I will highly appreciate if you send me in your observation, because that will also help me with my understandings of both the parties.
From the looks of it, this article may sound like some highly controversial agenda of some Zionist lobby. But here I assure you it’s none what so ever. The following write up is entirely based on the facts and actual happenings of my life. It may have some depressing sad ending but my reason to put in down on the paper is not primarily to depress you.
When I was a kid and this I am talking about back in early 80s, the first memory of a good picnic that I enjoyed was in a forest park outside in the suburbs of the city. The forest had a small canal passing by it. All of my cousins and uncles and aunts were part of the picnic. We had buckets and buckets of mangoes. Four or five cars were in the convoy of our picnic. We all had our shorts and t-shirts for swim in the canal. These picnics were usually arranged on Fridays because in those days the weekend holiday was not Sunday, but it was Friday. Since it used to be a weekend so a lot of families and even just boys groups would be there as well. I remember all the uncles and all the aunts, all my male as well as female cousins would right away jump into the canal. The canal in which many other families and many other “boy groups” were swimming as well. All the ladies in the canal would be in their shalwar qameez and all the males would be in their shorts and t-shirts. Some wouldn’t even bother wearing any underwear. Old people of family would sit outside the canal handing us the bags of mangoes to be hung them into the canal to cool them up. The boys groups passing by would stare at the ladies and pass by. The ladies never bothered. In other words I would say it was a very desi version of Miami beach, with clearly a lot more clothes on.
Once in a month all of my cousins would gather at some uncle’s house, and we would play flood light cricket all night. This includes the female cousins as well. The all night event had guests from the neighborhood as well. At the least five boys from the neighborhood would be invited to the match as well. The girls would play even without their dupattas on their head or on their breasts for that matter.
If we were not playing cricket then we would be playing cards or ludo all night. Being up all night and screaming out over victories and losses makes you tired, so at times you do wanna put your head on some-one’s shoulder and take some rest in between the next deal of cards round. No male or female ever bothered to look for a same sex shoulder. Anyone who was sitting next to you, be it a guy or a girl, you could put your head on their lap and take a power nap to get ready for the next round of cards or ludo.
Early morning everyone would go out to have halva puri and lassi. A very standard breakfast on weekends in Punjab. On the return everyone would be so tired that no one knows where they are sleeping. I remember I guess the max was 12 people sleeping in the same room, and there was no gender bifurcation.
I don’t remember any scandal that took place amongst any of my cousins. They were all enjoying their time with each other. No parents would object any of their kids to stay away from a certain kid. My mom was usually up all night with us too, in the midst of night if someone felt like having Parathaas, she would happily go to the kitchen with some male/female cousin of mine and make them for everyone.
It all seems like a la la land to me now. With so many laughter flying across the winds. A grand dinner at some of my relative every weekend, where almost all the family would gather. And when I say all the family, it means at least 100 people. Back in those times when cars were not leased, the car porch and even the front lawns were filled with cars only if the immediate family was invited to the dinner. There was no segregation amongst male and female members of the family. We hardly used to have any aftari at our own house in 30 days of Ramadan.
Times changed, the talibaans came. There were two cousins of mine who turned mullahs because of some influence in their maternal extended family. When they got to the age of coming into their father’s business which he was already in partnership with his brother who was also my uncle, the mullah cousins kicked my other uncle from the business. Took over his assets and made him very poor and almost out on the streets. Whereas they themselves are now ridding all the luxury cars and living in the bungalows of hundreds of millions.
This business partnership breakage, divided the whole family into two. No one would dare blame the mullah cousins because they had beards and they used to pray probably 30 times a day. They would carry a tasbeeh in their hands all the time and a praying cap on their heads. Sometimes when you walk in to their house they wouldn’t even be wearing a shirt over the lousy white shalwaar. They would rush to get a cap to put on their head but never bothered wearing a shirt, even if there were women sitting in the same place. However they would want their own wives and sisters to wear complete hijab all the time, even if that was a problem for them to eat. Because every time they have to take a bite, they would have to remove the hijab from their mouth, move their faces away from the people where no one could see their faces, put the bite in their mouth, cover it back with hijab and turn back to public.
Also came the grand project of Al-Huda islamic study classes. All the women of the family started going there to kill their free time, and yet another social activity to see what other women of the community are wearing and what jewelry do they own. How pretty their new daughter in law is and whose husband is turning dirt to gold. God knows what were they teaching over there in those classes. But my very own cousins who were once swimming with me in that canal, danced with me on the song “ajj kal tere meray pyar ke charchay her zubaan per” started doing parda from me and all other male cousins. They would walk out of the room as soon as some na-mehram walks in. The only discussion that was left in the very few family gatherings was how much Muslim they have gotten, and how important it is for those who have yet to keep a beard to look up to those who have already grown their beards.
The weddings started happening in the segregation. No dholki no dances. Women would send their 3 or 4 year daughters to the male section to find their fathers and get the salami money from them, and later to tell them that mommy is saying that we should go home now. Ever imagined that you are not allowed to be in your own sister’s wedding hall where you own sister is sitting as a bride?
I am a person who as adapted to every situation and a very strong believer of “do in Rome as the Romans do” but I was just not ready for this. The sanctity of those happy family gatherings, the purity of that love amongst the cousins without any sexual demands, the joys of watching horror movies under the blanket amongst all cousins, betting breakfasts over a game of cards was way too much for me to give up and digest its transformation. Transformation to; watching porn with my mullah cousins, segregation of males and females of the family while the males were discussing which female cousin is hot and which is not, recognizing which cousin is who under the veil of burqa, driving a female cousin back home while she would sit on the back seat and her two year old daughter would sit on the front seat like I am some paid chauffer. This was just not acceptable for me.
All of the sudden from a very jolly person of my family who used to cheer up the crowd I had become an alien for them. I was the infidel of the family who simply was not ready to buy in to any of the new arrangements of the family setup. My opinions about anything and everything were being rejected and overlooked. I had no standing amongst all my movli cousin because they had beards on their faces and a tasbeeh in their hands.
Without a suicide bomb or without manslaughter the talibaans killed the whole institution of my family for me, and I feel it was worse than that. It could have been better if there was a bomb blast. We might be able to win this battle of terrorism with drones and carpet bombings. But what about those extremists which we are producing in our own homes? How will we get rid of them? When will we even accept that there is some problem with that? Will education be a solution to that? But all my family was fairly educated then how can we say that education is the solution for this kind of talibanization? Isn’t this a bigger problem than load shedding of electricity and natural gas? Isn’t this a bigger problem than the corruption of politicians? Isn’t this a bigger problem than non availability of enough food for the people of this country? Whereas while in the streets I hardly find men/women who do not have pot bellies fairly visible from the burqas made out of probably 50 yards of cloth. Isn’t this a bigger problem that I am told that I should not call myself a muslim?
I think it is. You may not think like that! In that case, beware and make the most out of your family gatherings while you can because sooner or later, you will be trying to recognize your family members from their voices (or may be their shoes) and NOT their faces.
Starting a new blog is always very difficult especially when the reason to start a new blog is entirely new for you. Yes I am a single happy guy but that isn’t exactly what that literally means. Why do we all assume that being single mean that you don’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Singularity can be something else as well. Happy does not mean that someone is smiling or gay for that matter. It may have other contexts of it as well. I am not sure if I will ever be able to explain the reason why I kept “asinglehappyguy” as my blog title. All I know that I really wanted a platform where I could write down the experiences of my life. A life that has recently taken a huge turn and it almost feels like I have rebooted myself.
In our society where we live, guys are usually never marginalized. They get what they want until or unless they demand for something which isn’t exactly what the norms of the society are. This is usually in the case of a hetro man, if he is alpha, its even better. Their mothers get them the best piece of chicken when they are kids, and get them the best chick of the town when they are good enough for her. He lives all his life like a king, gets what he wants, wear what he wants, go wherever he feels like, do whatever he feels like. But the day he is ready to pick a girl for the rest of his life, the problem occurs. The parents who let that guy live all his life choosing whatever he likes, does not allow him to pick a girl to spend the rest of his life. Its sounds even more evil when the parents have hardly 10 to 20 years left in their lives and the guy still have a lot more to live. It sounds like as if the parents were investing all their lives over that kid so just that he should pick a girl for his life by their choice. Sounds ridiculous! People usually do not take chances and listen to their parents because they think that all those attentions that they have received during their entire life was the love of their parents and that they should not betray them. Whereas, that attention was the duty of the parents. So how beautifully they have converted the duty of their life to an investment. An investment whose benefits are nothing but just a self satisfaction that their kids are very obedient. And even if they do agree to pick the girl from the boy’s choice, somewhere deep down they will have the grudge against the kid which in turn comes out on the girl whom they brought home. But since mostly the guys who had never been marginalized during their entire life, feels no need to betray the alleged love of their parents.
On the contrary, the girls are always marginalized. Be it their studies, be it choosing friends or be it choosing a life partner. This marginalization always make them strong and more adjustable to the situation. In father’s house they are always asked to live up to the expectations of the parents. In their in laws they are always expected to live up to the expectation of the husband. Later after they become mothers, they do the same to their kids, sometimes to take out all those frustrations they have suffered all their lives or sometimes they start taking this as the norm of life and that they should keep the convention alive.
The case of a homosexual guy is even worse. They are expected to live a life they do not belong to. They are expected to act the way any hetro guy does. First 10 to 15 years they usually don’t even know that they are different from anyone. So the personality building is usually handicapped by those amount of years. When they figure out their sexuality they are already in that stage of life where they are expected to start seeing a girl. If they do, they do get very successful in getting along with the girls, for obvious reason that the girls usually don’t feel threatened by this breed. These guys usually are very emotional, sentimental and caring. Girls usually like that property of guys. But the problem occurs usually when things get on to a next level, i.e., getting physical. On every stage of their life they are marginalized. The biggest problem of their life is to keep their orientation hidden. Which is not in the case of any hetro guy or a hetro girl.
The reason I specified these states of different people is to draw a conclusion here. And my conclusion can always be different from yours. You might have a very different theory about it, and I will respect that if you do. So what I feel from all these norm of our society or any other society for that matter, the marginalization in one’s life always play a very important role in making them a person whom they are. I have usually seen guys who are homosexuals and have faced a lot of criticism in their lives have become really great people. People who stand for something. People who have some substance. People who have lived the life of a person who is being questioned. These are usually the people who question life in return. I hardly have seen guys who are hetro and they do question life. They are usually go with the flow kind of people, and remind you, only dead fish go with the flow.
Same goes for the girls, they have either gave in to the life, or otherwise they are headstrong. I have seen most of these woman struggling for their lives to live them the way they want to, to be standing single in their lives. Either their family life is messed up or their love life. I have yet to come across a girl who did what she wanted to do in her life and is equally happy in her family/love life.
I am a single happy guy. I have seen almost all the catastrophes of life. You name it and I can tell you the repercussion of that particular catastrophe. I have given up on a lot of things to stand where I am standing right now. I had to sacrifice a lot of things to live the life I wanted to live. Yes it isn’t yet the ideal situation but then who gets the ideal situation anyway. As they say we all have choices at any given time, but we should always make the choices that we can live with.