Category Archives: Blog

Understanding suicide….

Mama walked ahead of me while my aunt trailed behind her. They were holding shopping bags in their hands that were filled with old t-shirts, pants, and shalwar kameez, my siblings and I refused to wear.

“We shouldn’t have bought her with us,” my aunt said as she threw an angry glance at me. I gladly gave one back. I loved my aunt and she loved me, but sometimes she didn’t understand that I couldn’t stay home all day long. I was a cage-less spirit who needed to breathe.

“It’s okay,” Mama assured herself more than my aunt.

“Maybe we could leave her with our cousin Meher.” My aunt stopped walking as she pointed to their cousin’s house. In our village everyone knew everyone; Ironically, we were all somehow related. By either blood or unwritten promises.

Mama didn’t say anything, which meant either she was thinking of abandoning me, or she would take me along with her. She decided to do the later.

Our village was like a maze, and Mama knew the way inside out. She grew up here, in these streets, among these people. We walked through the lanes and ended up on a narrow pavement. We walked until my mom stopped in front of an old house made partially of bricks and mud. A gate stood in the middle, but parts of the walls were missing. There was a hole on the left side and through it, I could see the brick house inside.

Mama stepped forward, knocked on the door and gracefully stepped back. A boy no older than me opened the gate. He had a bald head with mud smothered on his cheeks. Part of his kameez from the top pocket was ripped. He smiled at Mama as if he knew her, and Mama did the same.

We stepped inside and on the right, I saw a small garden with wilting plants. The vegetables were dying like they hadn’t been watered for a very long time. The house on the left looked more like an old shack.

A woman just as old as Mama came forward. She embraced Mama and Aunty, then led us into one of the rooms inside. We sat on the cots that were draped with old bedsheets. A few kids came and asked me if I wanted to play with them. I politely declined, not because I didn’t want to play but because I was really shy.

The woman came back with tea. Mama and Aunty picked up the cups and I watched them slowly takes sips. I wasn’t allowed to drink tea.

Mama gave the woman the old clothes, telling her she brought them for her kids. Mama also handed her some money, convincing her that if she needed anything she could come over to Nana-Abu’s house or she could call Mama any time.

She tried to smile, but thick drops of tears cascaded down her cheeks. She wiped them away with her chador and looked out the veranda at her kids.

“I was cooking outside on the clay stove. He kept asking me what the date was, and I kept telling him. I was reminding him that his pay wasn’t due anytime soon. Then all of a sudden, I hear a gun-shot. I didn’t know what happened and I ran inside, in this room and there he was laying on the floor with a bullet in his head. There was blood all around and… and…” the woman cried.

Mama got up and hugged the woman. I didn’t understand what the woman was talking about, and I was too afraid to ask.

The woman pointed to the metal crate placed on the side of the room. It had words in Urdu written on it. “If it’s a boy,” the woman read, “name him Ahmed. If it’s a girl, name her Ayesha.” The woman cried uncontrollably. “How am I supposed to take care of these kids all by myself, and what about the one that hasn’t even stepped foot on this earth-”

“Go outside, make new friends.” My aunt kicked me out of the room. I did as I was told but I didn’t play with the kids; I sat on the steps and wondered what it meant to die, but my ten-year-old self couldn’t grasp the concept of death. For me, death was closing your eyes in one world and opening them in another. Death wasn’t a bad thing, and I wasn’t afraid of it. I was intrigued by it. But watching that woman hopelessly cry made something in me crack. It made me realize that death wasn’t exactly opening your eyes again.

That day when we went back home. I laid on the bed next to mamma at night and asked her about that woman.

“She’s my best friend and we used to play together when we were young. Her husband recently died,” Mama said, whispering so she wouldn’t wake up my grandma and my siblings.

“He killed himself?” I asked. Mama didn’t say anything, so I asked her why. Mama didn’t have an answer, or maybe she thought I was too young to know. Either way, it was frustrating. I laid awake that night wondering why someone would do such a thing. I hated that man because he was a coward. Because he didn’t understand the beauty of life. The beauty of love. How could he leave behind his family? How could someone do such a thing? Did he know what he was doing? Would he regret it? Did it hurt? Would God be angry with him?

Years later, when we moved to America, Mama told me about that woman again. Mama was surprised that I remembered her. She still doesn’t know why her friend’s husband killed himself. The woman at that time was pregnant. The man wrote a message on the metal crate for his wife with a permanent marker.

Mama also told me that the woman’s brother recently died because both of his kidneys failed. This time I didn’t understand why life was so cruel to some people. Why was it that some people had so much while others were completely empty? But this incident made me question the validity of suicide. What if it was done to remove pain and suffering. But why do we fail to realize that while doing so, we’re causing pain and suffering to those around us? It’s like transferring pain to those whom we want to see happy. We all suffer, don’t we? Maybe some more than others. Undoubtfully suicide is wrong because you never know what will happen tomorrow. The sun will rise again, it has to! Life is too precious to waste it on self-harm. You need to fight your demons no matter how strong they are. Miracles exist because we’re all breathing miracles.

The memory I had locked somewhere in my unconscious mind came crawling out. The boy who opened the door for us was probably my age now. I bet he never had a chance to go to school because he had to work to feed his family. Was he okay? Does he remember me? Maybe as the girl with the pretty dress. Maybe I wasn’t someone important in his story. How does he feel about his father?

The thought of suicide just ricocheted in my mind. I had hated that man because I did not understand why he would kill himself but now I did. The hatred transformed into anger, then to guilt. I had judged him without knowing anything.

How desperate and hopeless do you have to be to take your own life? To end everything. To close your eyes forever. The empty feeling of nothingness is like a black hole, everything just disappears into it. You don’t feel sadness or anger or despair. You just feel hollow like a huge chunk of you is missing, and the worst part is that you don’t understand what you’re supposed to feel. You hold everything inside because you’re afraid that you’ll drown everyone else around you, and you don’t want that.

 

After thirteen years I understood why the man did such a thing. It wasn’t right, but we live in a world where accepting your flaws is a taboo. Where saying, ‘I’m not okay,’ is a sin. Where breaking down and crying for help is worse than suicide. The man didn’t kill himself, this society we live in did.

 

A day with Anxitey….

Sometimes I don’t wake up to sunlight peeking through my windows. I wake up to a dark invisible cloud looming above my head. I don’t hear the chirping of birds and the rustling of wind. I hear my own heart bashing against my chest and the blood surging through my veins, and it is in that moment where I want to lie back down and pull the cover over my head and pretend that everything is okay, even though I know it’s not. I’m having anxiety or maybe heart failure. I can’t tell the difference.

My brain isn’t functioning, and a headache is threatening to spill. I’m shivering, and I feel like my heart is about to pop out of my chest. Tears are forming in the ducts of my eyes and I can’t seem to breathe, but I have to force myself up, even when every cell in my body is begging me to lie back down.

The simplest things seem like a burden, and I can’t explain the explosions going on in my mind and in my stomach. The day won’t go well; I know this beforehand. Deep inside, I’m wishing for night to come so I could hide beneath it, but the hands on the clock seem to be moving slower and slower and there is nothing I can do to make them move fast enough.

I drag my legs out of bed and change for school. But I silently sit on the sofa hoping my mother wouldn’t notice the panic crawling on my features, but she does, and she asks me. I can’t get the words out. I can’t tell her that I’m having anxiety. I can’t tell her that everything around me is ticking like a bomb and I can’t control my heart from beating at a rate I can’t calculate, or I can’t control my limbs from shaking. I can’t explain that I can’t breathe because it feels like I have a heavy elephant sitting on my chest.

“I’m okay.” The words seem rehearsed. I lie to her and she believes me, not because she actually does, but because she has seen me like this, and to her this is normal because that’s what I make it look like.

I have to force myself from leaving the house, but incoherent thoughts erupt in my mind. The stupidest things that would make any normal person laugh, are haunting me. I’m afraid the pizza guy next door is an agent and he’s trying to kill me. Even though deep inside I know he’s a kind father of five and he won’t do anything to harm me. I’m afraid that a meteorite will burst out of the sky and against all possibilities it will fall on me. And the one thing eating my insides is that I’ll have a panic attack in the middle of nowhere and the people around me will laugh. They won’t understand because no one ever does.  I have to bite back the tears and suck it up even though there is a storm brewing inside of me.

School isn’t better either. There are familiar faces that look so distant. I have friends gathered around me and I can’t tell them that I don’t want to talk. I can’t tell them that deep inside I am drowning. I’m scared that if I tell them they’ll either leave me to drown or they’ll drown with me. Both possibilities are equally terrifying.

It seems better to have no friends. I know I’m hurting them because I am being hurt, but it’s just something I can’t control. And they don’t ask me, because they don’t know. But how do they not see? How do they not notice?

It’s hard telling them why I cancel plans last minute. It’s because I don’t know when my anxiety will tow with me. And even I don’t understand how it transforms into depression, and then it morphs into anger and I can’t control it and I hate myself for that.

Sitting in class is suffocating. It feels like the walls are closing in on me. I can’t focus on the teacher’s words because I’m scared that the girl sitting next to me will hear my heart, or that she’ll see I’m sweating even when the classroom is cold.

It’s hard explaining to my parents that even though I’m brave, that even though I look strong, deep inside I’m not. Sometimes I feel like I am breaking, and I am falling apart. It’s so hard telling them that even though I’m a grown adult, I still need them to hold my hand. I still need to lean on them. I still need them to speak for me because I honestly can’t do it.

It’s this odd suffocation that can’t be cured with oxygen. I’m drowning, and I can’t be saved with an anchor. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is: I am ashamed to feel this way. I would rather burn and turn to ash than to accept that I have a mental illness. I feel like a disgrace. There are times where I am disgusted with myself. No one around me knows how to deal with this, but I can’t blame them, because I don’t know how to deal with it myself. I’m afraid of being judged, afraid of hearing the word ‘Mental illness’ because it feels like some sort of plague that will spread if I accept it. Like it’s an airborne disease and I’m not allowed to say it out loud. I come from a culture where Mental illness is taboo. Something we don’t speak of. Something we don’t acknowledge.

I am just one, out of countless people who feel this way. Mental illness is not something that will go away on its own, even though sometimes I wish it could. It’s not a phase that you’ll snap out of. It has the ability to transform and morph into something new. Something much worse. It can lead to depression and even suicide. It needs to be addressed. It needs to be talked about. Like any other disease, it needs to be cured.

Picture drawn by me.

The art of confusion

Sometimes I think I’m dumb, but then I have to remind myself that I’m a student majoring in biochemistry. To say that I’ve received all A’s would be an unorthodox lie. I’ve failed countless times but here I am trying to write a paper on Carl Schmitt. I know, this has nothing to do with biochemistry, but here I am taking a class I most probably won’t use in my career- that too, if I have one. It’s a political science class, and so far, the only thing I’ve learned is how to use an online dictionary.

At first, I was impressed by all those political and philosophical ideas. I was amazed at how beautifully the human brain can come up with such complex ideas. But after a few days, I realized that those ideas only appealed to me because I didn’t understand them. It was fascinating because I had no idea what Schmitt was talking about. Not like I understand the difference between an enzyme and a protein. FYI- A protein is made of amino acids, while enzymes can be made of both nucleic acids and amino acids (I googled it). See you learned something new. But sometimes, I have these moments where my dense brain gives up on me and I forget my own name. I’ve taken so many classes in the past, and ironically, I’ve received A’s but I still don’t know what I was supposed to learn.

When the teacher asks a simple question. I want to raise my hand and tell her/him the answer. But my version of the answer seems dumb. Like what is two plus two. My slow mind would say ‘four’. But then you have these smart-ass kids that would use the principles of God-knows-what to justify their answer. These are the times where I try to morph into the wall, so no one would know I said something as simple as four.

I like Trump in that sense. He speaks simple English. I bet if he taught biochem I’d be Einstein right now- in medical terms. Trump would make a good teacher if I was capable of taking him seriously.

People around me have the tendency to use complicated words. Like, ‘The zeitgeist intellectual has nescient ideologies.’ You lost me at ‘The’. The hell does zetgast mean. I can’t even pronounce that word.

I’m not saying that increasing your vocabulary is bad. No, it’s an amusing idea to go memorize the Oxford dictionary. You guys should go try it out. I’ve tried, and I’ve miserably failed.

I’m just saying that we should have an easier way of exposing complex topics. Sometimes it’s not even about complex words it’s about using words in such a way that it becomes impossible to decipher. It’s like a code that only a few of us can decode.

When people around me use complex words, I go into a trance. Like another universe. It takes time for me to adjust. Like my physics professor said something about relativity two years ago and I still can’t make sense of it. It gives me nightmares. I have dreams of two brothers separated in space for the sake of science. That is inhumane.

Sometimes I have to pretend not to speak English because people use simpler words. Yes, you feel smart and elevated and you feel like that college degree hanging on your wall has value but come on. Nothing is worth destroying brain cells in others. We already lack a lot of those.

Saying things in a simpler version should be named after our president. We should call it trumpling. So, when someone speaks in a complex way, no matter the language. Just say, please speak trumpling. Please don’t deport me Mr president. I’m a dreamer and I’m still waiting for that house with the white picket fence and an amazing loving soulmate, with two and a half kids and maybe even a giraffe.

Moral of the story. My inorganic chemistry professor pissed me off and I needed to vent. He’s one of those people who speaks with such authority that I get scared. Like okay, I understand the importance of chelates, but you don’t have to make me feel like I belong in the zoo, next to those penguins. Even if I did you didn’t have to point that out. I get insecure.

But my point is, that sometimes, certain things are hard to understand, and it takes time and patience to grasp concepts. Instead of making things more complicated, maybe we should figure out other ways to get our message across. Yes, it takes time and it might be hard, but the fruits at the end of the bridge are always rewarding.

Think of knowledge as a door and in order for you to attain that knowledge, you have to open that door. For some people, it might be easy because their door is made of plastic, but for some, it might be hard because their door is made of metal. But the only way to get through is to bang on it until it opens. Yes, at times you will feel dumb and stupid because you might not understand why things have to happen the way they do, but giving up midway won’t make things easier. Knock, bang, and strike until your door opens. Tear it down, blow it up, ignite it; try whatever you can. Do whatever is in your power. If one way doesn’t work, then try something else. But don’t ever doubt yourself, because sometimes while doing that, we create more doors instead of destroying old ones.

High School- An old memory.

High School.

A pain in the arse. Especially if you’re not even a student anymore. It’s hectic. It’s like you’re standing in front of the same teachers and the same consulars all over again, but the only problem is, is that you’re being scolded like you’ve cut class to hang out with those kids who do meth. But you’ve never done meth because you were too busy doing math, and that screwed you over so badly that you’ve forgotten how to add. Which is obviously worse than meth.

That’s exactly how I felt when I went back to my high school for a problem my sister had. She’s a student in that same school and the school administration have vowed not to help her because she’s related to me. It’s a blood thing, I think.

I mean, I’m not complaining about the school- okay maybe I am. Like y’all need to fix ya’ll bathrooms and y’all attitudes. Oh and let me not get started on the hundred other things that are wrong with your school.

I’m graduating from college, but the thought of high school still sends a ripple of fear down my spine. It’s like one of those haunted houses everyone is scared to go to. Heck, I’ve never been scared of haunted houses as scared as I am of high school and I’m a grown adult. Not like college is any better.

I mean, maybe sometimes the people aren’t rude, but then why do I feel like they’re about to pounce on me any moment. It’s like there’s a language barrier between the students and the administration, but ironically everyone is speaking the same language. But then why does it feel like we’re standing on two separate islands and we’re all yelling at each other from opposite ends.

My high school experience wasn’t like high school musical. Where everyone was jolly and energetic. It was mostly filled with dead zombies who were cranky and obnoxious. More than Gabriella’s there were Sharmane’s.

I was a shy girl, I mean I still am. Tell me to fetch something from the deli next door and I would cry for a month. But that’s a whole different story.

High school should be a place where teenagers develop. Where they feel safe not threatened. Where people listen because being a teenager is hard, heck being alive is hard. But it should be a safe haven, not a war zone. A place filled with flowers and all those other soft and mushy things.

But no, for me high school was a dungeon, filled with creepy demons waiting to prey on me. Every time I would see the school building, my heart would claw in my throat. It was like I was in a horror movie and the school building wanted to see me die. Like that movie where the house comes to life, except the school was dead and so was everyone in it.

Run.

That was the only thing that I wanted to do. Run far away from the building and never see it ever again, but it was close to my house and I saw it every effen day.

Maybe that’s why kids cut school. Because instead of teaching students about survival they are taught about how beautiful the quadratic equation is. I mean I’m not saying that the quadratic equation isn’t important, I might need it when I’m doing my taxes. But, students should be taught how to deal with their problems not thrash more problems onto them. SAT, Honors, AP classes, College, Career; it’s all overwhelming.

The only thing I learned in high school is that life sucks, and Hitler has a weird ass mustache. Oh, and how the mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell. Boyles Law? PV=nRt. Let’s not forget about plants. It is very crucial to learn how conifers reproduce because we’re all being raped by plants.

Maybe I’m exaggerating. Maybe I’m being clouded by my hatred of my high school years. But it was hard, not having friends, I mean not like I still do. I’m a very lonely person by the way.

But it required more energy to try to stay positive than to actually study. The effort to care would drain all the energy I had in me.

It’s like this feeling that you’re dumb because unlike all the other students you don’t have special talents. They have all these AP classes and they’re into sports and here you are wondering why your pants don’t have pockets. The system is rigged. I demand more pockets.

But to all those high school-ers or even middle-school-ers who are going through this, I wish the odds in your favor, heck I wish all the numbers in your favor. It’s complicated and no one understands. I know.

Just keep pushing on and keep trying. Your life does not end here. Go to teachers who care. Trust me there are a few. Yes, you have no idea where your future is leading you. Trust me, even I don’t know and I’m graduating from college. But have faith in yourself, because you’re epic. If you were born different, then why fit in.

You’re an outcast and you should be grateful. You did not fight through a million other sperms to be like everyone else. You were born different so be happy. Give your best my growing little pumpkins and soon you will turn into pie.

I’m joking.
No one likes pumpkin pie.
Be fried chicken instead.
Everyone loves fried chicken.

But don’t give up. Keep trying and keep a positive attitude. I promise you will make it through. Yes! Your insides are churning, and Miss D. doesn’t like you, but this isn’t a chapter in your life, it’s just a mere sentence. Don’t rip up your book just because you didn’t like one word.

You’ll make it through, I promise
Because I did too.

IMG_7407[3343].JPG

I am a Hero

I am a hero.
A vigilante.

I tell this to myself every time I stand in front of the mirror. I can see my invisible cape and the skin colored mask covering my face.

I am strong.
I tell this to myself every time I find my thoughts slipping away into an empty abyss.

No!
You’re nothing.
You’re a lethargic weakling.
A mediocre.
You aren’t worth anything.

That’s what the villain in me says. He’s evil and he has this way with words that I find myself attracted to him even more. It’s easier being pessimistic, but it’s not worth it. The evil villain in me isn’t like the Joker in Batman or the weird lizard in Spider-Man or even the cyborgs in Avengers. My villain looks exactly like me and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the vigilante and the villain. The villain sometimes gets stronger and I find myself surrounded by monsters who want to tear me apart. I can’t fight those monsters because they’re in my head and I can’t see them through the mirror. No one can. Those monsters scream at me. Yell at me, and I can’t explain this to anyone without sounding like a monster myself. How do I fight what doesn’t exist? How do I defend myself with the same sword that wants to stab me?

Unlike Superman and Wonder woman I don’t have superpowers. Like Batman I don’t have money, like Black-widow I don’t have slick moves. Like Daredevil, I don’t have a guru who can teach me the art of saving an entire city because right now I am incapable of saving myself.

I’m just plain ordinary.
I’m a vigilante in my own unique way.

I sometimes have to fight the toughest wars because the bloodiest battles take place within me. I’m like the Yin and Yang, but I’m not black nor am I white. I am grey.

The hero in me doesn’t always win. Sometimes I’m engulfed by the villain. He has this seductive tone that lures me in and I lose all sense of right and wrong. He has the ability to make me tear my insides and I find myself listening to him. I destroy myself in such a beautiful way that the vigilante in me gets confused. The vigilante willingly surrenders, and I end up slicing my own throat.

What’s the point of anything?
You’re a failure.
Just stop wasting people’s time.

Sometimes I yell at the villain and we fight, and sometimes I give in to his threats and lock myself up in that tiny compartment in my brain.

Either way, I always come back wounded, but no one believes me because I have no scars to show or no blood to wipe away. I just have tales to tell and stories to share.

But the greatest victory, I guess, is to keep on fighting. To keep on trying. We all have monsters living in us, but so do we have heroes.

Sometimes these heroes don’t save the world because they’re too busy saving the chaos going on inside of us, and maybe that’s okay.

We all have that piece in us that wants to be Superman or Wonder Woman, but why do we fail to realize that we are our own superheroes. We are our own vigilantes. Making it through another day when you have nothing to look forward to is progress on its own. Getting out of bed, forcing a smile, helping someone in need, even when you yourself are in desperate need of help, is a form of victory. This is what heroes do.

They keep trying.
They keep pushing.
They keep fighting.
And they don’t give up.
They never give up.

FullSizeRender[1657]