Tag Archives: understanding

Making ends meet

We’re six people, and we live in a two apartment bedroom. My dad drives a taxi and he works twelve hours each day to make ends meet. I work part time and I’m looking for a full time job. My older brother temporarily drives an Uber and he’s saving money to pay for a certification he needs. My younger brother and sister are in college and my mom is a house wife, who has diabetes, blood pressure and depression.

But we’re all blessed. We have our moments which end in tears and days of anger and anguish but at the end things turn out fine. We yell our throats out, throw fists, disagree and fight, and hurt each other. But at the end Alhamdulillah- we make it in one piece. Sometimes broken, sometimes tattered, but still we make it. We always do.

Coming to Pakistan we’re no longer the middle class or people trying to make ends meet. We become the elite. The upper class. Mostly because we have American passports which is messed up on it’s own and it’s a another story. But also because here people are deprived of basic human rights. Little children as young as seven are forced to work in people’s houses because they need to survive. It makes me sick and there’s nothing much I can do right now.

But I can narrate stories of women who’ve sat next to my mother and cried tears of blood.

From “my ten-year-old son died because we didn’t have enough money to pay for his medical examinations” to “my seven-year-old daughter works in people’s houses because we don’t have enough money to feed her.”

Stories about diseases that could be prevented with simple medication. Physical and mental abuse and how women have to deal with them with smiles because that’s what they’re taught. It’s okay if your husband hits you. It’s not a big deal. At least he has a roof over your head and he puts food on the table.

I’m not saying Pakistan is all bad. It has its issues like America does. But the people in Pakistan are loving and hospitable. They give when they barely have enough to eat.

One thing I’ve learned is that every person, regardless of nationality, religion and skin color has a story to tell. We’re all closed books with filled chapters reeking of tales aching to be told.

A woman whose husband married his brothers wife and kicked his own wife out with her two children.

A mother whose son left her on the streets.

Two innocent men of the same family being killed because of a political feud.

A woman bought from northern Pakistan to be sold as a bride.

A ten year old boy working as a dishwasher in a resturant.

I know all these people. They walk around me with smiles as bright as the sun trying to hide pain… but it drips from their bodies like sweat.

It’s so easy to judge, to throw hate, pass nasty comments, compare and envy… but its complicated to understand and comprehend.

Not everyone has a perfect life. What may seem like a bed of roses from far could be a mat littered with thorns.

The first date

The white-hot chocolate seems bland. It’s mixed with cups of sugar but my tongue can’t seem to hold onto the taste.

The cup is warm, and I wrap my fingers around it to take away the coldness of winter.

Part of me is wishing I didn’t come, but that other part of me, the curious one is glad I did.

He’s sitting across from me and I feel anxious, like my heart is about to deflate in my chest. He’s nice and calm but nervous. He sits in an angle and he drinks his hot chocolate within seconds, while it takes me forever to finish mine. When I’m half way done, I start peeling the paper wrapped around the cup to divert my attention from the thoughts erupting in my brain like a volcano to the paper dissolving in my hands.

I keep my eyes down while he keeps on tapping his foot.

“Give me three good reasons why I should marry you?” I ask him, not because I wanna know but because I wanna see his reaction. He’s taken back like an interviewee does when an unexpected question is asked.

“Just one.” He says. “I’ll keep you happy.”

The answer brings a smile to my face but I hide it. He doesn’t need to know how I feel. I want him to back out. I want him to say things won’t work out between us because I can’t seem to say it. Because I feel like I’m developing feelings for him, and I hate that. I can’t be distracted. I have so much to do. So much to conquer. How can I let a guy side track me like that. How can I get into a relationship when I’m so focused on getting myself out there.

“I’m not ready yet,” I say to him sneaking a look into his eyes. He blinks but smiles and that smile melts my heart. Butterflies in my stomach twirl like a tornado. In his eyes I see confusion mixed with doubt. I wonder what he saw in my eyes. Probably an egotistical girl who has no idea what she wants from life. Or maybe a stupid indecisive girl.

“That’s ok.” He says, and I see a glint in his eyes that I can’t make out. He’s not mad or angry. He’s as calm as an ocean on a bright sunny day. And for some reason that gets me mad. How can he be so calm when I’m over here fighting a war I can’t win in my head. What was I expecting him to say? Maybe some romantic Bollywood dialogue? Saying how he can’t live without me. Maybe a curse? Maybe manipulation? Something besides that calm smile.

It’s weird how some people come into our life and change our entire direction. He changed my whole journey. And he didn’t even know.

I don’t know what it was about him that pulled me closer to him. Maybe in his presence I felt calm and human. I felt safe and for an anxious person that’s heaven..

“I should leave.” I rise to my feet, and pull out my charger from the wall next to the table. I say this because it’s getting late and if I stay longer I’ll change my mind.

“Yeah. I can drop you off.” He offers as soon as we leave the star bucks. The cold air slams into my face like a wall made of bricks.

I smile and shake my head, “Taking the trains would be easier.” I lie. I dread taking the trains at night. Some don’t work and the ones that do work change their tracks or they stop mid-way. Creepy people, drunkards, and drug addicts, sometimes take over the subways at night- especially on the weekends. But going with him doesn’t seem right either.

His car is parked on the opposite side and I’m surprised he didn’t get a ticket. He said he couldn’t find parking and he didn’t want me to wait so he just parked it. I don’t believe him, but I smile to assure him that I understand his struggle.

I feel guilty. I made him drive for two hours, just so I could say no to him. But he doesn’t seem bothered and that makes me feel a little better.

“Bye.” I wave at him. He smiles and waves back. My heart sinks in my chest as soon as I go underground toward the R train.

I’m so confused that I take the wrong train to Brooklyn instead of Queens. It’s only when I pass DeKalb Avenue that I realize I’m on the wrong train.

I curse myself out and regret coming here to meet him.
I’m frustrated with school and my manuscript and work that I feel trapped. Like I’m suffocating. What does my future hold for me? Where am I headed? This is not what I had in mind when I left high school. It was to graduate college in four years. Get into med school. Start working. Buy a house and a car. Easy peasy lemon squeasy. Except the fact that I didn’t want to study medicine and it took me forever to graduate because I was side tracked.

Tears slowly start cascading down my cheek. I sit down on the bench as soon as I get out of the train and try to figure out why I’m hurt. Why is my chest aching like it’s physically wounded. Like I’m having a heart attack. Am I making the right choice? Is this what I want?

Two trains pass by and I blankly watch them. It’s the third train I sit on or maybe the fourth. Everything was a blur that I wasn’t sure what I was doing.

This was a choice I had made and now I had to live with the consequences.

I went home with red cheeks and an attitude my mom and siblings couldn’t understand. I cried myself to sleep that day.

Being Anti-social

I’m anti-social. Sometimes. Depending on the people and the circumstance and the time and space and the atmosphere.

I’m semi anti-social or partial anti-social. Or maybe 3/4th anti-social. Or maybe 1/4th anti-social. But the point is that I’m anti-social regardless of how non-anti-social I want to be.

I get nervous around people I’m not used to. Unconsciously, I sink into that dark part of my brain that I dread going into because I drown in questions. Like why do you have that scar on your arm? Were you abused? Did you self-harm? Was it an accident? Why do you have that dark look in your eyes? Do you worship the devil? Does the devil worship you? It’s like I want to know everything about everyone. Maybe because it gives me a clear perspective of where I stand. Am I comparing myself to them? Maybe? Or maybe like Einstein, I’m generally curious about everything and everyone. Like why is chlorophyll green? Why are all the other colors absorbed but green reflected? Why freaking Green? Why not purple? Can we time travel if we travel at the speed of light? What is light? Is it just the absence of darkness? 

Got side-tracked: but when I meet new people or old people I’m not used to, I start observing them like test subjects. Experiment vs control- Where I am the control and everyone else is the experiment.  I notice their actions, the way they speak, the way they interact, the way they smile. I don’t know why I do this. Maybe because in my mind I see everyone as a threat and observing them makes the threat lessen. I honestly don’t know why this happens? It’s like my mind goes into this frenzy and then there’s chaos. Maybe there is some deep unconscious trauma that I can’t pinpoint. Maybe I just overthink which ends up making everything worse for myself.

Some people I meet are the kindest ever, yet I go into this mode. And the worst part is people think I’m creepy because I stare at them way too long or they think I’m showing superiority or attitude when honestly all I’m trying to do is make myself approachable and social.

Picture from pexels

Needing Validation

Why is it that sometimes… no matter how many mountains I climb, or how many oceans I sail, or how many bridges I burn I don’t see myself the way I want to. No matter how hard I try I can’t seem to rise to a place where I want to be. It’s like the mountains keep on growing, and day by day I become smaller and smaller.

It’s like I’m stuck in this little plateau and the only thing I can do is jump off it. I could crash, or I could fly. The latter seems more likely. But I am at that point where pain seems like a better option than this feeling of being empty. At least that way I’ll feel something. The numbness creeps up on my skin and takes a hold of my being, making me feel like a hollow body without a soul.

I feel like no matter how many accomplishments I kiss, no matter how many victories I embrace, I won’t ever be satisfied because my heart is not content. I feel like I need validation from people close to me like a child in preschool needs validation from a teacher. I need the people around me to tell me I’m doing a good job because that’s the only way I’ll be convinced. I need people to tell me I’m good for me to believe it, which is bad because when I don’t get the validation I plunge into this hole of self-doubt.

I can look in the mirror and chant, “I’m amazing. I’m beautiful. I’m awesome,” day and night, but I won’t believe it, not until someone comes and tells me those things. The people around me don’t realize but their words have a huge impact on me. Sometimes their words hit like knives and bullets and sometimes they act as a salve. Even the tiniest gesture or a simple sentence could hit like a bomb and I would find myself thinking about it for the next eon.

A person could come and tell me I’m a psychopath and I would believe them because my brain is wired to listen to the outside voices, rather than the voices in my head. This is one of the most toxic traits you can have because it leads directly toward self-destruction and that’s the one thing I’m good at. Destroying myself. The worst form of abuse is the one that comes from within because at the moment you become your biggest enemy and there’s nowhere to run.

If someone told me I was ugly, I would agree with them and I would feel uncomfortable in my own skin and if someone told me I was beautiful, I would make myself believe that I’m worthy of being on the cover of Vogue magazine. Sounds stupid. I know.

Imagine having a computer and you need to reset it or fix it. The first thing you’ll need to do is turn it off, then take out the wires, untangle them and plug them back in. You might even have to reboot it. It takes effort and time, and fear that your ‘useful’ information will be lost with all the useless information.
That’s how rewiring your brain is like. You have to detangle yourself and, in the process, you might even cause more damage, but the best thing is that every form of damage is reversible and curable.

Rewiring your brain is hard. It’s not, ‘oh let me shut my brain off and turn it back on like a computer.’ It’s more of ‘oh shit, this was wrong’ or ‘oh snap I should’ve done that,’ but that’s how you learn. That’s how you progress. That’s how you break bad habits, by replacing them with good ones.

I’m working on myself, by making amends and filling in holes that I have because I was too busy doubting myself. Too busy looking for someone else’s approval. I’ve started listening to that soft voice in the back of my head now. It’s not always nice, but it’s there… dim… and barely audible.

Political games

Let’s wrap ourselves
in these political games
Let’s call it propaganda
and throw out blames
Let’s kill more people
and say it was a mistake
Let’s celebrate the spilling of blood
with coffee and cake.

Let’s take selfies
and watch little kids die
Let’s pray for forgiveness
while we burn you alive
Let’s divide ourselves
in these small little nations
Let’s believe in God
but slaughter his creation.

TIMES UP
Now pick up your bodies
and get out of our land
Just a peaceful message
hope you understand.

Sometimes the monsters we’re trying to kill are residing inside of us. We fear weapons of mass destruction will fall into the wrong hands, but how clean are ours? We act like we’re saints while the rest of the world is filled with sinners. I wrote my first book “The City of Saints,” to show that humans will find whatever excuse they can to start a war. It could be religion, ethnicity, skin color and in this case eye color. The protagonist of my book is a ten-year-old girl, Nuha Edel, whose trapped in a war her elders have started. She’s naive, witty and smart, but innocent. I wrote the book to show that history always repeats itself. The place, time and people are different but the events taking place are the same.

The robots in my book represent the oppressors, and how they’re exactly like us, but we see them differently because that’s what we’re taught. The robots or cyborgs are programmed to kill, but humanity gets the better of them. SAM (Specialized Assassin Military-bot) says, “I have a mind of my own, but I am not allowed to think.” It’s the concept of the “OTHER” and “FRIEND AND ENEMY”. Just because someone disagrees with you they’re considered you’re enemy. Just because someone is different they’re portrayed as evil and vile.

“We fear weapons of mass destruction will fall into the wrong hands, but how clean are ours.” Why do we see others as a threat when we’re no less of a threat either? If we all want peace, then why are we fighting. Maybe because we all have our own versions of peace. Maybe because my version of peace does not align with yours. Maybe we need a common ground.

I wrote “The City of Saints,” as a way to show that history always repeats itself; the people, time, place, and events would be different, but the end result would be the same because we as humans refuse to change. We’re all quick to play the blame game, but we refuse to take responsibility. Why? Why are we like this?