I recently turned 30, and it was bittersweet – I don’t miss my twenties; I can look back and say although heightened self-awareness brought more anxiety, I am a better person than I was a decade ago. As I welcomed a new era, I saw myself for who I was and the wisdom I gained and it felt significant, character strengthening.
Happy New Year my loves.
Some people talk about the dawn of a New Year as if it is going to fix something, as though the tide that is the New Year will wash over us and we’ll finally start swimming in the right direction, we’ll be cleansed, we’ll have a new start and more importantly, we’ll know what to do with it.
I am a British Pakistani born in London. Both my mother and father were born in Lahore, Pakistan. I can’t speak my mother tongue and I know little to nothing about my ethnic culture – what can I say? They didn’t bring it with them when they came. As I got older I became curious about who I was, what my parents grandparents were like, how they survived partition, what led them here and who is running through my veins.
“You can’t understand Punjabi?!” Rishma* said, mouth open in a grin stuck on pause that evolved into rolling laughter of disbelief. “No,” I smiled, clenching my fists that lulled by my sides to prevent them from instinctively floating up and punching her in the jaw.
I have suffered with mental health issues for as long as I can remember. Even in primary school, I just found life too overwhelming. What I didn’t consider though was that my diet and lifestyle didn’t help – I bunked every P.E class and I lived on fried chicken, ramen noodles, frozen food and concentrated juices in abundance.
I think it’s pretty safe to say at this stage that hatred of Muslims is brewing into something that can no longer be halted; there’s no other option now – it is going to get worse before it gets better.
It was the dead of the night, and Maria was dead to the world. Her legs sunk into the mattress, the weight lifted away, her mind finally tranquil when the first pebble hit her bedroom window. The cul-de-sac she lived on was quiet; a safe space away from the city, the throng of trees a shelter from the concrete jungle that her days played out in.
The first time I fell in love, I thought it would be forever. We had kids names planned and I had our futures mapped out in my mind. He was the first man to meet my parents – in all my twenties so far, I haven’t met another man worthy of the honour. But it became unhealthy – or maybe it always was, and I just never saw it – we loved each other obsessively, aggressively and more dangerously with every day that passed.
Whether it’s a glass of bubbly or a slab of cake, I’m yet to befriend a human who doesn’t have some sort of coping mechanism to get them through this thing called life. One of my vices is the Horror genre – it’s the perfect form of escapism.
Art by the ‘Pakistani Martha Stewart’
So much reading material is available on the formation of Pakistan that it’s hard for someone as clueless as me to decipher what’s true anymore. But there is one tale that seems quite indisputable – that for almost 1000 years different religious groups co-existed here in harmony, as a family, embracing one another’s traditions.