You’re Always On My Mind (An Unfinished Thought)

– Taken in Istanbul, Turkey, on a slow day at the hotel's lobby.

I know who you are, yet I don't know if I can still call you mine.  So I guess it's best to say that I never really knew you – that we were neither friends nor lovers. We were perhaps the hollow void encompassing nothingness, a nothingness that was tangible, an electric field that you could cut through.

Everyone could see it, he could too, but he was too afraid to say it. He just couldn't bring the words to his mouth, his eyes revealed what his lips couldn't, the words hanging by a moment.

It was the last month of college, it was all coming to an end, a literal end and a metaphorical beginning of the "new" chapter of the rest of our lives.

The tears, the relentless laughter, mindless banter and pseudo-intellectual feuds, that seemed immortal, were all coming to a halt. So was our journey. Him and I; us, our love.

 To be continued…

 

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Spellbound


– Wishing Column at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey.

I've written so much about love, affection and emotional intelligence over the course of time that (oddly enough) people consider me a veteran in the matters of the heart. What they don't know is that I've experienced the fragility of relationships in life in order to get to this point of understanding – and I'm much stronger and happier for having endured and weathered with grace and dignity.

Relationships don't just have to be romantic, they are formed on various wavelengths with different individuals. Some ties are spiritual. Sometimes, we connect with people emotionally and mentally while on the other hand there's a possibility of getting romantically inclined. Some bonds are so much more than mere lust and "love" in the most generic sense. They go deeper, farther than anything else that you may have ever experienced.

Such instances leave us bewildered for most part of our lives. When we experience a relationship like that in our life, we want to hold on to it, tight with all our might – tight enough to turn our knuckles white. Alas! We seldom can, such is the irony of life; as we know it. Even if we want to flash freeze those stolen moments we just can't because we almost never, I repeat, never realize that the time is now, the time is always NOW. You have to grab hold of what you have and make sure you keep it close when you have it, otherwise it slips out of your hand like grains of sand, and all that is left is an empty palm and an insatiable itch to relieve the emptiness inside your bare soul, and I'm afraid that burning desire enslaves us (you, me, all of us) for the rest of our lives as we move forward in different directions.

The What Ifs

I've always been of the opinion that women should have the free will to exercise their rights and be as they please. I feel that the Pakistani (desi) society puts too much pressure on us women to be a certain way and act a certain way. Why is it a woman's responsibility to follow social norms and be the way others want her to be? Nobody has the right to make anyone feel that way, absolutely no one can force you to practice something you don't believe in.

The irony of the matter is that although I've constantly spoken/written about social issues and how inequality on emotional/physical level gets in the way of women in this society, I feel that our society is just not mature enough to turn a blind eye towards its mysoginistic mindset. I'm not saying it's unpleasant to be married, it's a wonderful transition, but the laws and unwritten, unsaid bylaws that come attached to it are heavy, and I'm afraid that if you're not prepared to accept them and (sacrifice) literally sacrifice most of your free will, you shouldn't even consider the idea of marriage.

It can get suffocating to say the least. You shouldn't be expected to follow another set of religious beliefs and leave the ones you've had for the past twenty something years. Although, no one ever says that you have to leave your prior religious beliefs it is implied that you have to carry them forth in the family and extended family gatherings. It's just a confusing and sad state to be in. It can also take a toll on your health at times, because you probably didn't expect any of this and most certainly were extremely misinformed by your kith and kin.

You could've been one of those laid back easy going women who had her life chalked out, you were excelling academically, you had a job, and wanted to pursue it later on. You had no intentions of settling down, but your father or mother emotionally blackmailed your vulnerable confused fresh out college self into getting committed by saying "shaadi k baad ker lena" (Do everything you've ever wanted after marriage). That my friends is a huge lie in your face and never ever fall for that. You were so messed up and confused in the head that you actually believed that you were weak and fragile enough to settle down for less and depend on someone for the rest of your life. As soon as you're married, you're going to be pestered about when you're going to have children. Things will keep getting more and more unpleasant.

Before you get engaged or married, please make sure the person involved in the whole process hasn't lied to you about the boy/girl or their families and mindsets, because going into a different mindset can be painful and upsetting on both ends. You can't live liberally in a conservative mindset, and don't expect these partriarchal societal norms to change for one mere woman, they won't. A woman in this society is just made to be objectified or made the target of the entire family's mockery/grudgery if she doesn't match up to their standards of chastity (read sharafat). If she even sneezes like a man or God forbid has opinions like a man she has no place in a family like that, and of course, the whole stigma of divorce lingers on in minds and lives carry on, unhappy and discontent.

This wasn't meant to be a negative, sexist rant, just a few basic facts of life; to be taken with a pinch of salt. 😉

Yours, Theirs, and Ours (Part 1)



This is the first part of an ongoing series of short stories. 

Sharleen was a fine young girl of 18 – a very fine girl indeed. She was the girl next door with her raven hair, porcelain skin and brown limpid pools for eyes, she tried to fit in and be accepted, yet she never really did. She was different. She was lost, and her confusion could only be understood by some or none at all. That’s when she met him. He came and swept her of her feet. Her vision changed – she gained perspective and that’s where her journey began.
Sharleen was born and bred in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. Her family’s roots were planted deep in the city of gardens since centuries. Her conventional upbringing didn’t make it easy for her to be herself in the world they lived in. Her free spirit was entangled in a web of social norms and expectations and she yearned to get out of it. Her love for him changed him and his understanding of her depth transformed her.

She didn’t believe in conventional love stories and Disney-esque fairy tales, she was a realist who knew that being swept off her feet meant that she probably slipped on a wet floor and lost balance. Harib knew all her vulnerabilities and still loved her very much. His demons danced with hers to the rhythm of their love. 

Sharleen had a rough childhood, her father cheated on her mother and she faced the consequences. She saw her mother leave, her siblings and father in shambles. She followed her mother to her aunt’s house, clenching her dupatta in her tiny hands, wailing, calling her mom “Amaa! , Amaa! Please take me with you, don’t leave me!” Her mother stayed at the aunt’s for a month and a half and returned home, when her father said that he’s a changed man. The Pakistani society wouldn’t have accepted a divorcee at the time and it would’ve affected Sharleen and her sister; Lamees and brother; Azeem’s futures. 

Growing up in all the chaos had it’s effects on Sharleen….Harib would bear witness to it.

To be continued….

Disclaimer: This piece of writing and the one following are fictional, any resemblance to any person is purely coincidental. 

Thank You 

Sometimes you’re at a loss of words. You’re not quite sure how to put your thoughts into words. When I started writing this blog, I wasn’t entirely sure whether anyone would read it. I thought to myself, why would anybody want to read my thoughts and reveries? I could never be that interesting even if I tried. (Pun intended) 

As a socially awkward silent observer, I thought this blog would liberate me. It would help me evolve, break out of my shell and let the world inside my little bubble and maybe, just maybe somewhere down the lane, someone would acknowledge me and could perhaps relate to me and for once I’d be able to feel that there are others like me – I’m not alone.

I never thought my thoughts could resonate with a handful of individuals but they have and I’m humbled by that. Although my blog isn’t nearly as accomplished/followed as most of the blogs here, every like, every follower, every little share counts and it keeps me going. So thank you! Thank you all of you for making a twenty two year old (almost 23 – 8 more days to go) feel that she belongs, that she’s heard, and most importantly that she is a part of you.

10 Things To Know Before Taking The Plunge

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  1. Are you sure you want a long-term commitment?
  2. Are you ready to make the sacrifices and take on the responsibilities that come with wedlock?
  3. Does your partner know and understand what your long-term goals are?
  4. Do you and your significant other have the same priorities/ mindset? You have to know if you’re both on the same wavelength.
  5.  Do you want to have kids? Clarify when and how many before committing to each other. If both of you are not on the same page, there’s room for potential arguments.
  6.  Expect a lot of pain and resentment in the beginning if you’re both equally affectionate. You’re both trying your best, the two of you will try to simmer down for the sake of the other, you’ll try not to hurt the other and yet manage to do so.
  7. The higher expectations you have the more disappointed you’ll get. Lower your expectations so that nothing surprises you.
  8. Don’t expect Disney fairy tales to be true. Your parents’ house would always be the house you grew up in, everyone has a different lifestyle, just know that you have to be flexible in order to be able to adjust in an entirely other setup that is unlike how you lived previously.
  9. You’ll have to have a big heart. You’ll have to learn to let go of hurtful things – harsh reality checks that you wouldn’t want to but would have to let go for the sake of it.
  10. Lastly, you’d have to focus a lot on the positive and discard the negative before it starts to rot and the stench spreads. You’ll have to make the effort to pull yourself and pull through.

Thoughts on life, love and everything in between.. transcribed by a self proclaimed bleeding writer.