Don't dream, when you can't make it real. They're only fictions anyway - Moddi, A Sense of Grey

Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance, in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance, when you're perfectly free - Rumi

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Jan 24, 2012

Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace

So for the past month life had been sort of getting back on track. My job was going well, my cousins were in town so I was having a great time with the family and it had been an overall smooth transition into the new year. 
And then, as though the universe suddenly woke up from its slumber after the shit-throwing festival that was the last half of 2011, it sent over another sack of shit, personally packed and all with the message "fool" written in large letters across it.
I never joke about shit

Now considering how ours is a mostly 'arranged marriage' culture, the fact that our parents let us watch a lot of Disney while we grew up results in an all out battle of the generations when it comes to the question of getting hitched. 
A week or so ago, my mother, who had given me a two month break from this whole marriage fiasco, had decided that enough was enough. She would do everything in her power to marry off her one daughter before her eggs dried up. But she knew she would have to be cautious about it considering that I was still very emotionally distraught after the recent break up. She would have to be sensitive, she would have to approach me with caution. "We have to go meet this guy and his family. You need to get married."
See. Caution.
Frankly, I did not have the energy to argue with my mother and explain to her how I wasn't quite ready yet because its a phrase her generation was clearly not taught as they were growing up. 
Anyway, I said sure and I think that really surprised my mom because she looked ready for a full-fledged melt down. So she bought me a chocolate chip cookie because I was such a good girl. 
Then I made the mistake of bothering to find out about this guy who my mom had picked out for me to spend the rest of my life with.
Here is how the conversation went
"What's his name?"
My eyes popped out. A boy named Ali? That is just so rare. No really. A Shia boy named Ali; how often does that happen?
"What does he do?"
"He's a chartered accountant"
*Blank Stare*
As an after thought "He makes a lot of money"
Now mom's have this ability to pick up on when their daughters aren't exactly impressed. Maybe its the rolling of the eyes, I don't really know.
"Shareef Khandaan hai"
That basically translates into "Family doesn't do drugs, drink, gamble, womanize, etc"
*Blank Stare*
"What more do you want?" Mom started getting defensive now. Notice how I'm silent? 
"You're not exactly the Princess of Wales!"
No argument there. 
"Ami, I said I'd meet him. What are you getting so worked up about?"
At this point my mom just stormed out of the room. 
Anyway, a couple of days later his aunt called and arranged a meeting at her house. 
A few hours before the meeting, I had a break down because well, it's the kind of thing girls do when they don't know what else to do. I called up my best friend for comfort and complained about how much this sucked and how this month was supposed to mean entirely something else and how much men sucked and how my parents hated me and wanted  me to suffer and never be happy and once all the frustration was out, I went to get dressed.
Now, we got to this aunts house and she was all nice and welcoming. We settled down, spoke about random stuff and then the guy showed up. One word. UNCOMFORTABLE.
He came and sat down and there was a few minutes of absolute silence. Then everyone started talking at once. I didn't want to be rude, but I mean, what do you say to a prospective guy you're meeting for the first time while everyone in the room is looking at you?
So I stared at my coffee cup and answered the questions I was asked.
But the best/worst part was when the guy and I were left on our own to get to know each other.
The poor guy looked even more out of place than I felt. 
The conversation with the usual "so what do you do?"
I always have trouble with this question. What do I do? Its just so vague. What do I do for a living? What do I do for fun? What do I do when I'm tired? What do I do if something wants to eat me? Which one is it?!
I work.
I read.
I watch t.v.
I exercise.
I sleep.
I write.
I eat.
I poop.

I mean, which one was the correct answer?

The guy was so nervous, he'd giggle in the middle of the conversation and it took every muscle of my body to tighten up so that I would not spit out my coffee.

And so it went on for another 20 minutes. Now, here's what he does. Or rather, doesn't do.

He does not read.
He does not play sports.
He does not watch television.
He does not listen to music.
He does not travel (except for work).
He hardly goes out with friends.

And that's alright. Maybe he's the perfect guy for some girl who doesn't do any of these things. To me, that is a big deal breaker. These are all of the things I want in someone who I would want to be with for the rest of my life. I know I'm coming off as a tad bit stuck up. Okay, maybe a great deal stuck up. I don't know. Frankly, I don't care. I can't be with a person who is okay with doing nothing except work. I don't know his circumstances too well to make a judgement, but I still did not feel any connection there or discover anything that might mean this could be a successful marriage.
You'd think, okay, you didn't like the guy. Move on.
Except my mother, to whom none of this made sense. We had our first fight over this today and thankfully, dad stayed out of it. To my mother, all that a person needs to be eligible is a degree, a good job and a good family background. I think its probably the same for a lot of Pakistani parents.To them its okay if the guy has zero personality because we'll be too busy shopping with his money and going to tea parties to spend much time with him anyway.
Obviously, we are. That's not even a question. However, I'd still like a guy with whom I can have heated political debates and discuss literature and discover the world. Maybe even make babies. Who knows? The world is full of surprises.
Either way, I think I'll sit here and wait for my Prince Charming, thank you very much.

Jan 13, 2012

Chasing The Starlight

One hot summer evening, a young girl of about fifteen was lying on her roof. The heat was suffocating, the air balmy and the only thing that made it bearable was the occasional breeze that cooled the body as it came in contact with the beads of sweat. 

The girl often came here when she needed to think, sometimes when she didn't want to think at all. She would lie down right at the edge of the roof; it felt to her like she was at the edge of the world, she only had to roll over and she would float away into space, never to return. She liked it best on a clear, starry night. The twinkling of the stars calmed her soul. Her father had told her that God had made the sky, then blown glitter all over and they formed the stars. Later on, when her science teacher had told her that stars were just big balls of fire, she had chosen not to believe that. A sky sprinkled with glitter felt much less threatening. 

Long ago, whatever long ago might be for a fifteen year old, she had come home to find her mother in one of her moods again; the one she got after she had stared at her childhood pictures for hours. Then she would sit by the window and cry silent tears. So the girl quietly filled water in a dirty, smudged glass and kept it on the table by her mother. Then, she climbed the cold, cemented stairs barefoot to the roof and watched the sky go from a clear azure to a murky orange to dark plum and finally a gloomy black. 

Once, her father had then come up and lain down next to her. For a while, they both said nothing. The silence was a bit awkward at first, but then it felt completely natural; like when you meet a best friend after a few years, in the first few minutes there are a few awkward silences, but once the comfort zone is found, its like you never even parted. 

Then he had asked her about how she felt and what could she have said? She didn't have an answer. She didn't really feel anything at all and that left her feeling guilty. Her mother's depressive obsession with her childhood home and memories had nothing to do with her. It didn't affect her at all. She wasn't sad or alone or miserable. She just was. 

Her father misunderstood her silence to mean that she didn't want to talk to him. So he left her alone, but before he did he told her that if she ever felt the need to talk things out or share a secret or make a confession, she should do it out loud to the stars. They would listen without judging and they would be her secret keepers till the end of her days. She had liked what she heard so she heeded his advise and under celestial skies, had found safety and comfort. 

This particular summer evening was different. It wasn't that it was hot, there was an uncomfortable aura all over the place that had nothing to do with the weather. She had come home to find her mother's chair empty, something that had never happened before. The kitchen was sparkling. She picked up the glasses, none of them had smudges on them. She should have realized right away, but she checked her mother's room anyway. Completely empty; she had taken everything with her. On the bed was a note with one word, "Sorry". 

And so, for the first time in her life, the girl felt truly alone. Her father had left a long time ago, that was inevitable. Her mother's presence in the house had been enough for her. Now, she was gone too. 

As she lay at the edge of the world under the summer sky, she had no one to call her own, but the stars. It was a simple decision, really. 

Jan 4, 2012

Women:Its not just PMS!

Women are insane. There's really no two ways about it. The entire female species is nuts. And I'm a woman so you're getting this straight from the source. You know that question asked through the epochs? What do women want? Well, let me tell you a secret. Even women don't know what the hell they want. And there is a beauty to this madness. Because as much as women torture their own souls and of the men around them, men just can't seem to get enough of them. 
They take the tiniest of things and then drive themselves completely bonkers over it. They analyze it and over analyze to the point that they even forget what the real issue was in the first place. Then they cry because well, that's what women do. And men are stupid and insensitive because they just don't understand. It's simple boys, women will cry all the time. It's how they were built; you make them happy, they'll cry;you piss them off,they'll cry,you remember their birthday,they'll cry;you forget their birthday,they'll...well you get the picture. You just can't win. 
And then there's that point where they get excited about something. Like, let's say a friend sees a really cute co-worker and develops an instantaneous crush on him. The first thing she will do is message her best friends about it who will be sitting in their own workplace and squealing with joy at: 
a) the friend having discovered a good looking male specimen because, let's face it, there are very few and we don't know where they hang out.
b) the friend has found someone she might just potentially have a relationship with and well, that's always something to squeal about 
Now, keep in mind that at this point she has only noticed the boy and the boy has probably not even seen her. Except, the messages that will follow are
" OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!! There's this really cute guy at work! Oh my God!!!! HE IS SO CUTE! Like...I want to eat him okay! What should I do? I want to talk to him? Should I talk to him? I mean I've never even said hello to him! If I talk to him he'll think I'm some lunatic chick who just wants to get into his pants! Ok! Maybe I do! Why won't he talk to me! Ugh! Why do I look so ugly today!I am so fat! I am so ugly! I need to lose weight! I'll start going to the gym again....No more JUNK FOOD! Uff he is so cute! His jaw, his face, his arms...omg his arms! Okay tell me how to go about this? Should I just go up and say hi? Oh no wait, I don't even know what he does! All these girls keep going up to him and talking to him! BITCHES SLUTS! HES MINEEE! Kia karun? What?!?! Tell me what to do? He is so cute! He probably hates me anyway. Forget it, its a lost cause. God hates me! Why does God do this to me?!?!? TELL ME WHAT TO DO? "
And I mean, I'm not even exaggerating here. 
The friends try to be consoling and supportive. But the crazy has been unleashed. The crazy can no longer be contained. 
And then when finally the two get talking, as the two almost always do, the insanity reaches magnanimous proportions.e.g
a) He messaged me at 11 and I was asleep. What kind of loser am I?! What loser goes to sleep at 11. Now what should I do? Tell me what to do? Should I reply? Should I ignore it? Isn't it rude to reply this late? But wait, its also rude not to reply!
b) Okay, so if he doesn't message at 12 on the dot, I'll just message him myself and say happy new year. Should I say happy new year with a smiley face? No wait, that will be too much. 
And all that is fine, its what women do right? Obsess? Wait, the hair tearing part hasn't come yet. 
So finally, when the guy hints at maybe getting together for some coffee she reacts with
"Umm....I don't want to go out with him! I want to get to know him better!"
At this point, if you or your friend is still alive, its either because you are a really good friend or you're pumped up on so much Valium, you're seeing rainbows.
But the most amazing discussions are after the relationship begins and full-fledged dating has begun.
"He is such an asshole. He sucks. He's driving me insane. He doesn't know what I want. I love him"
My point here is, don't try to understand women.
Don't try to understand why they cry when they're happy, why they hate their best friends, why they can never have enough shoes, why they ask the "do I look fat?" question even though they clearly aren't, why everything that excites them has to be announced with a squeal,why they go crazy at the gym,then eat tons of junk food and then berate themselves for hours, why "I'm fine" never really means "I'm fine" .....the list is never ending. 
Oh. And never, ever try to blame it on PMS. Because its hardly ever PMS. Its just the crazies. 
So, let it go boys. Just, let it go.

PS: If you know where all the good looking men of this country are; maybe if they have some secret club and we could have the address? Thanks. 

Jan 3, 2012

Baby Steps

I woke up today at four in the afternoon, that too, thanks to my cat chewing my hair as a final resort to get me to feed her. Of course I got up. I love my hair. 
It sucks, starting the New Year ill. I went to a wedding Sunday night and well, all the aunties' remarks about how it was time for me to tie the knot followed by my mother's usual after-wedding sullen mood not only made me sick in the head, it resulted in my entire body breaking down and refusing to digest food. 
Okay, I'm exaggerating. I just ate something horrible that's all. But it's good to know that I can blame almost everything on marriage. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
I was all prepared to have a shitty rest of the day when my dad came home and gave my the cheque for my college tuition. And it was a simple thing. Just a piece of paper really with lots of zeros. But somehow, it made me feel so much better. That piece of paper marks a beginning of all things good for me. Its a sign that I've finally moved on from the horror of last year and I'm ready to face new horrors. Just kidding. 
I'm actually really excited about starting my Masters. I'm excited about learning new things and about meeting new people. All the assignments and the presentations and the research and the exams; I'm excited about every little thing. 
I just hope that it doesn't disappoint or fail like almost every other plan in my life. And I'm pretty sure it won't work out exactly the way I want it to, but hopefully it will mostly work out in a good way. 
"Baby steps, little one!" 
That was dad, after I spoke to him about how I felt. 
So I raise my cup of tea to a (mostly) happy new year,to a fresh start in life,to having great friends and an amazing family, to letting go and forgiving, to growing old and growing up and to no more should'ves,could'ves,would'ves.