Nani Jan

Monday, September 28, 2020


My Nani Jan (maternal grandmother) was a beautiful soul with who I was lucky to spend a few moments in my life. Although I left Pakistan at the age of three, I was always in my Nani Jan's thoughts because I was her spoiled and ever loved granddaughter. She held on to the special bond she formed with me because I spent a lot of my early years around her before we left for Canada. She was one of those special humans who left a lasting impression on anyone who met her. 

    I wish I had taken out the time to truly understand how strong and deep her love and attachment towards me was, so I would have valued her time with me even more. I wish I could dig up those memories of my early years and bask in those precious moments that I took for granted one more time. As a child, my mother would put me on the phone and my grandmother would just repeat, "I love you my daughter and I cannot wait to see you once again. When will you come to see me? I am counting down the days every day praying for your quick return to me." Her yearning would leave my child self speechless as I did not understand why she loved me so much because I did not have any recollection of our time together. Sometimes I would even run away when I heard my mother on the phone because I knew she would insist I talk to my Nani Jan, who wanted to hear my voice. Unfortunately, I did not know any better, and I let those years slip by without strengthening my relationship with her. This has become one of my greatest regrets because she was a treasure I realized too late I had lost. 

Beautiful Creation

Friday, September 25, 2020

Do you realize what an awe-inspiring creation you are? It is in the way you contain unlimited potential in the depths of your mind that metamorphoses into reality with the palms of your hands. The way your body can reproduce life that contains half of your chemical blueprint into a complete being whom you nurture and grow in your womb for nine months. The ability to feel immense emotions, yours and others, and accept the energy hurled at you by the world around you while emitting a unique resonance that attracts others towards you. The way you can set goals and achieve them when you set your mind towards them, whatever they may be.

    You become an amalgamation of strength and courage to fight the battles you do every day in a world in which equality is still a budding concept for which you need to fight for. Now and then your feet falter with the burdens placed on you by the responsibilities you tow, but still you continue with every ounce of energy remaining within. Just when you believe there is no more left within you to give you unlock a new pocket hidden somewhere in your depths and once again you drag yourself forward hoping to find the momentum to carry you ahead just a little more. There is some hesitation, regret, pain, in your truth encasing you out of which you are desperate to build some walls to protect yourself from the never-ending onslaught of life raining on you. It becomes difficult to differentiate from among those around you who will help lift you up and who really wants to see you fall out of spite, jealousy, or their own personal pain they do not know how to handle and instead project. 


Monday, September 21, 2020


I have never been the best at anything, and I am not well versed in any one particular subject, nor am I athletic enough to be considered good in any sports. Do I enjoy the competition? Yes. Since I was seven years old, my mother enrolled me into religious classes which offered a healthy form of competition. To encourage the girls to learn religious scripts from the Quran or memorize Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet peace be on him), they would hold competitions based on the age group to provide motivation to learn and make it a fun event. I enjoyed taking part in these competitions even though I have performance anxiety. It helped me learn how to speak in front of an audience and write speeches or speak impromptu on a certain subject in front of a large group of people. There was also a lot of memorization involved, which helped me with my formal public school education. It became easier to learn and memorize things in school because I had trained my mind to gain knowledge and secure it away. But I was rarely the best at something specific. I do not deny that I could hold my own and could excel in a certain subject when I wanted to but I could never be the best. 

    This might not seem like a big deal to many of you, and it would be fair for you to ask why this was so important for me. Being raised in a competitive atmosphere where I was continuously pitted against my friends and other girls in my age group, it really gave me a sense of where I stood in the scheme of things. But most of the pressure came from my mother, which internally transformed into pressure from me. Anything other than first place would be a disappointment in her eyes, despite the long hours I spent memorizing and preparing for an event. The added pressure became overwhelming sometimes when they were announcing awards and my heart would race while the little voice in my head reminded me to prepare for the look of extreme disappointment in my mother's eyes. She would not have to utter a word. Just her stance would change or her eyes would avert from my direction, I would know I had disappointed her. 

It's 2 A.M.

Friday, September 18, 2020


I lay awake at night pondering over the idea that maybe this life is not meant to be any one particular thing. What if all this life is to me is what I make of it and nothing else? Life is evolution and progress, but it is also stagnant and ever-present. I am still searching for the meaning of this life. There is however one concept that continues to circle and burrow its way inside my busy mind. No matter what the meaning of life is in the wide scheme of things, I make an impact every day with each decision I make. From the moment I wake up to the second I lose temporary consciousness within a twenty-four-hour period, every single action or non-action played its part. Isn't that fascinating yet shocking?

    This is not something I think about every day because I become wrapped in the small nuances of life and find myself caught up in just focusing on how everything around me affects me instead of considering the other side of the coin. What I do does not just affect the surrounding humans, but I also leave my mark on each piece of earth and living being I touch or interact with. I do not consider myself as significant as the butterfly whose flap of the wings can induce a hurricane a thousand miles away, but there is still some form of impact. Once I think about life this way, that everything is not just about me because I am the self-proclaimed principal character of my story, the narrative changes. We are in this fishbowl together, swimming around and unable to escape, yet. With the advancement of technology, I can now alter the emotions or mood of somebody I have never met who may stumble across my online avatar or webpage and be affected by what I have typed on my monitor either in real-time or during an uninhibited bad decision at two am ten years ago. Somehow my actions are forever ingrained somewhere and their energy continues to flow in forms I do not even register. 

A Distracted Yet Absorbent Sponge

Monday, September 14, 2020


I was never the best student in class or the apple of any teacher or parent's eye for my academic prowess. It was that in my childhood best friend trio; I was the one with the lowest test scorers and performance in class, endlessly entangled with them because all of our mothers were highly competitive and determined that their daughter surpass the others. I went to a school filled with migrants and minorities wherein which the white students were actually a minority themselves. This filled our classrooms in colourful ways. 

    Being in a consistently competitive atmosphere brought its challenges for me since it was difficult paying attention in class. It was an arduous educational journey through the grades of one to twelve as I attempted to focus in class and make sure I completed my homework. However, I could not achieve it most of the time. I always waited until the last moment to complete my projects, unless the subject interested me enough to be invested from the beginning. Because of this behaviour, most of my learning occurred while I was in class and I survived through the year with average, yet unacceptable grades. 


    Some of you reading this may recognize the signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and you would be correct. In girls, the signs and symptoms manifest a little differently, resulting in a late or missed diagnosis. While boys portray more signs of hyperactivity, girls may display more signs in the attention deficit category where they cannot pay a focus for long periods of time. I shall discuss this more. 


Friday, September 11, 2020


My husband and I were driving home in the evening exclaiming how clear and beautiful the twilight sky was with some remnants of the sunset moments ago and the twinkling blinks of some stars, Venus and Jupiter were making their appearance. As we stepped outside the car, I needed to take a moment to stand there and breathe in the fresh air and the gentle warm breeze caressing my hair and skin. The night was momentous in its calm beauty and peaceful silence. We slept with our windows open that night because the valley within which we live embraces the wind through the summers so the night refreshes us from the heat of the day with its natural air conditioning passing over the mountains. 

    This morning we woke up to what I initially thought was a cloudy morning but the breeze was bringing in a nostalgic smell that alerted me to the unique nature of the hazy appearance outside my window. In the afternoon we stepped out for our weekly grocery run and stood outside shocked at the change from last night. Ash floated in the smoke scented air transporting me immediately to the warm dusty smoke-tinged air of a busy city in Pakistan. The atmosphere reminded me of a dust storm blowing in painting everything in a burnt orange shade. 

Thrills and Broken Bones

Monday, September 7, 2020

Some of my most memorable childhood memories interestingly enough are the ones that were not recorded on my parents' camcorder. It’s those memories of playing tag in the building, stairwells running from level to level with my cousins in the evenings, and screaming. The moments when I was in the middle of running from one end of the corridor to the other to reach the opposite staircase. That adrenaline rush of being found out and knowing there was nowhere to hide unless I escaped the corridor quick enough and got lucky to make it to a different level before the person who was “it” caught up to me. At that moment,  I would normally pick going downstairs because I would jump down several steps at a time so quickly I could have potentially broken records for speed racing down several stories. That shaky rush and a thin film of perspiration that would coat my body were the only signs of the intensity I felt in that moment. Since the building was fairly new I the faint smell of fresh paint would be ever-present in my senses as I flew up and down the steps. I was the stairway gazelle. Unfortunately, I was a loud gazelle and would get caught in the hallways by some auntie who would lean out from her apartment door and sternly demand I go back home or she would call my mother. That would be enough to end the game for that evening unless I was feeling rebellious. 

    I also remember a makeshift bike path on the grounds of an abandoned school building that was walking distance from my home that I would ride my bike on because it was a dirt circuit with mounds that felt like hills. I would transform into a professional dirt bike champion and try to catch some air after furiously pedaling up one bump. It was such a thrill at the time that I eventually convinced my friends to come to join me on the circuit for some dangerous races. Luckily, no one got hurt. I felt invincible.

Immigration and Culture Shock

Friday, September 4, 2020


There are so many demands set out before us which brings the burden of various responsibilities on our shoulders. Living in North America, especially in the United States, means being constantly entangled in a neverending rat race in order to provide a better future for our children. This is exactly the culture shock that many families go through when they immigrate to the Promise land brimming with hope. Even though some are prepared, there is really no way to experience that feeling of stepping into a brand new country and all your education and experience is diminished so much that you are practically starting all over again. There are very rare circumstances or specific countries where this is not the case but if you are arriving from Pakistan, your past means nothing.  

    When she first arrived in Canada, my mother would have been dressed in traditional attire most likely a "shalwar kameez" with a long "chadar" or throw covering her body and I would have been wearing a dress with pantyhose. Around her, she would observe a sea of varied faces and dressing styles and smells that would have overwhelmed her senses and mind. The new sights and sounds would blur in the midst of the exhaustion of a long flight and travel time so that her mind would become numb from the novelty of everything. But there would be that glimmer of hope amidst the challenge and fear of leaving her whole world behind several thousand miles away. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2020


I am not who I was ten years ago and I may not even be exactly who I was one week ago. I needed to learn many lessons so that I could upgrade to the person I became. At this point in time, I am not perfect but I am proud of the changes within me despite the scars that came with the battles I have fought. There were two big lessons I needed to learn to achieve the peace I have acquired today: time never stops and I need to forgive myself and accept my past. 

    The past is a messy place with several pockets of darkness within its walls. There are many memories or thoughts that keep me up at night because I spend my time analyzing and revisiting the moments and imagining what I could have done differently and what may have been the result of that. It is an endless cycle of anguish that I am unable to remove myself from and the skeletons continue to haunt me in my present day. How do I peacefully lay down my past so that I can continue to move forward and use my past as lessons that sculpted who I am today instead of wearing them as a burden? 

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