The sun was going down fast. I hated winter for it winded back my curfew time. Zeenat and I were pacing fast, 2 blocks away from home. My mother had already called four times since I left school. Why did I feel so anxious about these calls? Zeenat was blabbing on about some girl in her breathless mode. Someone's sister was seen at a gynecologist by herself. Oh, alright, she was by herself - that's news!
"Emaan, tera dimaagh khraab hai!" Mother shrieked as I swiftly walked past by the kitchen up to my room, of course, not forgetting my manners of greeting her. I was in no mood for any meaningless gibberish - yeah, yeah, I'm thirty minutes late. "Janti nahi apnay baap ko!" O yes, I know my dad all too well.
All this nonsense drove me nuts. What interest we have in others' lives. How can we assume things about others, or make rules for others, when we don't know what it's like to be in their shoes. Parents know their children like the back side of their hand. That's what my mum always said. How is that possible? She is raising a couple of kids who are experiencing life and growing up in an absolutely different circumstance. How can she possibly empathize with what I feel? My other siblings are zombies, may parents have programmed them to be remote-control-responsive. My system didn't match with their software; I'm malfunctioning.
There are two kinds of people that the community must collectively ostracize: homos and flouting women. And in our community ostracism is not restricted to the word, it goes beyond and includes ridicule. Well women have it easier; homos just get thrown off a high place down to a stone floor, women get the divine opportunity to get beaten into obedience.
Islam is a religion of hierarchy. (Down with free markets!!) At the top is God, followed by the Prophets and somewhere in between them come the Books, which also come somewhere between the Prophets and mankind. Further down (in order) are the free believing men, the free believing women, the slave men, the slave women, the unbelievers, the polytheists, the adulterous men and women, and finally the homosexuals. So basically, the free believing men, the highest order of mankind, the ones who decide the life of the others, are like those kids in school who get told for the very first time that they are the day's class monitor, and almost immediately you see a change in their attitude: proper, chest-out, proud and very strict. After getting used to the post, they may learn the trick of power abuse. And this is where I get to laugh. See, I'm no apostate, still very much a believing woman. But these proud class monitors have to report to their superiors at the end of the day as well. While they go about their pompous business, with the special star on their chest, they are the ones who will face the harshest meeting with their Creator.
When people decide to migrate, especially when the decision is voluntary, they should understand the expanse of this decision. It is not a decision that simply effects the migrants, but also the recipient country and the children of these migrants. It is their selfish, non-accommodating, non-compromising , non-accepting attitude that creates problems of a larger magnitude. Their denial to acknowledge the new place, fear of losing their origins, leads to nothing but disaster.
As always, the disaster effects the women harder.
One thing that absolutely frustrates me is that religion is solely for the woman to follow. Everything good or bad she does is viewed through the minuscule lens of religion, or the working system of a patriarchal culture. Women are to wear a hijab, which is an instant giveaway of her religion, leading to religious discrimination and now public humiliation at the hands of conservative non-Muslims. What is a man's giveaway? Neither is his beard mandatory, nor a green scarf! His visual appearance is pretty secular regardless of whether he is living in Muslim state or not. Any religious get up is absolutely the man's own choice and he isn't looked down upon for a different choice. In today's world, not every woman takes a hijab, and it's quite culturally accepted. But when we sit down and talk about it, it's like a super g-force guilt attack.
As for love. Again. Easier for the Muslim man to fall in love in this non-Muslim state, since he is allowed to marry outside of religion. Love by itself is often considered an irrational state of mind. So it's alright for the man to be irrational and get away with it, but not a woman. The star on chest coming into play.
I love my Pakistani culture, I really do. And I thank my heritage to have made me a part of it. The problem is, that is not my only heritage. I have also grown up in one culture that is different than the Pakistani one. Grown up in a culture that is home to me. How can I be expected to behave different than what I see, experience, deal with every day and every minute of my life? How can I be expected to behave culturally Pakistani as a full time job when that's a country I've seen less than a handful of times? How can I be expected to act like Pakistani girls when my entire life is in a different part of the world with different worries, different feelings, different issues, different lifestyle? Why should my moral placement be thousands of miles away? Why is it wrong for me to feel more British than Pakistani when that's where I've grown up? Why is it that while still trying hard to maintain this balance, it's never good enough? Why is everybody thought of as robots that they must function the same way? Aren't we all humans? Is it not possible for at least one of them to feel different? I have my own heart, my own mind, my own eyes. Can't I create my own reasoning? Am I not solely responsible for my deeds? Why is it everybody else's duty to get me heaven? What if even they aren't doing very heaven-oriented deeds?What if they've got it all wrong? Isn't that a possibility? Or are we little totalitarian puppets and any and everybody is going around dictating what they have found right? Is my life, your life? Are you willing to go down for me in the end? If not, would you blummin' get out of my face and mind your own business, please!