19 feat. Turquoise Hair

I turned 19 on 16th August 2016.

I have always thought of 19 as a difficult phase. It's exactly when you're in the middle of transiting to a (supposed) adult but the teen in you won't let go; a very difficult phase indeed. The evening before my birthday, I turned off my phone, struggling to keep it shut until next day so I wouldn't have to talk about the dilemma 19th year of life was bringing along.
It didn't take long before I turned it on again to check my Instagram notifications, cried my heart out in front of my twin sister, then went over to my friend's house to pick her up so we could have that 12 AM gosh-yerrrr-burrrthday moment.

I guess I will never stop worrying about the age that's coming, reminiscing about the ages that have gone, things that could have been done, things that should not have happened. The list of should have's and could have's are endless; the numbers I would have to live are going to be pretty limited. So I might as well forget that they exist.
I turned 19 and it didn't feel like anything. I didn't turn around in a halo to have an unexpected transformation. Fairy godmother didn't visit me with magical presents. I also didn't find a secret letter telling me about an ancient family secret to digging it up and realize my ancestors ruled a really cool city that I might inherit. A clock ticked and dragged me to the last teenage year.

After everything jumbling up in my mind, I am settling with reality. The reality is that 19 years of my life have gone and I have yet to do a lot of things. Things my mother would be proud of. Things that I can tell my grandchildren about. Out of everything I would tell them, one is totally going to be about my hair color history.
I have had dyed hair for almost three years now. Started from maroon-ish red to bright red, I just got a hair cut and dyed them turquoise for the big 19th chapter of life. My main inspiration was Kylie Jenner circa 2014 because

1) I love Kylie Jenner
2) turquoise short hair look so dope anyways

I hope my grandchildren would think they looked cool. Because I think they look cool.
Long story short, I am 19 years old with turquoise hair and a lot of gifts to open because apparently, some people were really happy that I am alive and breathing and made it this far so they bought me things. I really like people.

If you're wondering about birthday celebrations, my twin sister and I celebrated with our friends. Then we celebrated again on the weekend (because the 16 fell on a frickin' Tuesday) with our book club anniversary that's same as our birthday, then just today, a family gathering turned into another birthday party with legit cake and lots of small cousins around. Just as I told you, I really like people.

Last thing I really wanted to add to this I-am-so-19 post; it's a note to myself and probably to anyone who might need it: I hope you learn to be kinder than ever before. Because kindness is what mother talked about, kindness is what people will remember you for, and kindness is the only thing you would need to make your life easier I hope you learn to be kind.

How do you celebrate your birthday?
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The Game of Dowry

I grew up following traditions. The traditions that were laid by South Asian culture, religion, and the society I am a part of. I always knew when they were right and also when they were wrong. Yes, no society or culture in the world is flawless. I realized, when I wondered upon my traditions, that some of them were horribly wrong.
One of the very disturbing culture terms is dowry. If you're unaware of this, it's basically a term used for the items that a woman brings with her to her marital house when she's married. A lot of people confuse it with Meher (an Islamic term that declares the amount of money groom pays or promise to pay to the bride in future; it's usually a minimal amount often set by religious terms). But Dowry is something else.

Dowry could be a beautiful concept. Like, parents or relatives giving gifts to the bride so she would start a new life with the blessings of her family. However, after all these years and modifications implicated by the society, it has become a nightmare for a lot of families.
My first introduction to dowry was years ago. I wouldn't wonder if the little girls in my family must already be aware of it because it's everywhere; the talk of dowry rules houses, gossips, and of course family gatherings. My grandmother used to tell how she would leave her gold in my name so I would wear it after I get married. It was a wonderful thing to hear because I was in love with her jewellery collection and the idea of getting it to myself was overwhelming. Now, it seems like she might have thought I would rule my house with her gold. She isn't it this world anymore and I just turned 19 today and not getting married anytime soon, it crosses my mind many times how could pieces of gold help me in life?!? The dilemma of South Asian females.
What's so nightmare-ish about the dowry?

The demands. The judgements. The unwholeness.

A lot of people would demand dowry when they're asking for a girl's hand. Doesn't it look like a joke when someone's asking for the most precious thing aka a daughter from parents BUT with conditions? Dowry isn't a joke and it isn't cheap.
When a society starts valuing a woman's worth by the color of her skin, the amount in her bank account, and the items she brought in dowry, that's where the downfall starts.
I have heard a lot of stories about girls turning into women with silver in their hair and the reason was that the groom's family was demanding for a dowry that was way too much for bride's family. The other matches for the girl weren't as good as proposed groom and the only way was either to pay or pray. Those who chose the former paid quite a big price such as a life of debt and those who chose the latter suffered another decade of pain.

The problem isn't unsolvable. All we need is the first step.

The first step is saying no to dowry, or to any term that's destroying the beauty of our culture with contaminated terms, or what-so-ever hurting people in any way. The first step is the kindness. The first step is wiseness.

I don't know how dowry works in different parts of the world. What I know it is all I see in Pakistan and similar cultures. If you have something similar in your culture, please let me know. If you have any questions regarding this post, feel free to ask and I will make sure to answer with as precise facts as possible.
Here's a visual storytelling video I recently did:

*this post is inspired by Orient Pakistan's #RishtonMeinInnovation TVC. This campaign has been a heart warming and revolutionary one and I can't wait to see similar campaigns rising up to eliminate all the faulty parts our culture has been bearing in the name of 'traditions'.

(this TVC is in Urdu. If you can't understand it, let me know and I'll have it translated for you  <3)


The Infinite Moments

People say writing about a moment makes it infinite. While I couldn't agree more, there are some moments that don't really need to be written about; for they're too whole on their own. They're either too special or just plainly painful. I have my share of those infinite moments, too. Though, honestly, I would only like to write about the ones that were too special. It includes the time I was growing up. Shaping up from the silly 7th grader who only cared about the new Faber Castell classic colors' new collection hitting the store soon to the work-in-progress I am today.
As a kid, I remember walking through bookstore and smelling new books that someone would wrap and load in car for me to take home,

I remember buying fresh corn grilled on coals that street vendors would be selling outside the downtown skyscraper hospital my grandfather used to go to,

I remember storming into my favorite store and filling my basket carelessly without glancing back at the price tag for I knew it would be mine anyways,

I remember going on hunger strikes when whatever I asked for was not given to me,

I remember getting terribly low when I got 99.9 marks in a test out of 100,

I remember telling stories over lunch to my mother how I got into a fight with some kids in school and still stayed out of trouble.
I remember it all. Like bright and vivid scenes from a movie I recently watched and both gratitude and nostalgia falls on me. Childhood is another age that wouldn't return, like a lot of things in life. But I'll forever cherish the fact that there was a stage I lived through the people I loved and also with the people who didn't know how to love but we made it to the age of departure; both happily and unhappily.

Now that I will be turning 19 in few days (16 Aug, mark yo' calenders) and it feels like that child-like part of me will be going away, exactly the way a weary traveler leaves a comfortable inn after a long journey for another one. I wouldn't be entitled to 'she's just a kid' excuse anymore 'cause heck yeah, I would not be a kid anymore. After 19, comes the big scary and real adult word; 20. And that, my friend, is the start of another long journey.
August is considered the month of birthdays, which it probably is, as I have at least wishes around 10 people and the list seems to go on. If your birthday is in the month of sun too, then yay happy belated/advance birthday to you. Gah, I just love August way too much.
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