3.20.2017

kindness and my mother // art journal + poetry

Have you ever asked yourself about the most important person in your life?
I mean the most-most-most-most important person; not the i-like-your-face-so-you-can-be-my-most-important-person.

I did and the answer didn't surprise me at all.
kindness 
a word so plain
an impact too great
i first saw this
8 lettered word
in the browns of
my mother's eyes
and i don't remember 
the second the third the fourth time
but the last time
i remember 
i looked for it
in my own eyes
for my own self
― kindness & my mother

Life took an unexpected turn during my transition from teen to ultra-teen. This term ultra-teen phase is my way of explaining life after high school, the acquittal of freedom and the power of enduring the power punches destiny had in store. In short, I became a teen who was less of a kid and more of an upcoming adult.
I knew everything was going to change. The faces too familiar would fade in history, all the memories will turn into stories and I will be left with a void that can never be filled.

And it happened. With all its glory, change walked in, walked on the floor of my school's dark hallways, roamed around the streets I used to go and shopped from the departmental store that used to be my favorite. After that, it wrapped everything I loved in itself, walked on the very same road it came from, and disappeared until next time. And I could never go back loving all of it, ever again. Change had arrived and I had to go.
When the transition was over and ultra-teen was carved on my forehead, I asked myself the same question I had always dodged from myself 'who's the most important person in your life'?

All my answers led me to one person; my mother. It's been always hard for me to talk about her yet I keep doing it and do it quite a lot. I got to know her as a person in my transition phase. Before that, our relationship had been rocky and the blame is on me. I was a very, very troubled child - the overly adored family kid who didn't take no for an answer. I feel guilty talking about how my childhood was spent. At this point, I might want myself to be held accountable for all the things my 5 year old self was allowed to do and had all the means to do that. For so many years, I couldn't know my mother better. But when it happened, it changed me.

I asked my mother, Amma Jaan, to give me one solid piece of advice; something that would just make things easier for me. Perhaps I was looking for a magical formula to turn my life upside down or something along those lines. She, in her perpetual calm composure, gave me the answer, 'be kind, Noor Unnahar'. And that conversation did go on for a while and we talked about a million things that included society's injustice, her favorite mystery thrillers, my fictional (and real) crushes; we covered everything. Yet the answer remained the same - she wanted me to be a kind person and I do not wonder about it now. She remembered my childhood and knew the person I could become under that influence. Her one advice's stuck with me for the rest of this life.
Kindness is a weird weird feeling. But it's probably the most important one in this whole wide world. In my hardest times, I often don't remember my best friends or the wonderful things I got to do in dreamy places - I remember faces of people who were kind to me in difficult times. And they're not always the people I know - most of them are strangers or at least nearly strangers. A woman helping me in the supermarket as I sorted my basket absentmindedly, an old man looking like my grandfather giving me duaa as we walk together to board our plane, and so many unknown other faces that I don't know by name but by a feeling - that ominous feeling of kindness. After all this time, as I sit in the comfort of my room, thinking about life, I don't think I want too much from it. I have had more than I could dream of yet it just keeps getting better. I am content with the idea of being a daughter of a kind woman and after that, everything else just becomes irrelevant.
thank you amma jaan for saving me from becoming a catastrophic mess, I am sorry for being a child who wasn't kind, but I can tell you that I won't be that kind of a grown up. and it's a promise I am willing to keep.

This post is inspired by nestle pakistan's campaign #ProudToBeMyMum (see their video here)
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2.27.2017

poetry: the brown skinned girls

i look at my skin and see

a delicate masterpiece of the element earth

the spark of sunshine underneath it
and history 

yes history written all over it

how generations of exceptionally beautiful

talented and patient people

worked and worked and worked

to snatch independence from foreign hands

and place it on our palms

the palms of brown skinned girls who are

scattered over some even more scattered continents

my dear brown skinned girls 

who are told to hide the beauty
 of earth, water, fire and air mixed

under a bleached tone that doesn't belong to us

the brown skinned girls of past

bought us the freedom we flaunt now

and we are not selling it
I knew history even before a book was placed in front of me. History was an unspoken word that nobody in my house talked about but their actions did, their will of following traditions did, their way of living did. History lingered in the air we breathed in; it was a part of us that nothing in the world could ever take away.

My ancestors migrated to Pakistan when the subcontinent was divided into two parts back in 1947. They left their wealth, properties and most importantly, their definite identity, there for a new land that was going to be their new home (if you don't know the history of subcontinent and its partition, I'd highly advise you research/google it for a crystal clear view)
But what they must not have seen coming, was the upcoming lack of self-identification and acceptance in the new generation. Colonialism left yet the wounds its claws had caused, remained open and vulnerable. One of them, more or less, was and still is the issue of skin color.

I have talked about it before but today, it's kind of different. South Asia, where the majority of the population has dark skin color, prides in having a lighter skin tone. The irony remains the same; how could we take pride in something that doesn't even belong to us?

I think about all those brave warriors fighting the war of independence, to save their future generations from the slavery they had seen, to save them from a lifestyle that only weakened them, and they did that successfully. However, they couldn't fix the future, they left it for us.
Most South Asian families want their daughters to be fair. If not parents, then the rest of the society does. When they're not born with it, they're willing to use skin bleaching products to fade away one definite sign of identity, one definite sign of the land where they belong.

What the colonized minds find hard to grasp is something we, the third generation, want to remove. I don't want any other south asian girl to feel uncomfortable in the skin that her ancestors flaunted. I don't want any other south asian girl to feel the need to lighten the color of earth on her skin to feel belonged. I don't want any other south asian girl to not feel overwhelming proud about her identity.
We're who we are and for this statement, a whole generation sacrificed everything they had. We're not letting them down this time. The history they left for us to write, preserve and cherish, I don't want my own chapter for the next generation to be questionable.

And this
this whole thing
the words, the sentiments, the worries
i'm wrapping them somewhere in that poetry above 
for all of my brown skinned girls
we're in this together
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2.20.2017

your bans / our can's

when I was a kid, my interest in politics was unbelievably great; almost passionate. things didn't work out, though. I ended up becoming a political atheist. I still am. but there are a few things I just cannot stop ~loving~ about politics and those who handle politicians. One of them is the creativity behind slogans/signs/etc etc etc etc.
whenever we'd have a new political person elected for a seat, in my country, the rivals would start making weird insults about them. half of them would be funny and some of them would be absolutely plain. Like, srsly plain, no fun at all.
The very very basic one is: GO *insert politician's name here* GO

currently, this one is going strong for our prime minister. But like everyone, it indeed is unlikely to be ever ~rlly~ noticed seriously from his side. So we're all out of harm's way here.

But there comes another currently. This slogan was used FOR a service I love the most. And half of the nation joined it, in a very very good way.
Maybe I have said it before yet I will say that again. Policy makers are probably guided by the sound of gold coins rather than the screaming pleas of the people of their nation. A few weeks ago, a cab service called careem was banned because the cute policy makers thought so. AND WE LOST OUR SHIZ. and by we, I definitely mean a lot of people who couldn't just stop using careem just because the government thought so. There were some issues, like boring adults' even boring tax talks or something, but it appeared as if they were taking something away from us. OH NO.
Well, not only we (the keyboard warriors) started tweet wars basically to ourselves and to those who did that, even careem service based their campaign on this heated situation.

They designed GO CAREEM GO advertisements in different Pakistani cities., which was a sarcastic response to the political system PLUS it was dual dimensional. At first hand, they were mocking like we mock politicians *GO XYZ GO* and then, it was also all inspirational and encouraging like when you want someone to go on, you'd say *GO XYZ GO* (totally not in biased hateful political manner).
There are very few advertisements that catch public attention (I'm the public) and this one totes stole the show. I made an unsent text version JUST for this situation *muhahaha*
But on a rather serious note, I was out on the streets of Karachi, sitting in my careem cab and wondering why did the cute policy makers had to pick something that helps thousands of people each day? Things that belong to offices and officials shouldn't come out of their fancy little cozy-dim-lit rooms to poke in the eye of the public. Nopez.

When the ban talk was happening, I wasn't in town. And when I returned, everything was sorted. So can you guess what I did next? BOOKED US A CAB AND LEFT FOR THE DOWNTOWN FOR CAFE HOPPING; in a city that shines bright with nostalgia and where all of the long-forgotten faces of my memory come alive.
Cheers to all the services that make life a tad easier than they are, people who do the same, and cities that feel like home. They do matter.
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