9 August 2015.
“I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damn things have learned to swim.” (Freida Kahlo)
“A door opens to me. I go in and am faced with a hundred closed doors.” (Antonio Porchia).
There are certain writings or quotes, that which you read, you identify so strongly with that you almost think it were as if the writer reached inside of you, saw those things that you think and feel but can’t put into words- either because you were too afraid to or you wouldn’t because you thought their profundity would be lost by dissecting them- and then written them out, almost as if for you. And then, there are people you meet who are like that.
Scotland. There is a thrill in living in a country where you know nobody, where you can do anything you want, go wherever you want, live your life however way you want. There was no judgement on me and that made everyday something. When I talked to a guy, I didn’t have to hear a few days later from someone as happened in my A-level school, “Oh, Azka, what a flirt! She just talks to guys! ” When I walked around the streets in my leather shorts, the thoughts of some individuals in this community who have made it their business to comment on every female colleague’s dressing that doesn’t appeal to their idea of ‘right’, did not occur in my mind. When I spent many nights in clubs dancing to “Mr Brightside” or a horribly house-d up version of “Shake It Off”, or watched my friends drink to their merry selves, I did not think about old colleagues disapprovings. There’s a certain freedom to living without restriction, a thrill in being a free bird, but I know to get something you also have to lose something.
I was alone. So if there was a problem, I had to figure it out by myself. (The distinctiveness of Scottish accents isn’t a piece of cake, either.) I was alone, but not always lonely. (there’s a difference) When I felt that way, I had to figure out which timezone to resign myself to- ahead to Doha, back to Pakistan or further back to the US? I missed my parents and grandparents more than I did whilst living in Doha. After a time, I’d walk in the streets and think, “Oh, if Rumsha or Bilal or Haroon were here with me, how much more friendlier would these streets feel be to walk in!” On one of the last few days, I remember walking with a Pakistani friend Hassan and a Scottish-Pakistani friend Zain on Nicholson street, we were talking in Urdu, talking about..I don’t even know what we were talking about.. but I just felt so happy then. I can actually recall it in my mind right now, where we were and which shops we passed by. Infact, it’s this street to the right in this picture-
People! Oh, how they can have such an effect on you, eh? So somehow I was lucky enough to amass a good number of good, fun-loving, genuine friends in Scotland. And since I’ve returned, I’ve begun to see friends and people here in a different light. I am less judgemental too. To each his own. I worry less about the future, and am more concerned about the now. Having fun has gone right up on my list of priorities. The world is big and I want to see every corner of it. Desk job? No. Living in a Buddhist temple? Why not, let’s try it! You know, before Scotland, I was fine. But after it, since coming back, I have realised I can be more than fine- I can be deliriously happy too.
But, I am also tormented by these thoughts. Of living in a lane faster than what I have right now in Doha. I am sure the lanes will change, eventually, but for a while they won’t and so I must resign myself to where I am right now. But that’s not being an easy job, I don’t know how to do it. The reverse culture shock.. I am constantly rethinking myself, my priorities, my values, my understanding of the two countries I live in. There is no peace of mind, my mind is always racing. I am somewhere, but my mind is elsewhere. They do not exist at one place anymore, and when I go in search of one, I fear losing the other. How can you lose control over your physical self? I have no sickness of the body- so I won’t lose control over it, but this sickness of the mind makes me fear I can. Or that I have. I know there’s no ground really to it. But I also know fears can take physical forms and fear in the mind can make you not be ‘at one’ with your corporeal self. I have begun to exist outside of my physical self but I do not know where.
There is something coming, I can feel it. A weird sort of gut feeling. I’ve had it since last week. I don’t what’s to happen but something is! But what? Darn it!
One of my favourite quotes is: “I drank to drown my sorrows but now the damn things have learned to swim,” Some authors really hit home. Yesterday, I found a fitting continuation to it written by somebody else: “The damn things learned to swim, I didn’t. And so, I was the one who drowned.”