There is a field

I am graduating in 70 days. That’s just about two months. I began studying in Georgetown in August 2012, and it will be August 2016 soon.

Incredible things have happened along the way. I grew a little taller. I actually developed a sense of style not comprising of baggy and mismatched clothes. I didn’t know how to study at first, but then I scored a 4.0 recently so evidently I have learnt. Spring break’s coming so I am certain I can get back in study mode very soon. Can I compartmentalize my thoughts? I don’t know. I read Foucault, and it made me think about the political relations I’ve been born  and live in, in a way that I’d never before understood (read Discipline and Punish!). I travelled to bonnie Scotland, and had the time of my life. I hope to return one day, for longer.

February really has been a most difficult month for me. I have been refused everything I have applied for- save for two things because they haven’t got back to me. Everything else- any opportunity for whatever that came towards me, I took it, but I didn’t get. The odds are stacked against me. The thought of May absolutely terrifies me because it is looking so dark. You know, I am not the utmost confident senior I imagined myself to be at this time, four years ago. Terrifying freshmen, well-known in the faculty and staff, leaving behind a doesn’t work like that you know. But I have had a great four years here, I have a family and a handful of genuine friends ready to catch me if I fall. Man, I am really beat. You know, looking back at February, I can almost visualize a being-like Life following me in a cloud hanging over me, throwing things at my head: “Take this and this and that!”

I have been reflecting on my study programme too. I have had a personal stake in my undergraduate degree. It not only corresponds to my interest in development, but also my first-hand experience living in a country  struggling to combat violence and increase economic development. As part of my undergraduate studies, I took a keen interest in classes studying marginalised- and what I see as a hyper-politicised people. This is a group I myself am a part of, having grown up in Karachi, Pakistan where being at the wrong place at the wrong time could have you lose life. A city where life is cheaper than bread. Thus my motivation has been to build on a holistic understanding of the social, economic, and political complexities impeding Pakistan’s development. It is not enough to say that the violence Pakistan struggles with impedes economic progress and thus there must be increased advertising for increased business investment. This really is the ongoing trend in the country. The problem then is that it excuses things that need to be talked about- underplaying of women’s roles in society and politics, sexual health as a taboo topic, the use of religion for political purposes- and promotes short term fixes over long-term sustainable solutions. My undergraduate experiences have opened my mind to the complexities that I would not have been aware of if I had not deliberately undertaken an education meant to break open my prejudices towards my own nationalism, and my own involvement in being part of a community ‘othering’ oneself. Rhetorical,empty, hackneyed statements. Hurt egos when confronted. Pakistani culture is full of truisms, and a nationalism that betrays it. 

Sunflowers are my favourite kinds of flowers, I don’t like chocolate, and I dislike ice cream because it is too cold (it is!). I am also fascinated by starfish. They can be found in all kinds of waters- from the tropics to frigid arctic seas. They are present at the sea shore and the sea bed. They also have one of the strangest feeding methods you have ever heard about- it’s something called “eversion feeding” which is basically when they take their stomach out of their body and grab onto food and then digest it into their glands. If it’s something hard, like a mussel, they can use water pressure to open it. How weird and incredible is that. If it can’t get any more incredible than that, starfish can regrow lost or damaged parts. Imagine being able to do that. Anyway, the reason I’ve been thinking about starfish at 9 in the morning is because of this excerpt from a reading I had saved in my old notes, and it made me think of the vulnerability that life presents to every creature, including my favourite sea stars.

“This story reminds me of the “starfish story” I’ve heard many times when I was younger, where loads of starfish had been washed ashore and one man kept picking them up one by one and kept throwing them back to the sea. Another man seeing this questioned him and said “what are you doing? There are so many and it’s not gonna make a difference”! The man didn’t stop, he picked up another and said “it’ll make a difference to this one and this…..”!

I totally thought I was gonna get an epiphany with that one, but it didn’t come. I am feeling quite Catcher-in-the-Rye this morning.


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