QUARANTINE

It feels so safe and normal to me but alone. Silence outside my window, in the street, seems peaceful but lonely. But why am I petrified with this silence? I have been alone several times, I have been also left alone in grief, in a car accident, in sickness, in sadness, in fact in all of those situations when it’s excruciating for human beings to be left alone. Exactly when I was learning to accept friendships and letting others enter my space. The thing is I have visited my darkest tunnel with no light on its end. I became that girl in the tunnel which has been dragging me inside back her again because she feels left alone there. But I had to leave her alone in that tunnel without light because it was suffocating me. I wanted light hence I dragged my bruised and shredded existence out of the tunnel only to find out there was a thick jungle waiting for me where battling between humans never let you sleep and feel safe even in your own house. Some humans left me alone again as soon as I slipped back to that tunnel and be that girl myself. I still don’t know if she is me or she is part of me, only a certain thing is we are one existence with two living creatures. I am not angry about being alone but I am furious about crushing my dignity and last bit of self-esteem with judgments and no chance of justification. No one asked about that slip, no one thought what and who pushed me through the drain back to my tunnel. The last straw was him who took off my shirt and took away, whatever was left with my dignity. He took everything from me that, for a few moments of his lust. He took my ability to trust humans again. He took my sense of safety in my own bed and in my own room which took a decade to build. It took me my entire life to feel safe for the first time and he took it from me. When I finally started feeling safe among other humans and in my bright space outside that dark tunnel, he took away all the light from me which I lit by burning myself for years. He took away part of my soul which I had cleaned after years of struggle. He poured his disgust again on my soul which has been poured several times by his kind. This disgust has been poured on me several times but this one was different; this time, he knew about my struggles with the cleaning of disgust like his. But he didn’t care about it and poured it again, this time it didn’t mess over me but have burnt my soul. Now that everyone is living a life like mine, staying inside their bubbles, I am scared of falling again back to that darkest tunnel without the light on its end and be that girl who has been screaming at me for leaving her there. I have always been able to bring myself back to life but this time they took every bit of my self-respect, my self-esteem, my confidence in being a good person, my belief in being deserving of this light. They have taken a piece of me this time hence I am left with nothing. But I did make an effort and quarantine happened to leave me stranded with my thoughts and her screams. This time, I cannot let anyone enter my space yet I have to be alone to console her. Either she takes me down again or else I will simply live there with her myself. The good part about this quarantine is that I feel safe, no one will enter my space and no one will pour their disgust on me. I wake up every morning and silence her screams. Its second week being at my place and the third day of complete isolation, I have succeeded so far. Let see, where it ends, me in the tunnel or her leaving me at peace with the light.

Confession of a misfit

When I was a little child, my grandmother taught me a prayer to ask for being self-sufficient and independent. She was the only person, a little close to me when during my childhood when I was not allowed to make any friends by my very abusive mother. Well, I don’t want to talk about her or her abuse today or my childhood. I want to address all those friends and acquaintances who have turned towards me pointing how easy my life is or how lucky I am to be alone. No, I don’t intend to complain about myself but I want to show you about what you have.

Most of us in our society grow among friends, cousins, and siblings. Most of you have mothers pampering you after a long, tiring day. In my story, I was not allowed to rest when even sick, I was not allowed to communicate with my cousins who we rarely met. I was not allowed to talk or play with my siblings. I was not allowed to make friends. If you are curious to know, you can read the details in my other blogs. Now that I am a 33 years old, working woman very self-sufficient and an independent with a bunch of close friends and some weekend routine; It has not always been like this in fact, this has become a routine a few months ago only. I still do not have the best friends who know me completely or to a certain extent but I do have close friends who know bits of me. I have no complains because I have accepted it the way it is and I have always tried to make the best of what has been given to me. I belong to 99.999999 % of this society who literally don’t have a family, nope literally not at all. Why? that’s another story and its short writing. So coming back to the topic, it has been very difficult to be accepted so I could make friends and feel loved or cared for a while. Let me tell you first, the beginning of this lonely journey, it involves a sad incident so hang in there. It started when I was very little, only to remember the moment when my father was hanging me from that balcony on 4th floor, I turned towards my mother for help and found her smiling on my cries for help. Since that moment until now, I have not felt safe or comforted or understood as a matter of fact. I have been alone during my dark days, at nights during sickness, while traveling (that was happily), being scared during several incidents and so on. My father died last year, and I did not receive any decent condolence, without asking for it, not from the person living next door, I actually told her after two months. Most of the time people around me turn towards me and keep saying your life is so easy. You don’t have to deal with family or people for instance. Yes, I don’t have people. I was not part of any group photos of friends. I did not get a hug after my car accident, or when my father died. I have hugged a few months ago after crying out loud about my grief. I never get to hang out with friends or have fun because I have to make my ends meet. I was not given the pocket money or I don’t get presents as you do from your loved ones. Each and everything in my house has been bought by me entirely. I don’t get my birthdays celebrated in fact I have learned to do it all by myself. I don’t get a cup of tea made with love by my mother. I don’t have anyone praising my achievements in work. I don’t get moral support on several occasions. I don’t hear that ‘Love, you must be so tired.’ When I get sick, I have driven myself to the hospital or have taken care of myself. When you are alone, your house does not maintain or your groceries don’t’ come on their own. You have to take care of each and everything in your life physically, emotionally and literally. So about some people in my life, its difficult for them to be in my shoes. Not having someone around or ever have someone who will organize your funeral at least, is a very scary thought in my situation. I am expected to understand that they have a difficult life than mine because they are in majority. Here is the confession ; I am the one lonely misfit with a dog. I don’t get to turn towards anyone and say that ‘I am scared’ because whenever I did there was only a comparison that I only have myself and they have got hugs and people. We tend to not understand those who we don’t see regularly. I have been reminded several times from people with families or at least one person in their lives that we are alone. Yeah, the whole world gets condolence when some one dies and I get this moral support. Off course I know and understand that very intensely. I have accepted the reality the way it is. I do hang out, attend events, go for walks, party on weekends with a bunch of trustworthy friends. But it does not fulfill the void of not having a loving and caring family. I do not want to be told that Its easy for me because that is unfair on so many levels. It does make me vulnerable here to mention this part while living in a city like Karachi but I have seen worse already. One thing, being alone has taught me to be self-sufficient and be myself but there is nothing to lose. So when you see your mother, your child, your wife or your siblings around who love you and care about you, be grateful instead to turning towards lonely people like me and taking out the frustrations of your responsibilities. You never know, when you lose someone. Every one whether alone or with family is fighting an unspoken battle and some of us don’t want to project on others because some people in my shoes don’t get the majority understanding the challenges. Try, doing each and every task physically including comforting and condoling yourself without speaking a word to this world than you will have some idea perhaps. Every things come with a price , for me coming out of an abusive household and stand for my respect and survival, I was never given an emotional and physical break. !t has been fulfilling but a very tiring life where I stand alone without an option of even grieving. Besides all of this, I have valued the tiniest bit of compassion in my life, I adore few moments spent with good people around. I love every present given from a very dear friend as a token of care. I have actually got a whole collection of these presents from this friend. When you have a dark void inside you , you try to hold on to every ray of hope to get through this life. So cherish and value the silver lining. There is always a silver lining , one only has to look at it. In my story, I have got the freedom of living fully as much as I can.

What did I learn from my burnout ?!

Today, I woke up at 6:15 am for a morning walk and joined my neighbor at the park. When I was returning home from my morning exploration, I had a lot of plans to finish tasks. But as soon as I reach home, my body and mind were sending me another message. So I listened, finished a few tasks and rested. If it was 2016, it would have been another response to these messages. In 2016, one fine morning I collapsed and ended up in the ER at a local hospital. It was not sudden, I was going through uncertain health issues and trying to figure out the mystery of that sickness. Eventually, at that the ER I came to know that I have physical anxiety and have been suffering from burnout. Burnouts are not a common term in our society but it does happen to the human body. So the days before that I was waking up at 5:30 am every morning and working non-stop till 9:00 pm. I had a full- time job with two leading positions at the same place and curating exhibitions one after another. Let me explain to you curating one exhibition in months is a huge and tiring task itself and I was doing multiple shows over the months. Before that routine as well, I was doing a lot of things more than the physical ability of my body. In short, I was taking all that energy and ability to work non-stop; for granted.

So when I collapsed, days before that, I was not capable of not finishing regular tasks as simple as getting a glass of water from the fridge. I was not capable of leaving for work after getting ready which took hours usually it took a few minutes. Before these helpless days, I had a breakdown and started counseling. I have been so much eager to invest in myself, learn new skills, do a list of things as hobbies, achieving career and life goals and so on. All of that was without a physical break. How did that happen and why I was doing it to myself? Well, long story short, my abusive mother never allowed me to rest while burning from high fever even. Once, she dragged me to the kitchen to wash a huge pile of dishes around midnight, when I was only 12 years old and had 103 fever. It took me years to break that programming from my mind, body, and soul. There were many brutal episodes like that and my body burned out eventually when asking for mercy from me.

During those days I learned to be grateful to be able to work hard and sometimes harder than many regular people around. I learned to listen to my body and my mind to give them a decent break. I learned that everything happens on its own time and life is not about completing a checklist. I learned that you need a break after a tiring week and you can rest when sick. I learned that I am allowed to rest when not well and leave the dishes until I feel better. I learned to workout as a lifestyle and make it a habit. I learned to simplify my life and choose my battles. I learned to stop and feel my surroundings. I learned to be grateful for the energy which helps me achieve my goals. I learned to show quality, not quantity. I learned to say ‘NO’ to those who were not considered of me. I learned to put myself first more than anything else.

I learned to break stereotypes from my lifestyle and make my own choices. I learned to not take my health for granted. I learned healthy competition rather than being in a marathon. So now when I finish difficult tasks and achieve milestones; I give myself a nice break because I deserve it so do you. When your body goes through physical and emotional trauma, it stays in your muscle memory, means your body remembers. I learned to get rest and acknowledge when I am tired. It took me a few reminders after 20 years of that abuse. These days, I endure what I already have; my work, health and my good friends. I remember that I have to rest physically and mentally too so I don’t work on Sundays besides chores. I do make time for those friends who are good and considerate with me. I don’t push people away who wants to be there. I seek help when I need it even if it’s only moral. I learned to take at least 30 minutes for a yoga routine or workout first thing in the morning because its the fuel for whole day. I pamper myself some of the days too. In short, I have learned to take care of myself so should You.

Take a break when you need it and take care of yourself because you deserve it.

What are friends for ?

Human beings are social animals, as a matter of fact, we all know that. We are born in families which we don’t choose then we make friends which we choose to all extents. Usually its very common to have childhood friends, colleagues who become friends, neighborhood friends, adulthood friends and so on. It’s a human nature to take those who are given or gotten by chance, incident or easily. In my case, I have never got anything easy.

I have not been so lucky in this regard. I don’t have a best friend so to speak but do have some close friends. I was not allowed to make friends during my not so happy childhood. Why and how is that possible? That is another long story, today I only want to talk about my friends. I want to talk about those who have been there and who have not been there.

There have been those who helped without asking a question. There has been those who cared and came to be there without me asking for once. There has been those who disappeared during the most difficult days and came back again to enjoy only good moments.

There has been those who never knew me and perceived another person of being me. There has been those who worried about my worries more than me. There has been those who did not return my call in my time of need which was only emotional support. There has been those who have been happy with my accomplishments and growth and those who could not stand it.

There has been those who only wanted entertainment during a hangout and rest never mattered for them. There has been those who instead of giving a hug when I had my first car accident, tried to make out with me instead. There has been those who only looked at me as a girl with only one purpose, you know what I mean.

There has been those to whom distance don’t matter and there has been those who are far away while being at shortest distance. There are those who never show any understanding and there has been those who don’t need your words to mention your agony.

There has been those who could only demean instead of acknowledging. There has been those who bring out the best in me and show me the brighter side always. There has been those who pull me together and made me stand on my feet while I was falling.

It has been a long journey and I have been through a lot of life-changing experiences. During some period of time, I did not have any friends. No one wants to be a friend with so many extreme problems in her life. Before that, there was a period when I was hopeless, homeless and jobless. I had to stand my own grounds and help did come in form of friends who cared.

I did not get that opportunity of keeping connections, making friends, going for hang-outs and enjoying picnics for a very long time in my life. When you are out there with nothing, you have bigger problems than making connections. It has been a difficult but a very valuable journey through which I kept meeting the most amazing people during the different periods of time. For those who could not be the friend in need and for those who used my sincere love for them towards their own motives, I learned a plenty of lessons, they showed me the value of my good ones.

Being a friend is a beautiful connection, it’s from one human to another. Its only about a thought which cares for you and an effort to show that care. We all come with a baggage and we all have to carry it all alone but as I said and as we know, human beings are social animals. We have a need to share our happiness, agony, excitement, and despair. It’s all about a thought which can cheer another person. You don’t have to be there physically most of the time. Human beings are social animals, as a matter of fact, we all know that. You can either make it and grow with it or break it for a timely advantage.

School of advises.

When I was around 12, I read a story in a children’s magazine. 

The story goes like this;  ‘Once upon a time there lived a painter in a city. One day, he decided to do an experiment with audience. He painted a landscape and placed it at a busy market of the city. He also placed a note next to it saying ‘Please make a circle on my mistakes so I can improve my work’. After few hours when he returned to collect his painting, He was shocked to see that the whole painting was full of circles now. With so much disappointment and sadness, he picked his painting and left. He was so disappointed with those circles given by people that he decided to stop painting for a while. After few days, he got an idea. He made another painting and placed at the same place on that busy street with a note again. This time he wrote on the note; ‘Please correct the mistakes if you see any’. When he returned after few hours, he found his painting untouched. No one has corrected his mistakes this time.’ 

It’s very easy to point out others flaws and give them your advice without knowing their circumstances, limitations and as well as future plans. Most of the time, we don’t know about our advises also have never tried it ourselves. It’s easier said than done, right? It has been annoying to receive every one’s expert and completely free advice. Most of the time these advises do not give you a positive impact. According to their opinion either you are doing everything wrong or you are not capable of many things or mostly anything.

 We all need expert advice but only from our gurus’ not general public. If you want to do something bigger and better in life, choose your mentor and only listen to them. Whenever I need an advice, I go to a friend who knows about that particular venture. Every one doesn’t know about everything, well personally I like to spend time with senior people who are the true school of advises for us and their experiences are a treasure. I have listened to my oldie and Goldie friends and followed them seriously. Those who are still alive including those who are resting in heaven, thank you very much. If you are not old and experienced or if you are not that much capable or close to me knowing me well, I have learned to laugh at you in my head while you are giving your expert advice, because I only listen to my mentors, my very few close friends and my fairy god mother. Yes, I do have one for real and she gives the best, sincere advice.

All about ‘how’ and ‘what’ happened(1)

IF THIS TRIGGERS YOU IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE, PLEASE DON’T READ!

POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING !

So far, I have come across a lot of people including men and women, who have been through hell in their childhood. The worst part of their misery is not being able to communicate about it even as adults.

Whenever I have tried to communicate about sexual assault and abuse through my work (as a visual artist) and generally; Mostly people have reacted as its an imaginary world of mine where it happened or as if it doesn’t happen. They have acted as ‘sex’ and ‘sexual assault’ does not exist in this world. Now that I have a social life, a happening social media profile and a smile on my face, they show their indifferent faces more.

I have not been able to tell the details and the number of times it has happened. It did not happen as one event of being molested and assaulted. There has been series of events which I have not been able to talk in detail, not even with my counselor. It takes a lot of courage and emotional turmoil for me to write about these details. Writing has been my better way of communication than talking in general. I am writing this for my own self and for my own peace of mind.

When it happened for the first time, I was very young as much as 3 or 4 years old. My mother has been a narcissistic and abusive one and she never cared about my well-being which played a vital role in my childhood. She was a very social person and mostly left me with neighbors. All I remember about my childhood is crying about her and other people scaring me with imaginary monsters. When you wake up as a child and found yourself sleeping in your neighbor’s bed, I still feel that uncomfortable void inside even though I am in my early thirties. So when it happened the first time, I remember myself crying and asking him to take me to my mother. He was forcing me to eat his ‘banana’ and convincing about its ‘good taste’. I remember he asked me to take the full thing till it touches my throat while I was crying to leave. He did his deed in an under-construction house, unfortunately, I still remember that house.  I was a very vocal child, a shy one but vocal who loved to talk. I remember complaining about it to my mother in my childish vocabulary. She said ‘ I will smack him’. But I was again sent with him regardless of my innocent protests as a child. He called it a ‘game’.

When it happened next time I was around 9 years old so I remember it more. When I grew up and collected the details of those ‘games’, it left me shivering and extremely angry about it. My mother forced me to play with my brother who is 4.5 years older than me. He made me lay with him under the covers and made my hand touch his body. When I complained that what is it that you are making me touch, he explained ‘Its just my wet fingers’. I hated this game. For several nights, I refused to play with me and my mother scolded me saying ‘He wants to play with you and you are refusing’, considering she has been extremely abusive to me throughout all the years, I have lived with them. She also had a conversation with my brother ‘Did you make her touch ‘there?’ continued with her evil laugh whenever she occurred pain to me. I was forced to play this game for several weeks.

There are more incidents and I will talk about it when I have the strength as today. It still gives me nightmares and all I want from this life is to be able to sleep without seeing their faces in my nightmares. When you are tired after a long working day, and you are able to sleep soundly, consider yourself lucky.

We need to understand its aftermath of a person’s emotional health, it does not end immediately as soon as it ends with an incident.

Listen Little Girl ……………………………………..!

Listen little girl…………………………….

You have to stop justifying yourself to those who have always questioned your decisions.

You don’t have to explain yourself for standing up for your self-respect and basic rights.

You don’t have to answer their questions anymore. You don’t have to beg for love from those who have never loved you unconditionally. You don’t have to give explanations for your emotional turmoil when you didn’t even get a hug from them when you needed it the most. You have been taking care of your self for a very long time, in fact since the beginning of all of this and trust me, You are the only one who is good at it. 

I know you are very tired and it has been a long life but don’t you worry, it is not permanent.

Listen little girl………………………………….

You don’t have to serve your heart on a platter to those who would never value and would never return your love with love.Your relationship status does not define your value for being the deserving one to be loved.You don’t have to settle for less and compromise yourself because you wanted the rest to accept you or value you.You have been working very hard and have justified yourself enough, so don’t worry if they are closing their eyes instead of acknowledging your existence.  

Listen little girl…………………………………

You don’t need their protection while working outdoors or driving around. You don’t need them to give you driving lessons because the car you drive you earned it entirely on your own. You don’t need their assistance for your own work which you do remarkably. You are the talented one who knows how to work hard with honesty. You don’t have to beg for their compassion, instead, you should know that you have a big heart and show them the definition of compassion.You don’t have to feel ashamed of your bad decisions when you trusted those who broke it and with it, a part of you died. In fact, you should love yourself more for trusting those who didn’t deserve it and still, you made a better choice than them. 

Listen little girl…………………………………………

You don’t have to be courteous to those who demeaned you for being a girl and who has doubted your capabilities.  There words do not define your character so don’t pay attention or tell other girls to do so. You don’t have to please them in return of their courtesy. You don’t have to worry about those who made a mockery of your sufferings which were never under your control. Tell them that God has made you strong enough to bring life into this world, He trusted you to be able to do that and to nurture it. He gave you the strength to endure its pain and sufferings.You are the one who endures the sufferings and injustice of being a little girl. You are the one who lives her life on the edge. There is no way that you are the weaker one because you are not. You have all the right to make your ground rules. You don’t have to feel bad about being unapproachable because you are not their property.

Listen little girl…………………………………………..

You have come a long way and you have been through a lot. You have to go a long way ahead. It will never be easy but it will never be impossible too. Your pain is your strength, not your weakness, it does not define your vulnerability. It defines that you are on the right side. You are the only one who understands you the most. You can choose and value those who have been there for you in any way possible. There are very rare ones who understands you without you justifying yourself. They were never there in your darkest days so don’t expect them to be there without any benefits. You have the right to choose and don’t feel bad about them.

Listen little girl…………………………………………

If you have decided to live by your own terms whether single or married or in non-committed relationships, it is completely your choice. If you have found companionship with your pet whether a dog or a cat or bird whatever it is, you don’t have to make them understand. If you have decided to achieve your life goals without a man in the picture, only you can make it happen. Only you can fulfill your dreams.

So, don’t waste your time, giving explanations because it’s not worth it.

But let me tell you it has been extremely difficult and it will be more difficult, all you need is to believe in yourself and have faith in the Almighty. That He in this entire universe will never break your heart, you can trust him.

Definition of harassment based on true events – Part 1!

Last week, while discussing harassment in general, I and my female friend were discussing our own experiences and reminding each other’s as well. We happened to experience many and most of it happens on a daily basis. I have received several inappropriate messages including pornography, marriage proposals of strangers on my official page which I use for work entirely, several messages insisting to accept their friend requests, people following my car (which must have happened to all the ladies in their lifetime), been groped right outside my gate while parking my car four years ago and so on. Since I have learned to stand for myself and take appropriate action more than screaming and cursing on them, the number of such incidents has decreased. Once I shared screenshots of entire chat from a fellow artist who insisted inappropriately to chat with him on my profile, many others witnessed it, since then no one else has disturbed me. I am sharing very few and major ones here. The worst part is that I have been always told to ignore or keep quiet mainly by women.

Last year, we faced an electricity break down at our house. After calling our beloved K Electric, I drove to nearby office and filed a complaint in person. They asked for my contact number for correct address and to inform them once it’s solved. The electrician who later visited to solve the issue showed the audacity to add my number on WhatsApp and tried to chat with me. He also mentioned it to other people in the house also. Of Course, I blocked him immediately!

One afternoon, while I was driving home, I noticed a man on his bike riding literally next to my car. He was following me but from my side. My first thought was an attempt of mugging. But to shocking surprise, he was jerking off while looking at me driving my car. I could not think of a solution or reaction to that. I drove with an act of complete ignorance and drove as fast as possible away from him.
This year, I faced some sexist comments from a person that was assigned to monitor the progress of my on-going project not my clothes which he mentioned later. While reaching late on his designated time, disturbing a workshop while I was conducting it, sharing his concerns regarding my western attire (I was wearing a kurti on jeans) with the staff members of that institute where I have conducted the workshop (these people did not know me personally and monitoring team cannot share such concerns with any one besides the organization). Another day while my female artists were working on site with labor’s, welder and a mason, we faced an episode of being humiliated for being girls taking help of a mason who was a man in clear words. Those incidents got reported officially. This time, I did not have to say much because other two female colleagues took charge of both incidents and their behavior all together with me. All of this humiliation for what we were wearing, they did not consider the fact of working in scorching heat on site against all odds. That day, it was not only about me but my other three female team members.  

I and my female friends have been through so many such incidents whereas there is a long list of people calling on your number which has been taken from a form while you visited the hospital or bought an internet connection. I have taught a lesson to a prank caller, a biker who followed me from my workplace to home through hitting his bike with my car, another biker who tried to grope in front of my house while I was opening the gate to park my car, an artist who I added in my Facebook profile being a curator and he sent me several messages to chat with him and so on.  He is not the only one who expects me to be available, thankfully options of blocking, ignore messages and block messages have solved this issue. Those prank callers who non-stop called on my number and tried to scare while mentioning my name and address. I know, there is an option of blocking these people and ignoring these messages. But ignorance is not the answer always and one needs his lesson.

I don’t understand why women don’t harass men, why we don’t follow their vehicles, why don’t we catcall, why don’t we insist them to be our friends, why don’t we grope them in public and why doesn’t we decide their clothing. Because we are so occupied by dealing with their nuisance and justifying our existence.

Dandelions at Vila Flora in Prague

When I was a child, I learned to make a wish through dandelion. There were so many dandelions in my parent’s house. It was so many times when I held a dandelion in my hand, made a wish and let it go for it to be true. I have been a wishful person who has believed in magic and miracles. If there are miracles then there is magic and if there is magic there are wishes for sure. So, I made wishes with those dandelion flowers in my parent’s home which I had to leave few years ago to keep myself well and alive. I like dandelions more than any flower, during my darkest days, it looked like a small, round, tiny source of light to me. Considering the fact that these are a child’s imagination. I was never allowed to make friends, I was never allowed to play with other children. Why? There are several reasons which I cannot mention here. But I survived and created my own universe called ‘Blue planet’. Besides these survival strategies, dandelions were something which has comforted me from my reality of that time. So I made wishes, a lot of wishes; learning dance and several other skills, making real friends, being successful, study in an art school and travel the world.

Wishes don’t come true on its own, one has to pay the price for it. Being able to create a good life and later maintain it, I have to work tirelessly day and night. Although it seems easy to some people and they have been courteous enough to mention it to me, it’s a difficult struggle. I love to travel and have been working hard to make it happen. Hard work is always not enough, you have to make a wish also. Besides my parent’s home, I have not seen many dandelions for several years. Although I have not stopped making wishes. This summer I was planning for a regular vacations to Bali, but wished not to be alone while travelling this time. I also wish to have a break from life without worrying about anything. A break to just enjoy myself but not being alone somewhere out of where I live. So I ended up with a Europe trip starting from Netherlands for an exhibition. From Netherlands to Berlin, everything was all planned and I kept the rest of the days open ended. While socializing in Netherlands, a fellow artist suggested Prague. 

I believe everything means something and everything happens according to a planned design. Shortly, there are no accidents or co-incidents. While looking for accommodation on Airbnb, I came across to a shared place in Prague where several travelers stay and live together. It was a good chance of my control freak self to experience sharing with others. So I booked it and for the first time, there was no visual about ‘Vila Flora’ in my head. Well, I fell sick with fever in Berlin and traveled to Prague same day. I thought of taking a day off from strolling and stay indoors. After few hours of my check in, I was cooking with four other people from four different countries in one kitchen. It was the beginning of this wonderful time which I will never forget. I entered Vila flora with a question mark on my face, observing everything. For the first time, I did not have a plan. For the very first time, I was not worried about time passing while spending hours with my morning coffee and chatting with amazing people. I could talk there and be myself, the way I am and like to be. It all depends on people around you; I believe, we all meet for a reason. It was my wish coming true, that place gave me a break from life without being alone. I cannot put all those wonderful memories in to words because words cannot do justice to those days. I looked forward to come back to the villa while being a tourist visiting places. It’s the place itself which makes you connected and it’s my good luck to have the most amazing group of people during my stay. The most amazing part is that without knowing each other, we could talk about so much without any barriers. It’s the place itself too. There is something which brings you together in ways you have never planned from one human to another. We were not friends, we might not meet again, we did not know each other but we communicated just being a person.

First day after I checked in, I found dandelions growing in their garden after all these years, this time I didn’t make a wish instead ; I said ‘ Thank You for making my wishes true’. 

When I met my Dutch father………

This is about my recent traveling to Europe. It has all started with an invitation from a Dutch art organization with whom I have collaborated a couple of times. I planned a trip and they offered me an invitation to make it purposeful. So, this show and an informal lecture was planned in Alkmaar, Netherlands. I already have good regards for Dutch people because it has been good experience so far on professional basis. My group show was planned in July 16th, Sunday along with a talk. I planned my trip from Netherlands to Berlin and kept few days for unexpected adventures. To be very honest, I was nervous and doubtful about myself to be able to manage the whole trip on my own savings. Off course, I don’t have that ‘daddy’ who will be there for you in difficult times, especially when you run out of cash on your Europe trip. I never had that privilege, not because I was an orphan, because mine refused to be there for me. Not only that he was not there emotionally for me, if it was only for that, would have been easier. If it was only for emotional availability , I can move on, stand on my own, work hard, be successful and proof myself. Unfortunately, he did a lot of many things which has scared me for life. He hung me from a high building when I was only around 3 or 4 years old. There has been many occasions when he did everything possible physical and emotional which can prove myself a worthless creature.  I still remember that helplessness. I still feel that there is no ground under my feet. Still while growing up, I trusted him, I idealized him, I expected desperately for his one hug, I begged for his support. His heart was as hard as a stone, in fact, harder than a rock. He was not a feudal lord or any illiterate Pakistani man. He was a hobby photographer, brilliant writer, a creative mind and an open minded person. What he did to me was to justify his love for ‘her’. Well, there are numerous memories of me begging, pleading and praying for a supportive ‘him’ who would be there or try to know me as a person.

Well, I should be proud of myself, right!! From a helpless girl, I managed to score a show and a talk abroad. I managed to travel a little of this world. For your information, this was my third travelling trip, sounds awesome, right!! Then, why am I talking about my dark days from my past ? Because something happened, someone managed to knock at these closed doors gently and with so much love in only couple of days. I don’t like hotel rooms, hotel rooms are isolated and there is no connection with people. So I booked a room through Airbnb at Paul’s house. While I was going through his profile, I painted him in my head as an eighty year old man who would not be able to walk or must be grumpy. 

So after staying for a day in Amsterdam, I reached Alkmaar and there, a very warm and energetic smile in fact laugh opened the door. For my second surprise, he showed me his studio. Yes, he is a painter and a good one who does portraits and figures. The welcome was warm and energetic enough to feel connected. I started talking and he started talking. I have stayed there for four days and we talked as we knew each other for ages. Paul Kok, my host in Alkmaar, a very warm , kind person who concerned to know me in those four days only. He managed to step inside my world and open those doors so gently without hurting anything. I shared those emotions which I have buried long ago deep down. In those four days, I felt home. I felt comforted, understood, sheltered and most importantly heard. Those who knows me in Pakistan, might know that I am a very detached person who doesn’t rely emotionally on any one. So why is that I felt very well emotionally connected after crossing 1000 miles from here. It was his compassion and empathy who brought peace to my heart and healed my old wounds. He did that without me knowing and realizing when it was happening, we shared a lot of laughs, it was never a serious talk. We both love to laugh and to be loud. I felt it after I left Alkmaar, traveled from Berlin to Prague and then Paris. During my trip, I decided to visit Alkmaar and meet him again. I did that for the sake of my peace, I felt as if I have left home. So I visited again and that Dutch dinner in his garden gave me all the peace, which I have been yearning for all these years. Because of Paul I have been able to forgive my ‘him’. Believe me, it matters more than anything to me. 

Thank you Paul, somehow you have filled this void so unconditionally.