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.