Posted in Travel, Parenting, Lifestyle.

We have always been here asking not to be touched. Thanks for FINALLY noticing though. You’ve been great!

I have been wanting to talk about this issue for a while now. Where to start? I know. There’s memes/ Gifs of Chris Evans and other “real-life superheroes” who have been helping damsels in distress at award shows tripping on their heels and beautiful gowns.

Okay, what is this article even about? Well they’re being praised for doing it right, oh and by the way I’m reclaiming the phrase “damsel in distress” a damsel can be in distress and she can un-distress herself. Anyways, the men are being praised for offering help in a nonthreatening manner. Such as offering their arm or shoulder instead of their hand. Or bending slightly and making their body language soft so it is not overwhelming, and threatening for women when they’re already trying to gather their dress and other accessories. Let’s face it, we got a lot more shit to gather when we get ready for functions. That’s one of the perks of being a woman. The downfall is tripping. That’s okay, life is a trade-off.

Feeling threatened.

This is exactly what a lot of us have felt all our lives. I felt it was time to talk about it. This is for every timid girl out there whoever refused a handshake, a helping hand, a shoulder when needed. We don’t do it because we like tripping on our faces. Growing up in the 90s it wasn’t cool to say no, especially as a hijabi. Every time any of us refused to shake a hand or said, “I got it, thanks”, we weren’t considered to be protecting ourselves. We were just seen as bitchy little foreigners, whether we were or not, was irrelevant. It was more important to NOT reject a man than to feel safe. It was a different time. It’s okay to express these emotions now. We couldn’t even say this out loud because we were just a bunch of out dated women from some far-off land who didn’t want to be touched by men.

YES. We didn’t/don’t want to be touched by strange men. I for one will take a shoulder or an arm if I am tripping, because I control how I want to be touched and when I want to let go. Do not offer me your hand, don’t know where that thing has been and don’t know where it’s going to end up; most likely it will make me uncomfortable and make me feel

unsafe. Don’t let me forget to mention that an advertising company made a dress that records how many times women get touched. Of course most touches are unsolicited because no one, man or woman, is asking to be touched hundreds of times a night by different people.

As I was saying, I choose who touches me; Now, I can verbalize this concept. When I was younger it was unthinkable, “you dress the way you do AND don’t let men come near you unless you are absolutely and completely comfortable with them in every way? Gosh! (intense eyeroll) Were you like raised in a cave and like rode on camels or something? Because obviously, you have no idea how the world works.”

Hey camels are animals too you know. They have feelings, AND rights!

Posted in Travel, Parenting, Lifestyle.

This Picture

This picture was taken last night at the request of my nephew. He had an urge to see my kid. Made me get out if bed to take a pic of my sleeping kid. Their dad had just returned from one of his trips. I guess I’m glad I caught the moment.

There’s some usefulness to your new dad anxiety that makes me take pics of baby in the middle of the night. Just don’t do it again! You know who you are 👀👀👀👀👀

#gotowork #letmesleep #hedoesntcuddlewithmelikethis #momproblems #momswillbemoms #momsofinstagram #momsofinsta #parentsofinstagram #mommingtoomanykids #someneedtogrowup #amotherslove #alwaysandforever #professionalscribbler #towhomitmayconcern

Posted in Travel, Parenting, Lifestyle.

I could be that fragile, beautiful little princess who always, always gets saved by the handsome strapping prince. Who doesn’t want strong arms and a beautiful face focused only on them? My other option is the old has-been who may have made it in successes of the world but she has lost it completely in the love department. After all, everyone needs to be loved. No strapping strong love for her. The people hate her. She spoke her mind.

She was rude, outspoken. She did get to marry the king but she also wanted to live life on her own terms. She was a stone-cold bitch. The king couldn’t love her for all she is.

Do you know what women like that get? Nothing. Best stay in your lane little girl. Make your choice now, who would you rather be? The evil queen, who loses everything because she likes to be in charge and doesn’t think that 14, 15, 16-year-old girls’ lives should be decided by men and their kingdoms.

OR would you rather be the beautiful obedient princess who gets the beautiful castle and the handsome prince because she does as she’s told?

In my fairy tale the badass bitch wins. I’m the Queen. The Evil Queen, if that’s what I have to be.

Posted in Travel, Parenting, Lifestyle.

Grown-Ups Need Heroes Too

They’re real, all of them. My kids are growing up around superheroes real and made up. ‘In the end, we’re all stories.” Yeah, that’s also a line from a similar hero show. The nerd in me is strong y’all. People argue, they say, “kids need to live in the real world. They need to know how tough it is.” Okay, I understand. That might be true. What about the kids’ mama though? Do I also have to live in the real world? Because I kind of do, every day. I need the escape. I like the thought of being saved from my every day once in a while.

Photo Credit: Marjan Blan

As for the kids; Let me paint you a picture, or write you one, a kid younger than ten years old loves to read. She walks into her neighborhood bookstore. She can’t really afford to buy books, but she thumbs through the books because, of course, she does. One day at the back of the store she spots something magical with lots of pictures. They seem interesting, just out of curiosity she asks the shopkeeper how much they are. He tells her they are 15 rupees each (no one knew the value of comics at that time or read them, so this was the cheapest reading material in the store). That’s like not even enough cents to mention. That right there is a lifesaver. Her being able to buy something resembling a book. Maybe not appropriate for someone that young but no one paid attention those days to little things.

Anyhow, I found my way into a world that was mine. I found my heroes who would help me escape everything that was terrible around me. They would buy me books because they’re super smart. Remember I’m not even ten yet, so yeah that was one of my fantasies. Oh, how badly did I want to be Black Widow? I related to her story so much. Still, do. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. She’s just someone I admire so very much. Don’t know if she’s a reader though.

I grew up loving these people, these heroes as if they were real. I hid them from my world as if they needed protecting. The comics went under the bed or in my secret drawers because I didn’t stay in one place for too long and I never knew what others around me would feel about it, so that world became just for me. It was easier that way and honestly so much more fun. My heroes, my saviors, always with me ready to jump in to save the day. They never failed me. Not even once. Normal people do that you know, they disappoint. Now that I’m older and it’s not that cool to be a comic fan I’m too old to be one apparently.

So, what’s wrong with keeping this world alive? What’s wrong with wanting a little taste of fantasy in life? I was never a “princess wanting to be saved by a prince” kind of girl. The world is so much more complex and so much more beautiful. A hero is what I wanted to become in real life too. Of course, no one will ever be as cool as Nat, may her soul RIP. That was my ten-year-old self coming out, full bloom. Just kidding, its the 43-year-old me trying to hide behind the ten-year-old.

Now I argue with my kids about who’s smarter; Tony Stark or Bruce Banner. Sometimes they get confused about what exactly Batman’s powers are, but who cares he’s BATMAN! We discuss how T’challa is the humblest, kindest King and how Monarchy is only okay in Wakanda. Yes, I know that’s always a very weird conversation. Also, because Black Panther is one of my kid’s favorite characters, both of them have declared the top story of the house to be their kingdom. One is the king the other is the King’s advisor. They accept their parents as the king and queen of the whole house, they also accept that all decisions have to go through us BUT they do have the right to make most decisions about the “upstairs”.

Backstory: upstairs includes both their rooms and play area. There’s also a guest room but that’s not in use every day. I am kind of strict about not making a mess with toys downstairs since they have so much space “upstairs”. I tell them whenever they want to be loud and crazy to go “upstairs”. Our bedroom is, you guessed it, DOWNSTAIRS. The upstairs is kind of is their territory.

I know there should be an image of our king here but isn’t this Panther just awesome. Photo: Garken de Klerk

Way off track here. Back to Bruce Banner. Uh…super heroes. I could write all day and all night about every single one of them but the point I’m trying to make is I’m hoping is clear. I have been protected by very little. And I know I’m here to protect my kids and they know that but a little extra boost of a fantasy in which they see these mighty heroes saving the day the way no one else can, what’s wrong with that? I know, unrealistic expectations. The world will knock them down plenty to give them doses of reality. I don’t see my job as always being the one to push reality on them. I need to create a balance. That means letting them have and enjoy those moments where we are completely detached from the harshness and the roughness of the world; Where we dive into the gentle arms of our loving (somewhat…completely fake) friends who will always make sure that we are okay. In a world where good always wins. When you work hard you always see positive results. You know why? Because they will wake up tomorrow and will be knocked down a peg or two by none other than, myself. They know it too. I will come down on them for not doing something I asked them to do. They will be prepared to hear whatever I’m dishing out because they will be full of counter-arguments and “I hate you”, “you’re making me miserable”. Just then I know they will seek the comfort of those heroes who would completely understand their struggles and help them calm down. They would make it all better because no one else gets them, especially not their mom.

I know this was abrupt and seems out of nowhere. These days I’m kind of needing a lot of help from my imaginary world (which is totally real). We are moving into a new house. Even though it’s a small move, just one house to another in the same area, however, it’s not something I look forward to. You’d think someone who has moved around so much would be used to it. Nope, the exact opposite actually. I’m hiding away right now, in my happy place while the kids pack away excited about their new rooms.

Here’s another good reason for Superheroes: one of my boys has found a stick while packing and is threatening to hit the other one with it. Looks like I have to pause this totally awesome real world and jump into the one where my heroes are threatening each other with sticks.

Yeah! This is pretty much all of my lives.

Don’t you wish we could all be Groot? Photo by: Azmathullah Shaikh
Posted in Travel, Parenting, Lifestyle.

I Have Lived

When I finally lay my head down, I will have no regrets because I have lived. I lived, loved, lost, and lived some more. I just wished there was more time to sleep in between. There’s absolutely no purpose for this writing, today I was reminded of death. I don’t really forget about it. It’s coming, I know it. I wish I wouldn’t be caught by surprise. You know how there’s this prophetic sense some people have? I don’t have it. Recently I’ve been getting more and more real about this issue with my kids. I’ve been feeling like we create this vacuum when we avoid this topic, the discussion of death, pain and physical hurt in a real way.

My kids love watching Finding Nemo but they always make me forward the beginning when Nemo’s mother and siblings get killed. Today, I decided was the day. They might not have a shark eat their family but they will face death and they will not be able to fast forward the pain. It’s not reasonable to compare real life to a kid’s movie but I was having one of those days. Days where the kids’ say, ”mommy can you forward that scene please?” and you say, ”you know what babies, dying is a fact. Also, this scene is going to take place whether you watch it or not. It is sad, but it happens, you know that. It’s okay to feel it. They did, we watched it together. They were sad but they dealt with it.

Every-time they pretend-shoot each other or make a gun out of something (we’ve never bought them any toy weapons. If they’ve gotten any as gifts we’ve returned or given them away) they get a factual, age-appropriate lecture on how bullets damage a body and how painful it would be for any human or animal to deal with that kind of situation.

I’m seriously contemplating showing them visuals. Every-time I hear about people being killed I feel more of an urgency to explain to them how real this is, and how much these things are not to be toyed with.

Life is sacred. Death is inevitable. However, we need to be the protectors of life keeping in mind that death will eventually catch up to us. We don’t chase death. We don’t become those who cause people pain and suffering.

Life is sacred.

I want people to be able to take one safe breathe or at least imagine that they can when they see my boys. The kind of people who help others to find life while keeping their own lives in focus.

Death is inevitable. Life is sacred.

That is the whole lesson I want to teach them.

Posted in Travel, Parenting, Lifestyle.

The River

The tossing and turning of the waves, the unsettled rocks giving way to the water yearning to keep flowing. Keep on leaping. It desires something, the water. Everything in its path has to yield to whatever it wants. A little way away my kids playing next to me in calmer waters. Rocks under our feet still submitting to the demands of the water. I have always had a love/hate relationship with it. I have been in awe of seas, rivers, and lakes even. Now it’s just damaging, and it sweeps away what we want to keep. I realize that’s a childlike perspective but being an adult is really overrated when you’re standing over a roaring river and the guards are telling you to get your kids away from the water because it may not be deep but it is really fast. They slip once and no one can pull them back. ”They can’t be pulled back.” That’s what happened to him, to them. The water is not our friend. I keep my mouth shut and my brain even shutter, and sit far far away from where the boys are playing because I don’t want to hear these whispers. They have to go on living in this crazy world where the rivers are allowed to roam free. They can’t know about all the things that are not going to be their friend. Right now they need to make islands with stones, they don’t need to remember what the river took from them. I remember. That’s enough.

I can keep them from being swept up. After all, I’ve done it before. I kept him from being swept up for as long as I could. Everyone has to let go sometime. Water, land, the sky, it’s all a matter of time. I remember that day like today. The moment I got the news my youngest son was about to go under for a minor procedure. I had lost my nephew, and my son was about to be put under. No, I had to hold him down as they did. I told someone this, they said you should write this down. This is a class piece of writing. It really is, I thought.

Year’s later the river is still rolling, roaring, nothing did stand in its way. All I have accomplished is; I’m still here to write down our stories.

In memory of those, we will never forget.

In memory of those, we will always remember.

In memory of those that are, and always will be greater than any great wild…

In memory of shattered dreams and love that is unquestionably true.

In memory of us.

In memory of my sweet boys.

In memory of mine and yours.

Posted in Travel, Parenting, Lifestyle.

I know we have been hearing and reading the news.  All these killings, shootings, destroying lives. Hurt. People say where’s the heart? Why are the humans? Why are governments and our people heartless and lacking empathy? That may all be absolutely true. We can only speak from our hearts. Feels as though we only have our hearts left to give right now.

However, we’ve lost too much to not use our hearts. We’ve also lost too much to not be logical and calculated going ahead. We’ve just lost way too much. Every time something happens I surely some person with logic and a sane mind will see the tragedy and realize something needs to change. No one ever does.  We need understanding that taking away what people love does not make them complicit. Surely someone, somewhere understands this. Then boom! I realize people who should see it, don’t. I mean literally…boom.

I am not just writing about one place; I am writing about all of our homes. I don’t have to give you the exact location. How many people who look like you, think like you, believe like you are dead because of people who didn’t think they deserved to be where they were, because of people who still think you and I are not important enough.

I hear people say things like, “these governments, these tyrants are just like Hitler” They are using the same tactics and their end goal is the same. Genocide.” Don’t use his example so casually. We don’t know. I’m not saying it’s not true, I’m just saying we don’t know. I’ve known people amongst my people who were massacred for merely wanting to survive. Just like the Jews. We don’t quote history because we are angry, and it gives our anger some direction to make these comparisons. We learn from those awful parts of human existence and move in a completely different direction.  Everyone has a legacy; I want ours to be greater than just surviving.

Let me also say that when I say “my people” that definition is really wide. If there’s anything my friends and readers have learned about me, I hope it’s this. I am not just Muslim, Pakistani, American. I am also an immigrant (in more than one place), I also come from a long line of what people define as “terrorist” these days. I am brown. My descendants were forced to leave their homes, killed, burned and slaughtered for merely being all of that. I am all of us.   At times like these my identity, it seems to melt away into dust, and smoke. The one thing that has always been the most center-point of my core all of a sudden isn’t.

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I have been sitting on these thoughts for days. Haven’t uttered a word to anyone. Can you believe it?

I don’t like to have these discussions on my dinner table with acquaintances in a casual manner. I do however, like to avoid ignoring the issue as though it’s not my problem. It becomes my problem when the site of an armed guard at a mall has me instinctively pushing my kid behind me as though that would protect them from anything. My mental armor is always up as is for everyone around me, but the sad truth is that we all know we are exposed, we are already bleeding. We are gasping for every breath.

Our lives now are just about finding moments to escape the pain because we feel there’s nothing, we can do about the condition of the world we live in. All this hurts is so much that we want to imagine that it’s not happening if only for a moment. We can do that you see because no one is holding a gun to our head at this very moment. In this moment the nozzle is invisible, so we take advantage of it because the excruciating reality of what is to come is too unbearable. The helplessness is crippling.

I close my eyes and escape into whatever frivolous activity is nearest for that moment. Playing with my boys. Making forts under the blanket. Hiding under the covers with the kids and a sudden bang, and then a shake. I’m startle out of the state of comatose bliss. Was it just my kids dropping a toy? Was it something bigger? A bigger toy? A gun? A bomb? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Something definitely shook. I didn’t imagine that. There was a loud thud, I didn’t imagine that. I know I didn’t.

Whatever it is, it’s still invisible so I guess we’re safe. I hear it but I don’t see it. There has been so much that I have seen that’s pierced through me as has been the case for most of us on an individual level. I don’t think any of us is ready to accept it on a collective level for ourselves or for others. It’s here, right in front of me.

When I get out from under those covers will I be helpless? Will my kids be helpless to deal with whatever is waiting for them out there? Hopelessness is definitely crippling; however, I don’t think we are helpless. In fact, we are in the position to help. I know I have a responsibility to my children to not raise them to be blind to the truths of the world. Who am I if I don’t show them how to get out from in front of a bullet? What kind of a parent am I if I don’t teach them how to help a few people in the process?

There’s no revolution. No changing the world. There’s today, no one knows about tomorrow. Today, I don’t want to know  that people died, and I didn’t try. Today, I want my kids to be proud of themselves knowing that somewhere something good happened, no matter how small, because of them. They might not be ready to change the world today, who knows where tomorrow is taking us though.

Logic will prevail.

One day at a time.

All people at a time.

All kids at a time.

#myworldmyresponsibility #istandwithkashmir #stopgunviolence #bondedinbrotherhood #tomorrowbelongstothem