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Pakistan is my home: portrait of a MVHS student revisiting her roots

Mahnoor Sohail, Staff Writer

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Growing up in the United States was difficult for me because of the immense difference in culture. My dad was fortunate enough to come to the United States 30 years ago. He went back in 1997 and married my mom, who then came with my dad two years later. A year after my mom came, I was born. I am the second in my entire family to be born in the United States. The first being my cousin, Muhammad Ali.

 

Growing up, my childhood was filled with Bollywood movies and Indian dramas. I rarely watched cartoons. Since there were no English speakers in my home, my first language was Urdu. Luckily, even after I learned English and went to school,  I never lost the ability to speak Urdu. To this day, my Urdu is better than other Pakistani-American kids I know. Sometimes, people even mistake me for being born in Pakistan because of my great Urdu. Unfortunately, I can’t read or write in Urdu.

 

Due to my mom living in the United States for a short amount of time, she was not accustomed to American culture. As a result, I grew up with a lot of knowledge of Pakistan. As a kid,

Pakistan was a dream world.  Whenever I was there, I never felt lonely.

 

I have been to Pakistan for a total of five times in my life. The first time I went, I was six months old; the second time I went I was one and a half, then seven, then 14, and now 17. Each time I had a different experience.

 

Pakistan is my home. Pakistan is my family. Knowing that I have an opportunity to go to Pakistan gets me excited. Sure, Pakistan may not be every person’s idea of an ideal vacation hot spot, but to me, it’s as equal to as going to Hawaii or Paris.

 

As anyone can imagine, living in Pakistan is difficult. In the winter, there is no hot water and no central heating.  In the summer, there is no cold water and no central cooling. The homes are made of cement, so in the summer, the cement absorbs the heat, causing the homes to be hotter inside than it is outside and then equally cold in winter for the same reasons.

 

In December of 2017, I went to Pakistan due to a family emergency and a family wedding. My cousin was getting married to another one of my cousins. It’s a very common practice done by Pakistani-Muslims. Islamically, cousin marriages are allowed; in fact, my parents were cousins before they were married.

When I landed in Pakistan on December 6th, I was put onto a bus, which then took me to customs. Pakistani customs are the easiest; the officers don’t ask anything, they only matched me to my picture on my passport and let me go.

 

Driving on what they call the motorway, I saw cars the size of hot wheels. Cars overtaking one another, motorcycles driving in between lanes on the white line. More than cars, I saw motorcycles.  Motorcycles are common in Pakistan, as the roads in Pakistan are very narrow. A car cannot get through, but a motorcycle can. Also, motorcycles are cheaper than cars, and unfortunately, as Pakistan is a third world country, most families cannot afford cars, so they buy motorcycles instead.

 

When I go to Pakistan, I stay in the only place left by my grandpa: the house he constructed over 25 years ago. The only thing that has changed is the baby pink paint on the outside; it is grey now. The inside is exactly the same as when my mom was a child, even the furniture.

 

According to my mom, nothing had changed. My aunt has 4 kids, just like my grandma. Everything is exactly the same as when she lived there. The daily routine consisted of waking up early to send the kids off to school, cleaning the house, cooking for everyone, and then feeding everyone once all 4 kids came home.

 

Everyday there was a new shopping spree. I was shopping and spending time with my family so much that I hadn’t realized when three weeks flew by. It was now time for my cousin’s wedding; it was time to forget all about problems, and enjoy the last week we were in Pakistan.

 

The wedding was the best thing I’ve experienced in a long long time. Pakistani- American weddings aren’t as fun as pure Pakistani weddings. There are decorations everywhere, wedding preparation everywhere, and most importantly, there is family everywhere. A typical Pakistani wedding lasts about 3 days; the Henna party, the Wedding day, and then the Reception.

 

The henna night consists of the groom’s side of the family and bride’s side of the family blessing the couple. During this ceremony, the couple is sat down with a leaf placed on their hand. One by one, married women come up and apply henna onto the leaf, oil to their hair, and feed them some sort of sweet. The couple then takes pictures with each family. After the food is served, there are performances, usually a dance competition between the groom’s side and bride’s side.

 

The second day of the wedding is the actual wedding day, where the girl officially leaves her father’s home and goes to her husband’s. The second day is hosted by the bride’s side of the family.That day is the most amazing day in her life as well as  the saddest day. On this day, the Islamic wedding officially happens. During this day, the Islamic ritual of the girl walking out with a quran over her head takes place. This symbolizes that she is starting her new life with the name of Allah.

The final day of the wedding is the reception, which really only is taking pictures with the newly wed couple and then dancing all afternoon. The reception day is hosted by the husband’s side; therefore, they invite only their side except the brides direct family.

Weddings are not the only think I miss about Pakistan, I miss my entire family and the feeling of being at home. For me, Pakistan is my home sweet home. All traditions are more acurate and fun.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Pakistan is my home: portrait of a MVHS student revisiting her roots”

  1. Areeba on March 20th, 2018 9:11 pm

    I’m a Pakistani-American too! I really liked this article. I can relate in so many ways. Thanks!

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Pakistan is my home: portrait of a MVHS student revisiting her roots