Youth Awareness

Fatima Zakir

I am in UAE these days. Just for a week. On vacations. I don’t have a life here; I don’t have a job hence I don’t have anything productive to do. I don’t have friends. I don’t really know the places so I don’t travel alone. I practically have no control in this country. Yet… I feel alive. I am happy. I am at peace. I can move about freely without worrying about my dress and my appearance. No one stares at me and no one passes comments on the streets. I like staying here.

My hometown is Karachi. I was born there and have virtually lived there all my life in the city of lights. I have a life there. I have a pretty good job. I have friends there. I know the entire city; the malls, the shopping centers, the best of the cafes and etc. I am quite in my skin there. Yet… I am always frustrated, I am always irritated and I am nearly never at peace. My parents don’t allow me to go out late in the evenings and if I get late from work, even 10 minutes, my parents start calling frantically to know my whereabouts. I am always conscious about what I am wearing and where I am going. I am scared when I travel in a rickshaw, you can forget about public buses. I am constantly watching out for my bag when I am out shopping and I keep my mobile phone safely tucked in my bag whenever I am on the streets, even if I am inside my own car.

It is ironic. I absolutely love this place which is not my home, and would love to stay here for as long as possible but after a while I start missing home, my family and friends. Most important, I miss working. Why can’t I have the best of both worlds? Is it too much to ask for? Living in my own city has made me so stressed that I have actually thought of seeing a psychologist, and I might even do that when I go back there. And no, it’s not because I think it’s a cool thing to do. It was just a simple question by a friend I just made here; how do you guys live in Pakistan what with the situation always so dangerous – crimes, terrorism etc?

My friend asked: There is no electricity most of the day; there is no gas at homes; without electricity you can’t use your computer, and when you can the net is too slow; watching TV is another stressful endeavor as it almost seems like the world is coming to an end. And because of the maddening situation in the city/country where anything can happen anytime, you can’t go out as freely at any time of night (sometimes during the day) as one would like. There are no activities… how do you, I mean the young crowd, live? My instant response was; we are used to it, but that got me thinking… (I sensed that outside my beloved country/city I don’t get infuriated as easily as I do back home). I am a changed person.

Last night the internet over here was very slow. I couldn’t even reply to an email- that painfully slow it was, yet I wasn’t irritated. If it was Pakistan, I would have been annoyed but here I didn’t feel a thing. Yes, you can say that I am too much in love with this place so I am being unjust but think about it… I was out the whole day, went to a couple of fun places, did some activities, had dinner out, if it wasn’t for checking my email for some job alerts, I wouldn’t have bothered switching the laptop on. But in Pakistan, since there is nothing else to do this is the only ‘fun’ thing for us. I reach home at 7 or 7:30 from work daily. That’s the time for load shedding which lasts for two long hours. Even then, there are days when the lights go out after half an hour for an hour or maybe longer. That’s when I get upset and say to my mom that I won’t come back from work from tomorrow.

Back home, you go out and you find people ogling at you. You go shopping and you hear comments from everywhere. You go to work and you face cut-throat office politics, where you hard work is disregarded and the ‘unworthies’ who have weaseled their way into the ‘right circle’ get all the perks. You ‘try’ going home after a long day but are usually stuck in traffic jams, road blocks due to protests and rallies, or jams due to VIP movements. You reach home and there is no electricity. There is no security of life. No surety of life.

It’s freaky. Recently, I have noticed some drastic changes in myself. I used to be an extremely happy-go-lucky, optimistic and calm person but within some months I have turned into an extremely angry, frustrated and miserable being. This didn’t happen overnight. It took months, in fact a couple of years, but all my optimism, my love for life and my cool has drained out. I know there are hundreds thousands people living in an even worse condition in Pakistan and they are satisfied. I know I am just being thankless but we have to realize that adjusting to situations is not always a good idea.

We are too adaptive to our environment that we take in all the bad things around us very easily and adjust accordingly. Those who find it difficult get stressed and lose patience. I don’t want to be this way. I don’t want to be whiny all the time –don’t want to be angry at every little thing. I don’t want to be rude to my parents. I want to be happy again. I want to be optimistic about life again. I want to believe in the power of greater good. I want to have my sanity back. I want the reasons to believe in Pakistan… again! Just need that something to be able to do that.

et cetera
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