Where do we belong?
I still remember when we were kids, we used to live in an Arab African country. Those days traveling was not as common as it is these days and different communities were more isolated but well connected with their origin while moving in their respective system. I still remember I heard so much about Pakistan from Abu that developed a sense of attachment with our country whereas our parents raised us in the way that we can move almost in every fragment of society as well as in diverse cultures including the contrasting one along with that we were taught the norms and ethics for intellectual belonging to elite class but at the same time we are expected to sit on ground whenever needed giving other the space to sit. When we used to come to Pakistan, we were supposed to sleep on the traditional form of beds without mattresses and we were not allowed to complain about it, even on fights with fellow children toilets were different, food type or almost everything seems to be alien even the traditions. What help to get connected with the society is the lesson of teaching, tolerance patience and forgiving others.On misbehaving or violating the norms of gathering we used to be punished something other than hitting, for instance, I am been very talkative and as punishment, I was supposed to stand quietly behind the door for about half an hour that used to be something most difficult for me to do. What I love about my parents is, they explained the limits within that we are supposed to live but on the other hand, when we are grown they left it on us to decide what to do. I consider this one of the reason for having an individuality among our siblings while we are so liberal to be adjusted anywhere particularly in my case e.g. we do not pretend what is not there nor expect others to do so. This helps us to allow others having their personal space while expecting same from them to reciprocate. It does not mean that we are away from practices of Islam, we follow as much as we wish to abide the way we wish to abide. We were never supposed to do anything merely because other children are doing. We, in fact, particularly I have been through exceptionally difficult phase of life and after having a fall what helped me to raise again was my parent’s prayers and training. We saw our parents respecting their elders and so we learnt to behave that way. But equally our parents have been role models for young people to follow. I do admit having had this sort of training have infused within us some bit of every culture while respecting them all but on the other hand, we find it difficult to rely on everybody as it seems to be norm of our society. The alarming fact of our society is that, most of the people own their expectation but not the individuals for this reason they usually do mistake in differentiating those who are sincere with them from those who are there for some reason and hence usually end up be alone in life and cheated upon by those whom they rely the most. Similarly, they fail to recognize where do they belong. These days though I do acknowledge that Parents love their children but they raise their children as their culture or certain cases as their social circle expects no matter these children are raised in Pakistan or even abroad without realizing the fact that these days world has turned into Global Village, Young families can settle away from the region where they have been brought up among culture and customs they are different, even can be contrast from their region of origin. Children of Parents who keep their children under pressure, society norms becomes their expectations and impatience has become their tendency. Children are raised on set criteria to study, make relations, start earning, get married at a particular age, should have children even numbers and their sex are also recommended by others and so on. The situation is more complicated with individuals who have had foreign exposure, in most of the cases it transformed their personalities as well as approach in life. Even abroad, to get married the approval for the bride has to be endorsed by the close family members. Interestingly those families who have a reservation in appreciating the Western Culture and Ideology are mostly keen to have their daughters wedded with men living abroad expecting that the groom would be living a life same as over here and all their dreams for their daughters would come true. None of them take into account the cultural contrast and its impact on the couple and their children’s life. In this part of world most of the people have lost control of their own lives and in the West, most of them have lost connection with life having too much involved in profession leading to making money and later on spending it to buy goods or to travel but many of them have friends but no family. Another impractical expectation that most of the couple abroad as well as their relatives over here is they would visit Pakistan very often from abroad that in most of the situation due to high cost of life specially when they are used of spending luxury life, and have intense competition specially when kids are born is non-feasible, a main reason to lose their ties from place of origin. The approach and practices of most of the Youth raised abroad among families originated from East are very different but one thing common among them that they consider this part of world a dirty place that is full of problem, partly they conceive through media mainly their parents implant in their minds but on the other hand, most of them do not let their children have freedom to be part of Western Culture. Probably protecting us from getting confused among multi-cultured environment our parents themselves spare ample of their time in teaching almost everything on our Education and related to their place of origin e.g. Pakistan in addition to spending happy quality time with us followed by having discussion on them whereas these days I found most of the parents inspite of being highly qualified leave it entirely on others to educate their children and raise them as per their expectation without investing substantially in terms of emotion and quality time. Children rose abroad as well as in Pakistan are often educated in separate schools run by Islamic communities where children can learn about Islam those can have inadequate training to teach having translated the Islamic Ideology keeping in view the parameters of this modern era. This, in turn, increases the risk for being misguided to achieve evil tasks and on the other hand, keep them isolated with practices of majority of society having contrast culture whether it is in Pakistan or abroad this on other hand makes more challenging for the young generation to build up their relations particularly relationships. No wonders, youth is looking for what they themselves do not know, their expectation are that they learnt from media or heard by elders as far as patience is concerned a slow internet speed can be sufficient to piss them off. As also mentioned earlier instead of being raised in Liberal Culture, Muslim youth does not even have a freedom to marry by choice. No Wonder many gents are having one wife, several girlfriends while cheating them all or living with wife but their center of focus in life is someone else. Many of them have more than one wife and their other marriages are undisclosed. Similarly, women though are married with someone but put efforts to catch other men s’ attention in one way or other even at the cost of family well-being. The sense of un-fulfillment and emotional insecurity is not confined to any particular fragment of society, financial status, ideological background, academic profile.The darker aspect of this bitter reality is, many of them to cope with their insecurities and miseries opt for the different type of addictions including drugs, unfortunately, children follow the footsteps of elders, altogether becoming more prone towards doing if not crimes then at least to extremism. Many families to help them to cope with their existing challenges facilitate their relatives to come over to get settled abroad within the same city preferably without explaining them real existing challenges. I remember when I was a kid, my parents on coming Pakistan openly discussed the problems they had faced abroad whereas their live style used to be very modest unlike most of the people coming from abroad these days only talk about facilities but never disclose the common social and economical challenges that most of people face whereas the expensive stuff and clothes that they carry tempt others specially those living an average or below average standard life to go abroad. As a social norm over here many people support their families that is easier to do as even today Pakistan is considered to be among cheapest countries but very difficult to support others living aboard, outcome is disturbance among families as many people go abroad by bypassing the formal official procedure to travel to foreign countries mainly because they were too tempted by the Higher Quality Standard of Living, that later on turns a drawback against their social and professional growth, not only that, it often risks stay of the families including the settled ones and their younger generation. To help children living away from their Parent’s homeland, to raise in homely environment, people abroad invite their parents to visit or to live with them, that is definitely cost effective saving money to travel all the way back to home country but on other hand risking the wellbeing of elders making them socially isolated that in several cases can risk their lives as well mainly because the cost of medical treatment is beyond reach. Parents keep usually quiet just to save the home from being broken merely because they are aware of the fact that basic dynamic of family ties inspite of living abroad still remain conservative where un-relevant family members have to decide the destination of marriages arranged by the approval of family members, in certain cases even for love marriages.
I learnt several things from my parents who are my role models e.g. never look for material and be content what we have but invest in building relations particularly in relationship independent of any greed, keep words, own or leave people as they a are without having an expectation to having them changed but no compromise on honesty responsibilities and duties. Life taught me to rely on own self that I try to teach others as well. Yes, personal freedom one of the greatest gifts our Parents particularly Abu gave us. I remember I have been very active professionally as well as during my student life though I am still active my father used to ask me if I liked anyone and emphasized to get married only to whom I love. This helped me to take the most important decision of my life and I am happily agreed to be the second, third or fourth wife of the man I love. His same advice was for all of my siblings. We never regretted our decisions as we own to belong to the choice picked by Heart and followed by Brain.
The writer is associated with the Profession of Teaching and Research with having inclination towards exploring the Features of Nature while enjoying Food with Families and Friends. She is Assistant Professor at Department of Food Science and Technology in University of Karachi, Pakistan.