September 16, 2014
I just cooked noodles and made a big mug of chai for myself and I’m eating the noodles this very moment. I didn’t go to the dining hall tonight and decided to cook noodles instead. I wanted to make it taste spicy so I’ve put green chilli sauce and red chilli sauce and pickle in it. I would have never done that back home but it’s just that I’ve gotten so desperate for spices that I want to put them in any food to make it taste good and spicy.
But, anyway let me tell you about my day today. I woke up this morning and dressed up all Pakistani, again! I was invited to this class on Diversity as a guest speaker to talk about my culture and religion. So I decided to wear another one of my traditional dresses that I had brought with me. I had to talk for that class right after I was done with my own classes. When I was getting ready this morning, doing my hair, I was attacked by this nostalgia when I saw myself in the mirror. I was dressed up exactly like I would for my university back home. I had worn that dress a couple of times at my university in Pakistan and every time I wore it, my friends liked it a lot. Well, today when I went out walking around the campus with my shirt flowing along as I walked, a lot of people said that they loved my dress. The friends I’ve made here from different countries, when they saw me today around the campus, their first reaction was a curved, raised eyebrow on my appearance and then I would receive a compliment from them for my outfit. Anyway, when I walked inside my classroom where I had my Learning Strategies class, (I have talked about this class before, right? This is the best class among all the classes that I’m taking) my professor, she said that she wanted me to explain why I was wearing my traditional dress today, to the whole class. She asked me to stand up and walk around the class room so that everyone could have a look at my ‘lovely’ dress and ‘beautiful’ shoes. I did so. I explained to them that I was invited as a guest speaker to speak in that class on Diversity so I had to dress up like this. They were curious about my dupatta and then they started asking me questions about why I have to wear it and how do I pray and what are the timing of my prayers and how often do I pray and well, I was bombarded with a lot of such questions. I told them about my religion and how it does not allow me to show my skin and body, and this is why the muslims cover themselves up. I told them we pray five times a day. My professor asked me when did I do my very first prayer, today? I told them it’s before dawn so I woke up at around 4:30 AM this morning for the very first prayer. Their jaw dropped when they heard about the time. Everything was just so fascinating for them. A guy asked me about how do the guys in Pakistan dress up, He was wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts. I looked at him and realized that we would see guys wearing that in Pakistan too. I told him they dress up the same but they have a choice so they can either wear shalwar qameez or shorts or jeans, whatever really. Which kind of made me go “wow!” in my mind. They really do wear whatever they want to. But any way, when this class ended, I headed toward the class where I was invited as the guest speaker. The students asked kind of similar questions from me there as well. They also asked about the holidays and the food and how do I feel like living in America. I answered them all. They were a nice bunch of people.
In the afternoon, I walked to the downtown with one of my friends, and then we decided to go even further. Warrensburg is a small town and it wouldn’t hurt my feet if I walked to different places and stores. Also, I love walking, so yeah. Well, we spent almost the whole day going to stores. I had to buy some presents. On our way back, I saw this pretty looking house on the street. I took a picture of it because it was looking so pretty all with the red flowers on the front lawn and a nice pathway leading toward the main door. I wanted to knock on the door and see how the house looked on the inside. I was reluctant to knock at the door because I didn’t want them to think that I was an intruder in their house. I mean who would like to say hi, without getting suspicious, to a stranger at their door, right? But well, I rang the door bell anyway (which was an old door bell so I had to turn a lever on the right which was actually the door bell). A man, in his 70s, who owned the house, opened up the door and said hello to us. I told him that I was just passing by and I liked the house so I just wanted to tell it to him. He was such a nice man. He invited us inside. I saw his wife peeking at us from behind. I wanted to see that house so I stepped inside their house without resisting. It was a Victorian house. A historic house built in 1880s. I saw this big piano sitting inside, by a window, and there were a lot of bookshelves filled up with books. Larry, the nice old man, had his own study room. It looked like a little library. Well his whole house looked like a little library to me. There were just so many books inside. Anyway, there was this study room with lots of books. And on one wall he had hung the caricatures of the famous authors like Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson. And there were so many of them. The whole wall was filled up with such caricatures. It all looked so good. They had their children’s pictures hung up on the wall. Oh and guess what, I saw ‘Bismillah hirrahman irrahim’ hung up on one wall in their house. Beneath the big Bismillah plate there were little plates on either side with ‘Muhammad’ and ‘ Ali’ written on it. It surprised me a lot. I asked them whether they knew the meaning of it. They didn’t. And I explained it to them. The lady, her name was Margaret, she took me to the backyard and well, okay, it was beautiful! They had put too much of effort in beautifying their house. The little wrought iron benches, the big swing on a tree, little garden decorations, artificial butterflies on the trees, the Utah corner, the plants, the fruits, the vegetables, the herbs, they had all of those things in their backyard. What a nice house to visit. What a nice house I chose to go in. Well, I hugged the lady on my way out and told her I’ll come back again there before going back to Pakistan. She hugged me back and said, “We are family, now!”
These Americans, I like them.
Also, when I got back home I did the henna for my roommate. I’ve been meaning to do it for her for almost a week but each time one thing or the other comes up and I just end up not doing it for her. But today, I finally did it. And she loved it which served my purpose. I like doing it for Americans because they get so excited for it. I like to see them smiling at their henna-hands. When I was done drawing henna for her, another friend of mine came up to my room because she wanted it as well. I did it for her as well and guess what did she ask me next? She said she wanted me to sign my name in Urdu on her other hand. Nobody ever asked me to do that before and she was so excited to get it. I did it for her and then my roommate wanted it too so I did it for both of them and now both of them are happy and smiling. Right now, my roommate is moving her fingers over my name on her hand and saying, “Your name is so pretty.” Even though for a little while, but they manage to bring a smile on my face.
My head is heavy as I’m writing. I just finished up my chai and I think I should go to sleep now. Oh, wait. I have my assignments due. Never mind.
Thank you for listening to me.
September 15, 2014
Remember I told you I’ll tell you about Chicago in my next post. I’ll be doing that just that now because nothing interesting happened today that I should mention here. So I’ll write about Chicago instead.
I always wanted to see the skyline of Chicago. I started looking at it in the daylight and I stayed there until night drew its blanket of darkness and the little lights on these buildings started turning on, giving it a magical view. I was on the boat and it wasn’t dark when I got on that boat. This boat had to give us a 45 minute tour, floating upon the Michigan Lake giving us the view of the beautiful skyline of Chicago. I stepped on the boat, it started moving. I looked down at the water, the boat’s engine piercing water, throwing its waves to the sides, making its way to move forward. The overlapping waves of the lake were so deep and intense. Water seemed so soft, like cotton, so easy to be torn apart, without much effort. I kept on looking at the water and then right across at the skyline. I could hear the seagulls flying above. It was all just so inspiring. I looked at the people around me. A mother holding on to her little boy’s shirt as tightly as she could while he leaned across the rail to look at the water. Two friends laughing loudly and taking pictures with the skyline in the background. A couple standing quietly in the boat, the guy hugging the girls back, his chin resting on her shoulder, both looking at the beautiful view outside. A group of friends holding drinks in their hands, not even looking at the beautiful view outside, just cracking up at a joke I was unable to comprehend. I looked around and saw a lot of people and then I looked outside again. Why am I here, I thought. I didn’t know how I was feeling when I was seeing all that. For a moment, I wanted everyone to just go away. I wanted to be there all by myself. They were all too loud. They weren’t letting me think. They weren’t letting me comprehend the meaning water was trying to show to me. I didn’t want to just look at it, I wanted to know. But I had to tolerate the loud voices, the laughs, the shouts. I looked up at the sky. The deep blue sky. The darkest shade of blue. I looked down at the overlapping water. Same colour. It was just that the sky looked calm and the water was unresting. When it started getting darker and the building started twinkling with the lights, I felt bad for the sky. It’s the sky’s job to twinkle, but the buildings, that night, were twinkling brighter than the sky. I hope the sky is going to forgive those buildings for stealing its ultimate idea of twinkling to make themselves look beautiful.
One of the things I did in Chicago that I had never done before is I learned to eat with chopsticks when I went to eat in a Chinese restaurant (or was it Japanese?). Also, I ate sushi for the very first time in Chicago. Okay and here’s another one. I always wanted to see the beach. I had never seen it before. I saw one in Chicago but it was a beach by the lake. A small one. I want to see a beach by an ocean. The seashore, at night, under the full moon. I wish I could see that someday. But I’m thankful that I got to see this tiny lake beach in Chicago. At least I got to know how the sand feels like beneath your bare feet. I got to know how it feels like walking on the wet sand, when your feet sink in it. I saw my footprints in the sand for the first time. I wrote in the sand for the first time. I saw how the waves of water smooth out the sand and make it look as if a mason has evened it with his tool. The beach made me realize that no matter how much we try to prove our existence, life keeps on mocking at us, telling us that our existence is temporary. I wanted to stay there with myself, again. I always want to have my own company only but I have to say that I very much liked seeing the beach.
Also, I need to mention it. Do you know, I saw the fireworks after so long, in Chicago! You do know that fireworks make me happy, right? But do you know what happened that night when I saw the fireworks? It brought me sadness. Fireworks never make you sad, dear diary! You know that. I know that. But I wonder why it seemed to me that the firework show was sprinkling sadness on me. And then suddenly I wanted to be alone, all by myself, again. I wanted to spend time with myself only, then. I wanted to walk on the beautiful yellow roads alone with the fireworks displaying sky above my head and golden road underneath my feet. Fireworks made me sad for the very first time, that day. Even thinking about how it made me sad, makes me sad now.
The downtown Chicago has a collection of amazing architecture. If I could, I would just walk on the sideways for the whole day and admire the tall buildings. I saw people walking hurriedly, crossing the roads, it looked like some of them were getting late for work. Some of them were just out strolling with their pets. Some were tourists. There were a lot of people, just too many of them and I wondered how they all would have their own stories. I wondered how God knows our stories, He knows all about us. I wondered how amazing it seems to know that God listens to us all. There’s just too many of us. But for Him, it’s just no big deal. How amazing He is. Everything I see, everything from sand to tall buildings to people to animals to tattoo lovers to same-sex couples to fast moving trains to sky to water to fishes to seagulls to stars to lights to fireworks. Everything that I see, it makes me think of Allah.
Thank you for listening to me.
September 14, 2014
I went out for shopping today. You do know that I’m not a very big fan of shopping, right? I mean, excluding the book-shopping, of course. I don’t really enjoy dress/shoes/bags shopping. It’s very unlikely to hear such statement coming out of a girl’s mouth, right? But why should I fake enjoying things that I don’t really enjoy doing? Well, anyway, I had to go because my friends were going and also because I had to buy the essentials – coats and boots – for the winters. In one day, the weather flipped over completely. In one day, the temperature went down so low. So I had to consider buying something warm for myself. We went to different stores and we were all out looking for the things we ‘needed’ to buy, but then the girls started doing the real girl shopping and I just ended up doing nothing but standing there and looking at them. I came out into the parking lot and started walking there and just waited for them to come out from the store. And so it went on. We explored one shop after the other and I really wanted to get back home because I started thinking that this shopping was wasting a lot of my time but then they wanted to go to the Dollar Store where you can buy different stuff for $1 only. I was just hauling myself along with them, and while doing so, I saw this store called Hastings right next to the Dollar Store. I told my friends that I’m going to Hastings instead. Two of them came with me to this store. They entered from the entrance door only to come out from the exit door. They said they had nothing to buy or look for in that store. I, on the other hand, entered through the first door to see, guess what, THE BOOKS! They were out on sale just for 99 cents. I smiled the genuine smile for the first time since that morning, when I entered that store. I opened the second door and saw just so many, oh-so-many books, and accessories related to books. You know how I always fall for words, don’t you? I’d rather choose a beautiful saying to hang on my wall than a painting. When I entered that shop, it seemed to me that it knew my weakness. Everything they had in there had words printed on it. The books, the shirts, the magnets, the calendars, the hats, the blankets, the badges, the wall decorations, the mugs, the key rings, the car posters and what not! EVERY THING, really. I wanted to buy everything. There was just so much to look at and to adore that I wanted to stay there for hours and hours. I could stay there for a whole day even, or a week. It had beautiful, beautiful books. It had classics in beautiful prints and I just adored their covers. It was a little version of heaven for me, the best place I had been to in Warrensburg. It was beautiful. There was just so much to look at but my friends were waiting for me to come out (they didn’t even bother to come inside because that’s how boring a place it was for them) so I came out whining about how it wasn’t fair because I wanted to stay inside that store. Well, I know I have to go there again now. I know I have to spend a day in that store. I’ve got to do that. Hastings made my day, today.
Oh, and I got these two lovely bracelets as well, from Goody’s. Well, while I was bored and just staring at the stuff around the store my eyes caught sight of this bracelet and it had something written on it. I picked it up and started reading it. It said: “LOVE ADORNS ITSELF, IT SEEKS TO PROVE INWARD JOY BY OUTWARD BEAUTY. LOVE DOESN NOT CLAIM POSSESSION, BUT GIVES FREEDOM. LOVE IS AN ENDLESS MYSTERY, FOR IT HAS NOTHING ELSE TO EXPLAIN IT. LOVE’S GIFT CANNOT BE GIVEN. IT WAITS TO BE ACCEPTED.”
I would love to just stare at my wrist every now and then and read these lines.
Having said that, last night a loud bang woke me up. It shook me up from my sleep. I thought my roommate slammed the drawer of her desk. But she wasn’t in the room. She stayed at her friend’s place last night. I looked around peeking out from my blanket, trying to figure out what was that noise. It was the sound of shots fired outside my residence hall. You know that I hate guns, right? I don’t really use the word ‘hate’ very much. But when I use it, I actually mean it. I hate guns. It made me so sad, hearing someone shooting fires. I almost felt like crying. Why on earth would people do that? It’s scary. It scared me. I don’t walk around campus after Maghrib, when it starts getting dark. I don’t feel safe. I never wanted to hear the sound of gun here, that too, while I was sleeping. I don’t want to hear it anywhere. I would never want to hear the sound of a gun fire again in my life. I wished I hadn’t heard that. Why do people do that? Why do they even manufacture guns? It made me so unhappy and sad.
Thank you for listening.