An ode to you | The Express Tribune

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In the end, we as humans learn to let go. Maybe that is how we are designed. We are designed by a superior deity to learn, grow, meet new people, enjoy new experiences and move onto other things. Religions tend to play a pivotal part in this entire process. The concept of things happening for ‘the best’ helps people manage their emotions more appropriately.

We meet new people everywhere. Students who return to their countries after studying abroad either on their own volition or on an exchange tend to voice this emotion voraciously. Many meet great friends along the way and leave after years of sharing meals with them. Not only sharing meals but also sharing fantastic memories. Irrespective of race, religion and gender, students live together and learn together. Many eventually return to their homes where they belong.

How do you cope with the reverse cultural shock? How do you really come to terms with the fact that your life will never be the same again and no place will ever be a home for you because you’ve been so used to carrying your entire life around in a suitcase? What is next in life? These are the emotions that every student deals with.

Let me put it out there. People who pack their entire lives into a bag and set out to study in another country are amongst the bravest and the most courageous people you will come across. You’re talking about individuals who pushed themselves out of their comfort zone, signed up for uncertainty and jumped right into the abyss not knowing what the other side held.

These are the same people who knew nothing about life, who went abroad as kids but returned as adults. From not knowing how to cook or even how to do one’s own laundry, they returned as chefs and foreign educated house help. It is never easy leaving one’s life behind on pause and going to explore the streets, the culture, the languages of a country one has no clue of. A thousand miles away from their home, these gladiators walk paths that many have not walked.

We as Southeast Asians are brought up with the luxury of having around the clock house help.

Shehzadas, as I like to call them, tend to enjoy their luxuries and, many times, tend to take them for granted. They lack the concept of productivity, efficiency and gratitude. However, it would be irresponsible to paint everyone with the same brush.

And yet, it evades me as to how and why foreign graduates are not paid enough in Pakistan despite all their efforts and investment. Is it that we are too scared of welcoming fresh perspectives or are we threatened of someone who has nothing to lose and everything to win?

Our nation is tired and torn. It’s exhausted and drained off the things it’s been through. But unlike an international student, it cannot go back to its comfort zone where the rain slowly falls and rooms are warm. Where the mothers cook and the brothers quarrel. Where the dog wags his tail and licks your face and whines until you pet him.

We’ve heard a lot about life being tough but not enough on how to make it easy. The old cliché goes ‘drink away your worries’ but no one told us what to drink, who to drink it with and when to drink.

But does the big man care about that? Debatable questions with controversial answers. I am not here to debate, I know that I know nothing.

But in the end, we all want the same things in life. Let us decide the hymns we want to sing and let us praise the superior deity that turns night into day and day into night.

Hearken hosts on high, give us all enough to eat, keep us breathing well and keep a roof over our heads. We’ll pray to whoever.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2024.

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