dear tomorrow

when i was a little girl, my dad and i would get into fights. i don’t even recall why anymore; my grades and outspoken attitude would disappoint him then. twelve, i wanted to talk about what i liked than be talked at for what i needed to succeed in my future. i swallowed the words instead and my dad never pried those words out. we wouldn’t talk for days. that’s when i would wait for a family function because i knew in front of family we would act like everything was okay and let go of what was eating us. i would be happy to have my dad back to joke with.

but just as easily an argument about who i wanted to be versus who he wanted me to be would render us silent for weeks. those stretches have grown longer since i’ve gone to college and graduated. i don’t know how to connect to him and he doesn’t know either.

today was a rare day i want to remember. he drove me to wegmans because i needed mixed frozen vegetables to make chicken potpie for my potluck at work tomorrow. we talked a little bit about how my work was going. mostly we hit it off talking about tv shows because we have the same taste: love and family and happy endings are simply a must. when he saw me making anchor charts for my class while playing Once Upon a Time on my work laptop, he suggested i do my work outside in the living room so i could watch the show on our large smartTV. i know he just wanted to enjoy my presence. and it did feel good to be watching a show with him that made him tear up just like me. as i shuffled around the kitchen cooking, even though it is my mother’s primary domain, i asked my dad for advice and he helped.

today we felt like father and daughter. but we didn’t get personal. that never works. when i talk about my love for writing, he only expects me to churn out a book like a machine. when i talk of my love, he is repulsed that i would date instead of being married already because despite being family, our cultures are different. when he prays to god, i pray to Love. when i bring prep work home and complain about not enough time, he uses that as an excuse to be upset when i go out to hang out with friends.

but underneath it all, he’s still my dad who only wants the best for me. i want to believe that. even if we can’t be more than tv buddies. our views may be different, but i know i inherited upholding my beliefs firmly and passionately from him.

our road is rocky. but today was nice. i want to remember today.

 

Advertisements

vow

bound by a contract
her faith compels her to keep it intact.
he and she were arranged to meet
she complied because of society
already thirty, what would people think
she worried about her parents’ image
so she said yes to not give them stress
never factoring her own happiness.
same religion but different culture
she was his for his bidding and no one else’s
he forbade her going to her mother’s house
isolated with the strangers she married into
she prevailed in concealing her tears
in secret phone calls home so they not worry
and after they were long gone she still remained
to not tarnish their memory, their last wish
she have a cornucopia of security and stability

pity

the man of the house
at twice my age plus sixteen
he dabbles in stock investments
in the expanse of his early retirement
but mostly i see him news scrolling.
when middle-aged and struggling
he said life’s a rigged game
he gave up then, settled on the couch
with his excuse to raise me
my mother the sole breadwinner
the newly appointed matriarch
rightfully so, she dealt with patients
came home cooked and cleaned and
criticized him with her newfound voice
that he loathed – he raised me to be
financially independent but decreed
i not move out until i marry.
an antiquated being
he kept me close i burned him too
even his spit could not subdue my fire.
insular he rigged his own fate
alone and waiting
the man of the house.

home run

it’s our weekend so we go to the batting cages
i try not to think about next weekend
dad’s supposed to take me to six flags
but right now we’re here, the batting cages
it’s our time but the last session ballers hover
dad’s polite reminding then asking
they’re kids my age but they have each other
when they feign listening i have my dad’s back
he rattles the cage  warning jumping in
average height but his ego looms
verbal thrashing at the tip of his tongue
the boys hurry along and then
it’s just me and dad at the batting cages

the big sick

Image result for the big sick

The Big Sick is raw, humorous, and bittersweet in capturing the frustration of an identity affected by polar cultures. Born first generation or moved to America at an impressionable age, fitting in is the solution to mental stability while appeasing to parents who moved countries for a better life is the solution for emotional stability. But compromising has to have a limit, right?

I recommend this movie to all adults who are in or have flirted with interracial relationships. Old folk with their conservative opinions will not like this movie. But that’s exactly why they have to watch it. Choosing to dismiss facts or feelings because it does not personally align with their beliefs simply hinders learning.

Growing up, I loved the term American melting pot. I felt as though it connected me to all the citizens of the states, a motley crew that made up the soul of the country because of the freedom we had to be whoever we wanted. But the inbred upturned noses silent in public are virulently verbose in the confines of their home in degrading anything – anyone – different. I hear it, the (un)intentional racist joke and I cringe.

The actors in the film gave a stellar performance, the dialogue rich in realism and awkwardness that moves it way past just a movie about cross-culture lovers. Rather it’s the struggle within that affects relationships around the main character Kumail. In this story, grappling between the choice between love and family, Kumail hides behind the expected choice further stowing away his own pride. In a turn of events of dire circumstance, he finds himself in a face-off with his parents who badger him for his selfishness to drop the ball on all that they wanted – nay, expected – of him. He fires back, “why did you bring me to America at all? How can you think it wouldn’t affect me?” (paraphrased of course).

That’s the line that floored me. There were so many poignant and comically relatable scenes, but it’s the words that I have asked and wondered myself up there on screen – I felt exposed. Vulnerable. And when those feelings are dismissed, that’s selfish of those choosers.

Want to laugh? Want romance? Want to tear up with empathy? This movie has it all. The Urdu and the nods to Pakistani garb, food and views is an added bonus of insight to another vibrant culture.
Bottomline: if you have ever met someone who lacked the comprehension of love is love and thwarted your relationship from advancing by insinuating the loss of your family in the pursuit of love, you need to watch this movie. It will reinforce the belief within – you are the one capable of making the right choice for yourself.

The Power of Three

PowerofThree

When we argue, our curses are open blisters on tongues

livid we spout, hearts shriveling up a little more.

It’s easy to turn against with expectations,

but my parents and I are direct blood

not like cousins and uncles and aunts –

relatives visit, friends come and go,

we are a tied knot unable to relax.

Sometimes they forget I am not their baby anymore

then I pretend they’re my haggard prisoners –

they scorn my decisions and I plot my escape.

Rarely we sit down together for dinner but when we do,

I see their self-worry if they raised me right

and I have to shoulder the confidence for all three of us

as I walk the high beam of consequences –

I can – I will land on my feet to stride home proudly.

Fat Sandwich

Journal

Priyanka liked writing long before she read The Princess Diaries. When she was younger, she had flowery diaries that she would carry in colorful purses, but as she got older, she switched to journaling. Even her best friend Gina didn’t understand that.

“Aren’t they the same thing?” she asked exasperated.

Despite a flare of annoyance at that comment, Priyanka tried to explain. She hoped to show how therapeutic writing could be in contrast to the stress all students came to know with essays. “Diaries are great for jotting down memories, essentially beginning a cathartic or healing process. It’s a great place for divulging secrets too. But journals are more than that. Think of scientific journals or academic journals – when I journal I try to write observations and analysis of events and actions in my life to better understand myself.”

Gina snorted. “That sounds boring. You need a better hobby.”

“No -” But Gina’s attention was diverted by the girls crocheting in study hall. Priyanka was left with the value to herself: journaling allowed her to have a clear mind to assess her problems and find a solution. But not always.

The kids at school saw her as the girl in the back of the class hidden behind her marble notebook. Her family didn’t understand it either. The less people she talked to, the more she poured herself onto lined pages.

Nonna did not like to see her granddaughter reclusive. She was proud of Priyanka for having a hobby that benefited her academics but she feared having a notebook as a confidant would perpetuate her lack of social skills. Constantly Nonna encouraged the whole family to have a weekly session of sharing of their feelings, but it never caught on.

Priyanka did not trust her grandmother. She saw the disapproving tilt in her smile when she wrote in fancy leather-bound journals. Sometimes Nonna would quietly stand over as she wrote and when she tried to cover up her inner thoughts, Nonna would pry. “Aren’t you going to share what you wrote?” Evading the question, Priyanka was faced with her parents wondering what she was always scribbling down.

“It’s not ready,” Priyanka said every time. She would never be ready to share all her feelings with anyone. Partly because most were transient, something she needed to work through. Sick of the constant barrage, she began writing in marble notebooks – they blended in with other school notebooks very well. It quelled her family’s unease. For a safety measure, Priyanka came up with a code word. While writing in the pages of her journal, she would also insert her published school articles and loose leaf that she’d use under the guise of taking class notes. It beefed up her personal notebook – like a fat sandwich. “I’m going to the grease truck in the park to get a fat sandwich!” Once out of the house, depending on the weather she would write sitting in a tree or in the dusty corner of foreign novels in the library. Her plan in successful motion, Priyanka left out her journal on her pillow.

Later Nonna said she was apprehensive of her granddaughter’s eating habits; fat sandwiches were not healthy to eat every day, much less be around! It was as if she purposefully overlooked the fact that Priyanka hadn’t put on weight or had all the money she earned from working at an ice cream parlor locked away in savings for college. But she crept into her room and flipped the pages of Priyanka’s truth.

She didn’t expect it when she came home from school that day. Her notebook was on her pillow seemingly untouched. But before dinner, her mom insisted the three adults have a talk with her about her behavior. Amma forefronted the discussion; Dad could not look at her and Nonna had a gleam in her eyes that made Priyanka want to lunge at her. Such a dark thought she would have expelled from her soul by writing it down along with its causation and a brainstormed solution, but now she didn’t have her best friend, her only friend. Her face contorted as her crimes were listed – having a crush, not paying attention in class, having a Facebook account open to talk to her crush, her struggles to maintain her grades, making plans to go on a date –

Amma told her firmly, “You have to clear your mind.”

Priyanka had bottled up her feelings for so long because she thought no one wanted to hear what she had to say. Her anger bubbled over. Her parents thought she didn’t hear how they fought, but now she tapped into the learned verbal lashing. “But what about my heart? I can’t just dispel feelings away!”

“You shouldn’t be thinking about boys. You should be thinking about how to earn back our trust.”

Your trust? You invaded my privacy. You broke my trust. You could have just asked -” It was hard to make a case when tears are threatening to spill. Priyanka swallowed back her sob. “You never made the effort to ask what was going in my life. It was always ‘how was school?’ or ‘did you do your homework?’ or ‘go study more’. Of course I have more of a life than that! I’m a sentient sixteen year old! And you’re going to judge me on that? And you don’t get to choose parts of my journal to hold over me! The boy is actually Gina’s boyfriend now. But you care too much of what people will think of me to see there’s more to me! I’m great ice cream vendor! Maybe my grades are suffering in what you want to get A’s in but I have A’s in English and History. I’m actually working with the Drama teacher to come up with a modern version of Odysseus. Maybe I’m not the daughter you want, but you’re not the family I want!”

Priyanka stormed to her room. For effect, she slammed her door and her rackety sobs were just as loud. All she wanted to do was write, but as she looked at her overextended journal, she couldn’t trust herself to work a pen. She’d make the ink bleed.

When she was in third grade, Priyanka’s teacher had given the class Harry Potter journals as a holiday present. Her classmates hadn’t known what to do with them, but Priyanka was thrilled. The chronicling of her life was very addicting. It was only when she was rereading an entry, did she find an entry about having a crush but only liking him “less than 3 percent”. It had bothered her that she’d let her fear of what other people thought keep her from fully admitting in her journal that she wanted Samuel Sargeant to be her best friend. Since then her commitment to bettering herself was exploring her flaws in her notebook. But she’d overlooked her hope as a weakness; she wanted to believe that Nonna and her parents would eventually come around to her writing as both a strong character strength and a fortuitous future career.

They didn’t trust her? She’d never trust them again. She’d never look to her family to understand or accept or support her. She was on her own, she and her fat sandwich.