cor ad cor loquitur

where heart speaks to heart

On marriage: part God knows what — November 20, 2017

On marriage: part God knows what

Two posts so close together, you guys must be lucky! (Jk I’m like super duper stressed out right now and need to distract myself today. I have to work on my CV/resume and my final presentation for rotation, but LOL). Today’s topic will be (NEW FLASH, nothing new there) marriage. This is kind of an update, or at least I hope, from my last post(s) on marriage and love and all that fun stuff. The last time I tried to write this post I was full of sass, but I’m feeling very down and in another low point of my depression today so it’ll probably be less sassy and more serious.

So I’ve mentioned many times on here before, but as a Desi girl, 23 is apparently the magical age where you need to get married and settle down. It doesn’t matter that I want to focus on my career and become a successful pharmacist. In society’s eyes, I’m not successful if I’m not married yet. That is a pressure that is very heavily felt by my father and to a lesser extent, my mother.

So to begin with, let’s go over my father and mother’s ideas of marriage. My dad sees marriage as a union, not between two people, but rather between two families. Weddings are not supposed to be simple affairs, but rather extravagant affairs where the entire world can see how happy he is that his daughter is getting married. The guy his daughter is getting married to must like her, but love may not necessarily be a requirement for the marriage itself. Said guy must never hurt his daughter and must treat her with respect, but he also must be from a good family because after all, this marriage is uniting two families. He wants me to desire the idea of marriage– his idea of marriage– and we often get into arguments about this.

My mother, on the contrary, just desires happiness for her children. She does also see marriage as a union between two families, but to a much lesser extent. She doesn’t care if the guy’s family is rich or poor, they just need to be decent people with caring, loving hearts. She doesn’t care what the guy does; he must be a good Muslim, pure at heart, and must treat her daughter with love and respect. Respect for women is very important to my mother, and if a guy is not able to treat women with respect and disregards women’s rights, then the guy is nothing to my mother. She doesn’t care how the wedding is–the simpler, the better. She wants me to wait until I’m ready for marriage, but not too long. In fact, just a few days ago she told me that I’ll be married in 2 years, so she’s slightly more liberal, but still very conservative.

A few weeks ago we attended the wedding festivities of a close family friend of ours. His son was getting married. It was your typical arranged marriage and typical huge Desi wedding with dollars upon dollars just being spent on things that people would later talk shit about anyway. Marriage is a very large part of Desi culture. Essentially, everything you do in life must lead to one final goal– marriage. That weekend, Bob and Molly* had fulfilled their goal. Their life had now begun.

As Muslims, marriage is an important part of life. The Prophet (SAW) has said that the best amongst Muslims are those who are married. Marriage helps fulfill the internal desires essentially preventing Muslims from committing sin. But Islam also says that marriage should never be forced upon someone. Additionally, if a guy or a girl likes someone, then they can bring that forward to their parents. Interestingly, even during the actual signing of the marriage contract, the woman must agree prior to signing her name– even if she has already consented to the marriage. (This was something interesting I learned during the wedding)

So since Bob and Molly got married, and Bob is only a year older than I am, everyone has now been saying that it’s time for me to get married. The one good thing that came out of the wedding was no rishtas, so score one for Komal against Desi aunties. And so comes the real reason for writing this post? Do I feel pressurized to get married? In all honesty, no, but…

I have this idea of marriage and love and all that cutesy stuff that is probably so delusional and not reality. When you’re in a romantic relationship, you’re able to fully be yourself with that one person. They know you inside and out, and you know them inside and out. You get intimate, obviously physically, but I’m talking about the emotional intimacy. They’ll know your deepest, darkest fears. They’ll know your deepest, darkest thoughts. They’ll sense your anger, your sorrow, and your happiness. Every emotion will be laid out in the open, and if you both truly care for each other, you’ll try your hardest to keep the good emotions afloat and drown the bad emotions. You’ll both be each other’s shoulder to cry on. To me, that is what a relationship is between two people.

It was the craving for this that drove me to say yes to a total of two rishtas that came forward. Looking back, I probably agreed to them for all the wrong reasons, and I was naive at the time. The first one was this guy who I actually really liked. Med student, super attractive, beard on point, Pakistani, well-dressed, seemed well-mannered upon first impression. Basically, he was the perfect guy, or at least he fit the idea of ideal man, but it didn’t work out and I was devastated for silly reasons.

Then more recently, I said yes to a rishta that was bought forward around January of this year. There was nothing about the guy I liked (and this based on the superficial looking at his pictures and based on his career), but I still said yes. You know why? Because I was tired– tired of being alone, tired of everyone asking me if I had someone in my life, tired of getting these rishtas, just tired. This one was also a no because apparently they had found someone else. That’s cool.

So do you know what that did to me? I kept thinking, and still do sometimes, that there is something wrong with me. Something is wrong with me that prevents people from ever being able to consider me a romantic counterpart. I mean all this would have been so much easier if someone had just liked me and wanted to go out with me. If I think logically, there’s nothing wrong with me. I care for those around me, I go out of my way to do things for people who mean a lot to me. But you know, it’s those dark whispers that tell me there’s something wrong with me.

I want this post to be all encompassing, so apologies for how long it is and how unorganized it seems. I don’t mean for things to take on a dark turn, but it’s something that haunts me from time to time. One of my biggest fears is not finding love and being alone in the world. I know 23 is a young age to be worried about this. But after 23 comes 24 after comes 25 and so on.

I feel like there’s so much more I have to say regarding this topic. But it’s just gonna be even more unorganized if I continue writing. So far, at 23, these are my thoughts.

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Suffocation — November 11, 2017

Suffocation

I feel suffocated today by my depression. I can’t breathe, I can’t think, I can’t do anything. Depression is like a dark cloud that hangs over you, and when it’s time to strike, it comes down to strangle you. You’re still breathing and seemingly alive, but in reality you’re just a walking corpse. And you know that suffocation, it prevents you from screaming for help. It stops you from crying out loud.

Depression is the dark, black monster that your parents warned you about. You thought it didn’t exist. You thought it wasn’t real. But it’s real, and it haunts you every day of your life. 

Exactly 1 year ago today, I was in college learning how to treat different mental health disorders. The dean of the pharmacy school was going to teach us these mental health disorders which made the idea of learning this topic all the more intimidating. But the first lecture happened, and I left the lecture feeling that it was the best lecture I’ve received in pharmacy school. She had a way of teaching such a difficult topic with ease and entertainment.

A few days later came the depression lecture. “SIG-E-CAPS” was the acronym she told us to remember what the signs and symptoms of depression are. SIG E CAPS stands for:

  • Sleep
  • Interest (lack of)
  • Guilt
  • Energy
  • Concentration
  • Appetite
  • Psychomotor activity
  • Suicidal ideation

Depression isn’t an easy topic to talk about. It’s not an easy illness to acknowledge and come to terms with. Quite often we throw around the phrase, “I’m depressed”, without truly meaning that we are depressed. Because if you’ve ever been depressed then you know just how difficult depression is to deal with. You don’t just stay in bed all day because you want to, but because something internally is stopping you from getting up and going about your day. You don’t feel this overwhelming sadness all of a sudden because something devastating has happened, but simply because your brain has decided that now’s the time for you to feel like shit. It’s so hard to describe why I feel a certain way or why I’m depressed to someone because in all honesty, there is no reason, it’s just the way my brain was wired.

How exactly does depression manifest itself for me? SIG E CAPS. I feel more sleepy, less interested and motivated to do things, an overwhelming feeling of guilt and insecurity, lack of energy, decreased concentration, increased appetite, slower movements, and yes, I have had my moments of suicidal ideation. So often people have said to suck it up and deal with it because this is what life is. How naive of them to say so.

I’ve been asked many times, why are you depressed? I can’t answer that question. I ask myself that question all the time. Why are you depressed, Komal? What exactly in life are you not content about? I’m content with each and every thing Allah has given me. Life has been, alhamdulillah, relatively easy for me. So then why are you depressed? Isn’t your depression just a sign of ungratefulness? I have been told those exact words before. I’m depressed because I’m not grateful and because I don’t believe, but those statements are false in every which way.

These things just happen, and while I can have months of me being relatively normal and content with life. There’s always that darkness at the end of the tunnel, just waiting to engulf me. That darkness is indefinitely long while I’m a part of it, but then slowly the tunnel moves toward light. I return to my usual self yet again, but if I’m being honest, that darkness will always be a looming cloud over my head. And so while it may seem like it’s gone, it’s omnipresent and suffocating, leaving me to wonder how exactly do I get rid of this darkness.

#NotMyPresident: Donald Trump’s Terrifying America — November 10, 2016

#NotMyPresident: Donald Trump’s Terrifying America

Side note: sorry for not blogging much lately. I’m not abandoning this blog, but just cutting back from how often I want to blog. In terms of quality, I think it’s better to write when I particularly feel passionate about an event or topic. Maintaining a blog schedule does not result in quality writing, and I’m honestly not proud of any of those blog posts I’ve written. Okay, so now let’s talk about the elephant in the room (or rather the title).

By now we are all familiar with the results of the election and the man who is now our President-Elect. We are all familiar with the protests conducted all across the country as a result of the election results. We are all (hopefully) familiar with the hate crimes that started as a result of the election.

As a Muslim-American woman (and obviously a POC), I am terrified, but I’m not terrified because of Donald Trump. Rather, I’m terrified because the racist, white supremacist rhetoric that has unfolded as a result of his candidacy and now election. Let’s be clear, I’m only 22 years old (so I’m young, but I’m not naive by any means). I never wanted to admit it, but the second he was selected as the Republican nominee for president, I knew that racism had not gone away. The Civil Rights Movement of the 60s would be resurrected, except this time, it wouldn’t include just Blacks, it would include Muslims, Latinx, LGBTQ, and women. White supremacy never died, it was just buried under ground waiting for someone to unearth this.

My father, a Muslim Pakistani-American, had experienced racism long before Trump was elected. Do you know what it was fueled by? Trump’s campaign. He was given a Bible by one of his coworkers who told him to consider conversion to Christianity because Islam does not preach peace. Islam is a backwards religion, according to his coworker. His coworkers subtly hinted at white supremacy by ganging up against him and trying to get him to quit. They made his life a living hell, to the point where he experienced his first episode of depression.

But this was all long before Trump’s election, now that he is elected, I fear for my father. Not just because of the financial aspects that result from losing a job, but because this is the America he worked so hard to come to. This is the America that caused him to leave his entire family in Pakistan and come to in order to provide better prospects for his children. So while it is easy to joke about booking a one way flight to the motherland or Canada, it leaves you wondering– what was the point of my parents’ sacrifice?

We leave our countries to come to America, the land of freedom and liberty. A land where we are free to practice our religion and free to maintain our traditions. I can wear what I want and not be taunted by every one around me. This freedom was not present in Pakistan. But now, it seems that the country my parents wanted to come to has let them down. Freedom is simply a catchphrase for America, but is that what the general population truly stands for?

Since when did America become a largely become an evangelical entity? The answer is, it’s always been. Trump’s election has just unearthed this ideaology, and like many other minorities, I am terrified. Does this mean it will now be okay to burn POC’s houses, steal their cars, physically assault them on the streets, and hurl racist insults at them? I want to say no, but the truth is I’m not sure. A day after the election, hate crimes have surged. Hate crimes against women, against Muslims, against Blacks, against Hispanics. If this is what will continue for the next four years, then this is not the great America my parents sacrificed their happiness for.

People have said the election will not affect anyone, but they are privileged. If you are not genuinely terrified about what will happen to your family, what will happen to you, then you are privileged. Privilege is such a nice place to be right now. Just because we’re in 2016, it does not mean the world is perfect. It’s still racist, sexist, and homophobic– and that is a scary place to be.

I’ve written a lot, and if I continue, I think the message I want to get a strong won’t be as impactful. I do want to say that maybe Trump won’t be as bad as a president. Maybe he just utilized racist and misogynistic rhetoric to get votes. What I do know is that we have unearthed something terrifying, and we need to be strong and support each other. If Trump stands for everything he mentioned on his campaign, then I’m sorry, but he’s #NotMyPresident.

The Value of Education — January 24, 2016

The Value of Education

(This won’t be one of my normal blog posts, but nonetheless it’ll be interesting.)

My parents college education is worth nothing. My parents have both graduated college with a Bachelor’s (B.S.) degree in Chemistry and Physical Therapy (father and mother, respectively). The only problem is they obtained their education in Pakistan, so in this advanced first world country their college education means nothing.

They have worked just as hard as anyone else who has received a Bachelor’s degree. They worked extra hard to legally enter the U.S. in hopes of obtaining further education. However, since their education was not valued as highly as an American obtained Bachelor’s, they financially could never afford to further their education and obtain a higher level degree.

That doesn’t mean they’re not as qualified for the positions they apply for. They left their white collar positions in Pakistan to come to the land of freedom to pursue the American dream. Yet when they arrived, they were forced to work lower level positions. (**NOTE: Nothing wrong with these positions. Trust me, no job is too little and under circumstances you just have to take up whatever job you can get to survive.)

Here’s the thing, my father was a supervisor in the Pakistani branch of a well-known pharmaceutical company. My mother owned her own clinic and worked as a PT in a hospital. However, after coming to America, they never worked in these fields ever again.

To pay the bills, my father took to becoming a security guard at the airport during the night while selling phone cards during the day. My mother worked in a warehouse. We had to rent out a room, bathroom, and kitchen because we couldn’t even afford an apartment.

Things got better, though. My dad received a job offer at a chemical company in New Jersey. We packed up and moved. But even then, my mom started working at a dry cleaners. When my brother was born, she gave up her career to take care of us.

Eighteen years later (present day), she’s looking for a job. Any job, if she’s lucky even a job in her field, but her education is nothing. Her sacrifice to properly raise her children haunts her daily. She applies to multiple positions daily. These positions range from cashier to physical therapy aide. Yet every single time, they reject her. She never gives up hope, but I have because while this country is great, it ruined my parents life.

My father’s job helps pay our bills, bring food to the table, and let’s us enjoy life once in a while. He was the supervisor at a pharmaceutical company, but now when he applies to those jobs, they reject him. He has the qualifications, he meets the requirements, but still he’s rejected.

Our family income places us in no man’s land (since the middle class is disappearing). Our total income is slightly more than the poverty line, but significantly less than upper class. With this, we survive and manage to pay out of pocket whatever remaining tuition I have for college.

My parents have worked hard. They are educated and would continue to work hard. But the ones who judge based on resume never see that. My parents college education is worth nothing. But my parents sacrifice means everything to me. When I graduate with my PharmD, I know that they realize it was all worth it.

 

Letter to my future self — January 14, 2016

Letter to my future self

Dear future Komal,

I am not sure how old you actually are because I didn’t intend it to be a set time into the future. The fact that this is a blog post also points to the fact that I don’t intend to have a certain aged Komal read it. Anyway, rambling aside (you’ll notice I do a lot of that, do you still ramble?), I hope you are doing well.

Today is January 14, 2016. You woke up this morning to find out that Alan Rickman, a wonderful actor, had just passed away after battling cancer. He was in many movies you’ve watched, but most notably, he was Professor Snape in Harry Potter. Your opinion on Professor Snape is constantly changing. Sometimes you love the character, other times not so much. Speaking of deaths, as of this day, your great grandmother, Dada, Dadi, Rafat Chachi, and Ayesha have passed away. Ayesha was only 20 years old, and her death is the most recent one in your family.

I want to avoid talking about family problems in this letter. Just know that they exist and sometimes your anger stems from them. You are constantly debating between asking for forgiveness from Allah (SWT) or just breaking all ties with certain people.

As of today, you’ve had your heartbroken once in a romantic way and it still affects you deeply. You still hope that you and this boy will get together, but you have entrusted this into the hands of Allah (SWT). You feel lonely and want to have a significant other, but are also afraid of everything that will ensue.

You’re convinced you suffer from depression, so I hope that now you don’t let it affect you much and have gotten treatment. And with that, enough about the present.

I hope that you are happy now. I hope that you have started to travel the world. What was the first country you decided to visit? Did you have a good time? How often do you vacation?

I also hope you’ve settled down and have a family if this is 30 year old Komal reading. As a 21 year old, you wanted at least one child by the age of 30. I hope your husband treats you with love and respect. (Is he a doctor? 21 year old Komal always wanted to marry a doctor) I hope he can deal with your anger, impatience, and provide emotional support in trying times. Does he surprise you with romantic gestures? Does your relationship still have the same warmth and love it had when it first began? Most importantly, have you finally learned to cook and decided to overcome germophobia and start cleaning the bathroom?

How is your house? Is it the luxurious 5 bedroom house you planned on having? What about the decor? I certainly hope it’s contemporary. Your kitchen must look amazing. Does this have your dream shoe closet or did you outgrow that dream once you realized that it was impractical?

What about your career? Did you decide to do a two year residency after all or did you just accept the job offer at CHOP because you were tired of learning and studying? Most importantly, do you feel happy that you chose this career path? Despite all the struggles in pharmacy school, I’m sure you made it through. I’m about to start my second semester of fourth year, which leaves only 5 more semesters in this journey. I’m sure you made it through even if you had one too many mental and emotional breakdowns.

Are you still friends with I, J, H, S, Z, and any of your other college friends? I hope you know whose names those letters refer to. How are they doing? Were they bridesmaids at your wedding? Speaking of, how was your wedding? Right now, you’re worried about how that’ll work out because your family is in Pakistan, but you want to marry someone in America. How’d that work out?

What’s Eabad up to these days? If you’re 30 years old, then I hope he’s started working and making a living. Do you plan on getting him married soon or do you want him to fully establish himself?

Do you both support your parents? Are they doing well? You love your parents. I’m sure you still do. You fight with them on occasion, but they’re your best friends. In shaa Allah, they are still there with you. At 21, the thought of losing them remains unbearable. Everything you are today is because of them and their sacrifices. Never forget that.

That’s all the time I have for today. I have to pray namaz, which I hope you have started praying five times daily.

With love,

A 21 year old Komal

The one that matters — October 8, 2015

The one that matters

Here’s some free-writing based on real moments. Hope you enjoy. Also, hi, it’s been a while. I’ve been so busy with school. 2 more years of pharmacy school to go!

I wish you would smile more and appreciate the fact you were blessed with a wonderful life by the One and Only. When I see you smile at events like graduation, I feel happy because that’s a genuine smile. But I know you are severely depressed. But life is a gift from God. I wish you’d prefer staying alive than dying. What hurts the most is when you talk about wanting to die. Life is temporary, that I know, but life is also a gift.

I wish you would appreciate everything about life. The fact that you do have a wonderful family with a wonderful husband and wonderful kids. That’s all that should matter. You should love the fact that you live away from the horrors that plague your home country. Yes, I know your family lives there. But do they actually care about you? Tell me one time they actually cared about you. When you’re with your other family, you have no say in important decisions. That’s probably why you feel the way you do.

I know life is hard for you. That’s why I always pray that you are happy. If living here does not make you happy, then you can go away. I know you prefer the other country. If you think they truly care for you and you will genuinely be happy, then you can go. I have accepted that fact that living away from you is fine if that is the key to your happiness. Sorry, we don’t like the other country, but if you like it, be happy and feel free to move there. I just want you to be happy because you have truly had the hardest life.

I am sorry for everything. You’ve had the hardest life. I don’t want you to wish that life ended for you. I want you to appreciate everything about your life, but focus more on the good. I want to see you happy during every occasion. I want those tears to be tears of happiness and not tears of sorrow. I am so sorry for everything you’ve been through in life, even the things I haven’t done. Someone needs to tell you how important you are, and to me, you are the most important person I know. You are my bestest friend. I love you so much, and I want everything in life to go perfectly for you..

Yours truly.

I know this is sad, but this was a way for me to vent my feelings. A lot of personal things have been happening in life, and while I won’t share too much, this vague post hopefully explains some things. It certainly did feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. Till next time, stay happy always.