The Pakistan Journal Vol II

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 Paternal homes

There is no denying the dynamics definitely change when elders or heads of the family pass away. It’s only once that happens that I suppose you can see the true realities or faces of your family and you realise your elders were the ones that kept everyone together united with one another.

With all of that in mind before leaving London I had had several conversations with my mum about the chance of staying over at my Daadi’s, in the end I had decided that I wouldn’t as it would just complicate things. I felt I could go and visit the house, the house that we had spent several summer holidays in and also pay my respects at her grave. However whilst staying in Jhelum for both weddings I decided I would continue to stay with my nani and cousins in her village. It was the weirdest and I would say the most testing time for me, as my nani and most of her side of the family live in England. I had never really visited that village or spent time with that side of the family.

After a couple of days I settled in, dodging random aunties and their imposing questions, carrying out general bridesmaid’s duties. Some of which included trying to wave off clingy aunties wanting to witness ALL behind the scenes bridal moments! Before long the wedding was under way and at last my Khala, Mamu and cousins came from Islamabad and joined us. The wedding went smoothly we ate, sang, giggled, laughed, screamed, cried and fan girled over the popular wedding videographer team that had been hired and in a blink of an eye it was all over! An hour after my cousin’s walimah ended, my bags and dresses were all packed and I was ready for the second and final wedding of the trip. Now you may question why I had packed when earlier I had decided not to stay in my Daadi’s village, well the story follows.

In the second week of my trip we had made a visit to my Daadi’s village to visit her grave and see the house again. The location of my Daadi’s house is really unique and I would say special. My Dada (grandfather) had 4 brothers in total, growing up they all lived on one large plot of land, just outside the main village. But as each brother got married they sectioned off a piece of land for each brother and they all brought up their families side by side. Most of the brother’s children moved to England, dad being the only one to move to London. So although we live in different parts of England, it’s this legacy that our granddad’s left that keeps us together. So the grandchildren of these granddads are beginning to get married and start their own families, they’re my second cousins. And I had stayed in Jhelum to attend one of my second cousins wedding.

Desi aunties although prone to bouts of wailing or crying for various reasons are not very sentimental. So when the groom’s mother suggested that all 5 houses have their doors unlocked and opened after many years of them being deserted was truly a beautiful gesture and it really touched me. The groom’s mother invited me to stay with them during the duration of the wedding but then my 2 aunties, my dad’s sisters offered to stay with me at my Daadis house instead. My first visit to my Daadi’s home was spent with me walking into each room and crying endlessly. Remembering little moments like my cousins and I sitting around laughing during my chachu’s wedding several years before and where my Daadi would sit in her usual spot laughing at us and our ‘Englishness’. Seeing the bedroom door where on another summer holiday whilst being chased, my brother ran straight into the strong wooden door and ended up with several painful stitches to the head.

There were many events and dramas that accompanied the wedding. I was spending more time with my second cousins and going around to their houses before the ceremonial events began and the guests started to arrive. On one particular morning, the morning of the last event the Walima something took place which I will never forget. As usual I had put my dress on and had gone around to the groom’s house. All the girls were upstairs, last minute pinning of dupattas and sticking fake eyelashes on. Going back to the story most of the girls were all dressed and left the room to go find some of the others. I was taking my time and was left alone with one of the aunt’s from England.

We were both in different corners of the room and I started telling her how some of my dad’s relatives were bugging me and thought they could match me with one of the groomsmen. I continued to tell her the story until I realised she was very quiet, I turned around and she just looked at me with these sad eyes. She opened her mouth and uttered the words “My husband wants to divorce me” I’ve probably never been so shocked in my life, it left me speechless. I immediately crossed over to her and we sat down. I felt her emotions seeping out of her, she must have felt so alone and helpless to have just blurted it out to me like that. I did my best to try and comfort her and told her she had to stay strong for her daughters who had only just left the room a couple of minutes before. We only had one more event to get through and then the wedding would officially be over. This aunty honestly had so much patience and strength to brave through all those difficult moments.

As with every wedding there was a lot of drama, as well as other people’s family troubles. I personally had to deal with and put up with a lot of unnecessary drama which I may not have had if my mum had been with me. I strongly believe everything happens for a reason, having so much to deal with brought me closer to my second cousins and their parents, especially the aunties. Back in England I barely spend any time with these people and only meet them at rare special occasions. But living in such close proximity we all blended together, we were in and out of each other’s houses, spending hot sticky afternoons lazing on manjis under the spinning fans. All these people were there for me and I found comfort and solace in them. I honestly believe there is a special kind of magic that exists within those green lands of Pakistan; I could feel the presence of our grandfathers and the small marks they had left on the land we call our home. I found we were all bound by that legacy that they had left behind and that was really special and something I had never experienced before.

Pakistan Journal Vol I

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The Brigadier’s Military rule.

My Khala was born and bred in London but then she got married to a man in the military and moved to Islamabad, Pakistan. I suppose she adapted to life there quite well, but ask her London’s weather forecast for next week and she’ll reel it off to you. Through the years and visits we’ve always been connected and I suppose it’s no secret she’s my favourite Aunty. Although we would always go and stay with her for a couple of days during our holidays to Pakistan, I never had the opportunity to spend time with my Uncle, her husband. As during most of our visits he would be busy with work and hardly at home.

Before leaving London this was one of my biggest worries and I was crazy nervous and a little scared. I would obviously be spending more time with the whole family and would have to live under my uncle’s roof. On first glance he’s an intimidating figure, tall, bearded and his presence alone makes a person nervous let alone when he’s uniformed! I suppose that’s part of his job he is responsible for others and has to be intimidating and stern to a certain degree.

We arrived in Islamabad at around 4:30am. I had travelled with my cousin ‘the bride’ and her mother. The bride’s mother had rang my Khala and her husband to let them know what time our flight was expected. I’m used to coming out of the airport and having someone familiar like my daadi or chachu to pick me up but this time it was different. So here we were, baggage stuffed onto 2 trollies waiting for uncle to pick us up. If anyone has ever travelled to the south Asian continent you’ll know. Even if you have no one to greet you at the airport you’ll be greeted by hundreds of strangers and their almost eagle like glares, it can be a startling experience for any newbies. We had to find a non-existent ‘quiet corner’ and ring Uncle to see where they were. They arrived 35-40 mins late and after having to endure all those weird stares from strangers I was tired, uneasy and annoyed with Uncle, after all he was meant to be a man of discipline, wasn’t he?

It took me a couple of weeks to settle into the house and the family’s routine. It was in stark contract to my usual surroundings of my daadi’s open courtyard scattered in lemon trees and the small sized traditional rooms. The house I was staying in was in the NDU, the Army and University’s joint gated complex. We would always have lunch and dinner together around the table. My Uncle’s office was only a couple of minutes away and he made sure that he was always home on time for family meals. “We always have lunch and dinner together which is cool, but there are a lot of formalities and protocols here. Mamuji (uncle) uses a fork to eat roti and salan” reading back through my journal makes me laugh as to how I noticed and wrote all the little details.

Nearly every meal time without fail my Uncle would pick on me and tease me. He would put questions to me “so Miss lawyer what would you do in an xyz situation” and then he would joke about the way I would respond. Although he was always teasing me I came to realise it was his way of showing love and care. I looked forward to our family meals and the banter that bounced back and forth between us all. My uncle is definitely the heart of his family and it was really amazing to see that. Although I’m connected from his wife’s side he never let it be felt, he treated me like I was his very own daughter. I felt that was heart-warming and one of the reasons I was able to live there so comfortably.

In the past few months as other younger family members have been getting engaged/married. I’ve been feeling the pressure and comments from various family members. Not just marriage comments but also about my career or lack of, none of these comments have been helpful and have been at times downright spiteful and bitter. On many occasions I haven’t been able to respond out of respect I suppose, on account of them being older aunty tpes. This happened a fair few times in Pakistan too.

One night following dinner my khala and uncle were about to go on one of their late night walks when my khala asked me to join them. It was fairly chilly so I wrapped myself in a shawl and joined them. We ended up speaking for hours. We walked around the army complex twice and then continued into the night after reaching home, whilst my cousins all went to sleep. I’ll never forget that night; it was the first time my uncle and I had the opportunity to really talk properly. He told me that he was proud of me that I had achieved something many in our family circle hadn’t and how regardless of what anyone said I was a law graduate, I would always have my education. If I had achieved that, I could do anything I set out to do and anyone who had anything to say was to be ignored and silenced because they weren’t worth anyone’s time.

It was an emotional night and obviously involved a bucket full of tears, I hadn’t realised I had been building everything up inside and it all came tumbling out. All the stresses; graduating, my dad, searching for work, marriage pressure, self image the lot! My uncle told me ‘the way you carry yourself is so important don’t let people think of you in any different way’ He emphasised the importance of education over typical pressures of marriage. I saw this in the way he supported my cousins with their education and the way he encouraged them to follow their interests and to be able to succeed in whatever field they chose.  I think it’s quite ironic I found the non desi values and life lessons in Pakistan itself and from Pakistanis, moving away from the typical Asian norms and ideals.

That evening was special my Uncle and Khala had the chance to understand me a little bit more. He would often get phone calls and I ended up joining the cousins in rolling our eyes, the phone calls would occasionally be from friends and family asking for advice or help and he would never turn anyone down. Following that evening I was inspired and felt refreshed; I had been inspired by a man who even in his late 40s was studying for his masters alongside working up the military ranks and taking care of his family and others. After that he would refer to me as Miss lawyer/vaqeel even when we were out haggling with shop keepers. The dukhaan wallah actually thought I was a qualified lawyer! So you see the Brigadier Uncle didn’t turn out to be too bad!

 

 

 

 

The Pakistan journal

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I’ll be honest this blog post has been gathering cobwebs in a corner for a couple of months now. The reason being that there were too many emotions, life changing moments, discoveries and the crumblings of old relationships. To even be able to comprehend and process what to write/archive or rather to be left as forgotten memories.

It took me up to 3 weeks to shake off the jet lag. When I retraced my steps I realised why, seeing as the last couple of weeks of my stay in Pakistan were hectic. I had never moved around so much, I’ve been on long drives and abroad but never like this. The first three weeks were spent relaxing in Islamabad although they didn’t turn out to be as calming as I had anticipated! At the end of the three weeks we left Islamabad for my nani’s village for my cousin’s wedding, where I served my second official post as bridesmaid!  Then on the back of my cousin’s wedding I had to attend another wedding on my dad’s side of the family, both weddings were literally back to back. On the evening of my cousin’s walima I packed up ready to leave for my daadi’s village.

I stayed in my daadi’s village for the duration of the second cousin’s shaadi which was 3 days long and then it was back to Islamabad. A short stay in both Muzaffarabad and Murree. Following this a few days later it was nearly time to pack up for good and leave for home [with a  couple of days stopover in Turkey] AND then finally touching down in London.

I think the 3 or so week jet lag was justified although at one point my mum got worried about my dizzy spells and diagnosed it as malaria, the typical Asian mother hey! People travel all the time but I would say this was my first ever taste of exploring new and exciting places within Pakistan and then Turkey.

Now I’ve had that little taste I definitely want more, I don’t have a bucket list as such but I really want to try to see as much of Pakistan and to explore more of its remote areas. So only then can I sit back and say I’ve seen Pakistan and it really is stunning, vast and full of wanderlust.

This particular 2014 trip was absolutely beautiful, I’ll cherish the loving memories I made, the new experiences I had and the special people I met. There was too much to write, I suppose this post  is like an introduction into the following blog posts to come. So here it goes…

“Pathetic”

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I don’t really write about politics much on here. I’ve come a long way since my 2 years studying politics during A levels, where I was reading the papers and avidly watching the news every week on the insistence of Ed our politics teacher. I gradually started to grow more pessimistic and angered by the political situation and biased media in general.

Although my hate and frustration with politics had reached ‘desi high blood pressure’ levels there was one thing I always made sure I took part in and that was voting. With politics I have always felt its electing the ‘lesser of two evils’ isn’t it?  Many around the world die fighting for their right to vote and here I am several decades down the line after the suffragette, contemplating giving up the very freedoms they dedicated their lives fighting for.

So of course each time I go and make an effort to vote whether it’s the local, national or European elections. In May we had the European and local elections in the UK. However in our constituency the local elections had been postponed because one of the candidates had passed away. They were moved to be held at the end of June.

A day before the election I was walking home and was just passing where the polling station would be the next day. When I saw a group of suits; three men and a woman. They were giving out leaflets. As I walked closer I could see the purple and yellow rosettes on their blazers. They were trying to engage with the white lady walking in front of me. Just at this point I was about to pass by the group when the lady in the group shouts out to the woman “I’ve seen you somewhere” in a last few desperate attempts to get her on board. The lady in response turns around and replies “I’ve never seen you in my life and trust me I think I would remember if I had come across you!” and then to my shock she turned to the whole group shouting “you’re pathetic” and walked off.

Clearly I was impressed by her outspokenness but also surprised that a party such as UKIP had the audacity to be canvassing around our area. So obviously I thought I’d give my two pennies worth.  I told them they were going to need all the luck in the world because they weren’t welcome around here. The woman in the group just huffed at me and turned to the men laughing and said “we won’t need any luck darling” bleurgh like how patronising.

After our little altercation I walked off towards home and the outspoken lady from before was ahead of me, walking really slow so she sort of sidled up to me and said “wow I don’t know why I just did that I’m not a shouty person at all, trust me!”  It was really lovely and refreshing to be able to have a lengthy chat with her. She was right, she was softly spoken so I understood why it must have been out of character for her. We walked together all the way down to my house. She was also a local and was baffled with why the party had been there. We spoke of coming from immigrant backgrounds. She asked me who is British? None of us can say we truly are, somewhere down the line we come from elsewhere. Her family had come from Ireland and she was disgusted with parties such as UKIP who preyed on people’s insecurities and hid ugly truths behind their immigration policies. She had just come back from an Arab restaurant where she had lunched with her son. She told me they were lovely and her son had to get back to work so she had to travel home by herself but the restaurant owner himself had offered to drive her home. She loved living in a multicultural city and she appreciated our neighbours. She believed that we don’t belong to any particular country but rather we all belong to the universe.

You see my mum used to work in the local GP surgery down the road so she has known most of our neighbours from a long time. Alhumudulilah I’m glad to say we know many of them. To the right side of our house we have Amy a South African, her British boyfriend and their 2 children. A couple of days ago our new neighbours to the left introduced themselves; the wife a Malaysian, her husband Chinese and their 2 children. We know neighbours that are Sri Lankan, Nigerian, Italian, Portuguese, and Palestinian. The list could go on but these are the ones we personally know and who live in close proximity to us.

I am so grateful for the community I live in and I love this little part of North London. Having spoken to this neighbour it really sent me into a deep thought what does it mean to be British? The question that will probably be unanswered for years to come. Britain like many other countries have been discovered and founded by immigrants from various backgrounds who have come and settled down. So it really is true, we do in some respect belong to the universe.

The day after the elections the local news reported that the elections had been won by the three Labour candidates. UKIP never had a chance and hopefully never will. So I think we showed them they’re not welcome around here, nope not in our small multicultural patch of North London!  With the next General election coming up next year it’s frustrating to see ignorant parties like UKIP making more public appearances and noise. I would say we need to do our research thoroughly before making our choices and become more informed.

** I still need to work on the length of these posts! they seem to go on forever don’t they?

The newly grad life.

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Its 1:33am Im absolutely shattered I’ve spent most of the day last minute packing  and trying to cram whatever I can into the 30kg weight limit. The flight is on Friday morning but I’m staying over at my nans tomorrow and then we’re leaving from there. But lets back track a bit. So much has been going on but then at the same time not much either. This post has been sitting in my draft for way too long so here goes!

In 2010 I sat my A Levels at the all-girls High school where I had been a student for the past 7 years.  My life’s been fast forwarded 4 years ahead. It’s no longer 2010 I’m no longer the naïve school girl with her hand bag clutched tightly facing the University’s entrance in a new and lonely part of London. I’m officially a Law graduate. I’ve done it, I survived it. As well as having to cope with uni life and all its warts I also had a lot of personal family issues to contend and cope with.

I feel this weird sense of nervousness perhaps slight excited anticipation for the future and where my path will take me next. But for now at this point I have something to pull me up when I’m feeling down. I survived a law degree; I fought each day sat through each class, each exam, each 2hr long lecture. I stayed kinda sane and even if I don’t feel like it at times, I know now that I did this. I somehow achieved this, so when the doubts start to kick in. It doesn’t matter because I made it this far, I made it, I know I am capable. I can do anything I set my mind to and ‘I’m going to aim for bigger and better things’ as one of my friends wrote in her congratulations note to me.

At the same time I feel like I’ve left the safe realms of the education net. They’ve released me into the ‘real adult’ world, sent me off to fend for myself. I’m not so great with change I ponder a lot on the past and this chapter is no different. I’m going to miss those long Tuesdays with Pri, surviving the boring 2hr lectures on employment law, those 4pm classes when everyone was headed home and we were sat in class trying not laugh at Barry’s weird facial expression and his frequent zone out moments. The tube journey home together discussing the latest current affairs or me going on some feminist /or [anti-feminist] rant depending on the situation. It’s always the simple things isn’t it?

I was speaking to one of my friends from outside of uni and she was telling me that everything  happens for a reason ‘but look at you now, in this moment of time you’re at your strongest. When I first met you you were really shy and quiet but the last couple of years since.  You’ve changed, grown, you’re stronger now’  This made me look at it from a different perspective and its true. Alhumdulilah. Sometimes challenges in life change us for the better and enable us to grow and develop as people but we’re so busy, fighting on that we don’t even realise we’ve already won some of our battles. At one point in time those battles seemed impossible to us, but we overcame those moments. With hope, faith and determination.

The time out

Last year it was announced that my younger cousin was going to be getting married in the Easter of 2014. It’s a tricky time everyone is in the midst of exams/work etc and you tend not to be able to get enough holidays off. but Somehow I felt this was all falling in place at the right time. I would be finished from uni in January and then I thought why not go away to Pakistan for 2 months. I felt like I needed this. So it’s just the bride, mother of the bride and myself off on Friday. The rest of her siblings,her dad and nana will join us in three weeks.

The past couple of years I’ve had to deal with a lot of family politics as one does in desi households. But now I feel even though my Daadi wont be there waiting for me. I feel strong enough to travel there to face the family stuff and drama head on, standing straight and tall. I suppose I’ll get a chance to say a proper goodbye to my daadi and our family home. I know she will always be with me, it will be good to gain some sort of closure.

Too many people are getting married in the family, lets hope I return without having fallen for any mundah. I can not be dealing with that in my life right now.  One thing I know for sure is I never return from Pakistan the same, it always has some sort of profound effect on me, so lets see what it has in store for me this time!

Warrior.

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lettersI saw something the other day it said  ‘Be a warrior not a worrier’  you all know which one I fall under and always have. My family know and bless their hearts my friends know it,but its what I do best. I like to plan, I like to know beforehand so I know my path, I know which way to go. I start to worry if I’m off on the unbeaten track. but it seems when I look back at the last couple of years. It hasn’t ever gone the way I had envisioned, more on that in a later post I think.

Recently I’ve been trying to reinvent myself, as one does. I don’t want to be a worrier any more. There’s not enough years in your life to waste with it. I turn 22 next Tuesday and yes I’m scared at how 22 years have passed.

I don’t know whether its the books I’ve read or the movies and the sweet things Noah does for Allie, or the intensity with which he loves her with. But something from the original young girl’s dream has developed and its running away wild and wont back down. I don’t want to settle, that’s becoming my fear more and more often that I’ll have no choice but to settle.  ‘I’m looking around me and everyone around me seems to be. If you don’t, then you risk the chance of being a sitting duck and passing your expiry date. Enduring the invisible finger pointing, the parent’s lectures and the not so hushed whispers that seem to vibrate from the huddled group of aunties.

When I started university a couple of years past. I was different even naive, I lacked life lessons, still do. During high school I was the quiet one, this carried into my first year at uni.  I struggled, but it built me.  Forced me to toughen my skin up. I’ve always taken time in everything I do, this was no different . But the second year brought me confidence, sisters at isoc and lots of  laughter and strong shoulders to lean on. I started noticing a guy at uni. It’s totally terrible but I first noticed him in the prayer room. Wh-at?  the door was ajar, I happened to be walking by!  I guess uni changes us all in different ways. He was never the type to be seen in there. Perhaps I had never taken to him before  because I hadn’t thought he was Muslim.  It was just a silly crush, I’d get over it right? not a thought was given to him over the summer and longer. But cummon don’t deny it there’s a certain allure to the reformed bad boy isn’t there?

This last semester was slightly weird I’m not saying it was anything but we always seemed to make weird eye contact. And no I’m under no illusion that I’m in a bloody Bollywood scene but it intrigued me. His whole group of mates would be sprawled all over the lobby, laughing and conversing loudly and he was usually the quiet one. There’s nothing like the quiet tough looking guy is there? So thus he was named Mr Tuesday (rare sightings on a Tuesday of course)  I only told one of my friends about all this bakwas and the first thing she said was “whoa really?   he looks like a thug!”

What I’m trying to get at through all this is, is that I don’t fall for the conventional Efrons and Goslings. Although who would complain if you happened to bag one? I’ve seen people around me, family and friends ‘settling’ because they knew and believed they couldn’t have the Noah’s, so they settled for way less. Keeping their parents extremely happy and themselves well, who knows it may work out better for them, only time will tell.  I don’t actually really know what I want, I’m under no illusion that I’m a princess or anything. I want the ‘average’ guy but just not the ones our parents seem to dig out. But then on the other hand it’s not as if I can easily go around picking out guys and proposing to them.

A couple of weeks ago we received a hand written envelope through the post. Now those envelopes are rare in this day and age.  This envelope didn’t contain any letters they contained photos of a guy. Generally as a family we don’t do the whole ‘photo/CV’ thing. but this post came from my aunty’s friend. She had been bugging my aunt for a while, to speak to us. So my aunt did, she asked my parents. There’s no harm in looking they said. I told mum from the beginning, that the fact they were in a massive hurry and seemed desperate were making my alarm bells ring. His visa must have been running out. Funny that, it was.  My parents seem to think I’m late already. At 21 I’m running out of bloody time, as several younger cousins have become engaged/married they’ve grown more frantic. But there’s an issue, as with many other western desis, its difficult finding someone outside of the family circles. My aunt told me the guy in the photo didn’t mind what the girl looked like he just wanted someone nice. that hurt. Whoever I find has to love me for me. Is that too much to ask for? Ok perhaps not a love as extravagant as the movies and literature but just the simple love and respect. Right now at 21 well 22ish I’m still holding onto hope for that, it has to come. I’ve got the time to pray for it yet, before the expiry date arrives. But before that I’ve got many things I want to achieve and reach. They’re simple things but nonetheless they’re goals and thoughts for another day.

Defining moments.

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Three days ago the wedding film arrived.

A couple of months back during the Easter holiday my eldest cousin got married. She was the first one in the family. Her being the eldest we would always plan and talk about her getting married since we were young girls, I mean who doesn’t.    but it all happened so fast.    It was announced three months or so prior to the actual big day. The preparation period was such a mad rush of; painting little clay pots for the mehndi, fighting in Southall over bridesmaids dress colours, mum having a breakdown trying to find all of us siblings outfits, organising a gift basket for the bride and the biggest headache went to the mini documentary/slideshow that my sister made. She interviewed all 6 bridesmaids and slotted it into a slideshow of photos of our bride through the years.

When I look back at all these wedding shenanigans I remember a collection of memories, meeting and making new friends and the strengthening of relationships. It was a special time for us all.

I had finished my uni term earlier than the others so I went a couple a days earlier to the wedding household. The plan was that all the bridesmaids would stay the week following up to the wedding, help out with guests and set up the house for dholki nights leading up to the mehndi. The wedding was on the Saturday, we would then all go back home on the Sunday afternoon, to prepare for the following weekends walima. Which was being held in Paris!

All of the festivities happened so quick, in between all of the plates of mithai, cups of chai and the frying of spring rolls there were special moments that really stood out. Being an emotional person I was finding it hard keeping all emotions in check.  She was the older sister I never had. The one who carefully guided me through my awkward teenage years, the shoulder to lean on and the all round wise one. This cousin that we all loved and respected was moving away, to start a new life with a new family and a new chapter in her life.

We would only have a few hours sleep each night and during the day we would be running on pure adrenalin. On the morning of the mehndi I woke up to find a message from the bride. I looked over to her across the room ( we were all scattered all over the floors like squatters) she just gave me the cheekiest grin. So I turned to my phone and opened to find a photo of Atif Aslam ON HIS WEDDING DAY. you can’t even imagine how I felt! but that’s how the day began with great banter and ended in emotional messy faces.  In the evening after arriving back from the mehndi we all squeezed into the living room and played the film we had made her. It was only by watching all the photos flicking through on the screen, you’re made to remember all the moments you shared, all the good times and the more difficult ones you helped each other through.

The wedding morning was nothing but utter chaos we all had to be dressed and out of the house by noon. There were fights for mirrors, bathroom time, make up and general clashes between the larger personalities. But somehow we were all dressed on time ready for the photographer to snap away. Most of the Adults had left for the venue and the bride and us bridesmaids were waiting for cars.  As usual I was flapping around the house making sure I hadn’t forgotten to take anything.

The Bride’s mother asked me if I had seen the brother of the bride. No one had seen him in a while. She went outside and I walked past the front room. Through the glass door I could make out his figure in the back of the room. I went in to find him sitting down hunched over. I called his name but he didn’t respond. I thought perhaps he was feeling ill. During the week he had been  full of  energy and banter. This was out of character and I was slightly weirded out. Then I realised he was crying.  Like for God’s sake we had all kept it under control, no tears, even the bride had remained calm.  But here was her grown ass brother crying! (he doesnt read my blog so its all good :p)  He didn’t take long to set me off. I ordered him to snap out of it and stay strong for his sister, she was going to need all her family’s support.

It was an endearing moment, him and his sister were the pair who would fight like cat and dog and never seemed to get along. I think at times she felt that he didn’t care about her at all. But it turned out that he cared a lot, moments like these were rare and precious.

So the rukhsathi time finally came and we all had to bid her farewell. Amongst all the chaos I found myself standing besides the Father of the bride. It was a surreal moment. I looked up at him, he was crying. I felt like I should say something but I couldn’t. So instead I carried on walking behind the bride and towards the front of the venue. Along the way the bride’s sister began walking beside me. Me and her crying together continued to walk down.

Upon reflection the whole experience and emotions seems weird. But when I place myself in the same scene again I understand all the emotions. It wasn’t just letting her go, we were bidding farewell to her youth and celebrating her becoming a woman and entering a new chapter in her life, not to forget also welcoming brother in law aka ‘JEEJ’ into our crazy circle!

Looking across the room I could see several uncles shedding a tear. It was weird having never seen any of them so emotional. But her getting married was the first domino and they all knew that their daughters time was only round the corner. The dominoes already started falling this summer!

This post was an attempt. I can’t fully grasp or convey the excitement, happiness and sadness we felt at the time. Although when I look back on these events there’s this little niggling feeling telling me something amazing took place that changed us all and our relationships.