Be More Gentle

I know this isn’t a new idea at all, what with all leftist writers espousing how being gentle in the face of capitalism is radical, but it is something I learned and something I try to follow in my every day life.

And unlike most of my leftist ideologies which come from my father, this is one of the few that are unique to my mother – along with honesty and humility and forgiveness. And it is even more true in our current cut-throat, dismissive culture.

Yes, people have more access to resources, and yes, after a certain age and certain level of education one’s ignorance is inexcusable; yet even then, I believe that gentleness and kindness are important.

Instead of dismissing, ignoring or ridiculing every misguided or unlearned opinion, I think we should take it as a learning opportunity. Being kind is far more important than being right.

 

DISCLAIMER: I do not mean to be kind in the face of oppression or outright adversity. If someone’s denying rights or being a bigot, I believe we should drag that piece of shit through hell and back.

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On Being Alone

I’m not quite sure if it’s because I’m just not a likeable person (selfish asshole that I am), or if, the older I get, the less I refuse to take people’s shit (which also ties into the whole “selfish asshole” descriptor), or if I’m just busy with university (again, “selfish asshole” doesn’t even begin to cover it) but recently I’ve been…rather alone.

All my interactions are now either short or face-to-face; no more texts blowing up my phone – though I never had much texts in the first place lmao, being the miserable loner that I am. But recently, it’s been even less; no more late-night conversations; no more constant exchange of pictures and news; no more talking just for the sake of talking, for the sake of getting human interaction with the people in your life.

When I am home, I am completely shut off from the world. Texting, which I once enjoyed as it was the only form of communication I, a shy weirdo, was comfortable with, is now always work-related, and always short. Explaining myself over text, which was once my defining feature, is now a hassle which I do not want to go through anymore.

But the strange thing is, I’m not lonely. I do not know when this transformation happened; when I went from craving attention 24/7 to being content with myself and my thoughts. I have finally freed myself from the paradoxical situation where I both wanted to feel loved and have friends while at the same time found them tiring; the latter still exists, but the former feeling has vanished, and I am finally at peace.

Anyway, this has been a post. This has been a day.

I don’t understand…

…folks here* who hear that I’m “good at English” and so want me to join them in mocking everyone else’s English abilities.

Like, okay, let’s pretend that I believe the colonial, Western notion that English proficiency determines one’s intelligence, and that I also believe that people should only be treated well if they are intelligent or innovative or whatever and not, you know, because they’re humans and thus deserving of basic human dignity.**

Let’s pretend that I actually adhere to the same values as you, fine. But what makes you think that once I start mocking others, you’ll be safe?

I have native level proficiency in English. When I hear a sentence, I can identify exactly how it’s wrong and give you 10 ways to correct it. I don’t know grammar rules, I breathe them; they are a part of me. I write in English, I think in English (and translate into Urdu, not the other way around as you do), I dream in English, I sleeptalk in English. I went from bearing the stigma of being an ESL student to reading college-level books within the same year, at 9, leaving my haters behind. English belongs to me, though I, obviously Muslim and Pakistani as I am, never can belong to it.

How arrogant do you have to be to believe that you, who learned English as a subject or a hobby, can achieve the same level of proficiency as me, who learned English as a survival tactic? For you, English is a status symbol; for me, it was always the double-edged sword I wielded.

So yes, let’s pretend that even though English forced itself down my throat at gunpoint and I chose to swallow, I still believe those who speak English “well” to be worthy. In that case, neither your SAT score nor your online articles nor internships at English newspapers and magazines nor your grades will matter.

Your English, my friend, and thus you, would not be worthy.

 

*by “here”, I mean at my university, in my city, in my country, etc. Choose your scale as you wish; it’s all the same in the end.

**DISCLAIMER: I don’t believe that.

Whoo, it’s been a while.

What can I say – I’ve been pretty busy lately. My third year has started, which means only 3 more semesters after this one (providing I don’t fail) until I am free from this hell.

Where to start? Things have been pretty rocky: fallouts with friends, increased workload, and decreasing mood – but hopefully I’ll make it out of this semester without having failed in anything. I’m really worried about one subject in particular, but my friend is pretty good at it, and we’re lab partners, so I’ll scrape through that as well.

The only really new thing is that this year is the start of internships. Which would be great! Except I have a terrible merit number and no extra skills to speak of. I’m currently interning at my university, but I don’t think that really counts (unless it does, which would be great).

Honestly, all I want to do is graduate, get a job that allows me to move into my own place, and maybe get a significant other who isn’t too terrible.

So, I’ve vented, and this is me probably leaving for another 3 months.

I hope not though.

Specialization

As anybody who has had to spend any amount of time in America knows, learning English isn’t a luxury there – it’s a necessity. And not just broken English either; if you truly wish to be taken seriously and escape ridicule, you have to know it better than the “real” (read: white) Americans.

That is why, even though English is not my mother tongue, it is the language I am more skilled in, as I spent 7 years forgetting the little Urdu I knew in order to cram as much Angreezi as I could into my tiny skull.

And thus, being an average child with limited potential for language, I am more familiar with English literature than with Urdu literature. Even then, I am falling behind in my reading: for example, I have yet to read many classics and have barely finished a book this month. But there are some phrases and events that are so integrated in online culture that everyone knows of them: Darth Vader is Luke’s father, Internet Explorer is an old people browser, Rick Rolling, that Sylvia Plath quote, and so on.

As the more interactive reader has probably figured out by now, it is the latter that I have recently been thinking about lately. Coming from a relatively well-off family, with the only “obstacles” in my way to “success” being my gender identity, physical limitations and mental illnesses, the thoughts of a white woman in college very much resemble my own.

But the particular case I am talking about is the branching that occurs in one’s career – the Fig Tree of Specialization. With an ever-increasing amount of jobs requiring niche knowledge, it is up to us, the tiny chicks just coming out of our eggs into this harsh world of professionalism, to decide which ship we will sail on (analogies are hard).

So if we have the proper guidance and understanding and luck, then maybe we will turn out to be hawks – the alpha predators of the sky, top of the food chain, whom all look up to. But if we choose wrong, we might end up the useless one-legged ducks – or worse, the fish (the Ship of Bad Analogies is the one I will go down in).

It’s just a lot of pressure on kids who are already struggling, is all I’m trying to say. Maybe if companies lightened up on their expectations and people toned down on their judging and social competition (“Oh, he only got 90%? My son got 95%.) then newbies could get a break, live a life with less stress.

But who am I kidding? The world is capitalist and capitalism is hell.

Sleep Deprived

I finally got 10 days off from university – which I otherwise had to go to, from 8:00 am until around 11:00 am (1:25 pm on Thursdays) during 15-hour fasts – but I still feel like I’ll never be able to make up the hours of sleep I lost.

Sure, 3 hours a day doesn’t seem like much, but the workload was as heavy as ever (they only reduced each period by 5 minutes, as if that would make a huge difference), and the afternoons just as hot as ever (we can’t afford having the AC on every day – the bill comes to over Rs 20000 if we do), and the evenings just as busy as ever (iftaari), the only time you get to sleep in peace (without having to worry about namaaz) is for around 5 hours before sehri and 2 hours after it. There are days when I’ve had to choose between either getting enough sleep or getting enough nutrition.

This Ramadan truly felt like a test of will and patience, and it’s not over yet. Although university is off, there’s a ton of work that was overlooked in the haze of the previous fasts that does not seem like it’s going to get done any time soon:

  • Creating a functional website from scratch for our department’s technology fair called CACHE, for which it is mandatory for Second and Third Year students to participate. This is made harder by the fact that none of us know anything more than basic HTML haha.
  • Completing any and all editing work for my department’s magazine – prospective launch date: early September – as well as for my university’s quarterly newsletter – the next issue which will be out by the end of this month.
  • Making the documentation required for Pasbaan, an event hosted by a society I’m in at university, and which will be held in mid-August(!).
  • Getting at least one freelancing project done so as to justify the expense of creating my Payoneer card. Though I have enough in it to pay the bill for this year, I kind of have to make up for my crappy grades by at least pitching in with some sort of income, however insignificant and irregular.
  • Studying: I have to copy notes, finish assignments, make flashcards for formulas and definitions, read the chapters of what we have done so far and complete the lab work. All before university reopens on August 4th.
  • Chores; spending quality time with grandparents, mother and siblings; and attending at least every 3rd event in my family since I’m the eldest (and a girl – boy cousins who are eldest siblings get a free pass, because…? They’re so busy hanging out with their friends? Sleeping all day? Farting? God only knows.).

All while being physically disabled, which is definitely having an adverse effect on my mental wellbeing. Yet I still have to hear people tell me I’m not a hard worker, and I will never get a “real” job, and that I should just get married.

Ay mere khuda.

Old Times

The other day I went back to a website that I had first logged on in when I was 9 years old.

I turn 21 in August.

Ergo, it was a really nostalgic moment for me – according to science (SCI-YANCE!), the worth of a thing increases the more time and energy we spent on it. Obviously. So seeing all those familiar pixels on the screen made me happy inside, even though I had no cause to be considering I was self-destructive enough to have to resort to revisiting my lonely childhood for comfort. (Again, obviously.)

But what really made my day – I am pathetic, I know – was seeing my old profile which stated the interests of my pre-teen self (Books and Literature, Candy, Computer Games) . Over all of the changes that have happened in my life in the past decade or so, it was relaxing to know that fundamentally, I was just as huge a loser as I used to be. I simply graduated from being a Computer Game Nerd to a Computer Programmer Nerd.

9-year-old me would be proud(ish).