I have always thought of myself as modern, liberal and open minded. I have always found it very easy to discuss topics that make other people uncomfortable. A ‘normal’ conversation between my friends and I usually renders eavesdroppers shocked and speechless. I am known for my lack of concern for other people’s opinion about me.
I have always thought I was different. That somehow I had managed to skip a crucial evolutionary process and suddenly woke up with a broader perspective on things. Often my ideas, or my words have earned me remarks like ‘God you are insane’ or ‘man you are weird’. While I would politely correct everyone that I was not in fact insane or weird but merely different, such remarks only reinforced my belief.
However certain incidents over a period of time have now shaken me out of my ‘being different’ comfort zone and have put me side by side with well how to put it politely.. with ‘normal people’. What pained me the most was that I found myself sharing thoughts with people I originally detested. So was I really different? Apparently no. I was just a donkey thinking I was a horse.
So now that the very core of my foundation has been shaken into utter chaos.. let me begin by describing briefly the events which have landed me in this current predicament.
For a long time now I have seen numerous aunts expressing contempt for younger guys marrying older women. What utter nonsense I thought. Times have changed. Age is just a number…. And every other overused cliché about age that you could think of. But then a 40 something aunt fell for my 26 year old brother; and I found myself expressing the exact same contempt. How dare she? I thought. Did she not even take into account her age?
Even though my brother went on to marry the love of his life who was his age and let me add, we had to cut off relations with the ummm ‘much matured by her time on earth’ aunt. I swear I almost heard a mirror shattering in the background as my ‘self’ built image disintegrated into a hundred gazillion pieces. That was my strike one.
My father may Allah bless him with a long healthy life, is a very wise man. He is my role model, my hero. But at times he too is downright unreasonable. Or so I thought. He has always insisted that I call my older cousins with the respectful title of ‘bhai’ or ‘api’ even those who are just a year or two older. It is perhaps the one thing we argue most about. I think of it as my freedom of speech. My level of formality with my relatives. If I call someone with their name, instead of the title preferred by my dad, it is really my choice right? To this day I avoid talking to older cousins in front of him, only to call them with their names behind his back. But one fine day, my niece called my younger sister by her name instead of the proposed title of ‘khala’ or aunt, and boy did I immediately morph into my dad.
I gave her a five minute long speech about respecting her elders, during which I am pretty sure I began turning more and more into my dad every second, save growing a beard like him too. Once I realized what I had done, the mirror I had just replaced, refused to even look me in the eye. That was my strike two.
As mentioned above, I have never really thought twice about what others think of me. Their opinion no matter how sharp cannot bring me down from the pedestal that I have built for myself. It is for this reason that I don’t care about how I look, or what I do. Instead of trying to blend in with the crowd, I find it completely normal to be the odd one out from time to time. I don’t mind quirkiness, with me the weirder people are, the better. Or so I thought. Enter the twerp twins.
Yes, you read right. The twerp twins, or the two girls I along with my friends nicknamed because of their well twerpy-ness. Famous for their bold or as I then put it, wild wardrobe choices, these girls always stood out. They would always be together, and everyday wore matching outfits and accessories. Their long hair was always open regardless of the fact that it is usually 40 degrees in Karachi. And every time they would pass me by, I would smirk, saying, man what a fashion disaster.
And then just like one day, I thought so what if they dress alike? Who am I to say what clothes they can wear or not. If they think it’s right, are comfortable and feel good about themselves, who am I to say they are a fashion wreck? I usually go by the same principles. If I am comfortable, and think it’s right, I’ll wear clothes made out of leaves. Then why are they under scrutiny.
As just like that, it was strike three for me. I was no different. The society, with its narrow-mindedness, and taboos that I loathed, I was to it a very major contributor. Ashamed, with already 21 years of bad luck with three broken mirrors, I was forced to rewrite my book of principles. And now that I am halfway through it, I am hoping that I learn from the mistakes, misconceptions and narrow-mindedness of the previous generation instead of blindly turning into them.