Author Archives: rabiakhawar

“I am not an Island!”

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It is a common phrase we hear, tucked in here and there to show that man is not self-dependent or independent, and in fact requires not only companionship but also strength in numbers in order to gain his sustenance.

If you come to think about it, even the natural order of things does not allow for me to be a complete loner. I was born as a sixth member of my family. Right when I was born I had two sets of grandparents, parents, fives uncles, an aunt, a dozen cousins and three (incredibly awesome) siblings.

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As we begin to grow up, we are institutionalized, by which I mean put into academic ones. From this point forth our life is just a race through one school to another, or to a college, and then to a university and then perhaps to another university. All these years you manage to gather another web of people you begin to depend upon. Whole categories worth of people; teachers, acquaintances, school friends, college friends, and university friends. If you are lucky, you get promoted to another institution after that which is called quite aptly; work. And there you have another set of people to forge through and pick as your own; boss, colleague, project manager, you name it.

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However, somewhere along the way we don’t just categorize the people according to how we know them, but also we begin to prioritize them. That uncle always gives me more Eidi on Eid so he’s the best. That school friend stole my eraser in kindergarten; she’s such a menace to society. That girl from university wear hideous clothes, does she not look at herself in the mirror before coming? I really don’t want to be seen with her.

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With this prioritization of the people in our life, we begin also to alienate the people in our life. Sometimes we do it to a single person out of some grudge we have or a bad past experience. But other times we do it as a group; someone who doesn’t fit our perception of a friend and hence cannot be included in our confidantes.

The truth is though that by prioritizing the people in our life, we begin to treat them like commodities. We label them; pervert, druggie, psycho, loser etc. And with these labels we begin to shed these labelled commodities from our lives, very much the same way we label our old clothes when cleaning out our closets as garbage, give away, hopelessly old etc and then continue to dump them.

What we need to realize is the difference between not being an island and reducing someone to an island. Where yes it is wise to have some level of prioritizing in the people you love and trust, there we must also be careful to not make someone feel excluded. So your group of friends does not like a person, it does not mean that you must dislike them as well. In fact, befriend them and show your friends what a great person that person really is; or at least try to be polite to them.

Reaching out to other people and accepting the fact that we are all not islands drifting in the sea is key to human existence. You are not alone if you are with the right persons and then you realize the sense in never letting anyone feel that way either.

And if you are among the few who have been made to feel lonely and commoditized, don’t be shy to say it aloud, “I’m not an island!”

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The Two Sides to My Love Affair

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There are two sides to the person I become when I take my position on the driver’s seat and become, in a figurative manner, one with my car. Even when I go weeks without driving, it takes only a second to find that the connection, the two-sided connection to my car, is still there and unbreakable.

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The first side is the untypical one, the one that is unexpected from any driver in the city of Lahore. It is the careful side. It’s the side that loves the car far too much to allow it to ever be hurt. Anticipating the car in front of me, behind me, or parked to the side are potential candidates for hitting and hurting it keep me from driving like a maniac, and to forewarn those idiots to stay away from us. The worst kind of imbeciles to save your car from are motorcyclists and rickshaw drivers. When weaving their way through the traffic, they only care about getting ahead and don’t give the slightest thought to other vehicles. Frankly, if it were up to me all motor bikes in Pakistan would be annihilated, but you just can’t have it all.

So, instead of annihilating motor bikes, I find myself comforting my car for every angry scratch it gets to its body, these scars that don’t heal. Us humans are so very lucky, but we take it so typically for granted.

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The other side comes out rarely but surely. When that Vigo owner in his huge car thinks he can just flash his light at me and get me to get aside, or that one motorcyclist manages to piss me off in a manner unique enough to eventually forget, that’s when the other, darker side decides to make an appearance.

I call it the Shodaa Larka side. I literally become an overconfident teenage boy who has just been handed the car keys. I will not give you way even if you switch lanes. If you were coming from the opposite direction and flashed your lights at me for no good reason, I’d bring my car actually in your way and stop it inches from your front bumper, and basically be a typical Lahori manic driver.

This can sometimes take the form of fun when the adrenaline rush takes over and the thrill of the speed and my skills as a driver (hard to believe, but true) take over. There is no care for anything, not even the car. In fact, that’s when the car takes over and shows its way of comforting me. It’s a dangerous tactic; we’ve all heard the age old adage of “speed thrills but kills” though in this case it might well be “thrilled to be killed.” However, a love affair with a car is no ordinary thing and must come with a price.