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did I give up? or grow up?

Ever wonder why you have changed the way you have changed? Scratching my head this morning… I apologize for the length, and yet maintain that this barely scratches the surface of my experience.



After four months of mail forwarding to our new address and counting on my husband to change our addresses on all expected mail as he had committed to doing, I decided to just start wasting my time on the phone and net to get the job done instead of reminding him. did I give up? or grow up?


No milk in the refrigerator for me this morning at work. Instead of giving a polite reminder to my office manager to stay on top of all supplies like I had done on several such occasions, I picked up my keys, went to the grocery store and got milk for my chai. did I give up? or grow up?


My boss keeps reminding me, now back at work for months now post my mat leave, parental leave is only 3 months in USA. I don’t have the heart to remind him it’s 1 year in Canada and I chose to pay taxes to this country. did I give up? or grow up?


My phone company charged me for services I had cancelled months ago. I refused to call them up to correct the error and just paid the damn thing. did I give up? or grow up?


Someone very close to me has grown very distant for reasons I fail to comprehend. Nevertheless I refuse to discuss the matter with a third party. did I give up? or grow up?


My one grader took half an hour last week to try to finish her dinner. In the end I just spoon fed her myself. did I give up? or grow up?


Most of my beloved relatives believe gracing my home with their presence once a year is more than their highnesses have time for (that too with a formal invitation from me). I have jotted down on my calendar dates I can host them for dinner every few months and will invite them accordingly so my kids know what their cousins are upto. did I give up? or grow up?


When my well wishers continue to comment on how ridiculously small my last house was (a 2 bedroom, 3 washroom place), I bite my tongue thinking it will be rude to enlighten them on the average living space for a high middle class family in HK. did I give up? or grow up?


Tonight I shall tackle the clothes my husband has left on the floor of our walk-in for months myself instead of lecturing him on sunnah. Am I ready to give up? or grow up?




I Have a Dream…

Sometimes it’s the simplest sayings that wrap up human emotions or behavior the best. Maybe it was the simplicity of Martin Luther’s statement that made it into one of the most recognized phrases in the modern English language. Either the sincerity of it or the history or both, the phrase continues to invoke a sense of attainment about one’s dreams. I’m a planner so my dreams became my goals long ago. Now I ask myself is there no difference between my dreams and goals? I guess not. Is that a good thing? I guess not. Let me explain. 

After months of a hectic schedule with moving houses and studying for a major exam on top of the typical working woman with kids insane life, I feel like I can finally breathe a little tonight having just written the ‘big’ test. And as I sit in my living room trying to relax with my husband, kids in bed, I wonder if tonight I can dream about something other than calculating free cash-flow to equity or implications of relative purchase price parity. Maybe I’ll have a dream about a beautiful landscaped backyard that I can draw inspiration from when I finally go to a nursery with my husband tomorrow. Perhaps I will dream about my life as director of that non-profit organization I’d like to start helping out with in spare time. If I’m really lucky, I might see the farm house I continue to have an unwavering awe for- with cows and cattle and horses and crops ready for harvest. I have always loved to dream — in all its forms – the lucid ones, the epic ones, the false-awakening ones and my personal favourite -the daydream ones.

I have very few memories of my childhood. I remember though very clearly being young, maybe 7 or younger, and loving to go lay down in bed a few times a day for a few minutes and just dreaming – either after falling asleep or letting my imagination go as wild as possible and carry me away into the fantasy lands I would conjure up in seconds. My dreams were nothing big. They were simple. Inspired by fictional characters I read about or inspirations of people around me. Like for a little while I used to dream I was a surgeon leading a team of doctors in a breakthrough procedure (the inspiration was ofcourse my eldest sister and her fascination with the medical field at that time). My dad hated it whenever I went to bed for such moments at odd times. I don’t remember getting lectured much on it but I remember attempting to give him the sad and helpless face on a number of occasions he got angry with me trying to hide in the corner yet again. I think he was afraid I was becoming a loner or that there was something to be concerned about, medically that is. I remember him getting me a CAT scan around the same time which my mom told me a few years ago was over him being concerned about my physical health. Can’t blame the guy… I am the one who told him I had a headache every time he told me not to go to bed middle of the day. Little kids are not supposed to have headaches that often 😉

The dreams have changed ofcourse since then… the love for them has only intensified.

Fast forward a few years (okay maybe more than a few) and I am a mother. I have dreams about my kids being good kids, healthy, humble, empathetic to people around, successful (in the mere measure of the word as our world defines it and so much more). I have dreams about my masters, my PhD, my research work in the field of Latin debt or Islamic finance or whatever. My dreams for my husband, my parents, my extended family will fill up many pages. They do fill up my nightly visions quite so often. 

I generally live in a sub-conscious world these days. It’s not a choice. Could be a natural byproduct of my busy lifestyle or the left side of my brain actively at work for a change. I’m sure everyone does it time to time. Driving from Point A to B and not knowing how and when you really got there because you were so busy thinking about something else. That’s me. And that fearful feeling that hits you right after realizing you were probably not being vigilant enough going through the heavy traffic? Me again. Trying to think about the things I wanted to dream about tonight I feel like that driver who just made it to point B with a blank mind. A yard? A big mansion? A ski-doo? Watching the northern lights? Sunset in Africa? Some are my goals. Some are fun stories I like to play in my head. Where are my dreams? Whatever happened to me climbing up my beanstalk all the way upto the clouds to see my friends? Where’s Thumbelina? Last I saw her I had made a bed for her with a small matchbox and was planning to build more furniture for her.   I used to wake up from those dreams completely fresh and rejuvenated. Today as enjoyable as my ‘real’ dreams can be in the moment, I normally wake up from them distressed – will it ever be realized? How long will it take? How much do we need to save to take ‘that’ trip? To send the kids to ‘that’ school? When do we manage to take time off from work with the big projects underway there? If it’s not money related, it’s time related; if it’s not time related, it’s weather related; if it’s not weather related, it’s something else. The hurdles are countless. But that’s life right? Takes time to realize you goals… not dreams… goals. Maybe I am a step ahead of the game, making what’s only dreams for some into my goals already strategizing religiously to see those accomplished. Or did I speed up too much in this ever so chaotic ever so competitive ever so challenging world that knows no slowing down and lost my fun, relaxing, dumbfounded dreams on the way?

Maybe I sound like a little kid whining about why he cannot have candy just before going to bed so let me clarify, I’m not talking like that kid. I feel like the Pathaan in a story my husband tells often. It looses its essence as I poorly translate it in English but the story goes like this: One Pathaan and one Punjabi man are travelling through a remote area hungry with no food around in sight. So the Pathaan says, “let’s munch on some channa (roasted chick peas)”. “Do you have some?”, excitedly asks the Punjabi man. “No!” answers the Pathaan firmly, “I thought we could just imagine munching on channa since we don’t have any real food”. “Well if we must imagine,” says the wise man, “let’s feast on roast chicken instead shall we.” I feel like I’m eating channay even in my dreams!  I’ll have my channay when I get ‘home’ and eventually InshaAllah I will. How about some ‘chicken’ in the mean time? 

En route to reclaiming my long lost dreams, tonight I want to have a dream about being friends with tiny little people living in hiding in my mom’s kitchen cabinets (or I guess my kitchen cabinets now). I want to have a dream about living in a castle on the clouds. I want to have a dream about having Umru Ayyar’s magical bag. I want to dream about being the new Sherlock Holmes. And though I know these dreams will be full of ideas that will never be realized, inspirations I don’t need, conversations that are baseless, I know they will also have inconceivable joy. I have a dream to just dream like a child tonight and many nights after, not as a mom or a woman or a wife or a young professional. I have a dream…










The thought of penning my feelings down first came to me as I laid in the labour room almost six years ago looking at the most beautiful baby a nurse had just put beside me thinking, literally, how absolutely perfect she was. After the 30 second tug of war between the over zealous heart of a new mother and the ever so pragmatic brain of a 26 yr old woman, the two reached a tie and declared, without bias, that my daughter Zahra, whose name I had chosen before her birth after the beloved daughter of the most honorable man the world will ever come know (PBUH), was perfect.  In one moment I came to know myself as the luckiest person in the world and made a commitment to myself to record for memory sake, for the new love of my life, how her arrival was a reminder of the infinite blessings in my world. Ofcourse it didn’t take long for me to step back into the ‘real’ world. In face of the challenges I perceived and could not remedy, the pendulum of my perceptions swung between the glass, yes the infamous glass, being half empty or half full.  But as we all know and have experienced, Allah SWT, in His infinite Wisdom and Grace, likes to bestow more blessings upon one than their worth. So He did so for me as well in the following few year in countless ways.. two of the most notable ones being the birth of my other two kids. I felt the same realm of emotions at their arrivals as well albeit with more perplexity. I felt humble and thankful ofcourse yet I felt absolutely humiliated when my son was born.  As Muslims we believe we will all face God on the judgement day. I feel that moment, the first sight of my son, was a teeny tiny glimpse of coming face to face with Allah SWT, every fiber of my being humble and bowed in humility over years of ingratitude and His judgement on my countless sins – a wonderful baby boy.  “Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you deny” ayah rang in my ears and I hugged my baby certain that he and his sisters were fruits of some miniscule act performed years ago He liked.  Whatever the reason, I take great comfort in feeling my Rehmaan and Raheem is on my side as I continue my journey in this life and prepare for the next.  A journey that remains ever so dialectic – with solidarity my thesis, intervention my antithesis and wisdom as my synthesis.


I start my first official blog today on, what else, Pakistan:


My dear husband Khalil and I have been married over 8 years now MA. Surely as one can imagine, we have gone though our share of patchy roads and roadblocks. I remember one of our first arguments ending in him telling me to just choose a side — and no I don’t mean broccoli or french fries with the roast chicken dinner — but either be canadian or pakistani as he proclaimed ‘na tum desi ho aur na he canadian’ (u’re neither Pakistani nor Canadian). Ofcourse in the fit of anger I was feeling at that time, my instinct to swing all his shots back at him took the better of me and I gave him some muddleheaded response to that. As a force of habit, or my womanly nature I suppose, I played back each line of the whole argument in my head once the dust settled and found his statement really amusing. The fact that I moved to Canada before my teen years and became a half desi-half wilaayiti anda as most ppl in my situation do is cause for great celebration in my opinion. I do not feel obligated to follow either culture blindly and take pride in cherry picking the greats of the two worlds to create my own perfect hybrid culture — if there is such a thing. The migration befuddled the emotions of my ambition as I grew older especially when I started university- the desire to rebel and the temptation to cling, the sense of allegiance and the need to repudiate, the alluring dream of escaping into the impossible unknown and the counterdream of holding fast to the comfortably familiar.  For as long as I could hold the dichotomy, it felt like I was the better Pakistani. As my kids continue to grow and I start telling them about their/our heritage, I am not sure how to describe the land I was brought up to love and respect.

I have been working in the financial sector for the last few years. Finance is easy (I like to keep chanting that every weekend when I’m studying for my CFA exam on the verge of tears). It’s all about cycles. But then again isn’t everything in life — one of the more popular ones amongst desi women being ‘saas bhi kabhi bahu thee’.  Be it the investment cycle, the business cycle, the consumer cycle, or the life cycle itself… things have a habit of mirroring events from the past. I like Mark Twain’s saying on the subject the best “History does not repeat itself but it does rhyme”.  I do not know enough about Pakistan or its history to comment on the shifts and cycles it has experienced in its 65+ years being. If anything, I’ve actually just recently come to realize how I too, along with the rest of the world, was the innocent victim of the political ideological dogma of writers of my grade 3 ‘national studies’ books based on what I can only refer to as ‘selective amnesia’.

I remember parts of the two years I lived in Pakistan quite well, the stories I heard, the debates I witnessed.  Did I get the whole story? What is the whole story anyways? The story of USA – Muslims’ nemesis; the story of Jews – wrath of God; the story of Palestine – armed resolution;  the story of Israel – eventual destruction; the story of India – our atom bomb; the story of Nehru – a racist jerk.  The moral of the stories? Not sure. The result of the stories? Current affairs.

Someone my husband and I know recently moved to Pakistan from the west.  We felt shocked at this person’s decision to move to a country that unfortunately has little to offer its people esp compared to the one this individual had resided in the past few years.  At the same time I felt an inkling of hope that with more ‘courageous’ people like him ready to try to make a difference in their homeland it will go a long way for the education and social system there.  I was truly shocked when I came to know this person’s first big goal for his country, the same one that’s mentioned in major international newspapers every week for all the wrong reasons, the one that unfortunately has brought more shame to people like me living in a foreign land than pride- was to build a mosque.  I have nothing against mosques. I proudly sponsor my local one to the best of my means and encourage everyone to do so.  What I don’t understand is, how people like him fail to see one mosque after another, Alhumdulillah, on every other street in Pakistan.  There are separate mosques for shites, sunnis, wahabis, xyz’s and more coming for every new fraction of the community that does not like the lectures the imam of the local mosque gives. Was the majority of the Pakistanis absent the day “Islamic Studies” class covered haqooq-al-ibad? Have the countless hadiths on being a true momin fallen on deaf ears?

I don’t know about the locals but from an outsider’s perspective, I think this is the time to consolidate our mosques instead of building new ones. I think it is time to use our resources to add one more water tap somewhere there’s the utmost need for it.  Maybe it’s time to build a little institution for disabled kids. Perhaps initiate another micro-finance scheme in our community.  My family in Pakistan relentlessly tells me about the endless problems there. Their yesterday’s exhaustion and today’s suffering obscure any notion of tomorrow.  With solidarity as the last refuge for their impulses to intervene, they protest on social media.  I think this is the time to invest some resources into a better education system, not necessarily the one that get our youth to top all international curriculum tests (though that would be fabulous) but the one that teaches kids to associate more practical and hopeful lessons from the words that currently boils their blood for reasons perhaps justified but results that remain worthless.  Call me naive but maybe “USA” could get people to start talking about the heroics of the civil war when they get together at the next family potluck instead of 9/11 conspiracies.  Maybe “Jews” can get a discussion going on their respect for Sultan Mohammed V even to this date for protecting them during the holocaust. I know if we started taking pointers from them on their PRACTICAL collective bond as a community, 90% of the Muslim world’s issues will be gone.

“India” should, for the pakistanis atleast, get a more heated debate going on success of their railway line, or agricultural techniques, or their competitive students. Heck you wanna talk about Nehru talk about the vast differences between Nehru and Gandhi and how they found a reconciliation ground on the back of their utmost patriotism.  I personally would love to see Pakistanis discuss how Brazil improved its corruption rating (even though it continues to cost it billions of dollars a year). More than anything, it would be nice to see Pakistanis learn the Koran for a change, not only how to recite it in Arabic or memorize it but also to understand the essence of the wisest guide for us all. Perhaps then they can pay a little more attention to the wider community.  Perhaps then they can break away from this cycle of cursing first at the politicians, then their boss, then their neighbour and finally all of the country having concluded – drum roll – ‘yeh qaum issi kaabil hay’.  I grew up watching this episode.  I’d like to think my kids won’t bear witness to the same soap opera. The unspoken but palpable story I find in Pakistan today is the same I felt 20 years ago as a kid – the story in all places, always: the human condition and the ever going issue of individualism.  If that is overblown I do not apologize.  History does rhyme. Sometimes you need a better gauge to see it – my Canadian background definitely helps.