I speak two Pakistani languages. I have a closet full of shalwar kamiz. I cook a variety of Pakistani cuisine and I abide by many eastern values. Yet the last time I saw Pakistan I was eight. I’ve longed to go for ages, but as family immigrated and we accommodated, the years kept passing until soon it was either this college exam, or that internship and somehow just like that nearly 20 years have since passed.
I’ve heard visiting the country of your forefathers is a feeling that should be felt at least once in your adult life. My brother went a few years ago and shared with me what it felt like to walk through streets where everyone appears to be variations of you. I want that. I want to see my parent’s village and sit under the tree that shaded my grandfather, and his father, and fathers before him. I want to see history not World History, not Eastern History, but my history. I want to walk through the streets and blend in and melt away into a sea of anonymity and feel for a brief moment that I just am and that I belong.
Yet I know that in the same breath of belonging, Pakistan will remind me that I am different, still an ABCD– just on a different continent, and in a different manner. I know Pakistan will remind me that though I am undeniably Pakistani, I am also undeniably American. And that regardless of whether I am here or there, the split identity remains split. Still I long to know what it feels like to be on the other side of the looking glass.
I have an opportunity to visit with my family. Though I want to go, part of me fears it. The current instability in Islamabad is just an example of why I feel apprehensive. If you live there, or have been there, your opinion on your experiences and/or any advice on safety or anything else would be much appreciated.