The speech that never happened.
(Originally by my twin rtraja. I did tamper with it a tiny bit to ‘blogify’ it, but it remains, for the most part, unaltered.) I’ll post my own perspective shortly. My readers will know how much I love series 😉
The Opening Address
The one aspect that truly shines like a beacon in the dark which I will carry with me wherever I go is the warmth, kindness and care that I have experienced throughout my years at Manarat — in short, the friendship that I have come to know.
As the friendship of a classmate has been focused on, I would like to draw attention to my teachers.
They have always been there for me, with a keen interest and a discerning eye to ensure not only my success, but that I would rise should I fall, and push forward with greater fervor and tenacity. These are but a few of the qualities which have forged the body that I can sincerely call friendship.
I will be ever grateful to all my teachers, especially those that I am privileged enough to call my friends.
Last but not least, we hail our mothers for their selfless role as our unfailing friends.
Finally, I wish to leave you with a thought:
Educate a man, you educate a man, but educate a woman and you educate a nation … nay, a generation.
This is what my teachers, and our mothers, are doing, and it is for this that I say thank you!
Part Two here. Brace yourself; this is a heavy dose! 😉
Part three: The Blossomming of the Swan
By now, I am sleepy enough to drop just about anywhere and fall into blissful slumber, but the girls have other plans. The twins and the sneaky younger sister hover around my suitcase — vultures vying to get a look at my well-guarded outfits. “Show us what you’re wearing tonight!”, the twins squeal. Today is the dholki, a bachelorette party where the Dulhan-to-be celebrates her ‘last days of singlehood’.
But I grin cheekily. I was loving the suspense and there was no way I was killing it so soon. After weeks of waiting, surely a few more minutes wouldn’t hurt? But the twins press me still, so I bring out my outfit for the nikkah, the wedding reception.
It is a modern twist on the traditional Pakistani shalwar kameez: beige and magenta, embroidered with gold and silver motifs. The sight is met with ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s from the twins,and rightly so. It looks sparkingly gorgeous (if I may say so myself!)
But the show-stopper is still to come. My sneaky younger sister pulls The Yellow Bag from the depths of my suitcase (my dress is from Forever 21, by the way) and in no time at all I am wearing my outfit. I am dressed in a light cream-coloured dress, a black cropped jacket, a white belt and black heels. The twins are wide-eyed.”Raweeha, you look beautiful.” I smile, and this time it is from deep within me.
You know how, one day, your entire life flashes before you? This was my day. Within moments, I was a bubbling six-year-old; an ambitious ‘scientist’ making shampoo and baby powder ‘potions’ in the bathroom. Then I am a brooding ten-year-old, trying to think thoughts that are too big to fit into my small head. I am twelve and irritable, a nuisance to those around me, but inwardly questioning my identity. I am fourteen, mature but slightly oblivious to reality. And then I am back to my present self, at sixteen years, eight months and four days old. Who am I now?
I’ve had something of an ‘ugly duckling’ transition to adolescence. I have been annoying. Annoyed. Confusing. Confused. Disagreeable. Pitied upon. But today I was not. And I realise the self-indulgence of this, but I felt that, after years of hiding in the shadows, I had emerged in the limelight; an ugly duckling no more. The nikkah may be the Dulhan’s moment to shine, but the dholki was mine. The swan had blossomed, and today, she would take to the skies.
A few minutes later, with the Dulhan-to-be out sight, I usher her twin into the room and explain my surprise present to her. I bring out a bag of Quality Street, a ceramic replica of an ice cream sundae and a plastic envelope of paper hearts. The idea: to give people a piece of chocolate and a heart, ask them to write a message and then wrap the folded message in the remaining cellophane. The ‘ice cream sundae’ would then be filled with ‘candy’. In my excitement though, I unwrap the bubble wrap, and … The lid slips from my hand, lands on the floor and cracks into six pieces. I want to slap myself. “We’ll improvise”, the twin reassures me, but that seed of regret has been planted and remains within me for the next three days.
The preparations begin. Balloons are brought out and we blow, blow, blow. Just before tying them we pop in a little piece of folded paper. Dozens of balloons are given this treatment, and, lo and behold, we have created a balloon Pass the Parcel cum Truth or Dare.
The hours pass like seconds. I have finally managed to get some sleep, showered, dressed, done make up and failed, yet again, to curl my hair. It’s party time.
The first guests arrive and the Dulhan-to-be is taking her sweet time getting dressed. I ampushed into the living room and soon a whole group of us is sitting on the floor in awkward silence. Who drums the dhol, and worse still, who sings? We had a tambourine and no willing singer. The problem is soon solved when a cousin comes along with a wooden sewing machine lid. Pretty soon, we are singing and dancing along with the hilarious air of amateurs pretending to be Shah Rukh Khans. The Dulhan-to-be then stands up and summons us into a circle. It is time for the balloons.
The shock on people’s faces when the balloon pops areirreplaceable, the dares even more so. One contestant is asked to do two laps of the corridor — hopping on one foot. Another is asked to apply lipstick on some one else’s lips — blindfolded. Most people most people choose to pop their balloons using their finger nails, others sit on them, a few brave ones use their teeth. Pretty soon the music stops, and what do you know, I have a balloon in my hands.
I pop mine using the back of my earring. My dare: Drink two glasses of 7up in one minute. I ambitiously gulp down my first glass and, it is FREEZING! Eyes watering, I loosen my belt and begin my second glass! Somehow even colder than the first. As someone begins the countdown I nearly give in, but …. I finish my second glass in just under a minute, spilling half of it down the front of my dress and taking my belt off entirely. Phew. How embarrassing.
I then manage to put my baby nephew to sleep (walking around in heels, yes!), eat some, pose for pictures and make a call to my ‘stylist’. All while chasing confused (and rather uncooperative) guests with their paper hearts. PLUS hiding this from the Dulhan-to-be! It is not long before all has wound down and I have collapsed into bed.
What a night.
Forgive the extremely long delay, but the obstacles of exams, procrastination and laziness have finally been overcome and this piece may be written and read in peace. I take it that you may need a refresher of Part One; you will find it here. Polish your armor and sharpen your swords. The battle is about to begin. (And thank you, Tsani, for the idea).
Part Two: Welcome to the City
And so our plane landed in Karachi after a descent that was particularly unkind to my ears. I’m sure that my eardrums were courageously defending themselves against the falling air pressure, but all I could feel was a deafening, pounding pain: two imaginary hands squeezing the sides of my head.
I felt a lot clearer as we walked into the Arrivals at Jinnah International Airport. I switched on my phone while standing in the Passport Control queue, and lo and behold, it is bombarded with a fleet of text messages. The first one goes something like this: “etisalat wishes you a safe stay in Pakistan. The following roaming charges shall be applied ….”. It goes to list just how horrendously expensive it is for you to call and text. My mind then drifts towards the Pakistani Ufone SIM card in my wallet, currently running on negative credit, and I smile. It felt good to so good to be in Karachi that I couldn’t care less.
I send out one message, saying that I had landed safely and was waiting for my passport to be stamped. Concerned family are quick to respond, and by the time I have reassured my parents that I’m fine, told my waiting uncle that I’ll be done soon and asked a cousin for cricket scores, my credit is dead: a valiant martyr in the merciless battlefield of hefty roaming charges. Suitcase (remember the armoury?) and younger sister in tow, I walk out of the airport and into Karachi.
The contrast between the two is inexplicably beautiful. From the cool lounges to the warm urban air. From the quiet hum of security to the vibrant buzz of the streets. And from the subdued overhead tube lights to the bright lights and city skies that called my name.
Bad times may take away our food, petrol, electricity and even Prime Minister, but they will never suck the life and spirit out of Karachi.
Arriving home was sweet relief to my sore ears. I dumped my suitcase in a room, and, following the obligatory ritual of hugs, kisses and “how was your flight”s, dragged my tired but happy self upstairs. My jet-lagged biological clock does not realize that it is 5 a.m. I was falling asleep as the rest of the world was waking up.
At that moment, a sleep Dulhan-to-be walks out of her room, rubbing her eyes. She blinks, bewildered, and for a terrifying moment I think she doesn’t recognize me. But then she gives me a loose, drowsy hug. “I’m so glad you’re here”. The feeling is mutual, dear Dulhan.
The Dulhan-to-be’s twin, on the other hand, is less discrete. She lets out a loud, shrill scream: “Eeeee, Raweehaaa!”. Ouch, my ears. As I am engulfed in a second, much tighter hug, a heavy masculine voice is heard from the next room. “Would you girls shut up? I’m tryna sleep.”
Ah, home. Did I mention how good it felt to be back?
Post by post I’ll be blogging about my trip to Karachi — I decided to make it a series because just one post would have been waaay too long, plus with compromises on detail. And, for a writer like me, the more I can write the better!
Part One: The Countdown
Trips to Karachi come once, or if I’m extremely lucky, twice a year, lasting for only a finite number of days. They are full of ice-cream, load shedding, breezy evenings, rickshaws, cousins, shopping, all-nighters, texting and most importantly, unlimited fun. Each trip is unique and memorable in its own right. Summer trips are long and lethargic, winter ones are short breathers, and ‘wedding’ ones are so rare that I never, ever take them for granted.
Precisely like this one.
The best thing about this trip (okay, one of the best) was that it began long before I even left Abu Dhabi. For me, dad’s unexpected ‘yes’ was where it all started. My cousin (who also happened to be one of my closest friends) was getting married, and I was actually going to Karachi! With 714 hours to my mock exams, 1002 hours to my flight and 1056 hours to the wedding, the countdown began.
From that point on, it was just shopping, shopping and more shopping! Along the way I made a few enlightening discoveries: that my younger sister was a surprisingly mature person who was actually fun to hang out with, that my dad was all awesomeness on the inside despite acting all stiff and sullen, that a scenario can happen even if you obsessively plan and organise everything (Murphy’s Law!) and, finally, that going dress-hunting independently and paying for an expensive(ish) one out of your own hard-earned allowance was probably the most fulfilling feeling in the world.
I remember the past two months as knots of tangled memory. The month of February was long, emotional emails (When are you coming to Karachi?), the painful art of patience and half-hearted attempts at ‘studying’. The month of March, in sharp contrast, was hurried, excited emails (I’m coming in 192 hours!), the exhilarating thrill of rushing and desperately sincere attempts at cramming three weeks of studying into nine days.
And so after nine exams and innumerable shopping trips, my younger sister and I boarded our flight to Karachi. In our armory (aka a suitcase) was presents, AS Level textbooks, chocolate and a whole lot of borrowed makeup and clothes. We sat in our seats, sent last-minute goodbye texts and fastened our belts, bubbling with excitement.
And so the adventure began.
“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”
― Audrey Hepburn
The definition of beauty is not a territory uncharted; hundreds, if not thousands, have tried (and failed) to define, to capture, to explain this subliminally powerful entity. From One Direction’s childishly simple What Makes You Beautiful, to Zadie Smith’s sadistically disturbing On Beauty, the idea of beauty has been explored and exploited for centuries past, and will probably continue to do so for centuries to come. There will be, of course, ones that stand out more than others, and this is one such example, which I got from a sweet (and anonymous) person on Facebook. Enjoy reading 🙂
Showing off your body to men doesn’t make you beautiful …
The more you hide the more they’ll want to chase after you.
Keep them guessing, don’t just give them what they ask for.
Don’t let today’s society poison your mind with things that aren’t even true.
Beauty does not come from your face, or your hair, or your body.
It comes from your heart. Having a kind, selfless, caring, heart is what makes a girl beautiful.
Just because you see underweight models on magazines,
Doesn’t mean you should take them as an example of how you want to be.
These girls would probably love to have a burger every now and then.
But they can’t because they would hate to lose their job.
You may think they are happy, but you never know what truely hides behind a smile.
And if you think that showing off your skin is the only way you’ll find love
Men, especially men who treat a women right, love those who are modest.
Who protect their body from the eyes of men.
These are the women men are looking for.
So stop trying to be like everyone else.
Just be yourself because You Are Beautiful ♥
I wrote this on the 29th of September (it’s been a while, I know!) and I believe it would fit quite nicely into the Imaginative/Narrative/Descrpitive component of AS Level English … speaking of which, my first term’s exam is on wednesday and I’m undergoing something of a panic attack. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to English I certainly know my As from my Bs (I got an A* at IGCSE!), but, you know, that last-minute booster to your self-esteem always helps! 😉 Anyway, here’s the HandWritten post I’ve been promising for so long, and when you finish reading you are obliged to comment — if you don’t … well, I have my ways of knowing! Happy reading (and reflecting, naturellement 😉 )
FYI, for you clueless ones, I’m taking you on a tour of my beloved notebook (your imagination shall be required).
It’s not the first time that the corridor lights have remained switched on, the clocks ticking (or beeping) way past my usual ‘bedtime’ of pre-10 pm. A familiar pencil-case is pulled blindly out of a familiar bag, and the familiar, muffled sound of pens being spilt on the rug is heard. A notebook is opened, its pages lined with a mosaic of words. The first page has my name, of course. But with the pages that follow, it is a matter of chronological guesswork. The first few pages are geography notes, decorated neatly in a rainbow of pink, blue and purple ink, complemented by a sprinkling of quick -but still neat- sketches in subtle, grey pencil. But, moving onwards, the notebook has a few surprises up its sleeve.
And then you realise that surprises don’t always stun you in eye-popping shades of colour. And also that, on the opposing extreme of the spectrum, the most boring, mundane things attempt to catch your attention by throwing themselves at you in screaming hues of neon fuchsia — ugliness pretending to be beautiful.
In this notebook, you will meet my writing — honest, quirky, introverted, always reflective and reminiscent and occasionally funny. It’s always in pencil.
You will also bump into ostentatious pages painted in pink, purple, orange and blue. Upon closer inspection you will realise that these are rows after endless rows of quadratic equations — and half of them have the wrong solutions.
That’s an analogy for life, i guess. Look past the gaudiness and into the subtlety. Past the beautiful and into the ordinary-looking. Look past the million-dollar cars and designer handbags and into the eyes of those quiet but serene, soft-spoken but resiliently happy. They don’t throw their beauty in your face, sure. But they’re beautiful all the same.
Read between the lines — not just in this notebook but in this life. You’ll be surprised by what you discover.
Beauty blooms in unexpected places.