Sunday, August 14, 2011


One year, two jobs and a lot of experience ago, I started a blog. My goal was to write one hundred essays in one hundred days. For days on end, my life revolved around this personal project, which I had invented in an attempt to keep my creative juices flowing and give myself something to do in my lonely free time, since my working hours left no time for socialising back then. I didn't realise what this project would turn into, or what it would come to mean to me, or how many hours I would spend throwing around potential topics in my head the first few weeks.

I didn't meet my goal.

Once I realised I couldn't keep skipping days and thinking I'll make up for it one especially prolific weekend, I changed the name of my blog to simply "one hundred essays" and decided to see how long it took for me to get there. It's been a year and three days now and I am on essay 57. Not so prolific after all. Somehow, I'm not quite as let down by this failure than I may have imagined when I first set my goal. There have been good essays and bad essays, but every essay has a story behind it and I use the 365 days of published blogs, comments, drafts and discarded pieces as introspective tools. I never realised how much I had to teach myself until I started forcing myself to write-something I haven't been doing lately for lack of inspiration. Someone told me today to stop making excuses and "go find it again," so here I am. Finding it.

Last August, I wrote a letter to my country on the eve of independence day, wondering what could have gone so wrong in its history that I was writing it borderline abusive letters rather than celebrating it. Last August, I wrote about the dark humour that seems to belong to my generation alone, because it is easier to laugh at the twisted world than cry about it. Last August, I wrote about rain and the grief it brings my city. Last August, everything was the same and everything was different.

It is independence day again and I spent it looking forward to another new job-exactly what I was doing a year ago today, except perhaps my excitement at this new beginning has waned. I've tried on two potential careers and am embarking on a third and a part of me is ashamed and wondering why I tend to flit from one place to another. Most of me is lost. A few months ago, I would have passionately defended what I want to do in life and shouted down anyone who challenged me. Now, I'm okay with being lost. I trust myself to shrug my shoulders and let my way find itself for a while. As for 14th August, I am no longer in a position to write letters to my grief-ridden country, because I'm part of it and you can't write a letter to yourself. A year ago, I thought I knew Pakistan and was ready to announce how my degree in history qualified me to identify its problems. A few dozen books later, I've realised a true historian is always a little lost, because truth doesn't come in a three year diploma. This independence day, I sang the national anthem at midnight at the top of my lungs, said fuck you to the electricity and water shortage and stared at the flag decorating my house with muddled feelings. I read 500 pages of speeches given by politicians for and against Pakistan and received an email from an accidental Indian friend congratulating my country on its independence. I didn't write anything about it because I had nothing to say. And of course, it rained again this August. I let myself get wet and didn't switch on the news about deaths by electrocution and houses collapsing, because a year in my city has taught me not to watch the news too often. I shared dirty jokes with dark humour about our failing government and didn't pretend I know that this country will last only five or ten or a hundred years, because really, who knows? If I had known anything at all a year ago, this blog would never have happened. In 2011, confusion reigns supreme and for once, that's just fine.

Here's to new beginnings...and knowing nothing at all.


Talha N. said...

loved this post sarah, probably because i can identify with it to a great extent. also, it's extremely well-written!

p.s: while reading this bit - "said fuck you to the electricity and water shortage" - i realised i've probably never heard you say "fuck" in person, back in the old days. random thought.

s.e. said...

ive developed some pretty bad habits in the past seven or eight years it seems...keep telling myself ill work on it :)