Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I woke up today knowing its November 2nd and didn’t want to bother getting out of bed. The second day of November. This was supposed to be my day. This was the day I chose for the exhibition that would showcase my year of painstaking research on the 1971 war. I wanted to throw myself a pity party with my pillows and not go to work, but I did because it’s crunch time for college applications and I had promised to help someone with a personal statement. Waking up was the saintliest thing I did today. I’ve been completely petty otherwise.

You know how sometimes on your birthday you’ll be in Physics class or at the grocery store and nobody will know it’s your birthday and you’ll feel like you know something everyone else doesn’t? You’ll feel like there’s something you should be sharing with people. In a good way. I have that same feeling today, but the sad version of it. All day, I’ve been thinking CAP, CAP, CAP and nobody here knows why I left. I feel like a liar. Nobody ever asks me about my last job, so I haven’t had to lie-yet. I’m feeling heavy with my secret. It’s not something I want to share, but it’s weighing down my hair and eyebrows and mouth. Somebody mentioned the exhibition in the staff room today and asked me if it’s the same organization I worked at that’s putting it up. She said my ex-boss is a brilliant woman who achieved so much in life. “I don’t want to talk about this!!” was what I thought, but “Yes” was all I said. Again, that lying feeling. It’s staff room talk to you, it was a whole nine months of excitement to me.

I want to hug my friends who actually put up the exhibition. I know they’ve been worked to the bone. I know it so well. I want to congratulate them and tell them how amazing they are. I want to meet the artists whose portfolios I studied a few months ago. I want to buy my former colleagues dinner and tell them I love them. I want to see the exhibition. I’m not sure if I can do it. Not today, anyway. Tomorrow, day after, sure. Any day but November 2nd, please. I know I’ve been specially acknowledged in their exhibition thank yous and I think it would make me cry. Not because I’m touched-though I am-but because then I will have to think about why I left and I am so good at not thinking about it.

I left so pigheadedly and I don’t regret it. I think there’s a timeline for everything and mine was nine months. A good gestation period to make me a grown-up. I know the real reason I would have loved to put up this exhibition myself, besides of course the satisfaction of finishing what you started, is that I crave some credit. It makes me cringe to admit it to myself. After a year of hard work, seeing a finished product, seeing it all come together, having something that’s tangible and admire-able, that’s what I want. I want the pat on the back and sigh of relief. It makes me think that the path I have chosen for myself now, in a school, is so different from the one I was on. What will I ever have to show for my work now which will get me a pat on the back? A line of students whose activities were successfully coordinated? Neatly stamped report cards? A file full of internship information I compiled?

This is why, for the first time today, I truly believe there was a reason I had to leave CAP. I’ve been telling myself there must have been a reason, but now I can see it. If I am going to work in education, awareness or social work, I need to give for the sake of giving. My friends at CAP, the ones who stayed, the ones who have worked day and night on today’s exhibition, can already do that. They’re amazing people. Me? I try not to be selfish or egotistical, but of course, I can be. Learning to perform service because I love it and truly want to do it is my challenge. The past five years have thrown things at me that have forced me to learn hard work, but this year has thrown things at me that’s forced me to learn hard work for rewards that aren’t always gratifying. I feel thankful for realizing this. I’m still sad, because it will always hurt to know that things that mean a lot to you can be always be taken away. But I’m bigger than that, because it’s November 2nd and I’ve come a long, long way since this time last year.


Sarah said...

Something exactly of the same sort happened to me recently. I had to make a choice and I had to keep reminding myself of my purpose.
This was a great comfort to read.

Mahmood Farooqui said...

Hi Sarah,

Anusha, my partner, sent me a mail link to a facebook connect to your extraordinary Karachi ki Kahani. Thank you so much, it was truly truly marvelous to read it and to see those images.


s.e. said...

@Sarah: It's always good to know people can relate-thank you for telling me you did!

@Mahmood: I don't have a blog with images, this is my only one, but I know some of my essays have been shared on "From Karachi, With Love." I can't take credit for that, it's a wonderful site run by others, with artwork by some very talented artists, which I am not! Still, thank you so much for appreciating the essays and taking the time to comment here :)