The ‘Mentality’

I’ve always been an outsider, and I will always remain an outsider.

You may consider the statement above to be dramatic, exaggerated or perhaps a plain lie but in fact the statement above represents who I am. Leading somewhat of a nomadic lifestyle (you can picture me sitting on a camel, with a parched throat, inching from place to place) which, might I add, has always been outside of Pakistan, I have only just started to question what I call “The Mentality.”  Some would argue it’s perhaps the first step towards addressing an identity crisis. Think aliens abducted by Earth! Bizzare? Perhaps, but never say never- and to be honest I am not quite sure myself what I’m dealing with, but nonetheless here it goes…

By all the gods! What blasphemy is this?!

I’ve been told I am Pakistani. I feel Pakistani – I speak the language, I enjoy the culture I even have a tolerance for spicy food, I visit almost every month, but what differs between a real Pakistani and I, is “The Mentality.”  Imagine visiting a place which is familiar yet foreign, a place where you speak the language but can never quite grasp the depth of it. I recently found myself in a situation where my aunt’s driver who had come to pick me up from the airport at 5 am dropped us home and asked ” ijazat dey bibi” I turned around and asked my mum ” is he asking us for permission to leave? She nodded and i thought how cute of him.”  A place where your roots lie but your questions remain unanswered.

That place for me is Pakistan. I sometimes wonder about the life cycle of a salmon. Did you know that after a salmon is born, it roams the ocean to find a mate? Once that mission is accomplished they return to where they were born in order to spawn. The salmon’s life cycle is quite similar to that of a Pakistani woman. Can you spot the similarities? It seems that their sole objective is to find a suitor and give birth. ” Shaadi nahee karni? Tumahrey shaadi kaisey hogi? Beta ab shaadi ka time agaya hai.” And once you’ve closed your eyes and jumped in the ocean – without knowing how deep it is- step two begins. “Tumharey shaadi ko teen maheeney ho gay hai – bachoon ka kuch socha hai? Beta bus ab hamarey eik hi khwahish hai, hum nani nana ban jay.” And you find yourself thinking (Bollywood style) ” Ufhh yeh zalim samaj.”  “The Mentality” states a woman must remain inferior; she must remain a commodity, whilst men are superior and will always remain as the end user.

Some ends justify the means.

We live in a world full of stereotypes but education givesus the right to question or does it? Professions come with stereotypes which encompass “The Mentality.” Doctors, Engineers and Bankers fair well for themselves but should you be daring enough to step out from the norm, please ensure that you are ready to deal with the consequences.  A chef in a reputed restaurant will always remain a bawarchi,” logoon key liye khana banati hai” a hairdresser will always remain a nai. The derogatory statement” yeh to baal katni wali hai” and a girl who works in the media will always get the judgmental statement and stares which read “media mein kaam karti hai?”

Moving on, “The Mentality” states that you must be able to manipulate, plot and deceive others. I can already feel the aunties  pointing fingers at me, but let me explain. Growing up outside of Pakistan you learn to trust and value friendships but in short you remain naive. However the other end of the spectrum teaches you to consider everyone as an opponent, everyone around you is guilty until proven innocent, aunties ofcourse have the final verdict and if you need your job done you are allowed to break the barriers and embrace evil. “Warna society kha jathi hai beta, samjha karo” Whilst this may not be a bad thing per say it is different from the outside world.

Auntie: You have to learn to blend in baita… like me.

After several failed attempts to comprehend “The Mentality” I have come to realize that there might not be a plain and simple answer on how to embrace it. Whilst striving to shed a light on the nature of truth and belief,I have come to terms with the notion that although “The Mentality” might bind some together; it is equally capable of tearing them apart.
And to add insult to injury the fact remains that no matter how hard I try I will always remain an outsider.
____________________________________________________________________________________________
Tania Shaikh: Working with Elle magazine in Dubai – you will always find me behind a computer screen typing away.With a published book under my belt, and hopefully more to come I continue my endless search for sanity and some answers through words. You can read more of my work at www.bantalicious.tumblr.com
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Categories: The World I Know

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