5 May 2019

It was February 7 2008. The moment I stepped off the plane I thought about the many possibilities, my dreams would finally hatch and I would taste the joy of successful life. I looked up the clear February sky, the stars seemed to be shining brighter than the airport’s lights. Suddenly cold February wind touched my face and made me shiver and the stream of my thoughts transformed. Sadness grasped me and I remembered the past. Right by me, I heard my sister whisper in my ear, “welcome to America”.

I was fifteen at the time, naive and flustered in the material life, concerned about the way I looked and the branded clothes people wore unaware of the challenges that faced me. The primary reason my parents came to the United States was me and my four other siblings. They wanted us to get a better education, live prosperous life and attain satisfaction of life that they never got. I knew then that our struggle begins here. We had to start everything from scratch again. I, being the oldest of all my siblings had to overtake a huge burden. I had to help my parents learn English and had to help my siblings pass the obstacles that I had once experienced. I also had to maneuver my way through hindrances, the sudden jolts and the abrupt stops. It is because of my parents that I decided to push myself hard and battle to achieve success. They looked at me as a reality to their dreams and I wanted to prove it to them or at least bring comfort to their life.

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The first school I went to in the United States was Los Fresnos High School in Brownsville. I will never forget those eyes all around me that ogled me, some showed detest while others amazement. Maybe because of my hijab that I wore on my head and the image of being titled “terrorists” everywhere. I indeed was the only Muslim girl in that school and the first person from my family to ever go to high school. I met my councilor routinely because I wanted to get all twenty-six credits in two years so that I don’t waste any time and graduate when I am supposed to graduate. Giving credit by exams became my ritual. But I never backed up in the hope that I will achieve my aim and make my parents proud.

One of the many things I am grateful about is my ability to speak and write three languages fluently: English, Urdu and Pashto. I long to learn Spanish too since language is the key to communication and I want to pursue career such as Dentistry that would require a lot of efficiency in languages. There are instances when people come to a different country and forget their mother language, this never happened to me as my parents strictly told us that we had to speak the languages we always used to speak back in Pakistan.

As I now look back at my life I feel nostalgic but at the same time I see myself filled up with bliss. I remember the times when the rain fell on the unpaved roads the sound of it charged my nerves and the smell of the soil piled my nostrils and my lungs. The warmth of the sun seeped through my fingers illuminating the insides of me. The voices of my friends packed with excitement brought me joy. We used to run in the farms, lush green in spring, and then swing of the trees letting my legs scrap the trunks. Small things brought me happiness. I remember the Morning Prayers, the sound of Azan, the rich festivals and the traditional dances. Now that I look at the past, it just brings in me a sense of identity and cherishes in me my culture.

It is now me who will have to climb up the steps to reach success. Working hard is just not enough I have to make my own path and not let the greed to succeed consume me. I have to work in a way that will benefit not just me but the society as a whole. I want to dwell in a community that resides on love and purity. My purpose in life is not just to be a dentist and make money but to help the less fortunate ones and get love in return. This is the greatest satisfaction I can ever achieve. I also want to pluck off from its roots the differences that have been made through bombs and weapons and set an example for others to follow and in turn ensure a peaceful world.

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