The poignant pathos attached to finding yourself “in between roses” – as Mirchi had in Behind the Beautiful Forevers, is as I have in my own narrative: The Child of the Diaspora. The Child of the Diaspora, that who is the living embodiment of two different continents. This narrative entails that I humbly maintain my ties to the motherland (that which we parted from) and to the houseland (that which we crossed seas for).
I say humbly because amongst the two lands that I have known, neither assumed the homleliness of a homeland. The motherland has made me a foreigner, upon parting with me a few of its gifts – namely my sandy skin colour, the little Urdu I can manage, an appetite unsatisfied without strong spices and a few hazy memories of Karachi streets. The seas worth of distance has made the motherland an inaccessible terrain. The Canadian dream entailed a hefty cost in memories, of sitting by the feet of my grandparents and soaking in their wisdom, of sleepovers (i.e. lack-of-sleep overs) with cousins, of weddings and shenanigans, of roaming in the sweltering Karachi heat in loose shalwar kameez, of going through the uniquely adorned bazaars and markets, of enjoying Ramadan with neighbours and family.
But alas, I know that I have also become a foreigner to the motherland, for there are things that I can no longer stomach, my bodily rejection of its food and water, my disdain for its politics and priorities (this has a lot to do with economic disparity), my uncompromising standard of living (the houseland has certainly blessed me with running water, light, safety, and apt law enforcement).
However, the houseland has made no less of a stranger out of me, when people ask me where me I’m really from, where my hijab is subjected to ridicule and the raising of eyebrows, where where my religion is berated on a daily basis. But, despite all, I continue to love my houseland, perhaps even more than my motherland. I have known the houseland closer, I’ve gotten to know it roads by name, I’ve known its customs like they are my own, my friends here have become my family and my family here has become my strength.
Certainly, the story of diaspora holds many intricacies. My father, parted from all that he knew, seeking for his children the most privileged life. Surely, he is the diaspora, in and of itself. My brothers, whose motherland and houseland is all Canada, have solely adopted the tongue of their country, with Urdu being a foreign terrain. With their exceedingly increasing vocabulary and English slang, I often worry that my father will never be able to resonate with them as well as he does with Urdu poetry.
As the Child of the Diaspora, the houseland and the homeland, respectively, are the breadth of my identity. But, rest assured, there is so much more depth in this narrative, an identity bigger, larger and always evolving. And through this all, I hold our immigration struggle close to my heart… so as to never forget… so as to never disregard… or God forbid, take for granted.