Stockholm Syndrome Appreciation Post [Farewell, Pakistan.]

I woke up at 5 AM with my heart racing in my chest. I couldn’t figure out exactly what was causing this, but I tried real hard to remember as I lay on my bed lifelessly. I’m not sure if it was the standard hypnopompic paralysis, but I had no motivation to close my gaping, drooling mouth or move my arm out from underneath myself. “Is it dehydration? How much water did I drink yesterday?” My heart continued to pound away. “Is it caffeine? Too much tea? I didn’t have any soda.” I was quite certain that it was way past 8 AM. “Too many cigarettes before bed? Can’t be, I haven’t held a cigarette in over 6 months.” Then it started to come to me.

I’m one of those people who usually forget their dreams immediately after they wake up. Very few dreams have ever been worth remembering, and I’ve shared them before I could get both eyes open. Either with myself via a journal or a note taking app of some sort, or with someone who would care via a message or a call. This particular tachycardic episode of palpitations was induced by one such dream. Anti-climatic, I know.

I was dreaming that it was 8 AM on the morning of my flight, which was scheduled for 9 AM. All my clothes and belongings were scattered around my room. I stood in the middle of that mess and mumbled instructions to myself, as I usually do. I was freaking out because my flight was in an hour and it takes three hours to get to the airport, and I hadn’t even finished my packing yet. My wife tapped away mindlessly on her phone as she sat up in bed, her back against the bed rest. “What are you doing?!” I would shout at her. (Some things are only possible in your dreams.) “How are you so relaxed!? We are late for our flight and we haven’t even started packing! WHAT IF WE LEAVE SOMETHING BEHIND?” And then I just remember sitting down, holding my head in my palms so it doesn’t roll off into the pile of clothes and books and other little articles of memories collected. That’s when I wake up. In a dark room, with my heart pounding away, and the confusion that ensues.

I have always been a patron of the theory that dreams are an evolutionary process that serve to warn us, and prepare us, for hypothetically dangerous scenarios. Specially the ones we believe are likely to occur, regardless of the probability or even the possibility of that occurrence. Considering this, the principle of Occam’s razor would dictate that I’ve simply been fearing not being ready to leave in time. Sure we have a lot of packing to do, between me and my wife. And we certainly haven’t permanently moved out of or into anything together in such circumstances before, so the anxiety is understandable. However, the theory will never explain why one song in particular was continuously playing in the background during my dream, and in my head after I woke up.

“Kuch toh hai tujhse raabta
Kuch toh hai tujhse raabta…”

I don’t even know the rest of the lyrics to this song. Any other day, I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to Bollywood music, let alone have it play in my head as I wake up, but today isn’t that day. It literally translates to “there exists some sort of a connection with you.” (Might I take this moment to reflect on translation, and how it is more of an art than an exact science. My literal word to word translation does not do these lines the poetic justice they deserve. For all intents and purposes, if Hindi or Urdu were your first languages, these lines would tug at your heartstrings. Maybe.) Today isn’t that day however. It plays on in my head as I start to move. I roll onto my back and stare at the clock. 5 AM, it reads.

“Kaisay hum jaanein, humein kia pata
kuch toh hai tujhse raabta…”

And then I start to think about it. “What if we leave something behind?” is what I had asked amidst that panic. Six years and four months. Over 2300 days, nearly each one counted down since day one. The faces of everyone who has had an impact in my life, even if only remotely so, revolve around my head as I write this. My friends. My professors. My extended family that I had never even known existed. The patients I obtained histories from, and helped manage. The shop owners I bought my dinner from. The shop owners I bought the cheapest cups of chai from, to sip on as I chain smoked the most expensive brand of cigarettes. The landlord I paid my rent to. The neighbor I annoyed. The neighbor I was annoyed by. The watchmen, all 5 of them. Anyone who ever taught me anything, and I learned in these last six years. Or at least I would like to believe I did.

Now I get to leave it all behind.

For the most part, I’m not sure if saying “until we meet again” will ever be appropriate. It’s highly unlikely that we do. If I were to ever be so inclined, I would actually pray that we do not. However, I cannot say that it wouldn’t be one of the most pleasantest of surprises if we did. Another day, under different circumstances, it would feel good to see someone from here and remember the days of my past. To reminisce over the good times, if only so with myself. Clearly, not many of those people know the impact they’ve had on my short lived life so far. Hell, I couldn’t have said much about that myself until now that I know I’ll probably never be seeing them again.

There are too many memories to recount. More good than bad, as one’s memory usually serves to recall. I’m afraid if I highlighted the few that pop-up, I’ll eventually forget the ones that I don’t mention. Perhaps I’ll start dictating them into an audio format. and share one every now and then. I actually started blogging here to help serve that purpose, but switched to the more cordial micro-blogging platforms (which, as cathartic as it has been, I insist on keeping anonymous for as long as I possibly can.)

I’m afraid of the future. A lot of uncertainties lie ahead. How will I fare in the licensure examinations? Will I ever be any good at what I do? Will I enjoy it as much as I have so far? Or will all this work be in vain? I’m married. I’ve never been married at home before. Will the rest of my love life be as good as it has been for the last 18 months? I’m 27. Will I still make it in good time to start a career, start a family? I understand my parents’ frame of reference now that I’ve spent some time where they spent most of their lives. Will they understand mine? One of my best friends passed away while I was gone, the others moved away, and some simply moved on. Will it be as easy, or as difficult, as it had always been to cultivate new friendships? I’m excited, and I’m anxious, and I can’t wait to find out. I made it.

This nice new problem. (Alternative title: I hope it’s a tumor.)

It may not be new. It may just be an old problem that’s only now starting to prevail because people are finally starting to get sick of it. Or, better yet, because people have reached the end stage of their sickness and now have no choice but to retaliate.

That can’t be right.

Before you go off assuming the worse, I should give you a:


I am not sure what I wrote in my last post, but I’m still happy with my marriage and everything is kosher. We are always happy to see each other on the weekends, which means we are tolerating each other well. Neither of us smells, thank you Jesus. I will soon start a blog with the wife about our adventures and day-to-day, so friends and families far away can keep up on us, because this is not the place for that. Moving on.

So this new problem I’m having, or just beginning to notice, has to do with my face. My mouth, to be specific, in layman’s terms. My speech, actually. My behavior, if you will.

It wasn’t always like this. In first year of Medicine, whenever there needed to be held a serious conversation which required patience and placidity, I was always the first one to be called upon by my peers. This usually meant speaking to a pretentious, and particularly rude, member of the staff or negotiating terms with the college administration on certain issues. People, strangers (I’m thinking of my barber, who didn’t know me too well at the time) would point to me and say that I was the coolest cat they had ever seen. In terms of temper, I must clarify. I could really take the bullshit, you know?

Fast forward four years into the future, and I kid you not, I am at my wits end with these assholes. I find myself constantly being constrained and pulled back by my friends in situations that are likely to set me off. Of course, friends are not always there so more often than not, I find myself in fierce arguments and pointless quarrels with unexpecting strangers. It’s a classless thing to do. I have never felt good about it afterwards, and I guess that’s why I’m so bothered by it.

I often find my friends cleaning up after me. Tidying up whatever mess I’ve created and pulling me out of terribly difficult situations. One friend has been particularly good at this, I will thank him eventually. Going from “Hassan, you do all the talking” to “Hassan, don’t say a word!” has not been a pleasant experience. The friend I mentioned earlier said to me that it’s not what I say, but the way I say it. Or something to that affect.

Excuse the poor paragraph structure, I’m on my phone.

So I’ve been up all night, really ruminating over one such instance that occurred earlier tonight. It really has to be the way I said what I said, because what I said wasn’t something too unreasonable. I didn’t have a pretentious tone, as most people would assume. I was humble, but it still set off a heated moment and before I knew it, I was seeing red.

This keeps happening to me. I keep losing my cool, and although I’m never one to start cursing, I am sure the things I say are more hurtful than arbitrary curse words, so to speak. Physical brawls are not my thing. I am afraid of getting beat up, but I was awfully close to risk it today and that’s what I fear the most now. I thought maybe I was just frustrated or overwhelmed earlier, but this has gone on far too long and I’m afraid it’s only getting worse. I am actually starting to hope that it’s a pathology of some sort, because I don’t think I can find the source or the solution for it otherwise.

I’m too close to the finish line to do something stupid. I need peace, and, ugh, I hate to say it, but I need to be constantly at war in order to attain it.

Take me home.

It’s Weird Here

It really is. A lot of my friends and family have said “welcome to the club” or something to that effect and I can’t help but wonder if they’re being sarcastic. I don’t know what I was expecting to be honest. Here’s to hoping that my wife doesn’t read this until at least after our honeymoon, but I guess I was kind of expecting it to be worse in some ways and better in others. I suppose you can say marriage didn’t meet certain specific expectations. It hit the spot though, I’ll tell you that.

It’s really, really weird. Basically, I’ve been in all sorts of long and short term relationships, but none of them will ever live up to matrimony. For better or worse. Even if, supposedly, I had to live in with someone, it felt nothing like this. The feels are positive, mostly. The fact that you’re tied down with one woman for the rest of your life tries to hit you every now and then in a negative way, but it’s nothing you can’t shake yourself out of. The worst is when you think of your friends from the opposite sex, and you realize that you had never though of them “that way” before, but now you definitely, absolutely, positively cannot think of them in “that way” at all and you start to wonder why you hadn’t foreseen this thought?

You know how bad things happen when your expect them the least? It’s the same way with thoughts. I’d lay in bed sometimes, after I got engaged in 2011, and wonder what it would be like to be married. I wouldn’t exactly fantasize about it or anything, but I’d just try to inspect how it would feel. I would ruminate over scenarios that will probably never happen and problems and their solutions, and try to get the feel of everything. I would basically try to mentally prepare myself so I don’t get blindsided by a situation I didn’t see coming. The last question I mentioned in the paragraph prior to this did exactly that.

It’s difficult to explain. It’s actually difficult to understand. Socrates would understand. Socrates got married (to a woman at least 35 years younger than himself) and he’s famous for having said one thing about marriage, and I haven’t decided yet if I agree with what he had to say.

There’s only one thing I fear: social conditioning. I mean, Pakistani families are such assholes! I don’t want to get too deep into it, but even when people try to be nice, they’re being complete assholes. I want to take my marriage as far away as I possibly can from people. I don’t want their advice, because if they were so wise and right, more people would be happy. People try to influence other people and I am not the least bit impressionable, but I can’t say the same for my wife. I am the epitome of “in-on-ear-and-out-the-other” personality type, but even I’m not immune to what my subconscious chooses to register. Like earlier this week, someone from her extended family tried to advise us on transportation, and I was half a breath short of telling him to suck my dick. I didn’t because someone from my family had advised her on conservative dressing and she sucked it up. I needed to live up to the example she had, ever so elegantly, set for me.

That’s my only fear as far as marriage goes. I don’t want her, or myself, and our marriage to be influenced at all by this culture. Definitely not negatively, and I couldn’t care less for the positive influences. I mean, if something is meant to be, it will be, amirite?

I have never felt so complete though. I knew that it’d be great having someone to share everything with and having someone I can build memories for the rest of my life with, but I never knew how much I needed it. Putting my head down and soldiering through the thick and thin on my own for the last seven plus years, I was worried about being able to handle having someone with me all the time. It’s unbelievable how much more I’ve gotten out of it than I have had to give up, which is virtually nothing. The void that she filled in my life four years ago when I first met her had expanded infinitely and it wasn’t until she filled it again that I finally found peace & happiness.

It’s too early to say if marriage is everything I had expected it to be. Ask me again when I’m 40, and then again when I’m 60, and then again on my deathbed. I definitely intend to make it everything I ever expected it to be, more or less.

So you want a bad boy.

If you ask any dimwit of a girl today, she will have a variety of renditions and adjectives to attribute to her interpretation of a figmental “bad boy” she aspires to date. Liking the bad boy types is the new trend, making it difficult for the men who were raised to cultivate harmony, as well as contributing to overall social discord. Somewhere along the line, we started to believe that a “rebel” was someone who gave way under peer pressure to things such as drugs and uncivilized, abusive behavior; forgetting the fact that the real rebels are the one who stay up all night studying, despite the colossal amount of peer pressure and alienation they have to face in lieu of their grotesque, nerdy behavior.

However, I digress. Let’s ask why, in the first place, women are attracted to the conventional bad boy.

As logic will have it, women would want to avoid being abused and brutalized. Girls typically equate vulgar behavior to a man’s masculinity, and hence his earning power. Even if you don’t believe in evolution, you’ll have to admit that our ancestors didn’t put food on the table by being kind gentlemen who held doors for people and stayed at home with their pet birds. Their survival was dependent on how brutal they were. So it’s possible that women are naturally, genetically, attracted to the man that lives up to Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory.

And how is that working out in 2013?

The average girl will settle for a delinquent thug who offers that delusion of security and fleeting excitement, even if he has little to no earning potential. What she is genuinely fantasizing for is a monetarily stable man who is kinder to her than he is to his counterparts. This is almost never the reality, as sad as that is.

The average girl also fails to recognize the difference between reality and fiction. She assumes that television and movies actually mirror the real world. When the idiot box’s depiction of a successful man substantiates cunning, underhanded, ruthless and impertinent behavior, girls’ hormones are more than likely to kick into overdrive when presented with that situation in real life.

To her, bad boys are a project, a challenge so to speak, and she can feel — for once — dependent and debilitated in their arms. Her hormone-driven thought process will not stop to rationalize the situation. She wants to bask in the glory of adventure, the thrill which ripples through her when she fantasizes about being pampered by a menace to society who indulges all of her whims. In her mind, this will allow herself be wild, she could experience unrestrained humanity, and afford to express her sexuality as freely as nature hath intended.

And when her expectations come crashing down, and her morality is still intact — she will revamp her recent encounter with reality by telling herself that this bad boy in particular was not truly a bad boy, and that she can still land a real bad boy if she tries again.

Women can only follow their natural proclivity to be attracted to the degenerate. It isn’t their fault, because most of them haven’t come across bitter realities or texts (such as this one) that warn them of realistic outcomes. However, in their resolve to find such specimens, they are contributing heavily to an uncivilized society. Logic would suggest that society creates a counter-force to eliminate such behavior, but hormones don’t listen to logic now, do they?



Confidence is not synonymous with ungraciousness. Being assertive does not mean you have to be uncivilized.

A bad boy carries all of the latter traits without the formers. And although this makes for a fantastic initial attraction, the female partner will eventually figure out that she deserves better than you and she will move on. The smarter one, at least. The one you can spend your life and procreate with.


And ladies,

By the time you get past your bad boy stage, most kind men will have found someone worth their time and moved on. The rest will be incarcerated. As a matter of fact, the only thing standing between you and your dream relationship right now are a set of prison bars.

Hogging Loneliness. [Two]

I can’t remember the inciting event.

Perhaps it was a holiday, or maybe I fell ill. It could have even been a mixture of events, but there was an occurrence that helped me distinguish between solitude and loneliness.

Solitude was a choice. Loneliness was a cancer.

Being by myself was how I always recharged my batteries. Whenever I needed to regain composure, gather my nerves and come up with my creative best, I would look for seclusion. Some people tend to go out and draw their energy from being around others. They actively share their opinion, and as much as I enjoy being expressive, it never was my niche in society.  I preferred to listen, reflect and stay focused on my chosen set of interests, almost naturally.

After being a recluse for what suddenly seemed like decades, I decided that it wasn’t for me.

Being alone became tedious. I started to feel drained halfway through the day without even doing anything. I began to wonder if I had converted to the dark (read: extrovert) side or if I had just become a victim of  self-inflicted social abandonment.

Being alone to ponder over such questions never helped much.

Social engagement became a necessity almost as quickly as social disconnection had become my priority. I reached out to my fellows and colleagues, who seemed more than welcoming to let me in their social circles. I found their company to be almost always one dimensional. It didn’t take long for me to realize that keeping up with this company would be a detriment to whatever was left of my intellect, and that it needed to be cut loose.

In my resolve to not reduce myself to a label, I decided to make the best of my situation, and blah blah blah, here I am. I can’t keep writing about myself. I hate this post and the idea behind it. And I said “I” too much in both part one and part two here, which is killing me. So that’s that.

My life is a series of unfinished thoughts and unpursuable ambitions. This post will just have to be added to that long list of deeds.

Hogging Loneliness. [One]

I can’t remember how long it had been since I wanted to live alone. 10 years? 15, maybe? As far back as I can recall, all I wanted to do was get away from people.

I wanted a lot of things, as a matter of fact.

I was selfish and confused. I wanted a lot of friends, but I wanted them to never be around. I wanted to wake up alone and I wanted to fall asleep alone. My mother tells me that as a child, I would insist on sleeping in my own room. She would tuck me in and turn out the lights, only to find me standing at her bedroom door in the middle of the night, crying because I got scared. I would wake up the next day in her bed and beg to be left alone in my room the following night. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Flash forward to half a decade later:

Being immigrants who were trying to begin anew, my parents had little time and resources to cater to our growing pains. This is not to say that they didn’t do a fantastic job at it. Growing up, however, meant learning a lot of things before my parents would. At times it almost felt like I was raising them just as much as they were raising me. I also had the privilege of raising my kid brother until he was well into his adolescence. We were eight years apart, and I was barely a teenager myself when I babysat him for the first time. That went on for almost 10 years. It felt like too much back then, but if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Before I turned 18, I had successfully developed a self-reliant mentality.  I could cook, clean, do my laundry and manage my checking and savings accounts. I kept a regular grooming and hygiene routine almost religiously. I could almost make my bed. My grasp on necktie knots was just as good as my understanding of a credit score and my networking skills were as adequate as they could be, growing up where I did. My first job started when I was 15 years old. I mowed lawns and painted fences until I was 16 and I could change a flat tire under 15 minutes once I got my own car. I tried to be a savvy consumer, but an impulse buy here and there was always cathartic. I worked three jobs, I traveled overseas and I managed a stock portfolio, along with a tiny record label. I had done everything anyone could ever want to do, and I did all that before I turned 21.

With the exception of one thing: living alone.

Fast forward to January of 2010. I moved out of the college dorm and into my own apartment. It was 8 pm and I sat down to eat in the tranquility of my own living room. The plastic furniture didn’t bother me. The unpredictability of electricity didn’t faze me a bit either. I must have had the most impish smile on my face as I raised the first bite to my mouth. The dull crunch of my teeth piercing the roti and kabob was almost deafening. It was loud enough to wipe that smile right off of my face and make me realize that I had never eaten alone before. Perhaps an isolated incident here and there, but never this quietly. Never this utterly lonely. That was the first time I began to build respect for myself. I continued to eat and I couldn’t hear myself think over the sound of my chewing. The loud noise of loneliness.

With each passing moment, the space around me began to grow vast. I felt myself grow right along with it. I was happy. I was never in bad company when I was alone. I must say, I have never found but one companion who was as companionable as the solitude itself. There came a time when people came knocking at my door, and if I wasn’t in the company of that one companion, I would refuse to answer it in a feeble attempt to convert them to the religion of solitude.

Sometimes, I would sit face to face with myself, pondering over my despair and rejoicing over my achievements. The people closest to me were even closer now that they weren’t actually physically close. The further I kept them, the more I loved them. I guarded my isolation in the cunningest of manners. I belonged to myself. Not like a hermit. That wouldn’t be enough. It was worse. It was almost better.

I strengthened my fortress of solitude to a point that it became impenetrable. I succeeded in being considered totally unworthy of company. People left me alone, just as I wanted. I was victorious. The only thing left to do was develop a capacity for constructive use of solitude. I bought a guitar, and I caught up on reading lists from three summers ago. I started this blog, though I preferred adhering to the more satisfying, micro-blogging platform, otherwise known as twitter. (It provides instant gratification, don’t judge me.) I cooked and maintained my health better than ever before. Being alone was every bit as rewarding as I had expected it to be,

Until recently.


I’ve noticed that my posts have started to become too lengthy. I intend to be inadvertently verbose, specially when I start talking about myself. Grandeur. It’s pathological. Anyway, I’ve recognized the readers ever so shortening attention span and I decided to address it by splitting my posts into parts. This is only an experiment, and your feedback would be appreciated. Thank you!

A Puzzle

Sit down. In a manner that’ll allow you to bend your knees at a right angle and let your feet lay flat against the ground. Square your shoulders against an imaginary plane running horizontally below your chin. Let your head drop until your mouth touches this plane. Cup your face in your palms. Let your fingers into your hair. Rest your elbows on your thighs, and hold your head in your hands as you would hold a small, heavy boulder from rolling off.

Close your eyes.


Now travel back in time.

To every mistake you ever made. Every moment of embarrassment arising from your own actions. Revisit the first memory of every regret you still carry the burden of. Let the pain and the shame drench you as if it was a dense waterfall. Let it run wild through every corner of your mind as if it was a physical place. Let it grow. Let it isolate you from everything that isn’t it! Let it form the walls to your oratory, to the sanctuary of everything that never should have happened. By the time it’s done, there should be nothing but darkness around you. Darkness and a loud silence. A silence filled with screams from your past. Howls of the ghosts of a you that once was. Ghost that demands answers, asks for another chance, begs for resurrection.

Focus on the darkness.

Wait until those overlapping screams become singular, distinguishable sounds. Listen to them as they begin to simmer down; from roars to shrieks, until they’re nothing but sobs and whispers, and eventually a not so distant memory.

Now figure out how to break free from whatever is left of this chamber of grief and remorse and regrets and disappointments.

Try this at home. Unless you’re only there for a few weeks, in which case you certainly shouldn’t trouble yourself with such obscurities.