The post has little to do with the inspiration for it’s title, a novel called Love in the Time of Cholera.
Basically, I’ve been suffering from a debilitating flu the last few days now which didn’t take long to transpire into a respiratory infection. Debilitating because the nausea and headaches, not to mention the fever, really don’t allow you to make the walk up & down 6 stories of stairs let alone the commute to the college & hospital. Of course that commute has to be on a motorcycle, in a country heavily laden with dirt & pollution. Pun intended.Plus that wet cough accompanied by a little midget trying to break out of your skull with a chisel and hammer is terrifying. Not too long ago, my extensive medical experience as a 2nd year student would have said I have tuberculosis & a brain tumor but I have over come the hypochondriasis and thankfully so! The smallest thing used to drive me crazy. My head was not a happy place a year ago.
Not that it’s a happy place now but, it’s a little better without the constant paranoia.
So anyway, as I lay alone in my room last night with my nose stuffed, chest congested and the lights off, I thought about all the great times these eyes have seen. All that fresh air these lungs have so heedlessly exhaled. Selfish alveoli, not once holding it in, cherishing it before letting it go. We can all be ungreatful at times. I remembered the Friday nights I had spent with my friends. Aimlessly wandering and listening to loud music, among other vices. Not hurting anybody and just minding our own business. Being there for each other was all that mattered. We wouldn’t get upset at stealing each others girls or mooching off of each other; it was more about being there for each other. It sounds corny now but that’s all there was to it. To know that you will always have a friend that you could count on.
I wish I could say the same now. It’s Pakistan that I’m in. I was born here but I wasn’t raised here. I didn’t grow up with anybody here. The handful of acquaintances I refer to as friends are just as reliable as any co-worker or colleague you have to be in touch with for the sake of keeping life afloat. Yeah, sounds selfish but that’s the truth. It doesn’t matter if I was buried here, I’d always be an outsider. The friendships that last are created in high schools and early years of your college when you can benefit very little from having a certain friend. That’s when friendships are selfless and solely based on mutual understanding.
If I could say something to the 17-21 year old me, it would be this: Cherish the friends you currently possess. Never again will you ever experience friendship at this level. You will make opportunist acquaintances in grad school & you will have colleagues & co-workers at work. Never friends. At that point in life, when you go out looking for friends, all you will find is people with their hand out. Asking a favor for a favor. No amount of money, no skill, no trade or socioeconomic status will buy you sincere friendship. It ain’t sold in the market like that, although the rap videos would have you thinking otherwise. The person you find yourself closest to, the person you trust the most will be the one to turn around & stab you in the back, in real world. And that’s okay. It’s acceptable because it’s expected.
Love will also be just as different. It’ll be Pakistan. Romance will be re-defined by terms like SHARAM GAAH (private parts), ZINAH (sex outside wedlock. Even looking at a girl is ZINAH but it’s okay as long as you call it Poondi, then it’s acceptable), HUM-BISTARI (laying in the same bed?) and NA-MEHRAM (a person of the opposite sex that you can potentially marry?). The language of a repressed, sanctimonious culture designed to kill romance. 1984 anyone? George Orwell would concur. Salay munafik madarchod is a term I would like to add, it means the average uneducated, holier than thou, Pakistani. The person who would bribe people for small favors, steal electricity and natural gas from the government and come home to talk about how terrible his leaders are and how we should block Youtube.
The last paragraph above, eight new blog posts waiting to happen.
So here I am, the next Saturday evening, writing this blog and coughing my heart out. I think I’ll have some coffee and wait for sanity to return to me so I can start knocking out these Pathology chapters. Two more years, I keep telling myself. Two more years.
Exit stage right.