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.