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:

***MARRIAGE FOLLOW UP***

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.

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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?

 

Gentlemen,

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.

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.

Breathe.

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.

When in Pakistan…

Marry something.

Seriously! You have to. It’s our tradition. Plus it’s the law! Our land, our rules. Just do it. Something. Anything! Preferably, something educated. As a matter of fact, the higher this subject is educated, the more negative characteristics we’ll be willing to overlook.

For example: we’ll tolerate a unibrow for an intermediate education. We’ll take bad teeth, body hair and halitosis for a bachelor’s degree. Obesity and old age for a large inheritance. And obesity, unibrow and bad manners for an adult, well established, expatriate sloth. Unibrows, of course, count as a strength in certain parts of Pakistan. Specifically at and around 32.49722°N 74.53611°E. They’ll never figure it out.

That’s just the gist of our trading system. Please rest assured that the finer points are calculated by complex mathematical formulas, stored safely in the heads of our elders, and only brought forth by the twisting of a mustache in the presence of chai and absence of logic. You are in great hands. Literally, hundreds of them.

What’s that you say? You don’t want to get married? Why? Didn’t you know God sent everyone on earth as a couple; though precisely 3-6 years apart? There are other reasons too and if any one of the following reasons fit, we must not acquit.

It’s time:

We seldom abide by the rules of nature. With evolution, God bestowed upon us these amazing life clocks which we drilled into an area between our two cheeks and tethered to our brains. They’re quite simple. You are born, you are educated (or thrown into child labor), you maintain a presentable reputation and then BOOM! It’s marriage o’ clock. Sometimes, this hour of dread is preceded by gossip about how you’re still not married, but that’s not always the case. Also, you want to avoid the too-late-to-get-married o’ clock, which we will let you know of once it’s too late. Never before. Unless you have the aforementioned inheritance, by the time you finish reading this sentence, it’ll be too late.

Marriage O' Clock

It ticks for thee.

A chef & a maid:

Are you too busy (read: lazy) to feed and clean up after yourself? Perfect! The only logical solution we can think of is marriage. It’s not a man’s job to make his own bed in the morning and wash his own dirty underwear. There’s an app for that. It’s called a wife.

“Look at all these rice that aren’t my mustache.” Sorry.

Babies:

That’s right. Your parents are bored. Entertain them with grandchildren. Also, teach your kids at least 15 new tricks every day. Such as manners and not getting sick. If it can self-heal, we’ll be slightly impressed.

Desi baby

“I a make a you a baby. Take.”

Something about land:

In a society where wedlock becomes a trade and nepotism is promoted, consanguineous marriages are a big seller. It’s not only about inbreeding, it’s also about keeping the family heirlooms in the family. By family heirlooms, we mean assets. Anything capable of being owned, tangible or otherwise. Most of the time it’s land and property, but saying that “you’d be surprised” is an understatement.

Roughly the effect we’re trying to achieve.

Boredom:

You haven’t been married until you’ve gotten married out of sheer ennui. You’re done with your education, you’re making money (or sitting at home, as is the case with many females) and you don’t have much else to do. Before you go out and find love on your own, God forbid, we would like to do it for you. We’ll find you something you can love for the rest of your life due to a lack of awareness and a hint of insecurity.

“Mom! I’m bored. Rishta me, thanks.”

Upon ending up with the right regrets.

At what point does a man, who lived his entire life telling people he doesn’t have a single regret, suddenly become aware of everything he wishes he had done differently?

It’s difficult to say. There isn’t a defined time for such a thing. No one, when growing up, gets told that at a particular point in time you will come to regret certain decisions you made. No one is warned of that dreadful moment because it’s never the same for everyone. A few of us claim to have no regrets, a small percentage of whom actually don’t. The rest just can’t seem to recall them at that moment. This, to emphasize the fact that regrets are not something one can lie about. No man with regrets can ever look another in the eye and say he doesn’t have them. It’s that simple.

Regret is not subjective; the definition of it is not up for discussion. It is simply a moment in which man feels sorry for himself. This feeling may or may not be accompanied by nostalgia, but it always includes a bit of hindsight and a wish to turn the hands of time in a manner that will allow him to change what aches him. The presence of aforementioned feelings depends on the degree of regret of course. This here above only describes the average, mediocre type of regret. As the intensity of regret increases, it leads one to imagine not only things about the past, but also the future. Horrid things. Apprehensions. The demons one hides inside himself begin to find their way out, creeping, slowly engulfing the being which has been their home for ages.

Then again, the lesser of regrets can be quite comical. Walking into the wrong classroom while searching for yours, making your way through the door and past a few desks before realizing that none of these faces look familiar. One’s ego may lead him to believe, for a split second, that all these people are in the wrong room. That of course is always followed by that moment of utter embarrassment and, again, the lesser intensity of regret where one wishes that he had been more attentive of his whereabouts. There is no graceful way of excusing yourself from that situation. I myself have forgotten to walk in those circumstances. Right foot forward, heel down, roll to the toes, repeat with left foot.

Baby steps.

Baby steps will walk you right out of your regrets. What’s done is done. There is no graceful way of erasing the past. It is yours to live with. Embrace it. That, you can do with dignity. 

Hypocrisy galore

Among my favoritest of people are those who embrace a liberal lifestyle only when it’s convenient for them and shun it when it isn’t. 

I, for one, am not perfect. Yes, I know it’s hard for everyone to believe, but it’s true. Time and time again I have held unsubstantial concepts, or for semantics sake: I now believe that the concepts I once held about certain things were not exactly logical. As long as someone is willing to explain to me why they believe that something I think or do is wrong, I’m willing to listen. The biggest perk, as well as the definition, of being liberal is being open minded to everything. Even to conservatism.

When someone explains to me their disagreement with a position I hold, without using the phrases “people will think” (which is a condition epidemic to the Indian Subcontinent also known as “what-will-people-think-itis“, etymology coined by the  brilliant Urooj Zia) and “this is the way it has always been“, I am more than willing to embrace the idea of listening to them.

Honestly, there is no reason to be against tradition unless it’s an impediment to contentment and progress.  “This is the way it has always been” should be a guiding force, not an imprisonment. Once the tradition loses practical purpose and begins to cause more loss than gain, it needs to be reconsidered. Mark twain once said something about customs: 

“The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it”

This applies to almost everything we do under the “tradition” umbrella. Let’s suppose it’s still passable. Once, however, whatwillpeoplethinkitis emerges at the horizon, you have lost your argument. What you’re basically saying is that if no one found out about it, it would be acceptable even by the people’s own narrow minded and corrupt standards. By all means, that is how we (me and you both) define hypocrisy in the real world.

The truth is, a nation of hypocrites is what we have become.

There is still some hope for us though! It is never too late to give up on our life long commitment to imbecility. The cloak of religion can only take us so far before logic yanks it off and reveals a mortifying, dissoluted skeleton of sanctimony and self-righteousness. Then you die.