By Maria Amir
It appears you are still here. I do not know if this goes against you or whether it falls in my favor but I shall take it. I apologize in advance for wasting your time but it appears that I am somewhat of an expert in the art of time suckage. Only, this is the first time I have coveted an audience for my ministrations.
I have recently been musing the merits of singledom in Pakistan. I confess this is an odd sentence for me to type, given that the words ‘single’ and ‘Pakistan’ have seldom been permitted to co-exist peacefully for extended periods of time in my vocabulary. And yet, for the first time I can truly relish the idea of being alone. I suppose I can sustain the thought long enough because it now exists without pithy, petty qualifiers of what my life ought to look like. This is an odd, unpredictable, upside to divorce. The fact that if one is able to survive the harrowing experience intact, the potential reward is an unprecedented sense of self wrought in self-reliance. I am experiencing for the first time that I may just well be enough, perhaps not for someone else but certainly for myself. This is new for me, feeling content in my all-too obvious contamination. Not overjoyed, mind you, just complacent. For once in my life I don’t find myself running against something: time, tradition, expectation, potential or love. The downside of this ‘settling into my own skin’ has been accepting my failings ad hominem ad infinitum.
This brings me back to this letter, my current state of between-ness and you. I find myself in the midst of my शून्यता (Shunyata) or Buddhist emptiness and it feels good. For the Buddhists, Shunyata reflected the observation that everything we encounter in life is ultimately empty of soul, permanence and self-nature. It’s actually meant to be a good thing, kind of like a tabula rasa from expectation. Being back in Pakistan has brought me to this place and for the first time I can appreciate its peaks. I have been hoping to escape this country for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I used to think that if only my parents hadn’t returned to Pakistan they wouldn’t have gotten divorced. As if being in this country was what made my father what he was rather than him carrying his country everywhere in his shirt pocket. I used to think that if we stayed in Bali, the sheer spectrum of color and flavor would somehow supplant itself in our skins through its own lyrical osmosis. I used to think places made people rather than the other way around. I hung on to that premise for the longest time and more recently it was about freedom.