To feel or not to feel

September 6

It’s there in the motivational songs that get you pumped up for almost seven minutes at a time, the quotes you sometimes rip out of magazines and put up on your mirror and occasionally in the speech of people wearing rose-tinted shades.

But perhaps for the first time in my life, it is everywhere. It is in the conversation of young women sitting at a bar, on T-shirts, posters – and in textbooks and lectures. You can help change the world; you must help change the world.

If you’re lucky and you end up choosing to do your masters in something you believe in, it is an incredible experience. I am surrounded by people who share my passion and it is a different reality from the one I am used to. It is not idealism but practical implementation of how things can be better. It is learning how to be a better person, and yes, sometimes it is tedious.

There is a thing as being too nice and I do sometimes wish to punch the person who continues to ask me how this or that obviously annoying thing makes me feel. It annoys me. Mainly because it is an annoying thing. Two minutes later it will still be annoying me, added to the irritation of discussing my feelings in a classroom full of very sensitive souls for three hours straight. Seriously! I’m from Pakistan; I worked in a newspaper in Karachi. I typed four-line obituaries for 15 men in a single night, would it really break my spirit if someone called me a ‘bloody immigrant’?

I suppose it was tragic that in a class of students horrified by pictures of oppression they had chosen and put up themselves I was neutral to most of the photos. Police brutality? Been there, seen it from up close. Poverty, starvation, war, civil unrest, yeah, as common as wildflowers in spring.

For many of these students it is the shock and horror of what lies around them, discovering that it is everywhere, pain, oppression, injustice. For me it is about peeling off the scabs so it can hurt again and continue stinging till I manage to find a salve.

How does that make me feel?


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