This picture was taken in Palestine.
You may read this years from now and perhaps wish to erase this like you did your Xanga in middle school and your old Facebook posts after you broke off your engagement. You’ll justify the act by proclaiming it isn’t reflective of who you are today. You’ll justify wrongly. Coming face to face with the past has value. They say you get wiser as you age but I find that many life lessons we learn along the way get buried beneath the toils of sacrifice, bad decisions and placating each competing moral dilemma after the other.
I request that you practice restraint. What I am writing is indicative of who you used to be. And that has merit. Please don’t shut me out. I want to remind you of the timid desires that used to tiptoe in your heart’s shadow, ones that wouldn’t dare take up residence in its domain. You recently fought with family members because you believe that spouses aren’t commodities to shop for by sifting through a catalog of pictures and bio-data. You want the kissing-in-the-rain, the playful-banter, the euphoric-twirling, the cheek-reddening-gushery, the shouting-from-the-rooftops kind of story (with added flair and extra cheese) or nothing at all.
You also don’t think marriage is a last resort if and when other prospects in life aren’t looking up. One should engage in serious personal growth, be able to stand up on both feet (i.e. be self-sufficient) and be of sound enough mind (I’m still figuring out what that means) before making such a heavy commitment, but only if there is someone worthy of making that commitment with. You’re allergic to the thought of an arranged marriage because it puts the cart before the horse.
You hate Tinder for the same reason you hate when your mother tells you to look into a suitor from Houston, Texas. Use of both “resources” is forced and inorganic. You like the mystery and the dance that comes with the meet and greet. You cherish the period between the friendship and the intimate partnership. You crave the becoming, the anxiety, the will-they-won’t-they, the moments just before the fruition. If you take the thrill out of developing interpersonal relations of the intimate kind, then all you’ve got is a glorified business deal.
And you despise that word—and the word “finance”—because you hate crunching numbers. Your neurons fire most fervently when studying subjects in the humanities and social sciences field. And natural sciences only appeal to you when you associate a human element to them. Queue examples. Negligence in treating infections in prisons. There is something insidious about taking people’s agency away and rendering them victim to easily curable diseases.
Behavioral therapy for kids with autism. Faith in humanity is restored when learning about the advancements we’ve made in improving quality of life for all children. Poor sanitation in India and the broader effects that has on child development. The WASH Initiative is therefore beneficial for more than the clear and obvious reasons. How there are some people who can never get HIV because their bodies just can’t compute the virus and how you can’t wait until a major breakthrough comes from that knowledge.
The fact that scientists found a way to turn unfertilized eggs in to sperms. How they can only help produce female babies because they’re missing that distinct chromosome. You find amusement in the fact that, not only do we not need men to be the breadwinners; we don’t even need them for reproduction. You find the scientific accomplishment to be liberating and empowering even though you appreciate that: the shadow your pulsating organ casts is the keeper of a little desire that—any man who ever occupies your intimate space be capable of bringing comfort, warmth and safety to the table.
But the desire, as shy as it may be, isn’t one sided. You believe in reciprocity and equilibrium. That you will be as much a part of nurturing a healthy, loving relationship, as your partner will, if such a relationship is ever actualized. You qualify this dream because your favorite Pakistani poet, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, once wrote, “Aur bhi dhuk hain zamaaney mein mohabbat ke siva. Raahatein aur bhi hain vasl ki raahat ke siva.” “There are other greivances in this world besides the grief of love. There are other paths to take in life besides the path of union.” You take heed to this and have remembered the lines through the years, through several trying times—times that tried testing your patience and times that tried stripping you of your resolve.
You’ve committed the stanza to memory not because you’re a pessimist. If you were one, you would’ve settled long ago. The path you wish to take involves becoming a human rights lawyer, doing good through profession, not just because God knows you’ve got a long inventory of vices and is aware of your inability to follow through with rituals. But because you wouldn’t know what else to be. You’ve never dared to color a dream of being a spouse with words but have always quite confidently voiced your desire to be a parent.
It’s for the same reason you rip up straw wrappers into tiny little pieces in crowded restaurants and then mold them into little spheres, placing each one next to the other, forming a straight line on the table. You’re obsessed with making order out of chaos. As a person with a tainted childhood you not only want to reconcile your past but you want to rectify it too. Adopting a child is how you wish to do that and by becoming a lawyer, in the broader sense. These are the dreams that wildly inhabit your heart.
This isn’t because you’ve given up on romantic prospects but it’s because you can’t fret about what you can’t control. The desire is bashful but you know it all too well. A partner, if there ever is one, will firmly believe in non-violent parenting and will never throw the word “fat” around to describe someone while making a face like they smelled something funky. Someone who promotes body positivity. A person who isn’t transphobic or homophobic. You’ll find it easy to gush to them about the curve of a woman’s body and the chiseled form of a man’s jaw. Someone who can criticize problems the porn and sex industry perpetuate by promoting the devaluation and dehumanization of women without slut-shaming sex-workers.
A partner who gets that Black lives matter. A person who may not be able to empathize but at least be able to sympathize with the anxieties that come with being a person of color and belonging to a diaspora population in America. Someone who believes in a free Palestine. A feminist who gets intersectionality, systems of oppression and cares about social justice. You recognize that you care far too much to be with someone who just doesn’t get it and that intelligence and passion is sexy. But at the same time you want a partner who isn’t condescending or patronizing—who doesn’t make you feel small.
Someone who cares about these things but does so with a sense of humor because you’ve learned that you will get worn down very quickly if you don’t find a way to morbidly joke about all of this. You recognize that you can get too angry and worked up about human rights issues and need to surround yourself with persons who can lift your spirits. You have absolutely no clue what this person will look like nor does it really matter. But you’d like to think it’ll be someone with a contagious smile that lights up their entire face and warm hands because you’re always so cold.
You wish for them to drive you to be all the great things you could ever be. Someone who celebrates your passion and ambition. A person who couldn’t be bothered by the length of your nails but someone who takes care in what you have to say. Someone who doesn’t cringe at the thought of your next blog post. A partner who doesn’t make you feel like you’re gasping for air. Someone you can be goofy and childlike with. Someone who your friends adore—one who has adorable friends.
You have found that you often lose yourself in relationships. That you are the youest of you when you’re alone with your thoughts, when you’re not desperately seeking to gain affirmation. You want someone who sees you as their equal, who hears you as their equal. A partner who needs you just as much as you need them. A person you could be just as good to as they are to you.
You have this nervous thought about a day when you won’t get lost in someone and abandon who you are. You think you’ll know when you know. It’ll be with someone who thinks you’re awesome and with someone you think is awesome too. A partner who doesn’t make you falter from the path you’re already on. I want you to know that as dark as it is here these dreams are valid and legitimate. They don’t need to be compromised nor do they need to morph into something else in order for them to someday go from making meek pitter-patters to large strides that set up shop in your blood bank.