I come from a background of women whom have seen their people burned alive right in front of them, whom have had their innocence taken away from them within the matter of minutes at the hands of men whom felt entitled to their bodies.
I come from a background of women whom have suffered from severe trauma from a young age, at the hands of the British empire and Pakistani military. I come from a background of women whom were told to ‘just deal with it’: deal with the continuous monstrosities of colonialism and imperialism, and ‘carry on’.
I come from a background of women whom were expected to ‘stay silent!’ about all that had happened to them, because if a man outside of the family had found out that ‘your body was no longer innocent and clean, no man would want you.’
I come from a background of women whom migrated, and when migrating, carried their trauma. I come from a background of women whom didn’t know how to deal with their trauma because their community back home didn’t let them, because they themselves didn’t know how.
I come from a background of women whom never ever knew or know the phrases ‘I am depressed, I am anxious, I feel suffocated’. I come from a background of women whom are severely depressed, anxious and suffocated but they get on with it because that is what they know and all that they know.
I come from a background of women whom are courageous and strong beyond your eyes could ever imagine but because these women are elderly, and their tongues do not speak English the way a native would, you wouldn’t see them as strong and courageous. You would see their small petite frames, hijabs and wrinkled faces and think of words such as frail, passive, submissive and obedient to describe them as.
I come from a background of women whom projected their issues on to me, and yet, I don’t blame them. They weren’t made aware of mental health issues, but they slowly are now. It’s difficult for some to listen and understand. And those who do listen and try to understand, struggle nonetheless.
I am a woman who will teach my children the history of their women, and teach them what it means to be strong women through my words and my actions. I will teach them that when everything isn’t okay, that, that’s okay, and that they can speak about how they are feeling.
22 years of living, and yet, I do not know my mother’s story fully. At times, randomly, she opens up to me and reveals snippets and I’m able to form jigsaw pieces. I have some pieces that show the overall narrative very briefly, but the precise details, the centre and the edges are very much a blank space.