n

n
Creative Writing

k

k
Literature

o

o
Travel

When A Life Update Turns Into Confession.


I have had this blog since I was 19 years old. I am now 27. This blog has been my safe space and has seen me through what I would deem the most difficult period of my life. My own growth, however, has coincided with the evolution of the internet and this space now acts as more of a hindrance than ever before. Whilst writing here has been an integral part of my healing, it is also a public space and has therefore always required me to maintain a level of ambiguity in everything that I have curated and shared.

I don’t often discuss the complexities of growing up and being raised in a South Asian, Muslim household and the weight of expectations that have been woven into my limbs from birth. With our lives already paved out for us and the concept of freedom being something that we must consistently fight for and are not inherently entitled to, existing as a woman in this culture means that every day is a process of learning the things that we have been conditioned with. This coupled with the toxicity and proximity of the communities in which we reside is only cause for chaos.

I will never be able to discuss and write about my experiences in their truest most pure form because being a Pakistani, Muslim woman means that I have an entire community ready to dissect and condemn my every waking move. To contextualise this, I often provide the example of myself writing a novel. If the story were to consist of content that merely eluded to something of a more adult-nature, I would be ‘bringing shame’ onto my family and ‘tarnishing’ the image of Muslims. It would also raise questions about whether I was writing about my own experiences and thus lead to me being ostracised. As we live and exist in an Islamophobic world, there is more pressure than ever before to adhere to and present a positive image of Islam. Aside from the religious pressure that comes with being Muslim, I also live with the cultural threat of my every move being attributed back to my family. For example, if I were to make a mistake, it would reflect badly on my family and whilst I have no concern for my own marriageability, my behaviour could later cause problems for when my siblings choose to get married. I am therefore always carrying out risk assessments of the things that I do and am acutely aware of the consequences of leaving in that extra word.

Whilst writing was always a way of seeking the freedom that I was never permitted to, it has reached a point where I am afraid to write freely because it means that these words will exist somewhere in the universe and may later be used as ammunition. As a child, I wrote stories because it meant that I was in full control of characters and thus had a way of exerting my own movements. Now it is these same movements that act as a hindrance as I continue to try to navigate life amid this space. Living a ‘peaceful’ life here means conforming and ensuring that I do not deter from the things that are expected of me and so part of my decision to leave is because I no longer want to carry the weight that is interwoven with my every breath. From my mother not allowing me to enrol on a PhD course due to making me ‘too’ educated (and thus less desirable) to having to mask every fibre of my being from my extended family, I am continuously being stripped of my individuality and desires and am having to provide justification for the way in which I wish to live my life. As I grow older and reach what my culture deems my ‘sell-by’ date, there is more external pressure than ever before to behave and act accordingly. Whilst it is exhausting, I understand that the course of my life will be a process of continuously contesting the expectations that come with my heritage.

The reason that I mention this is because writing, my only true source of freedom, is something that is also perceived as problematic in the South Asian culture. I grew up reading writers such as Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf which is ultimately reflected in the darkness that is interwoven through the syllables of my sentences. Whilst Islam encourages thoughts of mortality and the afterlife, my culture perceives any discussion or exploration of it as being linked to possession of evil spirits and it therefore becomes a paradoxical catastrophe to write about or elude to such things. I don’t know how to adopt the sense of meekness in my writing that will both appease my culture and remain true to my own evocative intensity. I have had cousins ask what is 'wrong' with me for writing certain things and I find myself persistently going through all of my blog and social media posts to ensure that they are devoid of connotations, leaving nothing that will or could be misinterpreted. Over time, I have unpublished over 300 posts and the once therapeutic benefits of writing have been negated by the constant need to filter and edit everything that I share. I just want to exist in a space where my truth does not have to be suppressed. I want to write without being concerned about whether my characters are distant enough from myself to be perceived as fictitious, thus making me exempt from all of the turmoil that accompanies deviation

This blog is also listed on my resume and has previously helped me gain employment. Since I have now re-entered the recruitment process, I am aware that future employers may be reading these words which also contributes to the pressure of keeping this space devoid of emotion. I have not been posting consistently for the last two years and whilst I still have so much that I want to say and give to the world, this blog is something that I feel is reaching its end.

1 comment

  1. This is such a beautifully written article. I myself am a Pakistani Muslim girl and I know the circumstances one go through when she shares her heart out. It's sad.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Powered by Blogger.