"VOF: Week Two: (Without Origination There Can Be No Journey)"
By the time I was 14, I could see no future for myself in Pakistan. It was not a vague sensation either; it was a strong, blazing sentiment that just would not go away. I had to get out. The only thing I had was my mind. Money was not a luxury I enjoyed. I decided the only way to “escape” was to somehow get into an American college, somehow find the money & somehow get a visa & somehow, somehow if the stars aligned it would all come to pass. So I worked & worked. I saw the path clearly it was like an equation if I managed to ace my O’Levels & then my A’Levels, if I managed to get in a number of extra-curricular activities perhaps just perhaps grandiose names such as Columbia, Vassar, and NYU would hear my story & say yes, we want you, & we’ll assist you in this journey.
The grades did come, I somehow managed to triumph & become president of the student body during my A’levels against much chauvinism I must add, I sent out applications to colleges, even asked for application fee waivers…out of ten colleges all but two rejected me. The two that accepted offered me financial aid, and so it began.
My father left us when I was 4. Growing up in Pakistan, I was the only “single-parent” family I knew, which made some people so uncomfortable they would tell their children not to befriend me because “I had no father”! When it came time to try & get a passport, in order to apply for a visa, in order to go to college, the absence of my father came back to haunt me. There is such a thing called a “B” form, which one needs in order for anyone to get a passport. On this B form your father’s name must appear along with his ID card specifics & signature, in fact he must file it in order for you to have an identity.
My mother would wait at the passport offices, the ID card offices to try & get me a passport & we were refused, “No, You have no father therefore you cannot get a passport,” was the gist of things. In Pakistan, it is said if you really need anything done you have to know someone. After months of trying all the correct channels, in the end we had to be helped my someone “high-up” just in order to get my birth-right as a human, as a citizen, as a woman. Shockingly, it was done in one day, after months of lamentation, despair & pain.
I also got the visa. I worked & saved $1000 dollars to take with me to college. I left on the plane, alone to go to a country I had never been to before with no family, & few if any, friends scattered across the country.
This was the first part of my journey, 14 years ago to here & now. It is not possible to explicate the entire journey in 500 words, for it has been a long one often so hard that I would never have imagined being here, but I decided to start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…where I learnt what I apply today, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".