I was born in Pakistan in the 60s, in a small village close to Kashmir. My father was a farmer who was a part time alchemist or herbalist (which is a pretty interesting story). He owned sheep, cows, chicken and weird looking chemicals. My mother was a house wife who would help my father out in the fields. Occasionally, my siblings and I would tag along. We would go out into the fields, use a dagger to chop up hay and silage, bring it home and then use a chaff cutter to dice it up for the cattle. The cows in return would give milk which we would sell. My wife’s life story is very similar to mine.
I didn’t exactly grow up rich, but neither was I poor. I would say I was somewhere in between. Actually I would say we were well off than most people in our village (Alhamdulillah).
We didn’t have a school nearby, so me, my siblings and my friends, had to walk to school which was located in the city about five miles away. It took us hours to get there. I did go to college, but I dropped out to start a business (I actually did a few). But more than anything I wanted to come to America. To the land of dreams and opportunities. I was chasing the American dream while I was living in Pakistan.
I wanted that large house with the white picket fence and a 9 to 5 job. Ironically I got none of these. My story is pretty interesting. My daughter calls me the brown James bond. She says she started writing stories because of me and she writes poetry because of her mother.
I remember the time when she was young and we were all in Pakistan. I took my children to our village on Eid Adha (Islamic holiday). It was cold and we had no electricity. All the kids (including my brother’s children) were snuggled in one bed beneath quilts to keep out the cold. My mother placed hot burning coals in a clay pot inside the room so the heat would eat away the coldness.
The children wanted to hear stories so I sat with them and told them the story of my life. Of how I ended up in America. They kept me awake the entire night and asked me all sorts of questions. That night miraculously the cold had vanished away.
“Weren’t you scared of the police?”
“But you could’ve died. Right?”
“What if you were human trafficked?”
My daughter tells me that night, around 15 years ago she had that burning sensation in her to write. I tell her that when you want something from the deepest core of your heart, then nothing can stop you. The world becomes in tune with you. The words speaks your language. You just need that burning desire erupting in your chest. I had that, and now I think she has it too.