A paper I did for English Class my freshman year on a visit to Pakistan. Some details are added and other are highly exaggerated.*
A miasma of smog, curry and tobacco penetrates my nostrils as I scrunch my nose in utter disgust. Humid, sticky air clings in the atmosphere as I intake my surroundings: hugging, crying and babbling families, withered Samsonite suitcases, and large LED signs. Suddenly, an old couple running late for a flight runs over my pinky toe with their bag. Ouch. Tears are proliferating in my eyes as the metallic taste of blood leaks through my bitten cheek and escapes into the vast emptiness that is my mouth. If you can’t tell already, I absolutely hate visiting Pakistan.
“Ecsqueezing mei?” I turn around to see a short, stocky, forty-something man in a tan outfit. “Yes?” I ask, trying hard to conceal my American accent. “Duyo needang uny hulp vith yer bayg?” he replies, a hint of excitement in his tone, his eyebrows unconsciously wiggling suggestively. I desperately try to avoid kicking him in the face.“Uhm, no thank you.” I quickly respond, making my way to the exit door. Outside, the sky is washed in hues of pink, lavender and baby blue. Taxi drivers ruthlessly honk at innocent bystanders, old men align the sidelines of the large airport and chew tobacco while hordes of anxious relatives incessantly chatter, obviously excited for a desperate foreigner or third branch relative to visit them in the polluted wasteland they have come to know as home.
I meticulously search the crowd for a distant relative. “But you hahv tu goh. You hahv to viset
youh grandparents befoh youh start at de university.” I mock my mother only seventy-two hours ago, urging me to visit my grandparents, four billion cousins and three thousand uncles and aunts who all have seemed to possess a strange fascination with the act of pinching my cheeks.
Suddenly, a familiar face appears. My Grandfather comes into view and tackles me to the ground in suffocating hugs and slobbery kisses. “Vhe vure meesang yuh suh muchuh!” he exclaims, salty tears now running down his wrinkled face. I secretly thank god for letting this all happen in a place so distant from my friends, who would have been on the floor in hysterics by now. Now my Grandmother is peering at my dubious face, most likely overwhelmed by how much I had grown within the past ten years. “Yew’ve gottun soh beeyootifulh!” she exclaims. Like i didn’t know. I mentally scold myself for my lack of seriousness and emotion towards these two strangers... I mean, my, umm..grandparents.
“They’ve all cuhm! Feriyaal, Shazaib, Misha, Salman, Ferzana, Mehwish, Dilawar, Imran and all the rest! Ehweryvuhne vhunt to seeh yew!” my Grandfather announces, putting a heavy arm around my shoulder. I shift uncomfortably. We stop in front of a huge, black bus. One by one, several grinning children, women and men dressed in colorful attire step out with handfuls of trays assorted with varieties of South Asian delicacies and large, intricate rose necklaces, which they happily hang around my neck.
Once my bag is loaded unto the vehicle, we set out home. I sit in the front seat with my uncle, who, being an experienced farmer, happily enlightens me on the history of South Asian agriculture, which I actually find quite interesting. “...Dhen I plow dee seedus vith Salman...” he continues, but notices me trying to stay awake. With a push of a button, the whole van is trembling with Pakistani Singer, Ali Zafar’s rendition of Papi Cholo. I genuinely smile as my fifteen cousins all get up to Bhangra through the vast aisles of the gas guzzler. I turn around and giggle as they falsely attempt the dougie. I began tapping my foot and clapping, the seat beneath me vibrating to the beat of the drum. “I guess this isn’t going to be so bad” I think to myself, genuinely grinning.