My trip to Pakistan was a long a-waited one; eight years in the making. After two days of traveling halfway across the world our plane landing felt almost unreal. The moment I stepped out of the airport and into the city I knew I couldn’t have been dreaming, I could have never imagined up the changes that had washed over my relatives. All the aunts that had been newly wedded brides were now mothers of at least two or more crawling munchkins. The uncles that had been lean machines almost a decade ago were now stout teddy bears with pot bellies. Every one looked absolutely perfect.
The single month we had to spend was not nearly enough. Every day was a new adventure of dodging beggars, crossing the trafficked roads, and surviving the heat. I drank at least ten to twelve glasses of water a day easily. The roads were amazing; people crossed it right and left, getting missed by cars with only centimeters to spare. There was a wide array of motorcycles, cars, giant busses, and mule driven carts. On the first day, our drive from the airport to my uncle’s house, I spotted a mule crossing the road to a fruit stand to have an afternoon snack. The mule driver’s face was contorted with frustration as he tried to control his animal, and the fruit stand owner tried vainly to protect his produce. I laughed all the way to my new temporary home.
Though I had not seen these relatives for so long, and I had not walked the dirt paths of this land since I was seven, nothing seemed unfamiliar. Home is where the heart is, and my heart had definitely found its home again. I could not help but love everything and everyone. Even Sanjeeda, the maid in my uncle’s house, became a sister to me.
In one month I went from shopping mart to shopping mart, adoring the rainbow of colors sewn on to hundreds and hundreds and cloth pieces. Glass bangles were sold in the most peculiar of shades; I wore as many as I could on one hand and jingled them in the sun, watching the reflected colors dancing everywhere. On peculiarly heated days my older cousins would treat me to lassi, a deliciously cool concoction of milk, yogurt, and just the right amount of sugar. I savored every gulp as it froze the back of my throat and chilled my insides. On every corner, if I was not treated to lassi, I was treated to spicy mixes of potatoes, beans, yogurt, and tons of round fried bubbles of wheat called ghol guppa.
The night was my favorite time of day in Pakistan, I would stay up until two or three a.m. with family, taking walks on the solitary footpaths, or sharing stories on the flat roofs. The wind was always blowing cool air in the night, and there were no street lamps for stars to hide behind. Usually about twenty to thirty people gathered in the living room by midnight, and then it was just a party of mango shakes and pistachio ice cream. Sometimes the lights would black out and all the kids ran to play exciting games of hide and seek.
Thirty days flew by, before I knew it we were back on a plane surviving a two day journey, only this time it to go back to Texas. When I entered our one-story house I thought that this is where my heart is too. To pick one home is an impossible idea, I just hope I can continue to take two day trips between my two havens; though I would prefer to do so in less than eight years from now on.
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