My Identity

I read an interesting blog post that reminded me that people sometimes distance themselves from their roots for one reason or other. I personally recall having to tell my high school classmates where I come from. Feelings of being an outsider amongst classmates from India crept in and I hesistated in telling them. There was a sense that my background was something to hide whereas they had no problem disclosing theirs. I hadnt visited Pakistan for 10 years at that time and probably felt out of touch with the place. It was as though I knew I was Pakistani but that had to be brushed to the side whilst in the company of non-Pakistanis. Living in England and being Pakistani is difficult whether you’re with Indians or white people.

My thinking changed some years later when I returned to Pakistan and found my relatives to be overjoyed to see me and their eagerness to want to know me was as if I’d been away from home. The same typical trip home to our village and the heat that just hits you in the face brought back memories of past visits in my childhood. Having to speak in Punjabi fluently only having to pause and think every few minutes slowed down the conversations since English was the only language I’d ever spoken fluently. It takes a while to get the hand of it and in the mean time your cousins have a good laugh at your expense. Then came the time to go home and you didn’t want to leave..

My next trip back was shorter and more intense since it was at the most hottest month in Pakistan. It was also the 14 August and I celebrated Pakistan’s Independence with everyone, waking up at 6am in my excitement to experience every moment. But there was a shock to the system when someone pointed out that I wasn’t born in Pakistan so why was I so happy? It stung me and for a short moment I was lost for words as anger took hold. Was I not Pakistani? Was I British and British only?

I wasn’t born in Pakistan and neither were my siblings. My parents were born in Pakistan but we all hold Pakistan dear to our hearts so its sad to see when some Pakistanis trash talk about their country.

I am and shall always remain a British Pakistani. British because I was born in England and grew up here, Pakistani because I have the blood of my ancestors in me.

What are your views on your identity? Are Pakistanis ashamed to say they’re Pakistani?


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Filed under independence, outsider, pakistan, punjabi, roots

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