I think I was going to blow up with excitement before I boarded the A-380 that was supposed to carry me home from the US. A laidback Lahore and people I love awaited me. How could I be sad at the prospect of reuniting with my family and friends? However, as soon as I entered the carrier, a wave of uncertainty struck me. Was it going to be the same as before?
I had witnessed changes in the people around me previously and I had realised the changes in myself also. Although I respect change, I do fear it and I sometimes do not like it if I am not a part of it.
When I reached Pakistan I was a bit disoriented and confused. Maybe it was because the change was too much for me to handle or maybe it was just the jet-lag. Soon I recovered from it and realised that life here was differently paced from the life abroad. I knew that the sooner I came to terms with the differences the sooner would my confusion end.
In some ways, there is a greater freedom abroad. You can always choose the people you want to meet and spend time with. Mostly, you make friends with the people you get along with. In Pakistan, the cultural obligations force you to meet with relatives and family friends at most. In university life, you are not bound by any such culture. Obviously, you are bound by some sense of obligation to you friends but you impose it by your own will and choice.
In my experience, parents seem to be more protective when you are in the same city but not as much when you are abroad. I probably received more phone calls from my mother when I was staying over at an old friend’s place in Lahore than when I was traveling from one city to another some seven thousand miles away.
However, my greatest concern was neither of the two differences mentioned above. I feared a change in the attitudes of the people around me, especially my friends. I also feared the changes in me that I may not have been conscious of but they would point out once we meet up.
To my relief, I soon realised that my fears were unwarranted. There were changes in the attitudes of a few of my friends but these were subtle. I understood that I should not fear the change in their personalities; in fact, I should accept it as it comes. What I should fear is the day they stop accommodating the changes in my personality.
My experience of moving between places, making two homes (literally!) and two sets of friends has taught me one very valuable lesson: every place has its own positive and negative features, and some features are neither good nor bad but intrinsic to that place. One should not fear the transitions and changes in life but accept them as they come.