1. The dishes.
Held in these Corelle plates is the best biryani, and in these cups the sweetest mango lassi. If you’re a female, congratulations! These dishes are all for you…to wash, of course. I remember this one time my aunt tried to convince me to wash the dishes by saying, “Girls look pretty while washing dishes.” From that day forward, I never wanted to be pretty. I only wanted to be Vidya Balan.
2. The “others.”
Traditional South Asian parents do not care much about how much fun you will have at the party, they care about what Aunty Rani will say once she finds out you went. Everything you are allowed to do revolves around what others will think. “What will others think if they hear I let my only daughter go to another country alone?” I don’t know, Mom, and I don’t care.
3. The aunties.
These aunties will rarely have any blood relation to you. Their specialties?
- Searching for sales like hounds.
- Spreading gossip like wild fire.
You will try your best to avoid the aunties, but one will inevitably find you in the ice cream isle at Foodtown. As she walks over to you, you begin to wonder if she will think your lipstick is too dark for a Pakistani girl or your hair too short and curly. Will she talk about you over a cup of chai? you wonder. Of course she will.
4. The parents.
We know they love us but they would love us more if we were doctors, home before sunset, made perfectly round roti, and married the boy from Pakistan who doesn’t speak a word of English.
5. The gatherings.
Once in awhile your parents will host dinner for another family. You will wake up to the smell of food because your mom has been cooking since 7am. Your house has all of a sudden turned into a zoo, with screaming little kids, and the two cousins you actually like along with their judgmental parents. You put on your dupatta and go say “salam” to your aunt and uncle (this is where the interview begins). “How is school? What classes are you taking? Oh, you’re not going to med school? What job can you get with this major?” And with said questions, they will calculate how proud or un-proud you will ultimately make your parents. (Tip: this would all be a whole lot easier if you’re planning to be a doctor, but ain’t nobody got time for that.)
6. The freedom.
This doesn’t really exist.
7. The house phone.
You stop being a child the day you stop picking up the house phone. You don’t want to get trapped in a conversation with Uncle Yousef about the weather or what happened in Islamabad last week. You don’t care.
Although this is a special month (and Eid follows right after), just face it — you are fucking starving and it’s okay to admit that fasting doesn’t make much sense to you.
9. The taxi drivers.
Somehow all South Asians know each other. Which is especially dangerous for you because that cab driver who just saw you with your kala guy friend might know your dad…and now you are a slut.
10. Your American friends.
You are envious of them, their vacations, their understanding parents, their Christmases and pretty much everything in between. They don’t know what it’s like to get 6 missed calls from your mom and a voicemail (because she thinks you’re dead). You become tired of being the human translator for your parents and want them to understand English the way Jamie’s parents do. And sometimes you don’t want daal and roti for dinner; you just want mac and cheese.
Sometimes these 10 things can be enough to wholly break you down, but you pick yourself back up because, ultimately, being Pakistani has made you stronger than that.