How to Bring Dishonor to Your Family

Want to anger your Pakistani father? Tell him you’re not going to do what he wants you to do.

Worked for me. When I arrived home from the States after four years with all my belongings but lacking the Dr. next to my name that I had been sent to get, all my father had to say was “you are a failure in life”, combined with a look of pity, loathing, disgust, disappointment, all rolled into a single moustached grimace.

Most family and friends were similarly inclined. They did what all good fellow Pakistanis ought to do in such situations – they gave me their unsolicited opinions about my life.

I should stop being a quitter. I should go back and finish the PhD. I should think of my father and what sort of dishonor this brings to his name. I should think about how worthless I will be without the PhD. Kya karega Pakistan main. And so on.

This is the school of thought that puts the honor of the family name before personal dreams. That considers the word of the parent and elder as sacrosanct. That considers success in life to be a solid career at a multinational corporation and an arranged marriage to a first cousin, living in a house with Mommy dearest and driving a Honda City, watching Geo TV while munching on mango achaar and going to Jinnah Super – or whatever other spot in other cities – for family outings.

All these things are fine, some are awesome. Like mango achaar. I love it. But this model of life was being thrust in my face as the be-all, end-all, with any other lifestyle choice looked upon as inferior, or worse, western.

But they just don’t get it. This mode of living is well nigh obsolete. After quitting the PhD I didn’t fall into despair. I wasn’t a loser who just recycled Oxygen, I didn’t get struck by lightning or shoot myself in the face or get lost in the wild throes of anguish because of how pathetic my life had become.

Quite the opposite. I am more content today than I had ever been following the scripted path. Because a. I make my own decisions and b. the scripted path sucks.  I make more money than most of these multinationals pay senior managers. And I make it doing what I want, when I want, where I want. No 9-5, no bosses, no corporate nonsense, no suit and ties, and no socks.

What’s the secret? Simply this. Do what you love. And you will not work a day in your life.

People no longer question my decision because I’m doing pretty fuckin’ well.

I get ample time to follow my own interests and pursue side projects which are awesome.

Dad is still mad because I defied his wish and thought for myself, but he’s slowly coming around as well.

And I can have all the mango achaar I want.

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