Rediscovering our Roots in Pakistan

Family…a link to our past and a bridge to our future.”

As a child, I remember listening animatedly to stories of the past. Born worlds away from my roots; these stories form a link to my heritage. They are part of my story, my lineage…and for many years, these narratives have been the glue that connected me to all the other branches on the same tree. As I get older, it’s become more important to hold onto these memories, keep them  alive and pass them on as best I can. And even more so, I am ever so grateful to still have the keys that connects both worlds…my parents. If it weren’t for them, these stories would remain narratives of our history, passed on and grow weak with time. But through them, they have made the connections real, and given both us and the next generation something tangible to embrace and remember, and worked hard to bring these connections to life.
 Dispersed all over the world, Family is the common thread that connects us, and also proves that there are some bonds that distance can’t destroy. Though the internet unites us in many ways that were impossible before, there’s nothing like pure human interaction to seal the bonds of the heart. I guess it was the driving force behind my mom’s recent trip to Pakistan…like voices reverberating through distance and spaces, my mother’s heart yearned to go to back there after rekindling old friendships and re-establishing bonds that are deeply rooted into our fabric. With my dad and nephew in tow, they made their way back after more than 25 years!

I think the unexpected thing about this journey is how it has impacted more than just those who went. How the love and connections filtered through to all of us. How the warmth of a video call made us feel part of the experience. How the power of a picture pulled at our heart. How a simple message ignited a relationship that was only ever a story of who belonged where on the family tree. How the letters of sentiment, and tears that fell as a result has touched us all. How the people in pictures became more than just faces…they were transformed into real life relationships. I think that the truly wonderful part of this trip is that it didn’t just unite a few people across continents, but rather that the connection transcends just the older generation. With my nephew, Abdur Raaziq, going with, it has breathed a sense of continuity of this connection to the next generation of kids as well.

One of the most touching sentiments expressed by all those who went on the journey, was the amount of love and warmth they were welcomed and embraced with. It’s been more than a month since their return, and still they speak about it and remember with great fondness. I think in parts they are still overwhelmed by the amount of sincere, unselfish generosity they were flooded with which my father described quite aptly when he said he went expecting a glass of water, but instead, he received a well!  Without a doubt they have shared part of that well with us, and though our flowers may be scattered over continents, we will always be connected by our roots.

This may not have been my journey, but it’s part of my roots; and I’ve written this post as a remembrance and a reminder for my kids. One day they may read this story and it might ignite some new connections and I hope it will continue the legacy <3

Zarina Phupu…the reason for the trip! What started out as a search for my mom to be reconnected with another dear friend, landed up leading her to Zarina Phupu and uniting us in unimaginable ways <3  
My Dad (centre) with Zarina Phupu & Adam Chicha. They are brother and sister, and also my father’s second cousins.
The language of Love is universal and transcends language barriers! Though Zarina Phupu hardly speaks much English and Abdur Raaziq can’t speak Urdu; the love and connection was unmistakeable between the two.
Shebaaz (Zarina Phupu’s son) and his friend Sadan. There’s a strong sense of community and togetherness in Pakistan, and neighbours and friends are welcomed like family.
Sandleen…Abdur Raaziq was a bit apprehensive about the trip at first, expecting mostly old people who spoke a language foreign to him, but was relieved to find out that Sandleen spoke English fluently!! He was pleasantly surprised by the bonds and friendships he has created, which I’m sure will last a lifetime 🙂
Abdullah, Zainab & Talha : Even though they were so young they created a bond with Abdur Raaziq in the short time that he was there. They were excited to have a foreigner in their midst and waited patiently by his room door every morning until he made his appearance. 

Mom & Dad back in Pakistan after 25 years
Fareeha : This is my Dad’s niece. Apart from her mom being my dad’s first cousin; her dad, Samad Chogle, was also my father’s best friend! I had met her father many years ago as a young child and I still have such vivid memories of him. This is a great instance where social media has reconnected us and given us a chance to build relationships despite the distance, and I hope that one day we will have an opportunity to meet face to face.  
Hassan ( Fareeha’s son) : The image of his grandfather in both looks and character!

Asmat, Sarah & Elaf  (Fareeha’s daughters) : These third generation cousins connected instantly! They shared a lot of common interests and without the language being an obstacle (since they speak English as well) they managed to click instantly. They spoiled my folks with quite a feast and displayed great culinary skills (I think we will get along great), and they have since kept contact with all of us here at home as well <3
Adam Chicha : He’s the eldest of 7 brothers (dad’s cousins). He was very paternal toward AR and it clearly shows how they share a real love for each other.

Adam Chicha’s wife
Never mind where in the world or what the circumstances, children have a way of connecting like no other! The girl in this pic is Qurratul Ain. AR speaks very fondly of her and says she filled the gap of a big sister to him.
The Tuk Tuk…the easiest mode of transport
Perhaps a butcher opportunity for us in Pakistan!?
All cousins united!

The resemblance between Abdur Raaziq and Shebaaz is uncanny! separated by distance, but there’s no mistaking the genetics.
Farzeen…whom everyone says reminded them of  Rocky 🙂
They all lived in one block of flats and saw each other everyday
This is Zarina Phupu’s sister in law, Nusrat Chichi, and also Sandleen’s mom. Without even knowing my parents, she opened he heart and home and made the stay memorable!

Fareeha’s sister, Madeeha, beautiful girls <3 
AR never really drinks tea over here, but couldn’t refuse tea from the hands of his Siara Appa who made and delivered tea for the family timeously everyday!
The quest to find her friend Yasmeen ( pictured here) , led her to find my aunt, Zarina
Sandleen was mom’s shopping guide and my replacement 😉

Imraan Bhai & Fareeha : They really went out of their way to welcome the family and have made an effort to keep the connection going even after they have left.
Rafiq Chicha…another one of dad’s cousins and also a brother of Zarina Phupu

This is Anwar Mamu…he was a bit camera shy but has given everyone many moments that will forever be engraved in their memories. 
Thanks for reading!

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