Sadaf Hakeem

Dear Grandma,

I wish I could come back to Pakistan, a place where I believe dreams come true. In that place, there is a small neighborhood that looks like a heaven. I wish I could live with you again in the same neighborhood where there is peace and love for each other. We always used to feel free to ask our neighbors for anything we needed. I can’t tell you how much I miss Pakistan, the sweet neighborhood – the neighborhood where my life started and I believe where it will end. Most of all, I miss you. Do you remember grandma when you and me used to go to “Sweet Dish” to eat food? Mmmm, I still remember those biryani, kabab, kofta, palow, and chalow – our favorite food menu and our favorite restaurant.

In my old neighborhood, all the girls would come to our kitchen to cook food and while cooking they would dance. The cool part was when we used to go to the roof to make fire there so we can cook food. We locked the door so the boys wouldn’t get in to bother us. Grandma, I still remember in my old neighborhood the little kids would come to our house, saying with their low soft voices: “Can we please come to your house to listen to granny’s stories?” You couldn’t say no because they looked so innocent and cute. They would all sit around the fire to listen to stories. Grandma, you would tell such wonderful stories; I still remember them. You would tell stories about princesses whose family forced them to marry someone that they didn’t want. Those stories were sad, but you would also tell us funny stories and scary as well.

The neighborhood in Pakistan was so beautiful, warm, and loving hearted. There was a playground for kids to play, to goof off and to make friends. We used to live upstairs on the second floor, but downstairs there were all kinds of stores for you to shop. We didn’t even have to drive all the way to the market because all the stores we needed were downstairs around the neighborhood. My old neighborhood used to look like a forest because it was covered by trees and flowers all around. Grandma, please say hi to Bano Bhaji I really miss her too. She was one of the neighbors, but she behaved like one of the family. She always treated us as a family member, and she cared about us like families do.

I remember in our holidays like EID and kite day there used to be a lot of parties where everybody would get together to celebrate the religious holidays. The night before EID comes, all the neighbors would go on the roof for prayer. In the morning, everybody would wear beautiful clothes and go to relatives’ houses to say, “EID MUBARAK” It’s a way of saying happy holiday and asking for money; they can’t refuse you because it’s the rule. When I used to be in my childhood ages, I used to get a lot of money from everybody, including my cousins. At the end of the day, I would earn six hundred “rupees” – which is money. It used to be great fun! At the kite day, which we call “AZAD E PATAG,” every body would get on the roof to fly kites. It was amazing to see thousands of kites flying in the air. It was so cool. What they have to do is cut each others’ kites and who ever loses has to give away all of his kites, and who ever wins get to have all of the kites.

In America, my current neighborhood is so boring. If I tell you about it, you won’t have the courage to live there. It’s empty. You won’t hear people talking or kids playing together. It looks like a dead bird. The only job here is to go to work, come back home, and the kids, they go to school, come back, and sleep. Even in the weekends, the kids stay home watching movies or playing video games. Adults here have appointments or other jobs to do. Everybody is so busy you will see people going to their jobs in the morning at 6 o clock 7o clock. I think it shouldn’t be called a neighborhood because they don’t live like it at all. Every body is living peacefully but not as one family. Why? Can’t people get along and have fun together. I wish I killed the moment when I said I want to come to the United States of America.

I wish I had wings so I could fly back to Pakistan without any problems. I don’t like this neighborhood and of course I don’t like living here too. Sometimes I feel like I am in prison and so freedom is not free for me. I just don’t get what kind of neighborhood this is. Should I name it jail, school or job – what? The name “neighborhood” does not fit.

There are some people here I can count on who care about me and love me. Of course my family, but there are even more besides my family. There is my second mom and dad. I know you would ask me why I call them mom and dad. It’s because they deserve it, and they are very close to me. The other is Farzeen. She lives by us, and she is a sweet neighbor of us. I know in Pakistan, when one neighbor was in pain, the other would come to help. But here no one comes to help; they don’t care. Instead, they call the police to say that this neighbor is having arguments or this neighbor is bothering us. In Pakistan, they would come to you, and help you to solve your problems.

I live here in America, but my life is in Pakistan. I am here but my heart is there. I can never forget those memorable, wonderful memories from my old neighborhood; my cousins, my family, my neighbors are there for each other. I will always carry my memories and never let go of them.

In my current neighborhood there is no respect for adults; they call them by their names instead of calling them aunty or uncle or other respectful names. In Pakistan, if you call them by their names you would get in trouble by your parents. Here, if you don’t call them by name, they think you are rude and you are supposed to call them by their names.

Yes, grandma, my life has changed here, in this neighborhood. I am not me, no more of myself. I have lost myself here. I have lost my friends. I have lost my sweet neighbors. And, I have lost my loved ones here. One thing I got here is my family and my education; these are my hopes. Sometimes I feel like screaming in this humdrum neighborhood.

The only place where I can find my culture is in my house, because we still follow our religion. We celebrate Eid and kite day, even though it looks empty because there are no neighbors to pray with us on the roof or fly kites. Every kite day, I look at the sky and I don’t seen even one kite. There is no one here that knows our religion or celebrates with us. My family and I celebrate it by ourselves in our small heaven life.

Grandma I really want to come there. I really want to see you and love you a lot. I am very tired of my life. Enough is enough, I am writing this to you because you are the person who knows me a lot and understands me better. You know Grandma, in my dreams I saw that I am in an airplane flying to Pakistan and I am saying finally I am going back to a place where I learned how to live a life. In my old neighborhood, I was so happy my heart was beating really fast. I was smiling. I couldn’t believe it. But suddenly, when I woke up, I was in my current neighborhood with the same neighbors, the same street signs that say Golf Link and Harrison, with the same restaurants. But, if I go there, the first thing I would do is go to my neighborhood because you still live there Grandma and give you lots of love. Then I would meet my old friendly neighbors, fly lots of kites and cut lots of kites, cook food together, dance together, and go shopping together. I would buy a lot of things like clothes, jewelry and shoes. I believe one day, I’ll be living with you again. I know that because my heart believes it.

One thing I am scared of is that I want to be there before anything happens to you because that’s how I lost my dad and I don’t want to lose you like that. Grandma, you are an important part of my life and I will do anything to take care of you. Grandma, don’t forget to give my love to everyone there and I hope to see you again. Send me your blessing Grandma if I am alive.

With lots of love from,

Sadaf Hakeem, your grandchild

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