I was fourteen years old. My past experiences of shifting homes are arguably unconventional. Residing in the Isle of Man at the time, the idea of a holiday to a Euro-Asian country startled me.
Why not? I was up for it. Having been travelling across Europe for years, the idea of continuing the activity in Asia seemed attractive.
Istanbul is alluring. The decaying bulbs flickering with the entire spectrum of colours along the cracked paths surrounding the Hagia Sophia Museum, effortlessly caught me star-struck. I was conceived with the desire to instantly collapse on the flourishing grass adjacent to the footpaths and begin writing poetry about the rainbow flashing before me. Sadly, the idea did not progress into fruition due to my father’s eagerness to explore the city. The history of the Ottoman Empire abruptly began ringing in my ears (for hours) as my father read from the pamphlets he had collected at the museum we had visited previously.
It was a Thursday afternoon when my father introduced my family to the serene Indian-styled restaurant which rested by the Bosphorus strait. The chilly atmosphere complimented the environment that surrounded the eatery. As we began devouring the naan and chilly curry, my dad began muttering to my mother. After five minutes, my father stated that he wanted to make an announcement. This was uncanny, as he doesn’t usually make such formal statements habitually. He warmly pronounced that the family was going to take a special trip to Lahore in a few days — straight from Istanbul. My siblings and I froze in shock. We hadn’t visited Pakistan in years and the idea that we could finally meet our perky cousins was thrilling.
Boarding the Turkish Airways plane, I turned back and glanced at the blossoming country that was thriving around me. The flush trees, the lively grass, and the stunning blue sky. I had never been in love, nor a fanatic of the concept – but at this moment I finally greeted the sensation openly.
We arrived at Allama Iqbal Airport on the 29th of July in 2013. As days progressed, I timely became curious as to when we were returning back home, but was provided with no direct answer. Finally, on a dull day, my father announced the final decision to shift homes to Lahore. Despite not even being present in the room when he told my siblings of the stubborn decision, my sister began whimpering with agonising pain. I burst into the room where they were seated, believing that I could hear laughter and giggles – but in reality cries filled with sorrow and detestation greeted me. Albeit the event was unanticipated, I settled in the foreign country and adjusted to the society.
I still wonder, with awe, what my parents’ intentions were while moving my siblings and I across the globe. I have succumbed to the idea that I may never, truly, figure it out. Despite the warranted vexation I initially felt, I can undoubtedly say that through these experiences, I have learnt one of the most important lessons life has to offer: adaptation.
Written by: Ammar Hammad Khan