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The F Word – Family
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By The Khan Owl   

The Khan OwlFamily. I never realized the importance of a KHANdan until I arrived in college. Sure, there is a lot of freedom, and – don’t get me wrong – I LOVE it. But, there are times when I just want to go home. I just want to smell the biryani that my mom is cooking, hear my dad shout for joy as the Pakistani team surprisingly wins a cricket match, watch my sister turn pages of The Hunger Games, or give my little brother a hug for saying he missed me.

Recently, I took a trip with two of my close friends, to one of their homes in which I was welcomed Punjabi-style. Everything was big – big smiles on everyone’s faces, aunties just wanted to stuff me with lots of food, uncles kept talking about politics and the house blared with bhangra music. As a person who’s been a city girl her entire life, I’ve never been exposed to such chilled-out, happy-go-lucky people. It’s the “Punjabi way”, so I was told. As a person who was born in Karachi, I was told that Punjabis were backward, uneducated, unclassy village folk. Granted, their language isn’t too proper, and yes, most of them do come from “gaons,” but so what? They are the most fun-loving people I’ve met. It had been a long time since I’ve been around a big family setting. Where chai keeps getting served, where Humsafar is on television, and cricket is the talk of the night.

As my friends and I were driving back, I realized how much I miss Pakistan. I don’t know… Pakistan… sigh, always such mixed feelings about that country. I love it for its people but hate it for its government. I hate that the government is corrupt, and that no one is safe there. I love it because so much of my family lives there. I love it when the Walls ice cream sound comes on, signaling that the cart is coming to the neighborhood. I miss buying chilli milli from the local bakery. I miss getting the street fries covered with third-class yet yummy ketchup and chaat masala. I miss the decorations of the city during Eid and getting rupee bills handed to me as if they grew on trees.

Desi Extended FamilyBut most of all, I miss my family. The family that treated me like a princess. The family that made sure I wasn’t lonely. The family I could goof around with. The family that got mad at my parents if I didn’t get my way. The family that became my best friend and I never felt like I needed them.  I want to see my nieces and nephews that I’ve yet to see. I want to go  to shaadis of my cousins. I want to hear stories from my grandparents about the partition of Pakistan and India. I want to go haggle over prices with my phuppos and khala.

My friends in America have always been like family to me. They have replaced my real family from Pakistan. I think after the trip to my friend’s house, I realized that nothing can beat family. No one can understand you or love you more than your own blood. There is just something special there and I hope I never forget. I’ve started to Skype my family in Pakistan now because I don’t want to let go of something so special: the bond of a Khandan.

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