tirsdag 4. oktober 2011

The life and lies of Hibatul Moin Rushda Binte Awn Syed


I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, some of them nice, some of them very nice and some not so nice. And most of the time its fine, I don’t really give a crap what people say. But after moving to Ireland I’ve been accused one too many times of actually being a freaking liar.
There are several ways of determining where a person is (technically) from, throughout the course of my life, I’ve learned three of them:

1. You’re from where you were raised
2. You’re form where you’re parents are from
3. You’re from where you were born

I grew up in the Scandinavian country of Norway. It was a great childhood, nice summers, and winter wonderland Christmases. I’ve been taking part in birthday celebrations of my classmates since kinder garden; I celebrated the Norwegian national day of May 17th since before I can remember. To this day I cannot imagine celebrating this day any other place than my beloved Oslo. I like to say that I know the city of Oslo like the back of my hand, but I don’t, I know it averagely, every summer I discover something new about the city(mostly cuz I wasn’t looking for it the previous summer). I speak, read and write the language; to me my first language would be Norwegian. It’s the only language (aside from English) that I know the grammatical rules to; I’ve been speaking it since the first day of kinder garden. I know the culture, I know the people. I’ve always identified myself with being Norwegian, sure there are some things I technically can’t do cuz of the religion I was raised in, but hat never really mattered. I was still Norwegian. I was raised there so I must be.

But according to definition number 2 and my dark skin I would have to be Pakistani. My parents are originally from Pakistan, so obviously, no matter how Norwegian I feel, I’m always going to look like I’m not from the country of Vikings. But here is my issue with this definition. Though I have no trouble saying I am Pakistani, and I grew up speaking Urdu at home and was raised on Pakistani cuisine since my mother took me off mother’s milk. I have no affiliation with the country. I’ve never lived there nor do I ever plan on living there. My parents left 26 years ago and as far as I know they have no plans of returning either. So am I Pakistani by definition? Can I call myself a citizen of a country I’ve only visited 5 times in my life (never more than three weeks) and whose citizenship I’ve never even held? Personally I don’t think so. Though I’m fluent in the language, and my family is from there I have no connection to this country. But if we’re going by this definition then my parents aren’t Pakistani as their parents were all (4) born in the India portion of the empire of India (before the partition in 1947) making them Indian and me by default also Indian. Now I don’t have a problem being Indian, none what so ever (I can’t say the same about my parents and/or grandparents) but the definition opens up for an endless discussion about the origin of man, which is, to be honest, not only tiring but also pointless.

So I move toward the last definition number 3. Now this is the concluding reason as to why people might think of me as a liar. You see I was born at St. James’ hospital in the city of Dublin in March 1986. My parents were living here as students, my mother had travelled in her 8th month of pregnancy, from Pakistan, and joined my father as he was taking some courses at rcsi. My parents lived in a tini tiny little bedsit on south circular road for the next 3 month after I was born. After a couple of months in Scotland my parents moved to the cold country of Norway and have made their home there ever since.

This would be the reason why I hold an Irish citizenship, but don’t really have a relationship to Ireland otherwise. Up until the age of 23 I hadn’t stepped foot in Ireland since my birth, and last year I moved here for my studies. Though my classmates might call me Irish for the hell of it and pretend that that I am one of them, other than the citizenship, again there is no relationship to the country. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love it here. I love the people, I love the atmosphere. But at the end of the day I don’t see myself staying here for the rest of my life, even if I do have a citizenship.

And then over to the second part of why people perceive me as a liar.

I’ve always be honest about where I’m from. When people ask me I say “Norway” I flip my hair, flutter my eyes and say “can’t you tell by my blonde hair and blue eyes” obviously, there is a hint of sarcasm in there, but I always say it with a smile. The problem is the accent I say it in. I happen to have a very American accent and because of this I’ve been time and time again accused of being a liar. I’ve been told I have a hint of Canadian in my accent. I’ve been accused of lying (about being from Norway) and actually being from California. And time and time ageing I’ve been told that I can’t be anything other than American. Which, again, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind. I have no problem with people thinking I’m Indian, American, Irish, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, and Norwegian. It really doesn’t matter where people think I’m from. Problem is that when I tell them, they think I’m lying :(