In a vibrant new video, journalist Nushmia Khan examines the hands of the Pakistanis she met while reporting.
“With all these hands, I could only see potential — potential in a country that has been deemed a failure by so many,” she writes.
You’ve got to meet my brother, my friend Mina tells me as we wander the streets of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter while our husbands attend a conference nearby. He’s a drummer. His band’s toured quite a bit, some of their songs are used as television theme songs, and one of their tracks is in Django Unchained! Next time he’s in town we’ll all get together. You’ll like him. He’s an artist, like you.
I wanted to protest this comparison. Yes, I write. I’ve written for several print publications and at my site for almost a decade. I’m a contributing author to the Love Inshallah anthology and a monthly columnist for this website. And I’ve poured my heart and soul into two completed YA novels. I have an agent who believes in my writing and I have edits I’m working on when I have a moment to breathe and yet, when Mina referred to me as a writer- an artist like her brother- I had to do a double take because an artist?
An artist is whimsical and freewheeling. An artist wears faded jeans and grows a butterfly garden with wind chimes in the front yard of their lovely Tudor brick home. An artist has a villa off the coast of Italy to ruminate properly, or sips coffee while scribbling in a black notebook overlooking the river Seine.
An artist is not running after children while coated in flour from a cookie dough experiment gone awry, or propping up weary feet at day’s end when dishes are loaded and kids are asleep to do some online, off-season boots shopping. An artist gets paid handsomely for their art.
I’d forgotten that the psychic said he was going to come to me in the spring, with a briefcase in hand. I was so heavy with grief that the thought that I’d ever be able to feel love in my heart again felt like fiction. There was room for nothing but sadness and survival. How could I ever fall in love again? Instead, I fixated on the things that she said that mattered in that moment, only seven weeks after Mom died.
It was an accidental reading – or had I subconsciously summoned her? – by a friend, over casual dinner and conversation. Things I had been yearning to hear started tumbling towards me. She said Mom was standing behind me and how that meant that she literally had my back; that I had Mom’s cheek; that Mom wanted me to have her saris, especially the blue ones, because she knew my favorite color was blue; that she wanted us to go down to the water, the beach, her favorite, and to say a farewell ritual of some sort; and, most importantly, that she was happy, or more precisely, that she finally felt free. The psychic didn’t need to tell me that. I just knew.
It wasn’t until I had moved back to my parents house, nine months after Mom had passed and one month into falling head over heels in love, that I remembered what the psychic had said. That she pictured him well-dressed, maybe in a suit, with a briefcase in his hand. (“A briefcase?” I thought. “Who carries a briefcase these days? Only gangsters or Wall Street guys – neither good options.”) That he was secure and stable. He was responsible. He’d be good for me. She didn’t see him being ‘the one’, but I would love him all the same. And, more importantly, that I’d be in love.
A hushed night. Soft and still.
I see threads. Threads. There are threads. Laced like webs.
Twined around my fingers, my toes, the vessels within my heart.
Stretching out piercing through particles and atoms.
Crisscrossing through time. Interlocking and tangling.
Knotting with other threads. Weaving and weaving.
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Novelist and screenwriter Kamran Pasha on being a Muslim in Hollywood and having the courage to follow your dreams, whatever your spiritual path.