I am a local. I am multi-local. I was born in Pakistan and went to school in Pakistan and Malaysia. As an adult, I've lived in Brunei Darussalam and Melbourne, Australia.
A daily ritual is pumping loud 90's gangsta rap music through my car's amplified speakers: by the time I reach my workplace, I feel like I'm ready to take on the world. The short drive to work must entail the purchase of a large skinny latte to kick-start my brain. Upon arriving at work, I usually remain seated in my car even after I've arrived at my destination, waiting for a song to reach its crescendo before I am ready to leave the safe haven of my car.
My most meaningful daily interactions are with my mother. She knows every facial tick of mine and is more than happy to sometimes share a content silence or a profound hug when words feel too heavy. I like checking in with friends on Whatsapp - I realised very early on that phone calls are not my thing, and I tend to avoid them as far as possible, potentially because I enjoy a safe distance in all of my relationships (my mother is an exception). I dispense wisdom, vitriol and advice to friends and loved ones on a daily basis, but all through the veneer of social media.
I hold a green Pakistani passport along with a blue Australian passport. Pakistan has been flagged by the Australian government as a "terrorist country", and yet I consider it home. This dichotomy defines my daily struggle to find a sense of belonging in Australia. I answer questions about Islam on a daily basis, whether in person or online, and I feel the need to prove my "Australian" identity constantly. Pakistan is home, and always will be, even though going back does not seem to be an option. Turn on the news and you'll know why. I sport an unruly Afro, which I straighten or try to restrain using a combination of pins, hairbands, and strategic head-scarf arrangements. The Afro has always resulted in my friends telling me that I don't look Pakistani, which further adds to the proverbial "identity crisis".
I would like to continue traveling the world and work for the United Nations in any capacity. I also hope to live long enough see an inclusive Australia that values it's multiethnic landscape and offers up its "boundless plains" to anyone who needs a safe haven. A far-fetched goal is to write a fantasy book series and eventually tick off all 63 items on my current bucket list. Get to know me, and you might hear about some of them.