Late To The Party


I grew up in Pakistan, where one’s life’s trajectory is comfortably pre-ordained: one must get a tertiary education at a reputable institution, during or following which one must get married and “settle down”, and then, of course, oblige one’s in-laws by producing a strategically interspersed brood of obedient children. These children must also then be indoctrinated into this comfortable pattern, lest they disrupt the circle of life that has maintained Pakistani society for many generations.

Hence, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I, a single 29-year-old woman of Pakistani origin, have been deemed “late to the party". While respectable Pakistani women fulfil their obligations by mass-producing a brood of children (how condescending do I sound), I was the hipster child “searching for my purpose in life”, “figuring out who I am”, and “just following my dreams” really. And while I was riding the metaphor train and dancing on all clichés, I lost track of my societal expiry date – not that I was aware of that at the time.

This sad truth crept up on me via the cringe-inducing comments and pitying looks thrown my way by well-meaning desi “aunties”. One particular jibe really stands out in my memory, where a doe-eyed, soft-spoken woman patted me on the back and condoled with my mother about how “such a pretty, well-qualified girl ended up single and alone”. There was no doubt in my mind that for her, this was an expression of genuine sorrow with no sarcasm intended. She was simply expressing what for her was an absolute truth – I was 29, well past the acceptable age for marriage, and hence doomed to a lonely, bitter existence. My friendships, my family, my career - none of that mattered in the face of this inexorable reality – I’d left things till too late, and I had to live with that.

I look at this with wry humour, for I’m well past the point where this impacts my emotional wellbeing. I also understand that this contributes to my disconnection from my own people – I miss the land, Pakistan, but it almost seems like a mythical construct of my imagination, because I cannot identify any longer with the acceptable norms of Pakistani society in general. I bear this with quiet pride and dignity, though, because such is the legacy of being a TCK. I’m “late to the party”, and I think I’m OK with that.

Desi is a loose term for the people, cultures, and products of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia and their diaspora. "Desi" countries include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.