I was fourteen years old. Residing in the Isle of Man at the time, the idea of a holiday to a Euro-Asian country startled me. Why not? I was up for it. Being familiar with travelling across Europe for years, the idea of continuing the activity in Asia seemed attractive (at the time, anyway). I hurriedly packed my bags – “What should I bring – what shouldn’t I -?” I would beckon to myself every five minutes – adrenaline galloping through my amateur physique and my heart aggravating the poetic justice of it all. Had I only known that the clothes I packed with me would have been the ones I would be wearing for the next five months; I would have at least made sure to bring along my cosy Marks & Spencer onesie.
Istanbul is alluring. The decaying bulbs flickering with the entire spectrum of colours along the cracked paths surrounding the Hagia Sophia Museum effortlessly caught me starstruck. I was too conceived with the desire to instantly collapse on the flourishing grass adjacent to the footpaths and begin writing poetry about the rainbow flashing before me. Sadly, the idea did not progress into fruition due to my father’s eagerness to explore the city. The history of the Ottoman Empire abruptly began ringing in my ears (for hours..) as my father read from the pamphlets he collected at the museum we had visited previously. Little did I know at the time that about three years in advance I would be sitting a final examination to consider the level of success of the Treaty of Sèvres – where I glanced up at the ceiling of the colossal hall, gesturing to a higher power, resonating about how ridiculously coincidental fate can be.
It was a Thursday afternoon when my father introduced my family to the serene Indian-styled restaurant which rested by the Bosphorus strait. The chilly atmosphere complimented the environment that surrounded the eatery. As we began devouring the naan and chilly curry, my dad began muttering to my mother. After about five minutes, my father stated that he wanted to make an announcement. This was uncanny, as he doesn’t usually make such formal statements habitually. He warmly pronounced that the family was going to take a special trip to Lahore in a few days – straight from Istanbul. My siblings and I froze in shock – we hadn’t visited Pakistan in years and the idea that we could finally meet our perky cousins was thrilling. Boarding the Turkish Airlines plane, I turned back and glanced at the blossoming country that was thriving around me. The flush trees, the lively grass, and the stunning blue sky. I had never been in love, nor a fanatic of the concept – but at this moment I finally greeted the sensation openly.
We arrived at Allama Iqbal Airport on the 29th of July in 2013. As days progressed, I timely became curious as to when we were returning back home – but provided with no direct answer. Finally, on a dull day, my father announced the final decision to shift homes to Lahore. Despite not even being present in the room when he told my siblings (seriously..) of the stubborn decision, my sister began whimpering with agonising pain. I plunged into the room where they were seated, believing that I could hear laughter and giggles – but in reality cries filled with sorrow and detestation greeted me. Albeit the event was unanticipated, I settled in the foreign country and adjusted to the society – something my principal adores referring to as a ‘culture shock’. I still wonder, with awe, what my parents’ intentions were by moving my siblings and I across the globe. I have succumbed to the idea that I may never, truly, figure it out.
My treasured onesie is usually stored at the bottom of my underused Victorian-style wardrobe now. Yet, through the moments I grow apprehensive, I haul out the garment and gaze at the seamless range of brilliant stripes across the undersized fabric. The cohesiveness of the rainbow colours continue to nudge me, and as I glance at the overpowering cloth; I reminisce the past I worship and contemplate the future that could be.