20 years ago, to the month.

Speaking of serendipity…..

A couple of months ago, the chowkidar of our building rang the bell to inform us worriedly that we should take a look into our servant quarters to see if everything was okay. We’d been using the space to store our extra stuff downstairs, and he thought there was a strong possibility of some kittens or mice having died in there.

Huz immediately went to check. Everything appeared to be fine, albeit very dusty and cobwebby, thankfully nothing had crawled in and died, so the building jamadaar was paid something extra to clean up and dust everything and Huz was instructed to instruct the jamadaar to carry up some cartons that had been languishing forever.

The cartons are full of old letters, files, memorabilia and stuff I’ve kept for years because I don’t have the heart to throw anything away. The files contain almost every drawing Amu ever made since she was very little. There are reams of notebooks scribbled with Huz’s prolific poetry from way back when he dreamt of being a poet. There are letters in there written to me by friends when I was away in college, or by Huz before we got married.

Treasure, basically.

A couple of weeks ago, while Amu was taking a break from studying hard for her exams, we were sitting by the window and talking about boys. Something reminded me of my younger school-going self, and I recalled an ‘autograph’ book I had kept from my last week of A level days….

Amu goes to the same school where I did my A’s, so she can relate to some of my memories from there, though admittedly, my memories of KGS aren’t quite as happy as hers.

I didn’t have a very good time there. I felt mostly lonely and depressed because I had a hard time fitting into ‘groups’. A few of my closest friends from my old school adjusted to the new environment way better than I did, and happily went about making new friends and finding their niche. I felt a bit abandoned, and completely lost….I struggled with my studies feeling rather friendless for at least a year. My self esteem was at an all-time low because I thought I must be very uncool…..It was 1992 then.

It is 2012 now, exactly 20 years since those miserable days. It is pure coincidence that I chose this time of all times to share with Amu a particular autograph written for me by a boy who was actually a year senior to me. I remember he had written something almost as a confession of a crush he might have had….I remember how my stomach had kind of plummeted when I read what he had written.

So I went over to fish out the old autograph book from the dusty old carton.

As Amu and I sat by the window and flipped through the pages of that book, reading the things people had written for me, I felt surprised all over again.

It seemed as if people had liked me….

Mysteriously, the particular autograph I wanted to show Amu wasn’t there. It seemed as if it had been removed….making me wonder if it had ever existed…? I knew it had, because I vaguely remember what had been written. I could even almost see it in my mind’s eye. Where on earth did it go..?

Moving on, here are a few samples of some of the thoughts penned by people about me. Don’t judge. Please?

someone i reconnected with after 18 years…
page two of her text! πŸ˜€
umm….I have no clue what Hammad’s talking about….:P
another of the very few I got back in touch with πŸ™‚
Sohail even left a phone number!
this has got to be my favourite πŸ™‚
no, i guess i didn’t fit into the nerd category either
Babar was speechless I suppose…
seems Ayesha had a peeve πŸ˜›

Looking back at these autographs made me think about the strange dichotomy between the pathetic image I had of myself during those two years as an unsought-after, unpopular, freakish girl (that nobody wanted to invite at parties…then I remembered….I was never allowed to go to any by my strict mother) and what people may perhaps actually have perceived me as.

Amu laughed her head off at some of the autographs, as did I, and we had a rollicking time. Then she looked Β speculative, and remarked….’I wish Β I knew this 19 year old you.’


p.s. Here’s what the school yearbook said about me……(I still wonder who wrote this)

Munira joined KGS in 1990 and quickly became known for her cheerful nature. A lively and talkative person, Munira got along well with everyone. She was recognized for her immense artistic talent and worked for the art section of the Pulse. A free spirit, Munira was always willing to plunge into funfilled adventure. She is planning to continue her studies at either NCA or the Indus Valley school of art.

that’s me…standing third from left πŸ™‚

It doesn’t seem like I was such a loser after all.


  1. How fun to look back at all of this. The autograph entries are so interesting.. Isn’t it strange to look back on selves we used to be? Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Mun!

    1. Munira says:

      Fun and bizarre at the same time Kathy. Very heartwarming too πŸ™‚

  2. Anonymous says:

    Haha awesome….. In school I always thought you were this chill, super cool girl with lots of friends πŸ™‚

    1. Munira says:

      Likewise, sweetie πŸ™‚ You were the only one to write me a 2-page autograph. Must be the fellow fire-woman thing πŸ˜‰ And now I understand your obsession with purple!!
      Thank you for being there…..I think you were a ‘free spirit’ too…… πŸ™‚

  3. auntyuta says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all this, Munira. Having a hard time fitting into groups, I can relate to this. It’s amazing that you none the less seemed to have been rather popular, isn’t it?

    1. Munira says:

      Exactly Aunty Uta! I couldn’t believe some of the things that were written. Even if they weren’t sincere, they still warmed my heart πŸ™‚ It was terrible not fitting into any groups though……you never had anyone to hang out with. And fellow free spirits were few and far between 😐

  4. berlioz says:

    Your blog is a great way of sharing your life and your past with the outside world. The memories you dug up appear memorable now but then you probably thought – that’s life.

    I would not be able to through anything out either. Those yellowing and stained books and papers are part of your memory. While still in our brains they are not easily recalled until we open one of those old, often forgotten themselves, pages. They are the equivalent to the modern portable hard drive we use with our PCs.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. berlioz says:

      Sorry about the “through” it should be “throw out”.

    2. Munira says:

      Yes, at the time these memories of the future were being actually lived out, I was hopelessly insecure and sad. It’s nice to be in a more secure place now (blogging has helped a lot in that respect!)
      I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t bear to part with old yellowed diaries and bits of paper πŸ™‚

  5. Cool post. Time flashes by so quickly I think we should reminisce and try to recall the good times and fun we had when we were younger. I recently re-visited my old stamping ground to see how it had changed and sadly, it seems to have changed for the worse. I know people laugh when us oldies (I don’t mean you ! ) say “It was better in my day” . The sad fact is, sometimes, we/they are right.

    1. Munira says:

      I believe ‘the oldies’ (I don’t mean you!) when they say things were better in their day…..I’m convinced they’re right πŸ™‚
      Having a kid is like having an age barometer, if that makes any sense. For some of my unmarried, childless girlfriends, it is harder to believe that so many years have gone by…
      And as for those teenage years, the autographs did go some way in assuaging (this is my new favorite word) all that angst πŸ™‚

  6. Anonymous says:

    Again…. Impossible in groups 😦

  7. auntyuta says:

    Peter and I have already great-grandchildren. This shows that we must be old! Our youngest daughter, being only in her thirties and having no children herself, has seen her nieces growing up. Because these nieces are all teenagers by now, I am sure, she thinks she’s getting on in years.

    1. Munira says:

      I’m sure in your heart you’re still that 20 yr-old Uta! πŸ™‚

  8. rumanahusain says:

    So Munira did you paint Lahore purple, as your friend at the KGS had suggested? πŸ™‚
    I have read only three of these autographs and am already convinced that for sure you were grossly mistaken about yourself while you were in school! You were apparently a very charming girl and your classmates have written these odes to you because they valued your friendship and loved your company.

    1. Munira says:

      I did for a while Rumana apa πŸ™‚ Lahore was a lovely, strange, surreal experience while it lasted….
      and I was nowhere near as unhappy there as I was at KGS!
      Thank you for your lovely comment, it truly made my day πŸ™‚

  9. Bindu John says:

    Being one so shy and quiet during the student days, I can relate. I too love browsing through the old photos and letters. And I see you had a lot of friends and admirers. Well yes, it may take decades to realize how things had been. Great post, Munira!

    1. Munira says:

      Thank you Bindu John, for the comment and the follow πŸ™‚ Yes, distance does bring a bit of perspective…..thankfully!

  10. transplantednorth says:

    HI Munira! I’ve come to enjoy your blog so much that I’ve nominiated you for two blog awards: http://transplantednorth.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/the-sustain-blog-nominates-transplantednorth-for-two-blogging-awards-time-to-pay-it-forward/

    I hope you are feeling well and that you keep posting about your life in Pakistan here.
    As part of the nomination process you are asked to:
    1. Write a post mentioning the person who nominated you.
    2. Display the images of the awards – which you can get off my site or I can email to you.
    3. Share 7 fun or interesting facts about yourself.
    4. Nominate 7 other bloggers for the award.

    You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. I had fun doing mine but it does take some time. And I do think your blog deserves the awards, – all the best, Stacy

    1. Munira says:

      Thank you so much Stacy! I am honoured πŸ™‚ You’re right, it DOES take time to write one of these posts, and a lot of effort….which is why I appreciated your kind words all the more!
      Will attempt to spread the love soon…..!

      1. transplantednorth says:

        good luck! Yes, it took me a month to do this, and thought about the many blogs i’ve encountered as I did dishes, folded laundry, and took care to the other mundane tasks of life. I tried to find blogs that were relevant to what I wrote about. I hope you are well and safe, all we hear in the US is bad news out of Pakistan.

  11. Xeemarmar says:

    Ah! Its been a while since i visited your blog but its always worth it, When I look back too, i picture myself as a not-very-popular figure in school and college. But like you said the way we are, the way we are perceived and the way we perceive ourselves are three different dimensions. I love down memory lane posts!

    1. Munira says:

      Thanks for dropping by periodically Maryam! I look forward to your comments πŸ™‚ Good to know I’m not alone in feeling the way I do….but I’m glad those teen years are over!

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed this, Munira– so fun to see what people had written (especially that future gynecologist)! I, too, think that my interior view diverges greatly with my exterior and always find it fascinating to catch a glimpse of what things look like from the outside.

    1. Munira says:

      Those glimpses….so very fascinating πŸ™‚ ….hope that doesn’t sound too self-obsessed!
      Funny thing is, I EXPECT to be liked but am still taken aback when I am…..

  13. Kathy says:

    Munira, this is a most wonderful blog. Like you, I have this vague half-formed image of not being very well liked in school, as somehow being somewhat strange or geeky or weird. (OK, maybe I still am!) Isn’t it interesting that you discovered that your impression wasn’t true by the words penned by friends? Or do you still feel like your impression is true? OK, just read what you wrote up above about how your interior diverges greatly with the exterior. Yep, oh yep. Mine, too. I wonder if many of ours do? Thanks again for writing this.

    1. Munira says:

      Heh heh….despite the reassuring autographs, I’m not entirely convinced…..I stand by my impression of myself 😐
      Thank you for the visit Kathy! Glad you enjoyed reading this πŸ™‚

  14. What wonderful times to share with your daughter! How old is Amu?

    1. Munira says:

      Yes indeed Idealist! It was fun πŸ™‚ Amu turned 14 in January this year….growing up so fast, I’m trying my best to keep up. Most of the time I’m just guessing at parenting….no one gave me a handbook 😐

      1. A teenager!
        I can understand exactly what you are saying about the absence of a handbook !

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