I am in my last semester of Masters, and for this semester I have taken electives that I, for once, am enjoying studying and participating in. One of the electives is Teaching English Internationally. Based on the course title, I assumed, it would equip me with skills to teach English in an international setting. It is anything but. The unit delves into the migrant experiences and how language is a major but not oft seen concept in the current era of globalisation.
A little background info about me. I was born and brought up in The United Arab of Emirates till the age of 16. My family and I then moved to Australia where we have been settled for the past 8 years. So, in a sense, my identity is an amalgamation of Indo-Arab-Aussie. I have married an Indian guy who hadn’t travelled outside India until our honeymoon in Europe. Whenever I travelled to India, it was only to my relative’s place. My husband, on the other hand, has travelled all over India. My husband and I come from different states in India. In India, each state might as well be its own country. My husband and I speak completely different languages, have different cultural backgrounds etc. Since I have always lived overseas, our upbringings are also vastly different.
I had never realised the importance of identity until I got married. I might look Indian, but my upbringing has never been because of “log kya kahenge?”. I was raised along with my two brothers but except for the fact that I should be back home by sundown, I never felt that I was limited in opportunities and freedom of expression. My in-laws are great people, but I was expected to behave like the Indian daughter-in-law. They never limited my movements, but I was expected to wake up at the beck of dawn. The food and language, albeit minor issues, were still issues. I am expected to learn a language even if the rest of Assam is fluent in a language I speak, Urdu/Hindi. Which came as a shock to me. No one can learn a language overnight. I felt like an outcast in a foreign land with a language that was alien to me. It’s not just Assam apparently. If an Assamese went to any other state of India, they would be expected to learn the language. And yes, I assume in a professional setting, that would do. But in a home setting, I would assume people would speak in a language that was understandable to all present. No? Just my family? Right.
My parents raised us in a way that wasn’t apparent in efforts but seeing families in India and their upbringing highlights the different way my parents instilled their values in us. It was never forced upon us and yet we grew up following their way. They taught us the principle of empathy. They showed us the beauty of Islam through their practice. The ideals of our Prophet for the whole of mankind and humanity was something we strived upon. My parents raised us to inculcate the good values of any culture, community or country and to disown the not so good ones. We were never patriotic to any country but I feel close to the Indians, Arabs and Aussies. They are not perfect but they can’t be stereotyped. And I, most certainly, do not fit into any stereotype. I am my own person with my own values. And I will not conform to anyone else’s expectations of how an Indian should be.
It has been a month since my birthday and I was recalling how I was finishing up a last minute assignment the night before. I had a long day at university and I rushed home to get on with my assignment. I finished it up at 11:45 and was ready to pass out on bed. I am glad I called before I did but I am quite sure even if I hadn’t, you would have called at midnight. Because you had remembered it was my birthday when I had forgotten.
I was sleepy azz and wished you good night but you wouldn’t let me hang up. You kept talking when all I could respond with was hmmm and yeah. You pleaded to stay awake for 4 more minutes which confused my already sleep-deprived brain. Normally you put me to sleep but not that night. When I asked why, you blabbered with what you had been up to the whole day and when 4 minutes had passed, you suddenly wished happy birthday which woke me nice and proper. Well, also the fact that my phone pinged with notification at the same time, opened my shut eyes and when I rubbed my eyes to respond to you and my phone, I realised that you had sent me a poem. A heartfelt, beautiful and thoughtful poem that not only had you carved from your own thinking, but you had written so elegantly and beautifully. All this was too much for me to handle. The rush of emotions that came from within resulted in tears of happiness and I started weeping in joy. For I felt truly special. And cherished. And although you are miles away, I felt as if you were right next to me. How I wish you were, so you could see my giddy smile and excited heart. For even though, we both have grown old to celebrate birthdays, the gesture made me feel like a child again.
And this is why I say alhumdulillah, I am so lucky to have you.
There’s a reason I have been on and off WordPress lately. I got engaged recently Alhamdulillah. My fiancé is aware of my blog and he is supportive of it (in fact he keeps telling me to get back on it properly) so rest assured I shall be back in full force shortly. I apologise for not keeping up and leaving you all in a lurch. Honestly speaking, I myself had no clue where life would be taking me in the past few months leading to today. But now that a big part of my future is done and dusted, I can sit back in ease focusing on my studies and blogging among other hobbies to name a few.
The wedding is in January next year in sha Allah and I am so excited. I have been looking at bridal dresses and drooling on wedding décor because you really can’t do much desi shopping here in Australia so I am just patiently biding my time till November when I am off to India for the shopping and planning. I apologise in advance for the break I shall be taking from November to February.
Right now I am doing my placement at a secondary school for the teaching degree that I am doing at uni. Its going really well Alhamdulillah. Enjoying so far although some of the naughty kids are doing my head in. But I am glad I decided to take up teaching after Biotechnology. I will be able to teach biotech at tertiary level if I do my PhD. So far I am enjoying school teaching so I am still deciding whether I should go ahead and do PhD or stay at secondary level.
Anyway, that’s what’s up with my life. Lots going on with university, teaching, planning lessons, finishing up on assignments, getting engaged, attending friends’ engagements, planning for wedding, etc. Let me know what’s up with yours.