The Dreaded Decade Nearer – On My 29th Birthday

    “I think that when enough time has passed, when you’ve survived that which you didn’t imagine you could, there’s a dignity in that. Something you can own. A pride in knowing the pain made you stronger. The pain made you fight to succeed. Someday, when I’m living my dreams, I’m going to think of all the things that broke my heart and I’m going to be thankful for them.”

    ― Mia Sheridan, Kyland.

    Today, as I was told many a time through my history, is my day. Apparently, often celebrated by some.

    But today… is different.

    Even dreaded somewhat. You see, today, I turn the last of my twenties. The very last of it. And although, as a society; as a citizen of the modern age on planet Earth, we’ve been made to glorify ‘growth’ and ‘wisdom’, and to poetically beautify the gains and grandeur in ‘experience’, we’ve been shown in action to hate the number called ‘Age’ that brings it all. Even more so, when that number appears to the name of a woman. Then we HATE it. We hate it with so much heart, that we also wrap that creature being defined within its flames. But yet here I am, smiling. And loving: my weathered soul seasoned with life’s perhaps some of the cruellest trinkets, and yet standing tall. Today, I am proud, of the weathered old me. Today, I stand in the knowledge that in a world that taught me the ‘she-kind’ to fear growth and feel small and find value in being an item of décor on a shelf of public display, I found the courage to grow. And accept my being in its entirety; and define my own worth off a shelf, away from public validation based on body and face features. I stood the tests of time and society. And came out a Queen in my own rite. A Queen that loves to fight, despite seeing the atrocities of war. I embrace ‘growth’ with all of its thorns, and I’ll welcome wisdom any day if it meant that number to my name known as ‘Age’ flew far beyond the acceptable limits for a single lady. I’ll fight the ‘norms’ if those norms normalize all that challenges my sanity and perhaps, common sense as well. But never do I intend to settle for any less than what I deserve. Even if that means forever finding beauty in the lessons granted by pain.

    And I have learned that birthdays are mere markers to measure, or reminders, that you’re one more year short of what you’re set to achieve, so are you near that yet? At least that’s how I see it. So what’s the point cheering for something we never chose or had control over? I am just glad and grateful, that I managed to survive this far sufficiently gracefully. And that, I intend to do continually, if God may let me.

    Let us all just hope, this continuation of survival does not succeed in hardening my heart, as time often has its way. I would only pray, I stay as kind and gentle as I can possibly be.

    So, Happy Reminder to me!

    With that, I leave, a prayer for all, especially the she-kind, for she has it tougher than the rest. Good life to you all!

    Asma Javed
    Asma Javed is a writer & poet. She has served as editor of Pegasus,Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad.

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