Yes, I am aware of how terribly clichéd this seems. But please do bare with me. I personally don’t do this as a that-time-of-year induced compulsion. But there are very few years that have been as eventful as 2017.
No, this isn’t going to be a commentary on all that has happened around the world during this year. And nor will I be offering any form of pretentious solutions to the year’s many problems. I don’t feel that I, as a 23-year-old, am wise, or pompous, enough to do so.
I will however be talking about the experiences I had in 2017; things that I actually have a bearing over and what I hope they taught me. Because let’s face it, in the idealistic haze of the new year, we all tend to forget the truths of the year gone by. (If anyone gets this reference, you have my permission to be my best friend.)
2017: The year I graduated
I mean technically my studies finished by the end of September, 2016. But my graduation ceremony didn’t take place till January, 2017. It was a bittersweet day though. Highly unusual don’t you think? That a day you have worked for for well over twenty years would be bittersweet.
But it was. I guess it took three months for the dread to kick in, that I have to ‘adult’ now. There was also the thought that the best years of my life are now behind me. That the spontaneity of student life would be replaced with the mundane monotony of adulthood.
There was obviously joy too. My family was with me, during a frigid London winter, on one of the most important days of my life up to that point. And in my hand was finally validation for years of hard work. Along with all that happiness was a vacuum too. I guess at that point, I had no inclinations as to how that void would be filled, patience has never been my strong suit.
2017: The year I met Mahira Khan
This is easily the highest of highlights for me this year. I particularly enjoy how it randomly happened as a stroke of sheer dumb luck. That day I was on my way to get a haircut and Apple’s new ‘do not disturb while driving’ feature was active, so no notifications either. Had I checked my phone at the barber’s and not during the drive to the barber’s from the back seat of my car, I would have missed this. The moment that quite literally made my year. I didn’t realize it then but this was just one of many examples proving that spontaneity was alive and well in my life.
If you’re wondering what I thought of Mahira, I wrote an entire article about it already. In less than an hour, by 1 am that night. My only wish now is that she stops doing those incredibly unimaginative Coke ads. Mostly because I feel her talent is wasted in them, and maybe a tiny bit because Pepsi beats Coke, all day any day.
(This is an afterthought. I return here after nearly finishing the article to say, no Mahira isn’t the only celebrity I have had the pleasure of meeting this year. Mahira’s is however, the only encounter that without fail makes me blush at the mere mention of it.)
2017: The year I found my voice
Yet another example of spontaneity being alive and well in my life. I think being randomly approached by Ushah Kazi to write for her was one of the best things to happen, probably the best after meeting Mahira herself.
After writing the first article (‘The Good, The Bad and The Sarahah’) I was nervous about whether she like it. Would people like it, and was I any good? To my relief, it went down well and I began writing more regularly.
Churning out article after article. I began to notice things; tropes that I tend to use more often and how I sound when I write. ‘Wait, hold up, sound when you write, has this fool gone mad?’ No doubt this is what you are thinking right about now. What I mean is, if I were to read it out loud, what would my work sound like? Would it have tonalities and subtleties or be incredibly monotone? Am I humorous, am I sarcastic or am I dramatic?
The idea that I have found my voice, never fails to get me excited because, and not just to toot my own horn, it means I can express myself in a way that’s unique to me. And people seem to like it. It also means I can get my message across without having to deal with physical insecurities. Most of the work I did before, aside from movie reviews and poems, consisted of assignments. Stuck in the land of the horribly dull, anchored down by third-person tenses. That didn’t really hinder my ability to write though. Once I get going, I don’t stop till I’m done. But passion was forced to hunker down in the backseat. Until The Kollective pulled me over and dragged passion back to shotgun.
2017: The year of friends, in fair and foul weather
Have you ever had a relationship or friendship that was so toxic and all consuming that it weighed down on every aspect of your life? I had that till about July of this year.
Have you ever had friends who you’d meet like family? Like nothing has changed, regardless of how much time has passed, regardless of how little you now see of each other or how far you live? I had that this year too, still have it.
After university, after taking risks to learn what was least expected of me, this was the most I’ve learned about myself. The lesson, this year was: how to spot the toxic friend 101. The funny thing is though, toxic friends don’t always overtly show they are toxic. By the time you find out, it’s already too late. You’re glued to your phone most of the day, busting your ass to make sure your ‘friend’ is okay all the while you’re suffering from intense and maddening insomnia.
Once you’ve cut off said ‘friend’ though, my God the sheer sense of freedom you feel. I guess, having gone through crucible after crucible, you end up appreciating those friends who stay by you through all the barrages. I mean twenty years can go by and nothing changes between you two. Or, you could have only met properly two years ago, and it seems like you’ve been friends forever. Though, the downside of this lesson is that, I pretty much have to wait for a storm to know the good men and women in the storm. But hey, that’s life I guess. Cheesy, that was so incredibly cheesy.
PS: I know this was vague but I’d rather not take names and risk taking 2017’s excess baggage into 2018.
2017: The year I found a pet peeve
The title of this section pretty much says it all. I will still try to say more though.
Okay, to suggest that I only just discovered this peeve this year isn’t wholly true. Though, this was the first year that I began taking aim at Internet BS, consciously and whole-savage-heartedly. The volume of sheer stupidity in the internet only increases every year. This year’s offering though, was a special kind of stupid. Whether is was against Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy for standing up against harassment or J.K. Rowling for being the voice of reason, everyone and their mothers came out with an ‘opinion’.
Well they were mostly ill-formed, unsubstantiated accusations with wide open spaces for one to shoot bullets of logic through. On one hand, I found myself turning into a keyboard warrior, calling out the salt of jilted Star Wars fans whose fan theories failed to materialize in The Last Jedi. While on the other I was defending those having to deal with unnecessary muckrakers. The really weird bit though, I’ve been getting immense satisfaction out of this, and it’s producing some of my best work. Yes, I do say so myself.
2017: The year the romance came back
This is the year I finally found love! Not in that sense, I’m still single AF. I mean I found love in the once hopeless places known as Pakistani cinema, theatre and music.
Cinema and theatre more so than music because I mean we’ve had Coke Studio for ten years already (ten years too many though it seems). 2017 is the year I looked forward to the most number of Pakistani movies, ever. Whether it was Verna or Na Maloom Afraad 2, I found myself not only looking forward to them but actually going out to watch them the first chance I got. A similar situation arose with theatre. Gone are the days when theatre was considered a dying art, of D-List Bollywood knock-offs being passed off as ‘Pakistani Cinema’. Gone are the days when the only new songs were cheap item songs from across the border. And hopefully gone are those days where nepotism got you a slot on Coke Studio only to perform sub-par covers.
Cinema had movies like Verna, Na Maaloom Afraad 2, Punjab Nahi Jaungi, Rangreza and Arth 2, to name a few. Theatre had Nida Butt’s adaptation of “The 39 Steps” and Stage Nomad’s “Rehearsal”. Music had Pepsi Battle of the Bands (which also brought back Aaroh and EP). So yes, the romance is back. On silver screens to packed houses, to the oversized speakers stuffed hastily inside rickshaws and to centre-stage.
Happy New Year
There you have it, my 2017: a year in review. While yes, there is a lot more that happened this year that I didn’t cover. War, famine, genocide and political chaos. Each of those deserve their own articles, ideally written by someone who can do them justice. As I mentioned before, I am neither wise nor pompous enough to attempt this. Instead I chose the above, the stories I wanted to tell and could do justice to.
I end this with another clichéd thought; hope. Hope that in the years to come, I continue to write for you, continue to tell meaningful stories and hopefully, continue if not start to make a positive change. After all, rebellions are built on hope. Yes, that’s another Star Wars reference.