Like any angst-ridden teenager, leaving home for college was indeed liberating. With a glorious sense of being emancipated, I packed my bag with an XXL army jacket, a pair of skinny jeans, a toothbrush and a mammoth-sized collection of books. My mother forewarned me of the homesickness I would experience once I stepped into my dorm. I ignored her pragmatic wisdom and reached Lahore via Daewoo. Imagine the joy of an American Pakistani kid like me, fascinated by the abundance of goats and buffalos in rural Punjab, bursting with excitement about her academic future to a Daewoo hostess who was a little scared of my over-enthusiasm.
So I reached my hostel and met my warden. Now I may not acknowledge your observation yet but most Pakistani wardens usually expect their prospective residents to be promiscuous girls chewing bubblegum with their mouths open. Much to my warden’s surprise, not only did I show aversion to confectionery sweets but I also stood with my legs closed and did not flirt with the gatekeeper. After establishing an angelic impression, I was happily introduced to two other girls. One hailed from Sialkot while the other was an overtly-atavistic citizen of Gujrawala. I confused them with my American accent and coarse Punjabi simultaneously. I even managed to offend the Sialkoti with a few crude jokes my relatives told me.
Long story short, I learned that there are types of roommates in local hostels. Here they are as I am, yet again, categorizing another Pakistani assemblage.
Haleema Hijabi from Hafizabad:
She’ll inform you of the atonement that awaits you in the deepest pit of hell through direct and indirect modes of communication. She’ll make sure you realize how immoral you are for exchanging history notes with that geek in class. You’re naïve if you try befriending her because she doesn’t shake hands with Satanists. Oh and sorry but sickening misdemeanors related to Haqooq-ul-Ibaad are not sinful deeds when she’s busy doing them. Like backbiting, lying, stealing, etcetera.
Paindu Parveen from Pakpattan:
Four letters: K.I.S.S. But she refuses to listen. Now that she’s away from her conservative home, she can rock her neon colored shalwar kameezes and render me blind. I encourage her to enhance her English vocabulary and I appreciate her receptiveness but why does she have to exert her efforts in sending romantic English text messages to Ilyas who is busy chatting with Haleema Hijabi, who once told me that flirting is haraam? I demand answers.
Batooni Batool from Burrewala:
Talk is very, very, very cheap for Batool. Something she initiates at ungodly hours.
Nadeedi Nichoo from Narowal:
She’ll eat anything. From the scrumptious carrot pudding your amma made just for you to the bricks in the wall. At the end of the day, she’ll whine about being hungry and leave you speechless. Let’s call her panphage from now on. Pan = everything. Phage = eater.
Mehnati Mehwish from Mian Channu:
A diligent student has the passion to excel but nobody said you should rob your roommates of decent sleep, Mehwish. It’s 4AM, there are no midterms but she’s preoccupied with studying the distinction between pronouncing ch in chandelier and ch in charisma. Oh, look. The sun’s coming up.
Gulmina Khan Achakzai from FATA:
Don’t you just love diversity? Well, Gulmina doesn’t. Don’t even think of showing interest in her ancestry because she’s sick of your patronizing looks. Even if they aren’t condescending, she still believes they are. But she’d love to give you a hardcore lecture on how Pashtuns are so better than Punjabis. If nothing else, “we’re light skinned.”
And for male residents:
Tharki Tariq from Tonsa:
This guy is a proud owner of a huge porn collection in addition to some very crass text messages and he’s not the least bit ashamed about it unless the warden finds out. He might even start his very own production house but he has geography homework to do first.
Charsi Chaudhary from Chakwal:
Loaded with cash and political power due to his MNA daddy, Chaudhary sahib isn’t here to study. When he’s done with smoking up in the football field, he forces his royal presence on you with a golden chain around his neck, in a heavily-starched white shalwar kameez. He’s the Don of the hostel and the warden can do nothing about it.
Humble Hussain from Hunza:
Barely able to strike up a conversation in coherent Urdu, Hussain is a good looking, somewhat shy young man from Hunza. You wonder why he took sociology when all he can talk about is how amazingly delicious dried fruits are up in the Northern Areas.
Badbudar Boota from Bhalwal:
Buy him a bar of soap before the entire hostel dies.
Gradually I realized that living in solitude would be a saner option. This is not to label each and every hostel resident as deranged, unhygienic or homicidal; I speak of my experience alone. Today I live in a relatively small room with visually-agonizing pink drapes and enjoy some very interesting conversations with my astute coterie consisting of a door knob and four walls.
This post first appeared on Dawn’s Blog where I work as a good-looking janitor: http://bit.ly/hPS8Uo]