It seems like yesterday I had you cradled in the crook of my elbow. And look at you now! Although there was never a time when you and I couldn’t understand each other, something changed tonight. For both of us. Tonight you seem more mature, and as full of life as ever. Tonight, to me, you seem all grown up. Somehow, losing those teeth just made our conversations all grown up too.
Gaustatoppen, considered by many to be the most beautiful mountain in Norway, towers above the town of Rjukan at an altitude of 1883 meters (6178 feet). The views from the top, as well as along the route, are stunning, and on a clear day, hikers can see one sixth of Norway from the summit!
The mountain is a popular destination for Norwegians, something I got to experience a few weeks ago. There was a constant stream of people all along the route. So many that there was a queue.
Many parents had brought their children along, the youngest ones walking, only three or four years old. Many of the children were crying and begging their parents to be carried, or simply refusing to go on. Most of the parents were ignoring their cries and telling them to keep going. This is something they simply had to do, and crying or yelling would definitely not help!
So en route to the summit of Gaustatoppen, with a backdrop of majestic Norwegian mountains, I got to witness the meticulous efforts of some parents to transfer what they believe to be core Norwegian values to the next generation. It was interesting to see how parents will always choose what they think is best for their children, no matter how much the little ones oppose.
Every year, on December 25th, Bazm-e-Ahbab-e-Pakistan, a social organization for Pakistanis in Norway, celebrates the birth of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Here, the general secretary, Muhammad Anwar Soofi, is watching a video being projected on the wall of the basement-hall rented for the evening.
You always wear a mask, because if removed, people will see you as a monster. You know you stand out when you hide your face like that, but it is still better than to be hunted for who you are. A small mistake, and you will discover that the road from love to hate is swift and paved with excruciating pain.
But tonight you will take it off. Tonight you will be yourself, and still blend in. Just a few hours away, you can almost taste the dry autumn breeze, nipping at your tongue as you stick it out.
Tonight no one will judge you. Tonight you will be invisible. It is your one night of true freedom. Ah, what a feeling that will be!
I pray that when you read this, you are safely on the other side of the ocean.
It was good to have you here as always. Remember that I will always be eagerly awaiting your next visit, in whichever season it may be. And always receive you with a big smile.
Take with you all the good memories, leave behind any sad and awkward moments. Take with you the strength you gained, and keep with you the support you always have from this side of the ocean.
Remember that I am closer than your own heart. Closer than the distance between you and sadness. Closer than the time it takes for a tear to slide down your cheek.
Forgive me for all my shortcomings and mistakes. For my childish behaviour and immature nature. Look past my weaknesses and you will see goodness and friendship, and deep and genuine care. Look beyond it all and you will see yourself living in my heart.