MH INITIATIVES
MEHREEN HASHMI

WRITINGS

When I met my Dutch father.........

This is about my recent traveling to Europe. It has all started with an invitation from a Dutch art organization with whom I have collaborated a couple of times. I planned a trip and they offered me an invitation to make it purposeful. So, this show and an informal lecture was planned in Alkmaar, Netherlands. I already have good regards for Dutch people because it has been good experience so far on professional basis. My group show was planned in July 16th, Sunday along with a talk. I planned my trip from Netherlands to Berlin and kept few days for unexpected adventures. To be very honest, I was nervous and doubtful about myself to be able to manage the whole trip on my own savings. Off course, I don't have that 'daddy' who will be there for you in difficult times, especially when you run out of cash on your Europe trip. I never had that privilege, not because I was an orphan, because mine refused to be there for me. Not only that he was not there emotionally for me, if it was only for that, would have been easier. If it was only for emotional availability , I can move on, stand on my own, work hard, be successful and proof myself. Unfortunately, he did a lot of many things which has scared me for life. He hung me from a high building when I was only around 3 or 4 years old. There has been many occasions when he did everything possible physical and emotional which can prove myself a worthless creature.  I still remember that helplessness. I still feel that there is no ground under my feet. Still while growing up, I trusted him, I idealized him, I expected desperately for his one hug, I begged for his support. His heart was as hard as a stone, in fact, harder than a rock. He was not a feudal lord or any illiterate Pakistani man. He was a hobby photographer, brilliant writer, a creative mind and an open minded person. What he did to me was to justify his love for 'her'. Well, there are numerous memories of me begging, pleading and praying for a supportive 'him' who would be there or try to know me as a person.

Well, I should be proud of myself, right!! From a helpless girl, I managed to score a show and a talk abroad. I managed to travel a little of this world. For your information, this was my third travelling trip, sounds awesome, right!! Then, why am I talking about my dark days from my past ? Because something happened, someone managed to knock at these closed doors gently and with so much love in only couple of days. I don't like hotel rooms, hotel rooms are isolated and there is no connection with people. So I booked a room through Airbnb at Paul's house. While I was going through his profile, I painted him in my head as an eighty year old man who would not be able to walk or must be grumpy. 

So after staying for a day in Amsterdam, I reached Alkmaar and there, a very warm and energetic smile in fact laugh opened the door. For my second surprise, he showed me his studio. Yes, he is a painter and a good one who does portraits and figures. The welcome was warm and energetic enough to feel connected. I started talking and he started talking. I have stayed there for four days and we talked as we knew each other for ages. Paul Kok, my host in Alkmaar, a very warm , kind person who concerned to know me in those four days only. He managed to step inside my world and open those doors so gently without hurting anything. I shared those emotions which I have buried long ago deep down. In those four days, I felt home. I felt comforted, understood, sheltered and most importantly heard. Those who knows me in Pakistan, might know that I am a very detached person who doesn't rely emotionally on any one. So why is that I felt very well emotionally connected after crossing 1000 miles from here. It was his compassion and empathy who brought peace to my heart and healed my old wounds. He did that without me knowing and realizing when it was happening, we shared a lot of laughs, it was never a serious talk. We both love to laugh and to be loud. I felt it after I left Alkmaar, traveled from Berlin to Prague and then Paris. During my trip, I decided to visit Alkmaar and meet him again. I did that for the sake of my peace, I felt as if I have left home. So I visited again and that Dutch dinner in his garden gave me all the peace, which I have been yearning for all these years. Because of Paul I have been able to forgive my 'him'. Believe me, it matters more than anything to me. 

Thank you Paul, somehow you have filled this void so unconditionally.