I love you, ILY, ilysm, luv u xx. We probably say it every day, either in a situation that requires it or just to remind somebody that we’ve got their back. We might say it out loud, or whisper it in the dark, or quickly type it and shoot off a text. But have you ever thought about how you could say it without using the words?
I thought about the few times I learned what love is without actually hearing it
I would recommend playing this in the background before we begin:
This is my mother’s least favorite dish, and one of my most favorites. She claims it’s a glutenous dish that doesn’t appeal to her, while I dream of it with fresh, steaming hot naan. She still makes it for me at home, and puts as much effort into it as she does with everything else she cooks. Even though she hates doing it, she spends all day in the kitchen preparing it for me just so I don’t have to drive somewhere else for it.
I worked a couple of times a week at a small eatery which served fresh soups, salads and sandwiches.
My boss knew I didn’t eat pork (yes, I live outside Pakistan), so whenever I worked there he would make the menu either pork-free for the day, or create something on the side for me that I could eat. It might have taken him a few extra minutes, but it just went to show he cared for me.
Visiting my mother
When I was away in Pakistan for two months, I had left my mother alone with my little sister. Mama had a major surgery pending, which left her in bed in excruciating pain and without mobility.
My friend, who lived over an hour away, would drive down every week with flowers and a smile to give my mother company and to update me on her well being. Gas in Canada isn’t exactly cheap, but her actions were priceless.
A friend in Pakistan showed me her favorite perfume that she had bought in London. As soon as I told her I liked it, she gave it to me without any hesitation. London isn’t exactly a stone’s throw away from Lahore, but that meant nothing to her because she just placed it in my hand like it was a generic candy.
Every time I spray it, I think of her and all the time we spent together.
I think chocolate is pretty over-rated honestly. I think white chocolate is abysmal and Nutella becomes overwhelming after a taste. Dark chocolate, however, is a gift straight from heaven.
Anybody who knows me, knows how much I love a square of dark chocolate once in a while, especially before my “time of the month.” I’m very lucky to have someone special bring me a bar almost every month to satisfy my cravings.
You know when your friends tag you in a really ridiculous meme or video?
I think that’s one of my favorite notifications to see on my phone because it feels pretty darn great that someone thought of you. Maybe it was a cat sliding down a tunnel or a man with his foot caught in the oven, but it’s still kinda neat that they remembered you.
My dad is vehemently against me growing up. I think he researched how to stop puberty, realized it couldn’t happen, so manually tried to stop it. He’s always been against me wearing makeup or going out with my friends, as opposed to us sitting at home watching cartoons (which we still do sometimes because minimum wage cannot afford bougie brunches every day.) In addition, he hates piercings. He was so upset when I got my ears pierced and made my four-year-old self promise I wouldn’t puncture any more body parts (lol ok.) I guess I forgot the contract because I went and got my nose pierced when I turned 18.
Instead of yelling at me, he bought me a sparkly diamond and gold stud which I haven’t changed since.
Getting a part time job is a rite of passage in the West. It’s the first time you earn your own money (eidi isn’t earned my friends), and spend it as you wish. I was around 16 or 17 when I wandered around with my inexperienced resume and found a job. As soon as I told my friend, she was so excited for me. When I came into school the next day, she greeted me with a big hug and a fresh breakfast: a bagel, banana and yogurt, were arranged into a smiley face, and she had written “CONGRATS!” across the plate.
I heard so much about a book called Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie, and I wanted to read it so I started looking for it. I looked in every library, every book store and every online page just to find nothing. It was either sold out everywhere or just not available. I mentioned this in passing to a friend and he had the book for me within days.
You know when you’ve gone to a party and you haven’t eaten anything, but your stomach is full from other substances? So it ends up with you throwing up and blacking out in a shower, surrounded in vomit? And then your friends start to freak out and they don’t know if they should call the paramedics? It’s a shitty position to be in, you feel like you’re about to die and your friends do too.
But shout out to the friends who called the ambulance, stayed there till dawn and helped me back home, without asking for anything else in return.
These are just a few examples of what love looks like, without the four letters being emblazoned on cards or balloons.
There’s also the late night phone calls, dessert runs and shoulders that I’ve cried on. Whenever I feel like nobody loves me, I push myself to remember these moments and remember they’ve got my back.
Tell us about a time you learned to say “I love you” without the words.
Cover image via: jsvt.com.pk