“Depressed Autopilot” : a Collection of Personal Essays
Uddin, Fiza Salah
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This SIP took me far and wide. I found myself examining memories that had been tucked away for years and years. Throughout the process of writing, childhood memories of people and places popped up in my head over and over again. They were incomplete thoughts but rich with meaning and emotion for me. I found myself chasing memories that stood out— especially the ones that I found meaningful even if I did not understand the meaning behind them. There were also a lot of memories that I had to leave out or failed to understand the meaning of in this time in my life. It doesn’t mean that those memories were less significant than the ones chosen to be in my stories. Instead they were marked for later and something I needed to figure out on my own time. This collection also led me to a trip to Karachi, Pakistan, seven years after my last trip back home. I had thought writing about myself would be incomplete without physically being in Karachi, the landscape of so many of my memories. I planned a trip to Karachi for this project and for myself. It had been years that I allowed myself to take a leap of faith in life. I had spent years playing it safe and giving in to my tendencies to isolate myself in my bedroom and feel numb to life. I wanted to take a chance on myself even if that meant the possibility of losing time and money. In Karachi, I thought I would plant my feet on the ground and every identity issue I ever had would disappear. It was the opposite effect. My urdu was shaky, my Americanness showed, I was definitely noticeable in the crowd, and I was left more confused as to who I was than ever. I had another facet of my identity to work out. Who was the side of me that was Pakistani? Who was the person that reconciled two worlds that were thousands of miles away from each other? I was in the process of finding out. I thought the end of these essays would be a seal in the memories of my life. I thought if I could get it all out now, then I would be done and free from the past. That is not the case. The past may intrigue me now more than it ever could before. Different images come to mind now, and they all seem to fit in better together than before. This is not the end of my childhood, but rather a beginning into a different realm of understanding. I am grateful for the journey to write about myself and to draw conclusions for my own life, but my work is not done. I don’t know if it will ever be done.