The night was fresh, the house warm, flooded with food, wine, flowers and the laughter of friends who add meaning to any occasion, big or small.
We talked of how he and I met 25 years ago in Lahore, Pakistan. We quipped how we had both gone through decades of being by each other’s side, both joking how we each deserved a medal. My friends nominated me for the colloquial medal — his friends, of course, chimed in for men’s rights.
We introduced to our friends our rapidly growing children, Maya and Sherry, and Maya’s soul mate, the wise son of a warm American family who befriended us and took Maya in as if she were their own.
All three young people said hello on our anniversary. They are blossoming individuals nearing complete adulthood. Like most parents, we have worked hard to bring them up, give them chances we perhaps never had, hoping to inculcate in them values we hold dear.
Namely, the ability to be well-informed about the world, to be sensitive to the suffering of others, to be kind to those less fortunate, to be grateful for what we have, to keep an open mind, to abstain from narrow-mindedness, to believe in individual expression and rights, to have gratitude for living in a country where the Constitution stands for life, liberty and happiness.
My daughter often writes about and discusses her experiences of being separated as a child from her family back home, and how hard it was for her as a 7-year-old to leave her doting grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and schools behind. We tried to explain to her as a little girl why we thought it was necessary to leave Pakistan to come the USA.
As she grew and we became intellectual mates, not just mother and daughter having pillow fights and giggle-fests before bed time, she began to understand my reasons for extracting her from the social milieu of Pakistan.
Instead, I offered her the American life.
She now analyzes both and often says she might do one better on me and find a quaint European culture to explore. She is a sensitive young woman, and while she relishes the individual freedom our new homeland has to offer, she is nevertheless critical of the culture of capitalism, where a good life is often defined by how rich you are .
I tell her she is lucky to be in an environment where anything is possible, where she can study the subjects that pique her intellect, and where she can travel and explore and find meaning for herself.
My friends joked about the discrepancy between what I proposed in one of my columns — in which I questioned the sanity of the institution of marriage and dubbed it artificial and man-made — and how I live. They said I was one to talk, considering I have stayed married, and happily, to the same man for a whopping 25 years. I asked them if there was any chance of parole, and my husband quickly chided that the parole was for him.
Good friendship makes the best bedfellows, I always say.
In our 25 years, outside of the usual innocuous arguments, we have rarely fought, always focusing on our kids as our main priority. It has paid off.
I admitted to my friends I would not change a thing, trials and tribulations notwithstanding.
We are sent on this Earth to improve. My father ran away as a 10-year-old, barefoot and starved, put himself through college and became a professional for the United Nations. I migrated to the U.S. to give my children a chance they would not have had at education, life and liberty.
Now it is their turn to take that torch forward. My job is almost done, though I will never stop working or fighting to improve the lives of my children and those who come into contact with me. I know for sure that it makes for a life well spent.
• Samina Masood is a four-year resident of Tracy and is among a select group of local Town Crier columnists in the Tracy Press. She is a mother of two who has master’s degrees in both journalism and clinical psychology.