Compass

“My girlfriend has run off with it, with all of them.  We have various compasses in the house.  The imagery around the compass, the symbolism, the metaphor.  And what it means in terms of my life now?  I really don’t know how to use them effectively.  I don’t really know much about orienteering either.  But I have always had one attached to one of my bags, and I have always really liked it.  I think it is something much more about what it represents than the object itself.  Because it represents a journey, it represents finding things, finding place, exploration, freedom . . . Navigating”.

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“The story of me is about navigating without any sense of where I am going. That was certainly my early experience of being brought up in a Muslim family . . . It just represents a sense of direction, so when I left home, I was really lost.  Not lost, I wasn’t lost. I was going somewhere but I didn’t know where I was going.  And, there was no compass, no sense of direction because there was no one before me.  I had no stories of someone who had done this before me.  The stories that I had ended in horrific circumstances, where people didn’t survive, who couldn’t survive without a family contact . . . So the compass to me represents getting to places, getting a general sense of where I am going.  My experience of the compass now is I really enjoy walking, really like going out.  A really lovely aspect of my life is that I never quite know how to work them but get a sense of a general direction I’m going in”.

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“When you’re younger and you’re finding your place, you’re very much in the mode of challenging. This is who I am and I belong here.  A sense of belonging.  I really don’t care if the Pakistani community don’t accept my sexuality or don’t accept me.  I am Pakistani whether they like it or not.  I am part of the Diaspora.  They cannot invisiblise and dismiss me.  And I will keep saying that.  I am somebody who represents a spectrum of people of Muslim heritage. I am that.  There is no other way to put it.  They can say what they like and decide I don’t belong to that group. But it means *k all to me because I am that experience and the reason they are saying that is that I am part of that experience.  To me, it is not a sense of belonging, its exploring what is out there in the world . . .   Being open to different ideas.  Yes, keeping on changing, keeping on moving and not getting stuck.  That was the problem of my upbringing, people really got stuck and lost in concerns that I thought were not contributing to good relationships or quality of life.  A good life”.

C (wants to be anonymous), Pakistani, female, b.1970s, UK