The Ripple Effect

Iman MonnooMarch 22, 2021Life and Death

There are moments in life that define us. That morph body, soul and mind into something completely new. Sometimes these changes continue long after the defining incident has occurred and, like a ripple, affect the future in more ways than we could count.

In a Pakistani community, a person’s background, family and ancestors shape how they are viewed in society. Whether a person passed away a day or even a decade ago makes no difference if their work in life lived on long after their death. I see this everyday; my great-grandfather lost his life over eight years ago, and yet the remnants of his work still affect my standing in society — I am known by the grocery store clerk as his great-granddaughter, by the newspaper editor as his assistant, and by the school teacher as that one child in the background who resembles a man her father used to know.

Even on a grander scale, in a society like ours, we honor the lives of our ancestors through the very culture of our communities. In the rural regions, folk songs and traditional styles such as Qawwali are played by men clapping, singing, and playing drums, a practice passed down from generation to generation. There is a strong sense of brotherhood that develops through these cultural traditions and we acknowledge and hold them to that respect when we come together to enjoy ourselves.

These practices extend to the modern cities where, despite westernization, the true beauty of our own home culture is experienced fully through the ornate, embroidered patterns on dyed dresses, the rose petals that adorn brides’ hair pieces, the tents pitched in the large backyards of houses where music blasts all night long, and the families that sit together around the lit-up stage that pulses with the slap of people’s feet as they twirl and spin in bliss.

Many people assume that after death they will be forgotten, forming a part of the lost souls who had no effect on the world. But we see their footprints in the soft soil in which we plant our seeds. We find their artwork displayed on the surfaces of the bright pots and ceramic jars sitting in the cupboards of our kitchens. They are a part of us and our history. We would be nowhere without our ancestors, and we remember them by living out the traditions they taught us; by living in the world they created for us.

Iman Monnoo is a 16-year-old in 11th grade at Lahore Grammar School Defence in Pakistan. Aside from reading and writing, she also has an affinity for public speaking and drama!