Arts & Culture The Home Issue

I’m nostalgic for a sense of belonging

Is where we grew up our home?

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By Hibah Hoque

“Where are you from?”?


“No. Where are you actually from?”?

“West London.”?

“No. I mean, like, where are your parents from?”

“Leeds and Wales.”?

“No! No, I mean like what is your background?”

“You mean my heritage?”

“Where are you from?”, a question many of us struggle to answer in today’s society. We are the generation of kids who have grown up with the world on our screens. We are the generation of kids whose parents have taken us away from the traditional form of our heritage and immersed us in places where a question like “Where are you from?”, can make you wonder whether where you grew up is not actually your home.

Rainy, grey industrial London has always been one of the places I have called “home”. I lived there until I was 10 years old, and for all I knew, my heritage stemmed from the UK. I knew I looked different from the other children in my primary school; my hair was darker, my eyes were shaped differently, my religion was always prominent in what foods I could or could not eat in the canteen. Being teased about not being able to eat the pepperoni sticks because they weren’t halal was a daily occurrence. However, it honestly didn’t bother me until my Mum picked us up and moved us to Karachi, Pakistan to “get in touch with our culture”.

For the first three months of living in Karachi I cried every night. I longed for the taste of fruit roll-ups and Cheestrings that I was used to having in my lunch box everyday, and for the quiet sounds of the London streets at night. I wished to go back to the life I knew so well. But slowly, the sepia toned streets became routine, the humid air became breathable and I began to find myself becoming captivated with this “heritage” everyone was always asking me about. I found myself surrounded by people that looked similar to me, and I was intrigued to learn more about my culture and enjoyed hearing my native tongue on a daily basis. It was a sense of belonging I had never felt before.

Artwork by illustrator Alia Al Hammadi.

Now, looking back, the two short years that I lived in Karachi are days I long for. My memories are so vivid from that time. It was a place I felt a sense of comfort in, where my appearance didn’t separate me from my classmates and I didn’t have to explain why I wasn’t going to opt for the meat-feast pizza. I had such a unique experience in finding people that, to this day, are like my family, whenever and wherever we meet in the world.

Shortly after, I moved to Dubai to begin high school and have lived between London and Dubai since 2007. I find myself once again longing to not be asked “Where are you from?” and having to explain my life story to every new person I meet. I am nostalgic for that sense of belonging I once had.

The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.

Hibah Hoque studied BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media at LCC, UAL and Typographic Design at Central Saint Martins in London. She identifies as a graphic designer whilst bringing different mediums into her work. Her work often reflects the different cultures she has seen and experiences she has had. She aims to create pieces that are relatable and aesthetically pleasing to the viewer whilst being able to comment and say a lot about the world around her.