I am an immigrant. I am a Muslim. I am a woman. I am a third class citizen. Because the Muslim men, legal or illegal, have conveniently taken up all the second class positions, and have further degraded their women to an even lower status. Why? Because the Quran says, men are a degree above.
My parents landed in England straight from Pakistan. My mother had not even technically left a radius of 600 kilometers from where she lived in Lahore. My father's elder sister was already living in England for quite some while after she got married to a British-Pakistani, who had initially entered the country with the reference of a friend's friend and managed to work his way through to permanently stamp the British soil with his existence. And that's how it goes.
Both my parents aren't very educated. Both sides of my paternal and maternal family aren't very conservative; none of them force their women into wearing a burqa, but none of them are interested in more than a chicken-biryani recipe either. My father's side of the family is still more progressive than my mother's. I have heard stranded incidences in distant relatives of women getting a useful degree and working. But from my mother's side, bah! Her own brother's daughters are squirming in the prison of a home that they live in. None of them have had a decent education, and going out to work for them is blasphemy while their father is still alive - even if he has completely lost it and will beg people for money to pay the bills. His wife especially hates it whenever we have gone to Pakistan to meet up. We are a bad influence on their children. My parents have completely let go of their children and are far from the ancestral culture and religion. Only if they knew!
I was born in England. When my eyes were conscious of what they were looking at, they saw Buckingham Palace. When I started recognizing script, it began with A for Apple. When I was conscious of people around me, they were in all colors and sizes. I grew up singing the itsy bitsy, yellow, polka dot bikini song, as opposed to some poetry of Iqbal's. When my brain was processing the meaning of moderate, I had a gazillion people before my eyes; with women in bikinis on the beach, to my father's sister in a headscarf, that later on turned into a burqa. Luckily my father thought the burqa was unnecessary, but he still supported her.
While of course my parents could not entirely keep me hidden from the country I was growing up in, I still felt quite different from the other boys and girls in my class. My cousin (female) also went to the same school as me. My parents encouraged us to be friends, be close, and discouraged from randomly talking to other kids. I don't know why they created this image in my head that the other kids would end up hurting me if I befriended them. It did manage to keep us away, but my cousin and I also ended up being best friends for the longest time. When we were about 7 or 8, our parents arranged for us to read the Quran (in arabic) with the help of an old lady in the neighbourhood. There were three more kids other than us. It was not just a Quran reading session, it also involved speaking Urdu and all these little stories and etiquettes that were building up our base for being good Muslims who were close to their culture in this blatantly non-Muslim country.
In the house, it was always about doing things in one way. There were a lot of rules. Breaking these rules meant a court marshal by the Father. They were trying hard to protect us children from the evils and sins of the society. Everything ended with a story about how Allah will punish; how those who go astray, burn in hell. My parents did love me, but something was missing.