I would love to bounce around throughout history and see what life was really like experiencing tremendous social, artistic and cultural dynamics. During my voyage back in time, I would spend my days getting acquainted with those monumental people who have had a major impact. In fact, since I'm dreaming, I would like to write my name in history. Every woman wants to write her name in history, although a small portion of them have that privilege.
As a person who often travels too far into her own head and wishes to stay there, my theory is simple: The endless imaginary possibilities offered by a world you have not experienced and a life you have not lived are no match for those same confining days of your own past. We would be different people if we had lived in another time. How could we ever be unhappy if we found ourselves standing amongst the greatest icons who have held their fists high, shouting and screaming for what they hoped would be a better tomorrow, to those who, today, take on stress by choosing the perfect filter for an Instagram post - of food?!
I let myself imagine walking down unfamiliar avenues, alongside the people who aren't products of the digital age. Nelson Mandela takes preference over all others. You see, Nelson and I share common ground, literally. We're both South African, and this makes me prouder than proud. Nelson was a fighter. Instead of bowing down to an unjust system of government, he became a lifelong warrior in the battle to free South Africa. But even while in prison, he continued to be a beacon of hope for his people, who carried on the struggle against apartheid in his absence.
Nelson, a man whose spirit could be crushed, a man of great personal honor, strength and integrity, was always fighting for something greater than himself and that was the freedom of an entire nation. It is painful to imagine that this man, who radiated so much love, who espoused so many truths, could have spent so much of his life in prison. Nelson has always inspired me to think beyond myself, to think of people in the wider world as part of a common humanity.
I was born a year before the apartheid era ended, so I didn't have the chance to live through the struggle or witness the great change. Many would say it's a good thing and that I'm lucky, but the true desire to go back and help construct history stems from wanting to meet the greatest heroes before they saved the day.
I'd make a trip further back in time to a struggle less merciful and take a seat next to Anne Frank, the most famous victim of the German Holocaust. Anne spent two years of her life living in an attic with two other families. Life became difficult for the Franks and other Jews of Holland. But of all the unfortunate events that occurred in those two years, the one good and greatest thing was: the diary. For her 13th birthday, Anne was given an autograph book, which she used as a diary. It was her best friend. They stayed in the secret annex for two years, unfound. Anne wrote about their hellish ordeal, suffering from boredom, hunger and the ever present fear of discovery and death. Anne's dream of becoming a famous writer came true, eventually, but not how she imagined.
If I was stuck in that attic with Anne and the gang, I would have been mentioned on every few pages depending on her likes of me. When I read Anne Frank: Diary of A Young Girl, my desire to travel back to the past grew even more. It would have been a great privilege to share a space and time with a young girl whose state of mind was filled with profound truths, whose soul desperately wanted peace for everyone and whose heart yearned for simple pleasures. Anne was just a young, growing girl who was not given any room for growth and yet she experienced more than most of us ever will.
Going into the future seems strange because there's too much uncertainty. The desire to travel back, however, is a want of life re-lived with the knowledge of experience and imagined foresight. More than anything, this desire is nothing but a romance with my fantasy, and always will be.
Would you go back in time? If so, when and where? Tweet me: @naseehatayob or drop a comment!