I still remember my first day at the farm. It was a wide space, a bit scary, and a place where I couldnt see many people. It was a bit daunting.
When I first got into the room, everyone was spread around on a red carpet, discussing something. My cousin Usman Khan was the one who had brought me there. After their discussion, Usman bhai told everyone about me and requested me to sing. I did exactly that. I know I have excellent vocals but I wasn’t expecting that the reaction would be so great!
I didn’t feel I belonged there so I was really nervous how I would get along with them. Then I got to know Imran bhai (Imran Iftikhar.) He was like a family member to me from the very first day.
A couple of weeks after my audition, Usman bhai took the lead from Theatre Wallay to organise a sufi and ghazal (a poetic form od music with rhyming couplets and a refrain, each line sharing the same meter) night at the farm where all my siblings and I were invited to perform. The night was a huge success. The audience absolutely loved us!
Then one Sunday, while I was having breakfast, I got a call from Usman bhai. Little did I know what he had called for. He had called to tell me that I had been selected as part of the project and that I would be going to U.S. to perform! At first I thought he was joking, because he tends to pull pranks at times. But he told me he was dead serious! I was so happy! I shared the news with my family and they were quite excited for me. Their support mattered a lot considering it was my first time travelling without them anywhere.
Now I had to start getting things in order to be able to travel. The most important step was applying for my passport. Initially, I was told that I would have to take off my ‘hijab’ in order to meet the passport/visa photo ID requirements. I found this requirement to be quite disturbing and it made me hesitant in applying for the passport initially. I discussed the issue with Linda who was really very helpful. She confirmed with official authorities and told me that there was no need to take my hijab off; I would just have to make sure that my ears were visible for the passport/visa picture. That made the process a whole lot easier for me and I went ahead and got my first ever passport!
Soon after I started joining in at the farm for rehearsals. Initially, I didn’t know what to do at rehearsal because I was new in the group, but that changed fairly quickly. I grew comfortable with Kazim, Amna, Sir Wajih and Sir Irfan and became better friends with Imran bhai.
My bond with my cousin also strengthened through this project because Usman bhai and I would mostly drive to the farm together.
In fact our journeys to the farm and back home have been extremely memorable. We would both sing along songs on the car stereo the entire way. ‘Shape of you’ karaoke, hilarious impromptu rap sessions by Usman bhai, vocal training sessions – so much fun and entertainment packed into those car rides!
Working on this project with such a talented, yet down-to-earth group of people, has been an extremely humbling experience for me. Our time together has been filled with love, laughter and mutual admiration and support. I just can’t wait for all the experiences that await us in the U.S.!
– Razia Abrar