We Have Always Been Here


We Have Always Been Here is an autobiographical story about searching for yourself (and looking for a safe place for such searches). The author begins her story with a description of growing up in Pakistan. She writes about everyday life, the role of women and hiding religious identity (Samra’s family belonged to the persecuted Ahmadijya movement).

When her family decides to escape to Canada, Samra faces new problems: racism and poverty. Moreover, living away from home evokes a strong need to uphold tradition in her relatives. For this reason, they decide to marry her to an older cousin. Samra learns about it at the age of 13. When the family presses for a religious wedding after a few years, she feels like her world is falling into pieces. Since the expectations of her relatives are in opposition to the freedom that she begins to discover in Canada, seeing no other choice, she decides to run away from home. Over the next years, she tries to discover herself and talk about her own sexuality, while continuing to cultivate faith.

We Have Always Been Here can only be read as a personal story, but for me it’s a book about how easily we tag huge numbers of people: whether we’re talking about queer people or followers of Islam. Samra Habib makes us realize how difficult it is to navigate in the social space, being a person who does not fit to our image. At the same time, she emphasizes that in the fight against discrimination, multiple representation is decisive.

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