Few days ago, as I was passing by my regular route towards office, I saw something intriguing which made me think of my past emotions towards what I feel towards my land. Among many signals that make me curse every time I see a red light in the heat of Lahore, is the one at China Chowk. Why that place is called that way, I really don’t know. Only thing Chinese is the Chinese language written on its main bus stop. Why it is written in the first place? I can only guess some important building in that area had been inaugurated by some Chinese higher ranking official who would have been ‘friend’ to our country. After all, there really are many places in Pakistan named due to our ‘friendship’ association like Qadaffi stadium, Faisal mosque etc etc. While there is nothing bad in it of course, I am really not sure how many times Col. Qadaffi came to his named stadium after that. Or even Pakistan for that matter.
Anyways! So I was talking about what I saw there. Apart from Chinese language bus stand, there is a model of fighter plane (probably Chinese made) in the middle of the chowk as a symbol of our national pride. Every place has its special monuments. Something for people to get inspired from. Some monuments of historic figures who are honored and remembered till ages to come in a way that their replica is created and fixed upon main streets for onlookers to look at them in awe and for pigeons to pee on them. When other powers conquer their civilizations conquer them, old heritages are destroyed so that their enemy do not find anything to inspire from. Whole civilizations in history have been crushed in order to be remembered only in stories, folklores and legends. When Mongols destroyed Baghdad, they destroyed its most cherished symbol of enlightenment i.e House of Wisdom. Legend says when books of this grand library were destroyed and drowned in river Tigris, water of the river went black for 6 days due to the ink of those books while horses of Mongol army crossed the river by going over those piles of books underneath. It could very well be that Tigris went black due to the sorrow this insult brought to Baghdad. While even enemies could have gained knowledge from this legendary Library, their motive was only one i.e destruction of their enemy in the most humiliated way by treating their most cherished symbol as a pavement. Indeed, every being except eternal being is finite. In Pakistan, such symbols and monuments are fighter jet planes and missiles. So, we do not have Jinnah’s monuments, but rather replicas of Shaheens and Mairajs. In many parts of the country they pose in alert positions as a symbol of glory and pride of our armed resources.
So coming back to this particular replica. It has always been there as long as I remember this place. However, on that particular day there was something new to it. I saw an old man coming near the fighter jet model and caressing its wings like a trainer patting horse’s back. After that he looked around and made a V sign with his fingers and waved it to all the crowd around him. He perhaps wanted to tell the world he feels proud. That we have best of forces and best of defenses and no one can touch us. After he made this declaration of superiority and victory, he made a salute to the model like he was saluting our whole armed forces and retreated back. While it can be argued that age had finally caught up with him and he had lost his marbles, I on the other hand thought I knew exactly how he felt.
In my early life, I used to be a die hard patriot. Quite a big one. Hell! While taking any oaths, I used to take oath on the name of Pakistan itself. I used to imagine taking parts in jihad for Kashmir and against kufars. Every person cherishes their first association. A child’s association with his mother is natural due to the fact that she is his/her first home. This association remains connected to the child as he grows old. She is his first source of nourishment and support. As child grows, he gets connected to other people and does not remain dependent on the mother. But no matter how many connections one make and no matter how much they passionate they become, the comfort which arms of the mother brings remains unique.
Every one cherishes their first home. The place where they open their eyes, spend their childhood, have first memories always leaves a mark on humans. The association is build emotionally, more than just the material connection of the place itself. But eventually, as people grow old into more materialistic world and things are prioritized in terms of profit and loss, the emotional connection get sidelined and materialistic decisions are made.
First born children of any family are lucky in a way. Every one loves them and care for them as they are the very first innocent little beings that come in arms of their elders who find them one of the most beautiful things they could ever see. First nephew, niece, sons, daughters: all are very special. We tend to look over their mistakes and love them none than less. With age however, mistakes grow bigger and there are even times when even mothers do not forgive some mistakes.
My association with my first home Pakistan kind of deteriorated as I grew bigger. For starters, things were not so holy about the land itself which I used to think. We were not the sweet soldiers of God and neither some chosen race which is destined for bringing harmony in the world. We are not fighting for some noble causes. We are just as materialistic as any other country which is doing things for their own interest. And we have made some mistakes for which we are currently facing horrible consequences. My love for the land itself was effected by the way its people conducted itself. A home remains a home because you feel connected to its people. Otherwise it is just a house or a building I should say, made of bricks. Similar is the situation with Pakistan whose people are not connected to each other. It is a piece of land marked by boundaries on the globe and for reason of survival, people in it are somehow living together and surviving, bit by bit with out single identity or common thoughts/purposes. Whats more disturbing is the fact that every where we seem to be ruled by thieves. Plato said ‘one disadvantage of not being in politics is that your inferiors will rule you’. And we are ruled by incompetents, not worthy of being on the high chairs. Its not like we have some good choices and we are not choosing them.
Har shaakh peh ullu baidha hai
Anjam e gulistan kia ho ga
So why really we (including people like me) do not try to make it better? Answer is simple reason. We with age have gone too negative and too materialistic to think beyond profit and loss. We are more worried with making our indiviual homes in a better shape than to worry about society in general. We are so worried about sky high prices of oil and sugar that we can not focus on anything other than our belly or making plans on how to get out of here. Like birds who fly away from their old nests to make new ones for their own, like humans who move on from their first childhood memories and settle their own families away from their first home in order to make new memories for their own first borns, hard working pakistani class all the time considers making a materialistic decision and moves away. In such times, an old man who lingers on old emotions and acts in a way that seem dellusions would always look like someone who has lost his marbles.