Wednesday – 22 Zilhaj 1428 – 13 Pausa 1929 – 02 January 2008
I do not refer to my unbelievably fickle nature with depression and sadness. Over the past couple of months I have been fighting very hard against my moods of depression. I would like to say that at any given time I am either a man of happiness and sunshine or of sadness and lamentation. And in that period of time I see only that particular taste of time till the end of time. Fickle I would agree. But, it adds tastes to life not expected by so many. And of course of the recently polled 149 friends, family, colleagues and acquantances 134 declared me absolutely insane and unpredictable, 10 said I wanted to seem different and hence overacted, and of course 5 wanted to go to the bathroom and said “To hell with your questions overly fat and irritating bitch, where the hell is the can???”. I rest my case.
The madness I refer to is what I see around me. My country, my society, my people, my land. I met with a very dear friend from Hyderabad. Yes, yes, I know, only people above fifty are allowed to use the word dear friend, but, fuck off, grow up, go kick yourselves in the nuts, I will do what I want to do. He was telling me about the absolutely insane violence that took place in his city. So did it happen in Karachi.
My cousins, who were in from the US forced me to take them out on the New Years Eve. I didnt want to go. I did. I saw everything. What had become of my city. The closed shops. The dark streets. The empty roads. I cried. I cried in the car. They asked me what it was. I stopped crying. They can not share in my pain. I needed someone who loved those streets as much as I did to be able to understand.
And here, I would like to share with you all something that went through my mind during a split second of the drive. I am walking across the India – Pakistan border. When they try to stop me I run across it and declare “I demand political asylum because I am an Agnostic and the country behind me is a Taliban / Warlord hellhole”. The Indians do not say anything. They look at me with understanding eyes and let me walk on. I cross the guards. I look back. I look at the gate on the border with the Crescent and the Star. I know that my country descended into chaos. Another Afghanistan, another Baghdad. I saw it happen. And as I looked back across the border, I felt the pain of loss. Loss of each element of my existence. The sum of my being defined by a symbol that had restricted my world to what I ended up learning to love so strongly. Ghazal singers and Sufi Rock. Dawn newspaper and tv channel. As these images go through my mind I start walking back towards the Pakistani border. Something pulling me back. Towards destruction. Towards oblivion. But, the ability to think and process and decide rationally had left me. There was only one thing. Pleasure and pain, and the knowledge of eternal pleasure in the company of what I know and accept. And as I walk towards the border I am torn into two, one who wants to grasp at the last dying embers of what I love and cherish and hold above everything in the world, and the other who has the knowledge that seeing the destruction of a part of this whole would finish me. Yet again, as in my personal life, I am torn between two paths that both lead to oblivious destruction, I can not choose, and I can not decide, they are both right and they are both wrong. Am I only trying to run away from the questions by forcing so sudden a decision? As I walk towards the border, I fall down. I break down. I start to cry. A sound comes out of my throat like the primeval cry of an animal in pain. I dont know where it is coming from. Maybe it is coming from Pakistan. Maybe. And the images flash at me with increasing intensity. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing Pakistan Pakistan. The Azan of the Muazzin from my old home. I fall to the ground. Old late 80s PTV song / jingle that was played before the Khabarnama. I start to pull my body across the gravel towards the border. Jinnah Mausoleum along the MA Jinnah road covered in a soup of Rickshaw vomit. I know that I am going to die. Sunset from the Clifton beach on a winter afternoon. I know that I must cross the border before the inevitable. The large pothole on the road to my house due to which I had to drive on the wrong lane each and every day. I scrabble like a mad man on the gravel, making a lot of effort but little progress. The Kabab Fry from Burns Road. The Indian guards who had tried to stop me have just now let me be; they understand. Nayyara Noor singing Faiz Ahmed Faiz – خیر ہو تیری لیلائوں کی. I think my hand has hit the border; and now, I can finally die in peace. I turn over, on the border. Saadat Hasan Manto. Pakistan Paindabad. And all is peace forever.
پاکستان پائندہ باد