“Main to kehta hun bas karo aur Malaysia challo.”
(I think we should drop everything and move to Malaysia.)
For what seemed like an eternity, I just stood there with my eyes wide open. Shocked to the very core of my heart, I stared at him. My mind could not decipher where in God’s world my patriotic father had gone.
He is the same guy who took bullets in his arm during student movements in his youth, and the man who helped me write my first speech in Montessori that ended with ‘East or West; Pakistan is the best.’
What happened to Pakistan Zindabad? What happened to the largest flag in our entire colony that always had to be on our roof top? Whatever happened to the man who did not even consider lucrative job offers from abroad, and instead chose to join the government service? The one who worked in the harshest of conditions in Balochistan for 25 years just to try and make a difference? What happened to the guy who wore shalwar qameez while he was studying abroad simply out of love for his country?
I just stood there and stared at him. He had lost faith in our country. I wonder what had happened.
I didn’t have to think much; corruption, loadshedding, bomb blasts, Pakistanis killing each other – that’s what happened.
Moreover, the ‘sabzi waala’ (vegetable seller) threw in rotten vegetables when Baba (father) wasn’t paying attention and the ‘gosht waala’ (meat seller) cheated on his weighing scale.
Baba did not receive a sales tax certificate because he refused to pay Rs15,000 as a bribe to one of the clerks and further refused to use his contacts to put the clerk in his place. Meanwhile, the students of a nearby, renowned school smoked heroine in our house which was under-construction. And the list goes on.
Perhaps he ran out of reasons to believe in our country and its people, but I hadn’t.
I refuse to give up on my nation, and I refuse to leave this country for any other place on earth or beyond.
I remember the semi-final between India and Pakistan that we lost; the next day, my entire university was pumped up to do the best that they could to make a difference and to help Pakistan improve.
I look back at that day and I refuse to believe anybody who tries to suggest that this country will fall. I see my best friend representing Pakistan in an international competition and winning it, and I refuse to believe that my country, my people are any less than the others out there.
I look at myself and see how my father has raised me to be ready to give the last drop of blood for this country, and I refute each and every word he had recently said about Pakistan.
Even when our nation is going though the hardest of times, I see people smiling, laughing and enjoying their lives. I see myself submitting assignments on time with 16 hours of loadshedding, and I see amma (mother) shed tears at every casualty and mishap that gets reported on news channels daily.
I reject every theory and notion that says things cannot improve. I read Stanely A. Wolpert’s book on Jinnah, and Naseem Hijazi’s novels on partition, books that my father gave me, and think:
Sorry Baba, I am not leaving the pure land Jinnah has given me.
I read about the sacrifices that were made to create Pakistan, and my belief in my country strengthens.
There are many reasons to believe in Pakistan, and my father’s entire life is one of them.
Just as he always said: ‘East or West, Pakistan is the best.’
By Maeedah Babar Chishti