*****Pakistan Celebrates August 14th *****
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ ______ The damp air plasters itself against my moisturized face as I walk through the wisp air and arrive at my destination. Iím passed by trucks and cars with fancy trinkets and bells that rattle as they drive down the road. The bazaar is gleaming, with coloured flags, balloons and so many other party favours. The smell of fried food is quickly inhaled as I pass by a gulley playing the national anthem; itís then that I remember today. Today is August 14th, the day that the people of Pakistan sensed relief from enemy forces; we are ĎIndependentí.
I may not be a citizen or a current resident but I connect; the connection I feel is none other than that of being close to a long lost friend. A friend that may not give me much living at a distance but nevertheless when we meet, we feel like weíve never even parted. Pakistan gives me a sense of comfort, of knowing that I share the cultural classics - gol guppas, chaat, dhai barays, rikshaws and horns! When I walk through the bazaars, itís the colours of the outfits that I not only gaze at but imagine in my closet; it goes on one after another as I recognize this is the fashionista in me!
But this is the country of love, of affection that is unknown to those foreign to it. The media may overstate the issues that lie within the nation but like any other country one must see that the pockets of disparities exist everywhere. The citizens of Pakistan present themselves as a unified group armed with emotions, ready to take on the world. I admire this about them, their desire to fight for what is theirs, what has given them a sense of belonging and even a sliver of hope. If those who believe in a nation that seems like itís struggling at the forefront, one must also remember that the people of Pakistan must remain devoted to change and fight for what is theirs.
A blanket of sadness falls upon me as I feel the need for change, for those who cannot voice their concerns and for those whose voices are not heard. I hear the screams and cries of women on the streets begging to keep their kids alive, to provide for their families Ė they are relentless. I pickup the local, dusty newspaper and another story surfaces beyond others -another murder but this time a brother has killed his own; I feel numb.
Itís the youth that amuse me; theyíre dedication to educate themselves in as little as possible, studying under candle lights and extreme heat. I remember my days of primary education in Pakistan and wondering if my escape was on the next train or plane! The issues of load shedding, the scarce supply of water and now the rise in everyday commodities seem unrealistic for those living in other countries. What hinders a holistic change in Pakistan I often wonder? The rich seem to get richer and the poor get poorer, why does the gap continue to widen? Iím baffled by the lack of dedication of those who have the power to change Pakistan.
I still see the glimmer of hope, thereís passion in those who believe in Pakistan being a nation of strong faith; the faith in the creator and faith in each other. As I continue my stroll along the loud streets of this striking yet slightly conservative place I feel the beauty whisk past me leaving behind a sense of gratitude. Itís the comfort that I feel of being part of a culture that not only smiles in good times but also in bad!
Happy Independence Day 2 All !!!