Khawar Latif Khan |
My story is not new. It is, in fact, so old I might not even remember the minor details now. Please forgive me if my narration is not just.
I was born weak – weaker than a kid usually is – and what is more, the hungry beaks of the devilish creatures were pecking at me long before I was conceived. My meager condition was enough to question my survival. If I could survive a year, they said, it’d be no less than a miracle. But then, miracles are designed for this very world. I’ve lived, for over six decades now, long enough to tell you the story of my survival. I still try to stand with the promise to be strengthened… Maybe one day… Maybe sooner…
Let me hold your hand and lead you for a walk, a short walk down the memory lane. You might not like it, though, for I don’t have many cherishable memories.
I came into this chaotic world with a new chaos of my own.
A limb of mine was cut right after I was brought into this world as if the already horrid, pre-birth history of mine was not enough to satiate them.
I was only a year old when my father left me. The responsibility of my upbringing was thrust into the hands of people whose tongues were laden with promises, who’d vowed countless times to keep me safe. I loved them all, for despite the halo of dangers around me, they said they’d stand by my side.
I was eighteen when their loyalty was tested at the highest level. They sacrificed for me, throwing their bodies in the line. They defended me as if their lives depended on this very act. Maybe it was so. Now when I look back, I wonder, whether they were saving me or safeguarding themselves.
Six more years… Yes, I’d become used to a limbless life. My ambitions still unwavering, but my condition deteriorating. I was 24 when another limb of mine was infected first, and then snatched away as if it were never there. I wept and yelled and cried, but my own saviors thought it was better to let go. They knew I’d learn to survive somehow, as I’d done it before.
Years went by. I saw various faces. I heard countless screams. I used to rest my head every day on the thick pillow of promises, hoping that the next day, the next month, the next year, the very next step will be different. There came those who tried to love me, those who pretended to do so, and even those who were indifferent to whatever happened to me, for they were in love with themselves, while I was growing old. I realized that they were no different from those who’d tried to hurt me before; they just had familiar names.
The burden on my feeble shoulders kept on increasing with every passing year. My saviors started seeking foreign help. I thought they were finally trying to help me. It turned out to be only a mirage for I was deprived of any benefit while they themselves became better and better. I still loved them, for they were my people.
My old self is still taking blows. The sources change, the names vary, but the victim doesn’t. My body is burnt, stoned, and crushed. I tend to my eyes and they poke at my heart. I’m barely able to raise a hand when they start cutting some other part off. I am tired but I’m still fighting, for I have to stand.
I don’t need a hopeless dream. I don’t want an endless line of plans. I don’t wish for fruitless missions. All I need is for you to think. Your father and your grandfather – and maybe his father – have been living with me, and now it’s your turn. Will you treat me the same or can you be a little different? I still hold a lot of promises, trust me. I still can cling on to hopes. I can guarantee you a life. All this old companion of yours needs is a little more attention.
On this day, when you remake all the promises, when you take a little time out of your busy schedules to talk about me, when you still try to remember me, even if it is only in your prayers, when you wish for me to be stronger, can I ask you for a little favour?
Can I ask you to shield me from my enemies? Can I befriend you? Can this country trust you? Can your homeland beg you for love? Can your very own Pakistan ask for a little assistance? Can this ‘land of the pure’ look at you for making a difference? On this day, when you rethink over the purpose of ‘the Resolution’, can I ask you to take at least a moment out and help me before you lose me, for you’ll surely miss me if you do…
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan.