I’ll be upfront and frank about this. I find it hard, really hard to consistently hate Pakistanis. I mean, ever since the nation took birth, it has been a political thorn in my country’s neck (figuratively and geographically). But all these details of their irritating nature came to be understood by me when my age ran into double digits. That is, I learnt about
I had lived with Pakistanis for a long time, much before that.
Growing up in a quiet neighbourhood in Umm’Said,
So I knew Pakistanis, before I knew
On Tuesday last week, I took a drop from a colleague somewhere on the outskirts of Sharjah’s industrial area, and hitched a taxi.
The driver who stopped had a very dignified look about him. Now I’ve seen some really fashionable drivers, some really messy ones, and quite a lot of indifferent ones. If you have read my blog before, you’ll know what I mean when I say I’ve also met some exceptionally interesting ones. This time was no different.
This man had a very neat look about him. And his face shone with a discipline which said he’d been living a principled life which wasn’t his choice, but something that had come with his birth.
I gave him directions in Urdu. And after a few minutes of silence, he asked me where I was from. I told him I was from south
“Aapki Urdu badi saaf hai.” (Your Urdu is very polished)
I said, “Shurkiya, yeh hamare walid sahib ki badaulat hai.” (Thanks, I owe it to my Father)
He was pleased at that. And I told him that some of my earliest childhood friends were also from
I asked him, “Aap Karachi se hai?” (Are you from
He was surprised again and said , “Ji par aapne andaza kaise lagaya.” (Yes, how did you know?)
(I’ve noticed that
He asked for my name, I told him my name was Luqman. And his name was Tariq.
The conversation immediately jumped to current affairs. And he smiled and asked me if I’d heard of Shoaib Malik & Sania Mirza’s wedding announcement.
I laughed and said, “Definitely, hamari ladki aapke ghar bahu banke aane wali hai inshaAllah.” (Our Girl is coming as a daughter in law to your home)
He laughed and went on to marvel at how matches are made in heaven, without any regards for man made lines.
He expressed grief over so much we share as a race, yet how far apart we are.
I told him how our national song was written by someone who went on to be a Pakistani.
Allama Iqbal. His face shone with pride and I knew we’d found common ground.
We discussed at length about Iqbal’s poetry. I told him how Ghalib was a famous urdu poet of our nation, but how I regard Iqbal as unmatchable by anyone. He agreed.
He told me how his Father studied in
Upon inquiring, the caretaker told Tariq chacha’s father that that voice belonged to none other than Sir Mohammad Iqbal.
The poet, the philosopher, the thinker of a nation as described by the masses. Who didn’t only write poetry, but lived the advices they presented.
I couldn’t help but go on about how I first heart Iqbal’s Shikwa & Jawab-e-Shikwa (two of the finest works in Urdu poetry) and he was gushing with happiness. Dad introduced me to Shikwa and Jawab-e-shikwa. In a nutshell, the 2 works are inter-related. Shikwa is the complaint of a Muslim to Allah, and Jawab-e-Shikwa is the reply Allah has to each complaint the crier has.
He began talking to me about Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Gandhi and Jinnah, how the fathers of our nations made the mistake of partitioning one entity. Although, if Pakistan had begun its life on the teachings and guidelines of Iqbal, instead of Jinnah, I feel that there could be no better neighbours in the world today like India & Pakistan. He readily agreed with what I commented about the issue. He sighed aloud saying, if only their leaders and our leaders got to the end of their arms race, got out of all their petty differences and just ended the crying over Kashmir, then the most to benefit of this would be the common man, who is as of now the most affected by this conflict.
Conversing with Tariq Chacha was one of the most interesting and beloved talks I’ve had in a really long time. I felt like I knew him intimately. He told me how his parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents cried inconsolably when they had to leave Jalandar and move to
This is the ground reality. Take away all the nuke races we are having between our nations, the politicians on their side calling us manipulators and the politicians on our sides calling them terrorists. Take away the fact that men on either side of the border have created death and havoc in the eyes of the world. Take away the un-ending argument of who is right and who is not. And at the end of it you will get people like Tariq Chacha who are really sorry we parted ways. People who believe that we share more than we differ about. People who truly believe that once you take out the respective leaders and bureaucrats and the finger pointing, and you have 2 brothers from one mother who fight and argue but in the end just love to play cricket and tease each other about their respective performances.
He loved his motherland, I accepted that.
He respected my motherland too, and I simply admired the man for that.
I don’t ever think I’ll be able to convey the brilliance and the peace there was in our conversation. But I will share this.
Iqbal wrote the song, TARANE-E-HIND. Which is the national song of
There is a stanza in that poem which doesn’t find its way into the traditional version of the song, I don’t know why. I recited that stanza for Tariq chacha,
Yunan Misr-o-ruma sab mitt gaye jahaan se
Baaqi magar hai ab tak, Naam-o-nishaan hamara
Kuch to baat hai ki hasti mitt tee nahi hamari
Sadiyon Raha hai dushman, daur-e-zamaan hamara
Yet stands alive even now, our name and our mark
There is something that our definition does not fade away
Even though time in all the ages has been an enemy of ours
(Rough translation, please excuse the crudeness)
When I finished that recitation, he wasn’t jealous or envious that Iqbal had written such defining words for us. He was proud, he was happy and if his hands were not on the steering wheel, I’m sure he would have applauded at the praise of my motherland.
We are 1 nation, divided by a line of lies, deceit, hate and power gamble on the part of a few people.
When a matter of the masses comes, we’re two bodies with one heartbeat.