” Why do you like Pakistan so much?”
” Why would you want to move there when everyone there wants to leave?”
” What’s so good about Pakistan?”
These are the questions which have been hounding me ever since I came back from visiting Pakistan after a decade.
However, the most poignant question, which left me speechless was,
“What is Pakistan to you?”
I had looked dumbly at the person asking me this question, but as the days went by I kept asking myself the same thing. Now that I’ve had some time to gather my thoughts, I think I might have a few answers.
So, what is Pakistan to me?
Pakistan is my chachi, coating parathas with spoonfuls of desi ghee and making sure I would be the first one served.
Pakistan is Faisalabad, the unchi neechi galiyan I grew up in and the endless shor of the city.
Pakistan is Lahore, the quietness of Defense and the hustle bustle of the city.
Pakistan is Baba Jee, an elderly shopkeeper from my childhood who walked 3 miles just to come see me.
Pakistan is all the old neighbors I had forgotten who opened their doors and welcomed me to their homes like their own.
Pakistan is my friend Amna, who despite being in a different city came to Faisalabad for me.
Pakistan is Nabeela and Bisma, who catered to my every need, watched ashique 2 with me countless times, and told me stories about their families. They became less like maids and more like my friends.
Pakistan is drinking garam chai on cold foggy mornings of Changla Gali.
Pakistan is the amazing staff of Hotel Le Grand who was pranked by us during our entire stay and who just laughed and played along.
Pakistan is Karamat uncle, our family driver who despite being sick didn’t call out of work even once just so we had a ride at all times.
Pakistan is “Rehana ki ami”, my childhood maid who traveled God knows how much to visit us.
Pakistan is that old rakshaw walay uncle who refused to take money after he found out I was a visitor in Faisalabad.
Pakistan is standing on the side of a busy road in Lahore and eating gol gappay with street kids.
Pakistan is the quaint streets of Anarkali Bazaar and trying my best not to get lost in its beauty.
Pakistan is those thousands of trucks on the road, each one of them more colorful than the other.
Pakistan is those long hours of power cuts, but it’s also the unforgettable stories shared during those hours.
Pakistan is those millions of poor people, but it is also the undying love those people have for their country.
Pakistan is all of these things. However, more than anything else, Pakistan for me is home.
They say that there’s no place like home. I say there’s definitely no place like Pakistan – my home.