Let the History books reflect, that Independence comes at a price, and everyday, we must strive to value those who lost their lives and loved ones in the struggle. We have to justify our right to live in a free land, so we must live in such a manner that we remain free, for future generations to come, and in order to make that happen, we must be the best versions of ourselves – then only can we call ourselves true Pakistanis!
People dream of building businesses but we built a country from scratch
Daily gup shups with your nani or dadi can bring up many stories and tales that you were not already aware of. (and then these are repeated at least a thousand times in the household lol). However, I was left awestruck after I came across a picture of my great grand father Jumma Noor Mohammad Esbhani in my dadi’s drawer. As a pro-bono service, he decorated the bustling Karachi with lights upon Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s arrival post partition. It’s an enchanting feeling to think that his efforts set the foundation to the title, City of Lights. His work was recognized by the Quaid himself who arrived in a royal, majestic carriage and rewarded him with a Medal of Honor.
So here’s a little conversation with my Maa (dadi) for you all to relate to and enjoy.
Feeble shafts of sunlight filtered through the shuttered windows, striking here and there, giving it a strangely mottled appearance. It was dawn. My dadi placed herself on the large Victorian armchair that dominated much of the room and then proceeded to skim through the day’s news. The uncanny sound of crisp paper flipping back and forth filled the air and distracted me from the realm of my imagination. My dadi then turned her gaze towards me; the wrinkles underneath her eyes spoke a tale of tears and mirth. I walked towards her steadily and sat on the bare ground with my head on her lap. Today’s story was about Independence Day.
“Uss waqt ki tau baat hi koi aur thi’” , she sighed.
“Our preparations for 14th August would commence almost a week in advance; around this time, the air was filled with this unmatched level of jazba and patriotism. There was a sense of tranquility within all the noise though; it was the feeling of independence.”
“But Maa, what did you even do for Independence Day?” I interrupted, whilst dreaming about all the sleep I could catch up on since the 14th was a public holiday.
“There were little pop-up shops and trinkets selling flags and other local decoration pieces at every traffic signal, actually they’re still there but I don’t see as many customers anymore. We would compete with all our neighbors and see who’d hoist the largest flag on their terrace. The wind would blow and howl for the world to catch sight of the moon and crescent on the green and white kapra. Children were blooming like flowers, their cheeks were puffed with youth and innocence as they screeched “Pakistan Zindabad!” The walls would glisten with fairy lights and miniature paper flags; each and every single building looked exactly the same. We were all united.”
I was so intrigued, I had never even celebrated my own birthday with such a bang!
My dadi continued, “There wasn’t a year in which we did not drive to the Mazaar-e-Quaid to witness the change of guards. We found our joy in these little things. Oh, and we always attached a flag to our car too! After exhausting ourselves at the mausoleum, we would resort to the comfort of our living room and all thirty of us would end the day with some milli nagmas and a Pakistani movie.”
“But Maa, why did you even celebrate our Independence with so much enthusiasm and zeal?” My curiosity had gotten the best of me.
“Haye meri jaan. No matter how many history books you read, I do not think your generation will ever truly understand the struggle that we all went through for the partition of Pakistan from the subcontinent. Thousands of innocent individuals sacrificed their lives for this country and millions were displaced and separated from their families.
People dream of building businesses but we built a country from scratch.
Our heart and soul will forever be engraved in the soil of this nation for we are Pakistanis. Every year we celebrate this day to prove to others that your dedication and determination will always lead to success. We celebrate to show that struggle is inevitable and you need to learn to sacrifice and prioritize accordingly. We celebrate to showcase how our faces had lit up with glee upon the announcement of Pakistan. And most importantly, we celebrate to show our gratitude to all the people who made Pakistan, Pakistan.
Tears began rolling down my eyes like rivulets. How could I have completely neglected my own identity and background so easily? Why could I not embrace my own culture and traditions instead of following the West? I was baffled and confused as all these questions raced through my mind. However, in the moment, every bell that rung in my head and every hum that tingled my body screamed, Pakistan Zindabad!
You dream of building a business, they built a nation, and handed it over to us, – and we are the keepers for our children and their children to come – don’t ever forget that.