Happy Birthday, homistans. I was born missing some crucial nationalist bone. Somehow, the nation-state fails to provoke into me any emotion besides disdain. In contradiction, I do love Lahore and I remember many, many conversations with aamir where we imagined fighting the evil invaders to protect our home. But, home was lahore.
My immediate family suffered the same miseries and trials that befell millions upon Partition. Their sacrifices were for something – a nation-state, a country, a homeland for Muslims, perhaps. As a historian, I am not convinced that Pakistan was any more than a bluff that became the solution. As a lahori, I feel the weight of that blood and tears when I say anything like that.
Ayaz Amir’s op-ed in Dawn yesterday (thanks, Nitin), asks the simple question: “Did we go through the blood-drenching and mass migration accompanying partition – more than a million people killed and about 8-10 million people uprooted from their homes – so that Pakistan should be a country dedicated to the permanent usurpation of power?” Uh. Let’s look to the future.
Here is my birthday wish for India and Pakistan:
1. Manmohan Ji and Shaukat Aziz broker a complete and bi-lateral peace agreement.
2. Pakistan gives up all involvement in Kashmir (yes, the jihadis go directly to jail without collecting Rs. 200). It belongs to INDIA, people. Let it be. If Kashmiris want independence, let the Indians give it to them. And, Yes, I am a kashmiri too.
3. NAFTA for Pak-India-Bangladesh (only way to balance China’s economic might – we have enough people together!)
4. Elections in 2005. Oh dear god, please.
5. Pakistan quadruples its IT and Education budgets, guarantees women and minority rights into the Constitution (yeah. constitution).
6. Am I sounding loony yet?
I am. So, I turn again to Faiz and his poem written to celebrate (?) Independence Day.
The Dawn of Freedom
These tarnished rays, this night-smudged lightó
This is not that Dawn for which, ravished with freedom,
we had set out in sheer longing,
so sure that somewhere in its desert the sky harbored
a final haven for the stars, and we would find it.
We had no doubt that nightís vagrant wave would stray
towards the shore,
that the heart rocked with sorrow would at last reach its port.
Friends, our blood shaped its own mysterious roads.
When hands tugged at our sleeves, enticing us to stay,
and from wondrous chambers Sirens cried out
with their beguiling arms, with their bare bodies,
our eyes remained fixed on that beckoning Dawn,
forever vivid in her muslins of transparent light.
Our blood was youngówhat could hold us back?
Now listen to the terrible rampant lie:
Light has forever been severed from the Dark;
our feet, it is heard, are now one with their goal.
See our leaders polish their manner clean of our suffering:
Indeed, we must confess only to bliss;
we must surrender any utterance for the Belovedóall yearning
But the heart, the eye, the yet deeper heartó
Still ablaze for the Beloved, their turmoil shines.
In the lantern by the road the flame is stalled for news:
Did the morning breeze ever come? Where has it gone?
Night weighs us down, it still weighs us down.
Friends, come away from this false light. Come, we must
search for that promised Dawn.
óTranslated by Agha Shahid
CM will be on sporadic throughout next week. I am off to Ohio to get some voters for Kerry. If I convince anyone, I will let you know. Anyone wanna blog while I am gone? holla. steve? sohail?