A friend from Pakistan screamed. The scream was loud enough to reach from across the oceans to the shores of Florida without any telephonic help.
“oye, stop writing about your American holidays. Stop confusing my clueless ‘hum-watanon ko… you are doing a huge dis-service. Making them act like headless – clueless – directionless robots.”
“ What happened?” I asked, wincing at that shrill voice boring in my ear, “and calm down… stop shouting. You would even raise the dead with your shrieking.”
She calmed down.
“Okay, what have I done this time that has agitated you so? “ I asked
“ Look my bholey bhaley humwatan are already confused about their identity. These ‘shaitan and shatir shit-bag politicians are also playing tug of war with their sensibilities. Poor dears have been fooled many times and are still being fooled by the likes of Zardaris and Sharifs. Now with Qadri and Imran Khan joining hands and showing already victimized public the new ‘sabz baaghs’, things are not getting any better. So why confuse them further?”
What have I done – you didn’t answer that”
Mr. St.Valentine has already landed here. Ab koun poochhey in mindless logon sai keh yeh Valentine tumhara chach, mama thha kia? I am asking why insert alien customs in our tradition? Its people like you living in amreeka , in wilaiyat who are sending wrong vibes to my country. “
“ You are rambling.”
“ No I am not.” she thundered again.
“ Chalo maan lia… there is no harm in celebrating a mother’s day. Celebrate this day the year round – each day and every day. Not just one day in a year. But a Valentine’s day?”
“ No, I do not do that. Not Valentines day.”
“then why feed it to my people?”
“ No, I never did that either.”
“ Why not?”
“ A strange question coming from you. Love is not for advertising. It’s a bond between you and the person you love. You show it with your actions, honoring the person, treating with respect and compassion, understanding. Love is not just leading towards the bedroom … which has become the sole purpose of this day.”
“Hmmmm, yes, true.
“If only I could tell my fellow citizens that Valentines day does not suit you? You are used to raping, abusing, burning and mistreating women, why make a show of a fake emotion? First learn to respect a female. Otherwise this would be just one more venue, opened for the predators to operate from. We do not know what love and compassion and respect is. So why bother? Right?”
She took a big gulp of air to fill her lungs.
“ But no, if it’s not you then there is someone else oohing and aahing about your amreeki stuff.
“ Are you done?” I squeaked?
“ No, I am not yaar, or maybe I am. Everyday I die a little more. Every day a new wave of dishonesty, maltreatment,bigotry, killing of innocent and Mulla geeri lines up for inspection… See, look, yes look at us, I am your Watan that people died for… Your Pakistan – the land of pure.”
“ Yes, I am sorry, things are tough. My voice was a bit stronger this time
“So stop contributing to this sorry state of affairs. One more word about your next eid called Thanksgiving and I am banishing you from what little circle of friends I keep.”
“ But it is a purely American tradition, my dear. Nothing to do with your azeez ham-watanou! Aren’t they already thanking Almighty five times a day?”
“ That is exactly the point.” She thundered again.
“That is exactly the point. These badesi traditions and myths are cluttering our culture – not that I am demeaning your tradition. But my people, taking some from here and some from there are fast forgetting their own tradition, their myth, their identity. With the rate of following other cultures, my people are losing their ‘Shanakht’ – self respect. Do you understand what that means?”
“ Yes I do. But you are also missing my point. This is just a historic, American Christian tradition that people celebrate. It was the year 1623 when the crops were harvested and they were found to be in abundance. So the Governor of Plymouth Plantation proclaimed a day in November and told every one to gather at the Meeting House to listen to the Pastor and show the Thanksgiving spirit to God.
That is the ‘myth’ the honorable tradition we remember and honor by celebrating the spirit of welcoming and sharing and thanking.”
“ So if it is a christian tradition then why do you follow it? “
Well we have so many names for Almighty. Haven’t we? So keeping with the American tradition we Thank Almighty Allah for His Blessings on this historically documented day.
“It’s all nice and lush for you.” She paused.
“ I am tired.”
And with that she went off the line.
I am not callous, I have a compassionate heart. I understand her agony.