On the eve of Pakistan’s 61st Independence Day, it rained thoroughly throughout the city — perhaps throughout the country. I walked out late in the morning over the wet asphalt on a road that was rebuilt a few months ago to the spot where one of our cars was parked. Dad is in the habit of leaving the windows slightly open for ventilation purposes in the car, and whenever it rains, we always tend to forget about that, subsequently ending up having to ride in a car with wet seats. It was more than drizzling as I slowly paced my way up to the car. The look down the lane during downpour is as breathtakingly enchanting as any one can imagine. There is not a single house along either sides of the lane that is not host to a lush and lively collection of greenery. In rain, it almost looks like a still picture artistically capturing a beautiful landscape. The pitch dark velvet worn by the asphalt as a result of being drenched in rain water, the aromas of wet sand, dripping flowers, and drenched trees permeating from all corners through the lane paint a reflection that one may be willing to believe can only be that of heaven. Yesterday, as I stood outside my home, I was a lucky guest to that heavenly peek.
The rain picked itself up, and with it, so did my pace towards the car. As the rain drops trickled down my body, I looked up to face the sky straight, standing next to the car. I felt something. It was a feeling I had never felt. Ever. The fact that I had a running fever at the same time I was getting drenched certainly reinforced the feeling. I could almost sense, feel, that the rain falling down relentlessly, the clouds coughing up in shrill sounds, everything around me, they were all mourning — grieving a big loss. Amidst me, I could see heaven. But every element of it seemed without hope, every element of it looked despairing, grief-stricken, as if it was not in the least enjoying the rain, or the chilling weather, but suffering from great sorrow. I shook my head, and with a shock, and as a deep sense of despair overwhelmed me, I realised what it was. I cranked shut the windows, made sure the doors were locked properly, and, giving a passing look through sorrowful eyes down that lane, I quickly trod over rain water back into my house.
Today is Pakistan’s 61st Independence Day. As before, many have chosen to sleep the day off. I wish I could. I look at the few green flags wound high on the roofs of the houses and being thrown about by slight whiffs of wind. I look, and I feel depressed. Thoroughly. Local TV channels all over the place push hard to give off a vibrant sense, feeling, of what they would like to proudly call Independence Day celebrations. To me, it is more melancholic than looking at almost idle flags hanging outside like dismal prisoners on death row waiting to be hanged. I wish I could sleep the day off. I mourned the Independence Day yesterday, alone, out under a crying sky. I was lucky to have been given that moment.
On Pakistan’s 59th Independence Day, I portrayed a less gloomy picture. I need not compare nor contrast how far forward or backwards we have come since then. In the least bit, as a Pakistani — proud, happy, sad, or grieved –, it is your responsibility to know. If you don’t, today is the day to sit down and reflect in all earnestness.
Happy Independence Day!