Abandoning Our Homeland


I recently participated in a National event called CMA MEDIA CHRONICLES. It included various competitions such as 3D Modeling, Poster Designing, Public Speaking, Live Sketching, Photo Essay, Short Film/TVC and Skits/Theater. The unique aspect was that all the competitions were conducted under one broad theme “Our Dreams, Our Future”. I took part in Public Speaking, based on the theme, I came up with the topic ‘Abandoning Our homeland‘ for my speech. The idea was to make our Pakistani youth realize that ‘Our Dreams and Our Future’ not necessarily lies in a foreign land (as this has become a common perception in our society). Here is what I prepared….

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“OMG! Finally the dream of my life is going to be fulfilled! Got my visa and soon I will be flying to UK where my future is.”

This was my friend’s Facebook status a few weeks ago who recently graduated. It got 300 likes and 250 comments to be exact (quite a hit status!). Not just her, I actually know quite a lot of fresh graduates who plan to go abroad for further studies. Good! But the unfortunate part is that most don’t intend coming back as they plan to settle abroad. Ladies and gentlemen, this has become a common and rising trend. We start searching and applying for the universities abroad even before getting our degrees. Why is that so? Why does today’s youth dream to settle abroad? Why do they believe that their future will be brighter in a foreign land but not here in Pakistan? Why do we tend to grab any opportunity that comes our way to escape? And why are we so quick to accept a new country, a new culture, but not even slightly hesitant in abandoning our own?  As I ask myself these questions, I also hear a lone voice giving me the answers: This country has no future! This country is not worth living in!  This country’s government and system is corrupted! This country has not given me anything! Surprised at the familiarity of these answers?  Well, don’t be!! We! say these words all the time!!

But now as I think about it I feel mortified. How can I say that this country has not given me anything when I know It gave me a unique identity in the world. It made me understand the true meaning of “Freedom” and it nourished me. I grew up here, got an education here,  and now!!!  When I have become competent and independent I simply decide that this place is good for nothing? I want to abandon it and go serve some other country with the skills that I learned here, ignoring the fact that my own country needs me more??

When we become independent and start earning, we don’t want to leave our parents because they have grown old and weak, and now they depend on us! Then WHY is it… that we don’t even feel a slight aversion in leaving our SIXTY-FIVE YEARS OLD MOTHERLAND…PAKISTAN??? Isn’t this old and rather weakening motherland also reliant on us? My friends, aren’t WE being just as selfish, as those corrupted politicians and leaders we condemn all the time? Have we ever tried to understand whose fault all this really is?

We blame the government but who elects it? It’s you and I. We blame the system… but who runs the system? People like You and I. And is the government and the system to be blamed only? Of course not! We, in our individual spaces, are equally responsible for making Pakistan “not worth living in” and earning it a bad name. Why? Because we believe that laws are meant to be broken. We don’t like to pay our taxes. We steal electricity. We indulge in bribery. We cheat, we lie, and we promote the negative image of Pakistan through our own media. Above all, we just talk about problems but we do nothing… NOTHING at all to resolve them. We even have the solutions but somehow…we are hesitant to take the initiative. Let us ask ourselves that what role did we play towards the betterment of our country? Especially us, the Youth? I think we only complain, don’t we?

Take a look at Tunisia. They wanted to free themselves from dictatorship; they achieved their goal and created HISTORY! They didn’t run away from their responsibilities by abandoning their homeland. They all stood together, strove towards their dream and made them HAPPEN! And lets not forget, it was their youth who played a major role in the revolution, the same as in the freedom movement of our own history. Then why can’t we do it now?? We just need to believe in Pakistan and channelize our dreams in the right direction. Rather than planning our ‘individual’ prosperous future, lets us dream together to have a flourishing Pakistan and just like the Tunisians, let us too turn our dream into a reality!

Let us understand our responsibilities; Let us EDUCATE ourselves. Yes! we shall not give up on our dreams of foreign education but we will do so only to come back here to our country, to our Pakistan and serve it because if Pakistan prospers, We prosper!

So as of today, my Dream is a ‘Prosperous Pakistan’, my Future is ONLY PAKISTAN! 🙂

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THE UNBLESSED – “Angeline’s Story”


It was like a fish market. I was trying hard to find the room number for my first class but all my attempts were failing. It was my first day of university.

“Ah! Only if everybody stops pushing me, it would be so easy.” I thought to myself.

I was just strolling around like a homeless person when I  got a hard push and I bumped into someone.

“Oh! I am extremely sorry.” The girl said to me.

“No, no, I am sorry. Somebody just pushed me from behind and I fell on you. Are you OK?” I asked her looking worried.

She was a very pretty… no beautiful girl and she seemed sweet.

“Yea I’m fine, please don’t worry” She said with a silly grin on her face. “Hi, I’m Roseline Hiegal”

She stretched out her right hand to me and smiled.

“Hello, I’m Angeline Stephen.” I took her hand and smiled back at her.

Soon we discovered that we had our first class together.

“What a coincidence?” She said out of surprise as well as pleasure.

Even I was glad to find someone to be with in a place where everybody was alien to me.

And that was the beginning of our friendship. Initially, I saw Rose as a young, energetic and intelligent girl but as I got to know her more,  I found Rose as a beautiful human-being as well; she was a kind-hearted, loving and  caring person. It was so easy to get along with her; being nice to her just came out naturally from me. It was very soon that we became close.   We did everything together; from fun to studies. We were always together.

I became very fond of Rose and I admired her in every way; she had everything. She was pretty, she was intelligent, she was rich, and she had loving parents…just everything. Her life was perfect. She always seemed happy and full of life. And I envied her for that. Not because I was jealous of her happiness but because….I didn’t have that kind of life. Her life was my dream.

It was not like I never had a good life. I do have some truly amazing and sweet memories of a happy family that we were used to be. A loving and spoiling father, a caring and fussing mother, a protective and pleasantly annoying big brother, a cute and  little princess sister and me. It felt as if our heaven was on earth; and that heaven was our home. There was no time to be sad because we used to be so busy in staying happy and in loving each other. But then one day, just like every good thing has to come to an end, our beautiful fairy tale also came to an end. And it was not a happy ending.

Three days after Josh’s seventeenth birthday, he died in a car accident. And that’s how our life shattered. We  were devastated; mama just couldn’t believe that her son was no more, I was grieve-stricken; Josh was only 2 years older to me so we were just like buddies…best friends, Lucy kept asking when would Josh come and take her to the play-land; poor kid she was only 9, and dad, he was in the worst condition. He thought he was responsible for Josh’s death as it was he was driving the car that day; he was driving fast and he was a bit drunk. From that day on wards dad was not dad anymore.

He started to come home late at night being drunk. He became abusive towards mama and us. Soon he got fired from his job. With every passing day he became worse. He also started beating mama when she would complain about his reckless behavior. One day when they both were fighting and dad was just about to hit mama, I jumped in between; I tried to stop dad, begged him to come back to us but in return I only got his beating.

“Oh! My doll, what has he done to you, my darling doll.”

Mama kept sobbing and rubbing my swollen jaws tenderly.

“Mama…it hurts, it really hurts.” We sobbed together in each other’s arms.

For one thing we were very grateful that Lucy was unaware of all the drama; by the time dad came home  she mostly used to be asleep. However, at the age of eight, the poor kid had been deprived of the fatherly love.

Because of dad’s violent behavior I had to skip university sometimes; obviously I can’t go to university with a swollen face! So I had to make excuses like I fell down the stairs, I banged in to the door, I tripped over Lucy’s scooty laying on floor (Ok! I know it sounded lame but I had to come up with a new excuse every time so didn’t have much choice). I used to do that because I wanted to avoid facing people and looking at their horrified expressions and listening  their horrified reactions; “For the love of God!! Angeline what did you do to your face!!!” or “Angeline! You look terrible!” and bla bla. Therefore, it was better to shut myself in room and AVOID! But Rose was Rose, no matter how much I begged her not to come to see me, she just wouldn’t bother to listen and there she would  be… sitting in front of me and examing my face with wide eyes.

“Seriously Angee!  Why the hell can’t you LOOK and WALK??? Trust me it’s not that difficult; You ONLY have to TRY!”

“And seriously Rose! Do you REALLY have to come when I actually BEG you not to and EMBARRASS me like this…ALWAYS!”

Even though I used to ask her not to come but deep down I did want her to come. Because she always used to cheer me up, make me happy and showed me the lighter side of life which I so don’t get to see much in “My” life. I never let Rose know about dad’s behavior; I didn’t feel comfortable about discussing it with her. Although, we shared each and every little or big things but somehow we both very seldom discussed our family life with each other. So to Rose, dad was a loving and caring but a very busy father who mostly remains away from home due to business trips; that is why she doesn’t get to see him much in my university functions or at home.

“You must miss your dad a lot?” She said one day

Yeah! miss my OLD dad a lot…I thought to myself.

“Fathers are very important, specially for daughters; their presence  gives a sense of protection, they encourage their daughters to move ahead without any fear and assure them that he will always have their backs.” She said with a very somber tone and her face became so serious; I have never seen her like that before.

Protection‘…. ‘Support’….Really? Are Fathers suppose to make you feel that way? I guess only GOOD fathers make you feel that way; like Rose’s daddy. After all, he is always around to support her, protect her, encourage her and appreciate her work. That is why she thinks of fathers as  a “Protector” and “Supporter”, because her daddy is like that to her. “Lucky you, Rose!” I said to myself.

“Angee?? hello??? What are you thinking?Did I say something wrong?” I was so much engrossed in my thoughts that I almost forget that Rose was actually talking to me.

“Oh! umm….no…You are absolutely right. Fathers are suppose to be like that!”

“Suppose?? What do you mean by that? They ARE like that! Look at your own dad; even though he gets to spend very little time with you but still, you know you can always talk to him, you know he’ll always be beside you whenever you need him.”

Yeah right!… How badly I wished that it was like that but…

“Yes Of course, I know he’ll be there for me,” I said with a fake smile.

Sometimes it was so hard to pretend that things in my life were normal. I had to really work hard in hiding the truth from Rose because she could always tell whenever I am lying.

But one day….she found out the truth.

Rose came to my place for our arts term project. We were preparing the report in my room when suddenly I heard dad’s shouting and my heart almost stopped beating…

“Get lost from my face you bitch!….Don’t touch me; I don’t need anybody’s support. I can handle myself okayyy!!!”

“Shut your big fat mouth, YOU MORON!!! You don’t tell me how to behave…” Then there was a loud sound of slap which was followed by mama’s shriek and the bang of the door. Then silence prevailed.

Upstairs in my room I went completely still. Rose was bewildered.

“What’s going on? Who is shouting like that, Angee?” she asked being completely panic.

“My dad,” I told her sternly with a blank face.

“What??? Your dad??? You didn’t tell me he was back in town and why is he shouting at your mum??”

“Because that’s what he always does!!!  OKAY!!! He just SHOUTS at mama and me every time he’s home!!” I retorted at her and she was baffled.

“And by the way, I didn’t tell you that he was back because he never went ANYWHERE!! I lied to you…did you hear me?? I LIED!!! He is not a busy father who doesn’t gets to see his family much; He is a drunkard who beats his wife and daughter like an animal!!”

I was shouting so loudly that my throat started to ache. My entire body was trembling. I fell down on my knees and started to cry hysterically. Rose ran over to me and took me in her arms.

“Oh Angee! Please don’t cry, why didn’t you tell me before” She was sobbing too,” I would have listened to you.”  I let her hold me for a while and then I told her everything; from Josh’s accident to dad’s sadistic behavior.

“It is OK! It’s going to be fine!” She said rubbing my back and soothing me.

“Nothing is going to be fine!” I broke away from her embrace and yelled.

“It has been 3 years now! Nothing is going to be fine, did you get that!!” I yelled again.

“Look Angee….” She started to say as she moved close to me.

“NO! DON’T!…Don’t try to patronize me!!” My screaming made her go still.

“You can never understand how it feels to see your father turned into a monster! You can never know how painful it is to get beaten from your dad! You can’t imagine how agonizing it is to see your little sister being deprived of fatherly love!! And you don’t know how it feels  to see your mother never being able to walk again….all because of your OWN FATHER!!”

Rose’s eyes went wide and her mouth fell open as she heard  last words.

“YES! it is because of my dad that my mama can’t stand on her feet! He pushed her down the stairs!”

“SURPRISED, aren’t you?? You must pat me on back for hiding all of this from you till now. I am a brilliant performer, aren’t I?” I laughed out.

You didn’t have to hide, Angee. You could have told me and…”

“..let you pity me!! Feel SORRY for me!!” I squealed.

“For God’s sake Angee, what’s wrong with you??” She looked hurt. “We have always shared everything! I would have comforted you only!”

“I don’t need anyone to do me any FAVOR! I don’t need anybody’s comfort…I’m fine without it…OK!” I glared at her.

“Yea, I can clearly see that!” She said plainly and with this, she turned and walked out of the room.

My entire body was shaking. I walked towards the window and looked outside; I saw Rose walking towards the street with her hands tightly wrapped around her chest.

What have I done! I had only one true friend and I just broke her heart. 

All of a sudden I felt myself being the most unblessed person on earth.

THE UNBLESSED – “Prologue”


The watch around my wrist stroke 7 a.m. and the rain started to pour down as I got home from work.

“Mama, I’m home”.

The sweet and mouth-watering aroma in the air told me where to find Mama.

“What’s cooking?” I asked entering the kitchen.

Mama was taking out a baking dish from the oven. She turned around in her wheelchair and opened her arms to me. I bent down to give her a long warm hug. Seven years back, Mama met an accident and since then she was never able to stand on her feet.

“Angeline my doll! I’ve baked  your favorite shepherd pie.” She smiled at me with so much love in her eyes that my heart flooded with warmness and affection. I kissed her cheeks.

“Great! I think I’m starving.” I took out a decent amount of hot and heavenly looking shepherd pie on a plate and headed upstairs to my room.

“Honey, dinner would be ready by 9; please be down by then.”

“Whatever you say Mama,” I replied to her as I entered my room.

After changing myself into a comfortable pair of pajamas and shirt, I sat down on  bed with my scrumptious plate of shepherd pie and began eating. I placed my laptop on my laps and started replying to some new e-mails. When done with eating, I turned to keep the plate on the side table and found a brown envelope laying there. I took it in my hands, tore-off the top of the envelope and discovered a wedding invite inside. It was the most beautiful invitation card I had ever seen in my life.

“Must be expensive,” I thought.

The invitation card was addressed to me as:

To my best friend, Angeline

And I knew from who it was. I opened the invite and read the first line:

ROSELINE weds JACK

My lips curved into a sweet smile as my eyes laid on the picture of Rose and Jack beneath it. They looked lovely and happy together. I always told Rose that they were made for each other.

The wedding invitation wasn’t a surprise; I knew she would do it one day. I looked at Rose in the picture and my heart filled with love and gratitude. She looked beautiful as always. I had always wanted her to be happy. She deserved to be blessed with every good thing and I was so glad that finally all of that was happening for her.

Rose was the only true friend…best friend…I ever had… after Josh.

After Josh“… listening to this, even in my thoughts, made my heart ached badly. If I wouldn’t have found Rose my life would have actually become miserable ‘after Josh’ left me.

Rose and I have been friends for six years now. After our graduation she moved to Paris to pursue her career in fashion designing while I stayed back here, in United States, to seek my career as an interior designer.  But this physical distance never brought any difference in our relationship; we talked almost every day, shared text messages, emails and even visit each other. Our bond has became stronger over the years.

Suddenly my mind was filled with so many beautiful memories of me and Rose which existed in the past. I placed my laptop on bed and walked towards the window, holding the wedding invite in my hands. It had started to rain heavily; it was dark outside and the clouds were grumbling and roaring loudly. I felt an urge of going outside on the street and let the rain drench me; I wanted to feel the rain pouring down on my body. But instead, I opened the window and let my right hand out. I shuddered a bit as it was getting pretty cold outside. I brought the wedding invite close to my chest and thought about Rose again. We both loved rain; we would walk to a nearby spot for coffee or ice-cream and just let ourselves enjoy the rain. She made my life so much exciting.

“I miss you, Rose”. I tried to stretch out my hand a little more by standing on my toes.

I always thought that there was no such thing as “Best Friends” in this practical world. School or college; I never had any friend whom I could blindly trust; who could understand me and who openly accepted me the way I was. Indeed, I was completely unaware of the term “Best Friend”.  And then, Rose came in to my life….