A few days left…

Then I’m headed back to Pakistan.

Don’t bother reading this, it’s a long rant.

Everything is going to be worse this time around.

The first time I went to Pakistan, it was different. I was ambitious. There was a fire inside me. I hadn’t seen Pakistan in 11 years then. I had only heard about it, and I wanted to change everything I had heard. I thought I could do it. I thought I could make a difference, change a few minds maybe. Little did I know, it takes more than a wish. Anyhow, we’ll discuss that some other time.

Back then I was also looking forward to starting a new life. From working two to three jobs and busting ass at school while accumulating large amounts of loan, to sitting on my behind having everything paid for seemed pretty appealing. I was unaware of the petty little issues that can add up to such a difficult life. I didn’t think power outages were going to be much of a problem; there are a 180 million people dealing with them after all. To be honest, they weren’t. It’s a 120 degrees out and no electricity? Big whoop. Toughen up, take a shower. It’ll be back in a few hours.

I didn’t think healthcare system was going to be a problem either. There were so many doctors coming out of Pakistan that I thought I would receive only the best in treatments. Apparently, metronidazole is their solution to every problem. Isn’t that a carcinogen? I was prescribed antibiotics after antibiotics without any conclusive diagnosis for my first year and a half. Yes, that’s how long it took for me to wise up and realize that I shouldn’t be taking so much medicine. I was petrified. The mortality rate was high and being a medical student, you are bound to develop some sort of hypochondria. I went for second opinions, then third, then fourth…it never stopped. The city I was in lacked, to my standards, adequate healthcare. I, in return, in part due to my poor planning, lacked the transportation to go out in Lahore or Islamabad for a measly “check-up”. I also lacked the motivation to  get rough housed in the Pakistani transportation system so I could travel from one city to another. What sick person would want to do it? Of course a lot of people do it, I know that. That’s obviously the sad truth. It satisfies the sickest person to travel for hours in the worst possible conditions to get a sub-par diagnosis and come home believing that they shall now be healed. Ignorance is a bliss I don’t care much for.

I also had high expectations from my family. I had a lot of it right? Boy was that a let down though. Your family actually cares for you so much, that they will watch your every move and try to govern your life as much as possible. There is an old proverb or aphorism or adage, whatever the hell you want to call it, and it goes “Neem hakeem, hatra jaan”. It basically means that an ill-educated opinion is more dangerous than no opinion at all. Well, in Pakistan, the only opinion they have is the ill-educated one. There are a very few, handful of Pakistani people who are either minding their own business or actually providing helpful advice when it’s truly needed. If you are reading this, I assure you that you’re in the latter few.

It’s like that in every society though. I couldn’t name all the Americans I come across every single day who try to do the same thing. They have their own half-ass theories on how things are supposed to be. “Op, Romney ainnnt got them votes cuz he aint really all that pro…” shut the fuck up. Go play with your belly button lint. The only difference between the American moron & the Pakistani moron is the fact that the American moron can’t impose his beliefs on you because of legal restrains applied by law and the freedom granted to you by the constitution. We don’t have that in Pakistan. We have blasphemy laws and honor-killing pardons. Can you imagine having to suffer through the murder of a loved one only to find out that the murderer was pardoned and your family is now a disgrace to the neighborhood because your loved one fell in love with someone else? Now I understand that these laws are in place to prevent the inevitable rape that will happen to your daughter no matter what (sarcasm, in case you miss it) but really? Last time I checked, American chics wear a lot less and get a lot more respect than most Pakistani chics. Pakistani chics walk down the street as a guaranteed object of lust for misogynists to stare at and drool over. If she puts out, she’s a whore. If she ignores the man, she’s a snob. No matter what happens, it’s always the girls fault.

Anyways, back to not having any freedom of speech in Pakistan. The blasphemy laws lead all Pakistanis to believe that they are the god damned guardians of Islam. Half of them won’t do it for Allah. As a matter of fact, 90% of Pakistanis fear the mullah more than they fear the Allah. It’s true! How many people do you know that are corrupt inside and fucked up to the core but act like their isn’t anyone more righteous than them? The sad truth is that it is the socially acceptable thing to do. One of the most common excuses you will hear is “log kia kahain gay?” or “what will the PEOPLE say?”. Oh no! What will the people say when they find out that you’re a sanctimonious little twat? I guess they’ll talk shit about you, yeah, but then they’ll go home and realize that they are not so different from you after all.

Now after living there for for 3 years, I have come to realize the beast that is Pakistan. The belly of the beast? Punjab.

Good thing I don’t spend a lot of time there. Surely I would have gone insane by now if I had to. You either go insane, or you become one of them. There are seldom other options. If you are one who had to grow up with these circumstances and you still managed to hold your head on your own shoulders, I bow to your perseverance. Lord knows I would give up and succumb to becoming a mindless drone with a untamed beard & some sort of head covering.

This time going back, I know what I have to deal with. I know that I have been trying to deal with it for the past 3 years and it only gets worse. The hardest thing to do is to deal with it alone. My parents, although wonderful and possibly the best parents in the world, will never see eye to eye with me on these issues. The values of accepting without questioning and such have been instilled deep in their beliefs, engraved deep in their minds. “It’s just how it is!” and “It is the culture!” are statements I am tried to hearing. I’m not promoting going out and having wild animal sex in the middle of the street, I just want people to keep their beliefs to themselves. Is that too much to ask? “Yes, it’s Pakistan.”

Anyways, back to dealing with things alone. I have a few friends and I’m always looking forward to making more. With a little help from these friends, I manage to get by on a day-to-day basis. I have nothing else going for me there. It’s as if though everything in the universe conspires to act in harmony against everything I ever want. Another thing that keeps me going is the hope that I can influence someone. If I can reach out and touch one person every month in a way that I, myself, have been touched; my life is worth living. I’ve been trying my hardest to get involved in TCF or something similar but time is now a precious scarcity as exams get closer.

I think that’d be all. I could take this as a rough draft and re-write something more articulate but… I’d rather not. It isn’t meant to be impressive. I’m just venting.


4 thoughts on “A few days left…

  1. An interesting post, I must say. The bitter reality – you expressed well.
    The cynical views… =p
    Pakistan isn’t that bad, trust me or maybe you’ve just gotten used to hating it so much that nobody will be able to change what you think. I’m living in the ‘belly of the beast’, and I can’t help but be proud of it. Every place has good and bad side to it, no? Turn to the best side, and you’ll find yourself right at home.
    Volunteering for TCF is great idea, will be a great experience.
    On another note : hope you enjoy your trip! 🙂 Try to live it up and make it worth it.

  2. It’s interesting to see your pent-up frustrations regarding the motherland. Pakistan does have it’s bad side, but like everything else, it has a ‘Good’ side too! I can understand how you feel, and I know it is fruitless to even attempt to change your mind when you have such strong reservations…
    For the record, ‘Punjab’ is not all that bad.
    Anyway, I sincerely hope you have a good time here this time, and maybe then you’ll see Pakistan for the wonderful place it is. 🙂

  3. This is me saying hi from the belly of the beast and I like to believe I am at least trying to be a human so the situation (particularly with me) isn’t very bad. There are vices and there are problems; there are people with stubborn attitude that stinks and there are them mullahs (90% people? I’d like to believe truth is dawning slowly now) and then there is us. Nothing, and I hope you get a chance to figure that out for yourself, is entirely good or bad. The Pakistan you came across disappoints me as it would disappoint any other reader but having belonged to this little piece of land with people around the globe thinking we are a bunch of misbehaved apes who have no clue about the technologically advanced world, it hurts me more. We are just a bunch of people Hasan, we have problems and we are still developing (at least trying to).

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