Stockholm Syndrome Appreciation Post [Farewell, Pakistan.]

I woke up at 5 AM with my heart racing in my chest. I couldn’t figure out exactly what was causing this, but I tried real hard to remember as I lay on my bed lifelessly. I’m not sure if it was the standard hypnopompic paralysis, but I had no motivation to close my gaping, drooling mouth or move my arm out from underneath myself. “Is it dehydration? How much water did I drink yesterday?” My heart continued to pound away. “Is it caffeine? Too much tea? I didn’t have any soda.” I was quite certain that it was way past 8 AM. “Too many cigarettes before bed? Can’t be, I haven’t held a cigarette in over 6 months.” Then it started to come to me.

I’m one of those people who usually forget their dreams immediately after they wake up. Very few dreams have ever been worth remembering, and I’ve shared them before I could get both eyes open. Either with myself via a journal or a note taking app of some sort, or with someone who would care via a message or a call. This particular tachycardic episode of palpitations was induced by one such dream. Anti-climatic, I know.

I was dreaming that it was 8 AM on the morning of my flight, which was scheduled for 9 AM. All my clothes and belongings were scattered around my room. I stood in the middle of that mess and mumbled instructions to myself, as I usually do. I was freaking out because my flight was in an hour and it takes three hours to get to the airport, and I hadn’t even finished my packing yet. My wife tapped away mindlessly on her phone as she sat up in bed, her back against the bed rest. “What are you doing?!” I would shout at her. (Some things are only possible in your dreams.) “How are you so relaxed!? We are late for our flight and we haven’t even started packing! WHAT IF WE LEAVE SOMETHING BEHIND?” And then I just remember sitting down, holding my head in my palms so it doesn’t roll off into the pile of clothes and books and other little articles of memories collected. That’s when I wake up. In a dark room, with my heart pounding away, and the confusion that ensues.

I have always been a patron of the theory that dreams are an evolutionary process that serve to warn us, and prepare us, for hypothetically dangerous scenarios. Specially the ones we believe are likely to occur, regardless of the probability or even the possibility of that occurrence. Considering this, the principle of Occam’s razor would dictate that I’ve simply been fearing not being ready to leave in time. Sure we have a lot of packing to do, between me and my wife. And we certainly haven’t permanently moved out of or into anything together in such circumstances before, so the anxiety is understandable. However, the theory will never explain why one song in particular was continuously playing in the background during my dream, and in my head after I woke up.

“Kuch toh hai tujhse raabta
Kuch toh hai tujhse raabta…”

I don’t even know the rest of the lyrics to this song. Any other day, I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to Bollywood music, let alone have it play in my head as I wake up, but today isn’t that day. It literally translates to “there exists some sort of a connection with you.” (Might I take this moment to reflect on translation, and how it is more of an art than an exact science. My literal word to word translation does not do these lines the poetic justice they deserve. For all intents and purposes, if Hindi or Urdu were your first languages, these lines would tug at your heartstrings. Maybe.) Today isn’t that day however. It plays on in my head as I start to move. I roll onto my back and stare at the clock. 5 AM, it reads.

“Kaisay hum jaanein, humein kia pata
kuch toh hai tujhse raabta…”

And then I start to think about it. “What if we leave something behind?” is what I had asked amidst that panic. Six years and four months. Over 2300 days, nearly each one counted down since day one. The faces of everyone who has had an impact in my life, even if only remotely so, revolve around my head as I write this. My friends. My professors. My extended family that I had never even known existed. The patients I obtained histories from, and helped manage. The shop owners I bought my dinner from. The shop owners I bought the cheapest cups of chai from, to sip on as I chain smoked the most expensive brand of cigarettes. The landlord I paid my rent to. The neighbor I annoyed. The neighbor I was annoyed by. The watchmen, all 5 of them. Anyone who ever taught me anything, and I learned in these last six years. Or at least I would like to believe I did.

Now I get to leave it all behind.

For the most part, I’m not sure if saying “until we meet again” will ever be appropriate. It’s highly unlikely that we do. If I were to ever be so inclined, I would actually pray that we do not. However, I cannot say that it wouldn’t be one of the most pleasantest of surprises if we did. Another day, under different circumstances, it would feel good to see someone from here and remember the days of my past. To reminisce over the good times, if only so with myself. Clearly, not many of those people know the impact they’ve had on my short lived life so far. Hell, I couldn’t have said much about that myself until now that I know I’ll probably never be seeing them again.

There are too many memories to recount. More good than bad, as one’s memory usually serves to recall. I’m afraid if I highlighted the few that pop-up, I’ll eventually forget the ones that I don’t mention. Perhaps I’ll start dictating them into an audio format. and share one every now and then. I actually started blogging here to help serve that purpose, but switched to the more cordial micro-blogging platforms (which, as cathartic as it has been, I insist on keeping anonymous for as long as I possibly can.)

I’m afraid of the future. A lot of uncertainties lie ahead. How will I fare in the licensure examinations? Will I ever be any good at what I do? Will I enjoy it as much as I have so far? Or will all this work be in vain? I’m married. I’ve never been married at home before. Will the rest of my love life be as good as it has been for the last 18 months? I’m 27. Will I still make it in good time to start a career, start a family? I understand my parents’ frame of reference now that I’ve spent some time where they spent most of their lives. Will they understand mine? One of my best friends passed away while I was gone, the others moved away, and some simply moved on. Will it be as easy, or as difficult, as it had always been to cultivate new friendships? I’m excited, and I’m anxious, and I can’t wait to find out. I made it.

This nice new problem. (Alternative title: I hope it’s a tumor.)

It may not be new. It may just be an old problem that’s only now starting to prevail because people are finally starting to get sick of it. Or, better yet, because people have reached the end stage of their sickness and now have no choice but to retaliate.

That can’t be right.

Before you go off assuming the worse, I should give you a:

***MARRIAGE FOLLOW UP***

I am not sure what I wrote in my last post, but I’m still happy with my marriage and everything is kosher. We are always happy to see each other on the weekends, which means we are tolerating each other well. Neither of us smells, thank you Jesus. I will soon start a blog with the wife about our adventures and day-to-day, so friends and families far away can keep up on us, because this is not the place for that. Moving on.

So this new problem I’m having, or just beginning to notice, has to do with my face. My mouth, to be specific, in layman’s terms. My speech, actually. My behavior, if you will.

It wasn’t always like this. In first year of Medicine, whenever there needed to be held a serious conversation which required patience and placidity, I was always the first one to be called upon by my peers. This usually meant speaking to a pretentious, and particularly rude, member of the staff or negotiating terms with the college administration on certain issues. People, strangers (I’m thinking of my barber, who didn’t know me too well at the time) would point to me and say that I was the coolest cat they had ever seen. In terms of temper, I must clarify. I could really take the bullshit, you know?

Fast forward four years into the future, and I kid you not, I am at my wits end with these assholes. I find myself constantly being constrained and pulled back by my friends in situations that are likely to set me off. Of course, friends are not always there so more often than not, I find myself in fierce arguments and pointless quarrels with unexpecting strangers. It’s a classless thing to do. I have never felt good about it afterwards, and I guess that’s why I’m so bothered by it.

I often find my friends cleaning up after me. Tidying up whatever mess I’ve created and pulling me out of terribly difficult situations. One friend has been particularly good at this, I will thank him eventually. Going from “Hassan, you do all the talking” to “Hassan, don’t say a word!” has not been a pleasant experience. The friend I mentioned earlier said to me that it’s not what I say, but the way I say it. Or something to that affect.

Excuse the poor paragraph structure, I’m on my phone.

So I’ve been up all night, really ruminating over one such instance that occurred earlier tonight. It really has to be the way I said what I said, because what I said wasn’t something too unreasonable. I didn’t have a pretentious tone, as most people would assume. I was humble, but it still set off a heated moment and before I knew it, I was seeing red.

This keeps happening to me. I keep losing my cool, and although I’m never one to start cursing, I am sure the things I say are more hurtful than arbitrary curse words, so to speak. Physical brawls are not my thing. I am afraid of getting beat up, but I was awfully close to risk it today and that’s what I fear the most now. I thought maybe I was just frustrated or overwhelmed earlier, but this has gone on far too long and I’m afraid it’s only getting worse. I am actually starting to hope that it’s a pathology of some sort, because I don’t think I can find the source or the solution for it otherwise.

I’m too close to the finish line to do something stupid. I need peace, and, ugh, I hate to say it, but I need to be constantly at war in order to attain it.

Take me home.

It’s Weird Here

It really is. A lot of my friends and family have said “welcome to the club” or something to that effect and I can’t help but wonder if they’re being sarcastic. I don’t know what I was expecting to be honest. Here’s to hoping that my wife doesn’t read this until at least after our honeymoon, but I guess I was kind of expecting it to be worse in some ways and better in others. I suppose you can say marriage didn’t meet certain specific expectations. It hit the spot though, I’ll tell you that.

It’s really, really weird. Basically, I’ve been in all sorts of long and short term relationships, but none of them will ever live up to matrimony. For better or worse. Even if, supposedly, I had to live in with someone, it felt nothing like this. The feels are positive, mostly. The fact that you’re tied down with one woman for the rest of your life tries to hit you every now and then in a negative way, but it’s nothing you can’t shake yourself out of. The worst is when you think of your friends from the opposite sex, and you realize that you had never though of them “that way” before, but now you definitely, absolutely, positively cannot think of them in “that way” at all and you start to wonder why you hadn’t foreseen this thought?

You know how bad things happen when your expect them the least? It’s the same way with thoughts. I’d lay in bed sometimes, after I got engaged in 2011, and wonder what it would be like to be married. I wouldn’t exactly fantasize about it or anything, but I’d just try to inspect how it would feel. I would ruminate over scenarios that will probably never happen and problems and their solutions, and try to get the feel of everything. I would basically try to mentally prepare myself so I don’t get blindsided by a situation I didn’t see coming. The last question I mentioned in the paragraph prior to this did exactly that.

It’s difficult to explain. It’s actually difficult to understand. Socrates would understand. Socrates got married (to a woman at least 35 years younger than himself) and he’s famous for having said one thing about marriage, and I haven’t decided yet if I agree with what he had to say.

There’s only one thing I fear: social conditioning. I mean, Pakistani families are such assholes! I don’t want to get too deep into it, but even when people try to be nice, they’re being complete assholes. I want to take my marriage as far away as I possibly can from people. I don’t want their advice, because if they were so wise and right, more people would be happy. People try to influence other people and I am not the least bit impressionable, but I can’t say the same for my wife. I am the epitome of “in-on-ear-and-out-the-other” personality type, but even I’m not immune to what my subconscious chooses to register. Like earlier this week, someone from her extended family tried to advise us on transportation, and I was half a breath short of telling him to suck my dick. I didn’t because someone from my family had advised her on conservative dressing and she sucked it up. I needed to live up to the example she had, ever so elegantly, set for me.

That’s my only fear as far as marriage goes. I don’t want her, or myself, and our marriage to be influenced at all by this culture. Definitely not negatively, and I couldn’t care less for the positive influences. I mean, if something is meant to be, it will be, amirite?

I have never felt so complete though. I knew that it’d be great having someone to share everything with and having someone I can build memories for the rest of my life with, but I never knew how much I needed it. Putting my head down and soldiering through the thick and thin on my own for the last seven plus years, I was worried about being able to handle having someone with me all the time. It’s unbelievable how much more I’ve gotten out of it than I have had to give up, which is virtually nothing. The void that she filled in my life four years ago when I first met her had expanded infinitely and it wasn’t until she filled it again that I finally found peace & happiness.

It’s too early to say if marriage is everything I had expected it to be. Ask me again when I’m 40, and then again when I’m 60, and then again on my deathbed. I definitely intend to make it everything I ever expected it to be, more or less.

I live on a deserted island.

Not really, but I might as well be. The way I feel right now, a deserted island might actually be a much better setting than my current location. Not only because of my ceaselessly welding neighbor and the loud public transport that runs all night on an adjacent highway; but also because I would like to stare into a deep, blue (or clear) body of water. Stare into the abyss, as they say, and have the abyss stare into me.

This is probably one of the most discussed Nietzsche aphorisms ever. Lost in translation, it is supposed to read roughly like this:

“Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.”

In interpretation, the first sentence tells us that we become what we hate. We take on the traits of whatever evil deed or person or habit we pursue. The second sentence tells us how it happens. Some argue that Nietzsche clearly commands you NOT to battle with monsters, but the Hollingdale translation suggests otherwise. According to that, the first sentence says “he who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby becomes a monster.” Followers of this translation believe that Nietzsche is simply asking one to be more cautious when involving himself deeply in a conflict which is evil in nature.

I, on the contrary, always felt that this quote should be openly interpreted. It has always allowed me to learn something about someone from their explanation of it.

I never got past basic Philosophy in college, primarily because other disciplines closer to my career goals required my attention, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. Philosophy is practical poetry to me. I don’t think of things in the same terms as I once used to. Not when I’m in Pakistan at least. Burdening myself with my own thoughts is the last thing that I need. Recently, however, I haven’t been able to stop thinking of this quote.

Battle Not With Monsters:

I won’t bore you with too many “when I first came to Pakistan” stories, but this is sort of important. When I first came here, I was repulsed by the general insensitivity I witnessed everywhere. Now, this may in part be due to my particular location and company. I didn’t realize that until at least two years into my stay.  I have seen the softer, much more elegant and humane side of this country now that I’ve been here for almost four years. When I first came though, and my friends would testify to this, I was on a never ending roll about how cold hearted and thick-skinned the people around here are. The incident involving the brutal deaths of two Sialkoti boys, for example. Don’t even bother looking it up. It’s too graphic. Just take my word on the fact that the murders were public and absolutely barbaric.

Anyway, when I first came here, I fell sick a lot. I made appointments with the best doctors available and I was appalled by the lack of compassion they showed towards their patients. Something about walking into a clinic and speaking English with an American accent gets their attention, but those who don’t, basically get shafted. I often found myself in situations where I would have to take a relative or a family friend to the doctor with me. They admitted that the doctor never bothered to pay that much attention when they were being chaperoned by just a regular chap or by themselves even, for that matter. I was flattered, pleased and overwhelmed with frustration at the same time. I promised myself over and over again, that when I start practicing medicine, regardless of my demographics, I would be as generous as humanly possible towards everybody.

I am now four years into my medical education. Two of which involved actual interaction with patients in a clinical, hospital setting. Our professors don’t practice what they preach. I doubt they even consider doing so. They will tell us to be extra courteous and attentive towards the patient, the bedside manners they teach are commendable, and 10 minutes later they’ll be examining a patient while chatting on their cell phone. I should state that it’s a government hospital. Patients are provided with cheap healthcare at the cost of quality. Not to be confused with proficiency, which is still quite high, to my surprise.

I have yet to speak up against that nonchalant attitude. Whenever I witness it, I stand there and wonder why the attending would tell us something and do the exact opposite. I wonder why no one in my batch is even considering the idea of speaking up against it. In my head, I imagine telling one of my professors off and then I remember how some of them have a tendency to hold grudges against students and screw them over when exam time comes around. So I stand there, quietly. I scowl, sometimes. And while scowling, I wonder if I’ll eventually justify their behavior in my head & become what I hate.

Abyss Gazes Into You:

When we see something, we see it through the lens of our own mind. In the example above, a friend standing next to me might be perceiving the situation in a completely different context. He might be admiring the doctor’s ability to multi task, or he might be condemning the doctor’s inattentiveness to his wife on the phone. The fact that me and my friend are both perceiving the same situation differently suggests that there isn’t anything there at all. The doctor, and the patient, are a part of a void. A vacuous space which drags you in to itself. You empathize with the nothingness, you begin to fill it with things only you can comprehend and thus, you begin to view yourself through the eyes of that void. The abyss, the emptiness, stares back at you. There is nothing scarier than what it sees, because you see it too.

I just want to be myself when I get out of medical school. I want to remain in the same spirits that I came here with. I will battle not with the monsters, for I do not wish to risk becoming one. I will continue to gaze into the abyss. The abyss will save me.

Pakistan’s Democratic Delusion: A Case Against Voting.

Hold your hormones, youth of Pakistan. This post is not for the emotionally motivated, average teenager, who is so eager to bring a change that he or she will be willing to risk bringing the wrong type of it. Before you proceed, you will have to set aside your mob mentality and that false-consensus effect you carry around so pompously, feeling like an elitist political specialist because of all your social networking slogans and hashtags.

Did that sound familiar?

Good.

Here’s another assertion you might be familiar with.

You’ve been lied to! 

You stopped living in a democratic society a long, long time ago. Around 450 BC, to be somewhat precise. That was when the first, and sadly the last, democratic state was established in Athens. In Athenian democracy, candidates were chosen by lottery, a process known as sortition. This ensured that every citizen, regardless of how rich or poor, gets a chance to become a decision-maker for the people. What we have here, in Pakistan (and probably most other democratic states) is an Oligarchy. A system, where only the most powerful and monetarily influential people have the resources to run for office.

Take the next few lines with a pinch of salt. If the information in the paragraph above comes as news to you, you should abstain from voting. You owe it to the rest of us. You lack the ability vote in an informed, competent, and logical manner if you’re under the impression that you’re exercising your democratic rights. No one is saying that you don’t mean well. I, for one, am a firm believer in the fact that most of these ill-informed voters carry the best intentions. There isn’t anything wrong with being politically ignorant; as long as you don’t vote! 

Still confused? Let’s dumb it down a little further.

Suppose you were given an opportunity to elect the baker at your local pâtisserie. A select few candidates, rich enough to buy their way into the competition, came to you and talked for hours about what wonderful ingredients they would use in their confections and propelled at you every term in the book of a Cordon Bleu valedictorian. You as a mere costumer, rather than a connoisseur, had no idea what the hell they were talking about. And suppose you proceeded to vote. Wouldn’t you be voting in an uninformed manner & perhaps voting in a candidate unsuitable for the job? Wouldn’t it be better if you left the task to the handful of well-informed people who are familiar with the culinary vernacular and arts? Unfortunately, we might not even have a proportion of such people required to make a difference.

The system is flawed. You are being fed a false illusion of democracy and freedom.

If you vote, you endorse the system. 

Boycott the system. Do not vote!

When they come to question your intentions, tell them why.

 

Post Exam Post: It’s the end of the world as we know it…

…and I feel fine!

I didn’t think I could do it, but I am not half bad at starting a blog post with lyrics. Thank you, R.E.M.

It’s over. Third year exams have finally come to a slow, yet screeching halt. Unlike most medical schools in Pakistan, my university had decided against adapting to the module system. This means that we have profs, the shorthand for “professionals”: a once-a-year ordeal that assesses your ability to absorb, retain and recall information from any number of books designated to that specific year. This system has its pros and cons. I don’t find contemplating over them very entertaining, so I don’t really care. You may think about them in your own head, at your own convenience, and keep them to yourself.

Excuse me for taking off on a tangent again, but you must understand, my brain is still going haywire. I still haven’t started actually speaking in complete sentences and that maybe the reason why this blog post will be a bit longer than what you’re used to.

So, as I was saying, the exams are over. I am jaded. My family and close friends are just as relieved (if not more) as I am that the third of five gruesome rounds has come to an end. At this point, no one really cares what the result may be. I kept everyone updated on how the tests went. For those of you who weren’t in touch, it was OKAY. You must understand that we don’t have designated textbooks for subjects. The examiners are allowed to ask you anything even remotely related to the field of medicine, and you can not circumvent their questions by telling them that the information was not conveyed in the book you studied from. Pharmacology, for example, has it’s own bible, appropriately named after the author: Katzung. Anyone in the field, or close to it, would understand what you’re referring to at the sound of that name. We do have typical examination questions, but we can not look at any piece of information and say with sheer certainty that “No way! That will not be asked.” As a matter of fact, if you skip something before the exams under that assumption, it’s highly likely that you will be asked that very question the next day.

So, as I was saying, I did okay. Some of my answers to the exams made a lot of sense, whereas a few questions prompted me to pull rabbits out of my hat. It was all very magical.

Out of part habit and part tradition, I stay awake through the night immediately before the exam. I know it’s not healthy, and some have argued that it may hinder my brain’s ability to function at full capacity, but I like it. It works for me. When I walk into the examination halls, I am usually one unicorn short of a bad acid trip. I feel like I’m floating, and when that question paper falls in front of me, it is the only thing I can focus on. It becomes literally impossible for me to recognize any sounds nearby and my eyes are usually glued to the task at hand until I’ve filled both booklets with some sort of gibberish that I won’t remember past the hall’s doors.

I’m not exactly sure how to feel. Over the last few years, I’ve developed into an optimist. Or, to be more precise, I’ve started to suffer from a lack of cynicism. Does my statement contradict itself? Ponder.

So, besides the fact that my motorcycle was stolen today, on the morning before the very last exam (didn’t even have any pictures of her), and besides the fact that I suffered an injury so bad while playing basketball that I can’t even walk straight anymore, life doesn’t seem half bad. I sat down and looked back through my mind’s window over the last three weeks, and I can’t tell you how confused I am.

First of all, I’m not sure what to do with my hands anymore. I am used to holding a book in one hand, and a sandwich/cell phone/another book in the other. Secondly, I’m not sure what to do about what I have done over the past few weeks. Anyone who was not in the field of dreadful, over-burdening, ass-kicking academics, managed to fail me during my time of distress. Perhaps it was their lack of consideration, or my inability to thoroughly communicate my predicament, but people just refused to understand what I was going through. If you’re one of those people, I thumb my nose at thee! Unless I’ve done something offensive already, like curse at you and shun you out of my life, in which case you should know that I am considering apologizing. It’s highly probable and definitely not impossible if you play your cards right.

Thirdly, I plan on cleaning my fortress. My hermitage. My ivory tower. Living by myself this year was both a blessing and a curse. I had no one to revise and discuss academics with, but I had plenty of time to tend to my own needs, at my own convenience. I have, however, let a “mess” accumulate in places it shouldn’t even be found and this is high time for organization. My books are on the floor along with notes and a few writing utensils. I have books covering well over half of my bed. There are books on chairs, and on the kitchen counter. There are books on top of the fridge, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I found a few inside the fridge as well. I have books in the bathroom! As a matter of fact the only place which does NOT have books right now is my study table. It harbors my clothes. Convenience, you know.

 

Actually, to accommodate your short attention span, here’s a to-do list you can skim through and giggle at. I don’t want to be TL;DR’d in the comment box. 

1. Apologize to everyone I offended. Tell them it was exam time. For those who don’t care about exams, tell them I was dying.

2. Scrutinize the exams, the examiners, the university, our system of education and of course, the government.

3. I’m going to learn how to sleep again.

4. Catch up on some reading, once my eyes stop twitching. I have A Case of Exploding Mangoes and How It Happened on the list. Don’t judge me.

5. Find out if knitting is still cool and maybe hangout with the knitting types and knit me a sweater.

6. Catch up on some movies & TV shows I only have the urge to catch up on during exams, and never afterwards.

8. Think of number seven.

9. Reward myself with some awesome, home-made food. Despite the fact that I haven’t cooked a meal in at least eight months.

10. It’s sports week, so I’d like to play some basketball again if my injury allows it.

11. Hit an expensive mall. Drool over all the cool stuff I’ll be able to buy once everything starts to pay off. Motivation.

12. Browse the interwebs to my heart’s content! Without the slightest amount of guilt, I will dedicate one day to laying in bed and just surfing through random stuff while I chow on some insanely spicy snacks and wash them down with the darkest, unhealthiest of sodas.

13. Enjoy the sun. The rise and the set, both. A bit in between too, perhaps. I figure I still have 2 more weeks before a full blown summer meltdown.

14. Study. It’s an ugly truth and I hate to admit it, but it won’t be long before the next profs come crawling up on all four limbs, grinding their teeth, drooling at the corners for a piece of our young, tender brains.

15. It’s only appropriate that this blog post ends with lyrics from the same song it started with. It’s time I had some time alone.

 

…and I feel fine 🙂

Pakistan Day: 66 Years Later

How often does a Pakistani citizen contemplate the status quo of the state?

Every passing second.

The unsubtle reminders of a nation in turmoil are rather obvious. From the mystery surrounding the alleged suicide (alleged being the keyword) of an investigator from the National Accountability Bureau, to the relentless rolling blackouts, there is not a child in this country unaware of the current state of affairs. Corruption has been widespread. The media gate scandal, the Ephedrine quota case, the scams surrounding the rental power projects, the disappearance of NATO supplies, the railway fund embezzlement, the steel mills frauds and the list goes on. All that, with the exception of one, just last year. As corruption sees record highs in the country, the backlash is felt by the people. As unemployment rates rise with the inflation, one begins to wonder how far we really are from more cases of self immolation?

However, once you stop to think, you realize that through everything, citizens of Pakistan have stood tall in the face of adversity. Day after day. Fighting. Persevering. Flexing to the country’s needs, but never bending to the powers that be. Not always due to the lack of another option neither. Although it holds true that a few who couldn’t take it anymore chose to establish themselves anew in foreign lands, for which they can’t be blamed. There were those who left better lives to come back and help fellow Pakistanis shoulder the burden. Never has there been a nation more resilient, more supple, yet more adamant than that of Pakistan.

On this day in 1947, the first constitution was adopted, thus declaring the state a republic. Today, 66 years later, Pakistan sees its first democratic transition of power. A silver lining in the thick smog. A step towards progress. Hope, to be taken with a pinch of salt.