Thank you Pakistan.
Thanks for the randomness and haphazard quality of everyday life,
And the goofy absurdity everywhere visible,
All manner of climates and scenery, from the tallest peaks to dense forests to burning deserts, all a road trip away,
The most comfortable, best ventilated national dress ever,
Unimaginable diversity of population, opinions, cultures, religions, creeds,
A history that stretches back to the beginnings of known civilization,
One of the best bowling attacks the world has ever seen,
The greatest squash players the world has ever seen,
Mad skills with a hockey stick or a snooker cue,
Chapli kebab, mutton karahi, lamb chops, charsi tikkay, nihari, halwa puri, jalebi, gannay ka juice, mango achaar, and on and on,
Pepsi or Coke being served almost as a holy tonic during social gatherings,
A local version of Gandalf the Grey watching over us hobbits in Abdul Sattar Edhi,
Scientists of international acclaim,
The otherworldly vocal stylings of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,
The rockstarness of Junoon, Awaz, Vital Signs, etc.,
Men wearing chappals and tucking their dress shirts into their jeans which are raised up to their ribcages,
The inexplicable allure of a woman in hijaab,
The old school TV serials of PTV,
The spinning long haired dhol walas on weddings,
The sudden burst of personal tax-free income experienced on Eid,
The vulgar yet profound wisdom on the backs of trucks, rickshaws, and taxis,
The motorcyclists who fancy themselves as surfers,
The truck drivers who fancy themselves as F1 racers,
The equality you offer to cars, buses, trucks, vans, donkey-carts, rickshaws, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, cows, dogs, and cats on your roads,
The silent geniuses tucked deep away as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, musicians, entrepreneurs,
One of the largest cellular networks in the world, with arguably the most interesting customized ringtones,
The most entertaining theories used to explain everyday life,
The mystical and ancient ether you are dipped in, filled with fables and black magic and superstition,
The strength and resilience of the common man to keep on going despite facing unbelievable odds,
The opportunities for personal growth and expansion you offer your citizens, if they are willing to take ’em on,
Thank you for all this and more.
I have a confession to make: I used to hate you. You were always distant, confusing, very darned frustrating, and not a good motherland when it came to providing for me. But recently I’ve come to realize that I was looking at it all wrong; you’re my mother but you’re also my child. I owe you as much as you owe me. More, even.
You are going through tough times – assholes have taken over and painted you with their hate, greed, selfishness, fear, for some decades now. But you are strong, your powers are ancient, a few decades is a short time in your history, and these growing pains that you are now feeling will pass too. Of this I have no doubt. Nothing in the world is permanent, and the hurt you are afflicted with is no exception. I don’t have the power to solve all your problems, but I do have the power to be the sort of citizen that you can be proud of. And that is my resolution to you.
You’re ridiculously weird, but I love you. Happy birthday.