Thoughts by Bahadar Ali

March 25, 2010

The Little Girl Goes to Meena Bazaar

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 1:25 pm

You were happy, joyful when your mummy decided to take you to the market. It felt so surreal as you imagined about the that small doll in a shop with blue eyes and blonde hair enticed you last time. You were sure to make your mother to get it for you that day. You ran the tap to wash your face, combed your hair and secretly you applied mummy’s lipstick too, very light though. A second thought, you wiped it out lest somebody elder might scold you. But that pink shade refused to go away and you rubbed it hard only to get your lips further red. Your worry to get noticed soon faded when your mother called you to get ready quickly. You ran over the small pool of water on the floor hurriedly, splashed making your clothes wet. Your eye brows raised and with a huffing sound, you reached to the shoe rack and picked the matching shoe pair from second to the top row. You thought, you looked great, and indeed great you looked, like a fairy!

The auto rickshaw driver was reckless in driving. When he would drive by the tongas and tried to pass the big moving trucks, sometime you would close your eyes out of fear of crash. Your mummy felt that, she squeezed you closer and hugged you to assure that all was fine. Soon you troubles got buried when auto entered the main bazaar of the market. You saw your mummy counted the fare-money three times before she gave it to the auto driver. Careful she was!

After you got down from the vehicle, the driver sped it to another waiting passenger only throwing behind smell of gasoline and thick smoke right across your face. You coughed. And started walking behind your mummy. The bazaar was dusty but the excitement to get to your favourite shop was overwhelming. There were too many women standing on the stalls of street vendors and walking passing by the glittering shops of clothing, jewelry and bangles. You were so much absorbed into the exciting surroundings that your mother after asking you few times to walk with her, decided to hold your hand and you felt that she was dragging you. “Slow down Ammi, I can’t walk that fast”, you cried. She took you to a small restaurant where she let you sit and ordered some samosas soaked in your favourite sweetened red sauce and yummy yogurt. You were sipping your Pepsi when she asked you to get up and took you inside a cloth shop. You thought your Mummy was too picky, she was asking the sales boy to open one role after other of a less expensive cloth. You felt bored and in effort to do something. You started to mimicking your mother and in the same tone you said,”Acha bhai, woh wala kapra dikhao”. Your mummy smiled and felt your boredom, she picked one of the cloth sheet and ordered it to wrapped. While sales boy was packing it, she told you gently, that to anybody elderly call him ‘uncle’. You cheerfully nodded feeling that now, finally, you would steer your mother to your favourite doll-shop.

This time you held your mummy’s hand and pointed to the doll-shop. Your mummy smiled and started walking in that direction. While you were walking, your mother was looking over to some handicraft shops, but you would never let her stop on any of it. You started thinking as how your friend would also love your doll, because you told her so much about it when last time you visited the market with your mummy and khala ( aunt), three months ago. You smiled over the thought. Then while you were still on your way to the shop, when you saw two ‘uncles’ driving a white big car very fast in the rush of people and you thought they might knock you off. You screamed out of fear and pulled the hand of your mummy who was looking on the other side. The ‘uncles’ car narrowly missed you and your mother. You saw your mother’s face turned pale. Then you hear loud noises of gun-battle just like you saw that in a TV program last week. Your mother hurriedly pushed you on the road and rolled herself all over you. Your head bumped against the road and was hurting, you cried in pain but your mother would cover your eyes and face with her hands and asked you to stay there. Then all of a sudden there was a loud explosion, you felt something very hot hit your ankle and it seemed your heart stopped beating and your ears couldn’t listen anymore. The nearby shops also turned into rubble. Soon it was all over dark in your head!

Some time might have passed when you opened your eyes again. In the hazy light you saw somebody was trying to pull your from your shoulders. Soon a severe pain hit you in your left leg. You screamed and screamed calling your mummy who was not covering your eyes and face anymore with her hands. She was no where around! It was hard to breath and stinking smell was there all over. Even in the extreme pain your eyes were searching for your mummy. When all of a sudden you saw your mummy sleeping on the road covering her body with white cloth which had big red patches here and there. You could see her half-covered face with some blood spot on the left cheek and long line of blood starting from her ear and still dripping on her neck. You cried” Pick up my mummy, she is hurt, I want to go to my mummy, leave me”. But then somebody picked you up and started walking to an ambulance. On your way you saw so many other women and girls were also sleeping under the same white cloth as your mother had one. Before they put you in the van, you saw the same blue-eyed doll on the road and her legs and beautiful hair got burned. Barely you could still see its smiling face when all of a sudden your head walked back into the darkness, and you felt nothing afterwards!

( Six months later )

It was a nice sunny day outside. Your khala called you from the kitchen to get up. You got up lazily and tried to drag yourself to the other end of the bed, somebody parked your chair with big wheels on the wrong side of the bed. Four months ago when doctors sent you home from hospital they told your father that you would be using that big wheels chair for the rest of your life because they had to cut your leg from the ankle after that big explosion day. Your mother never got back home again. Everyone told you that she has gone to “Allah Mian”. You wonder, she just wanted to go to the market to buy her the doll, how come she instead went to “Allah Mian”? This makes you cry, you miss her. You miss your friends too, who no longer play with you because you can’t run and walk like them.


March 9, 2010

Medium Double Double

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 2:36 pm

Canada with its family immigration policies turns out to be a rather unique and interesting country in the world. Geographically it occupies the second largest land mass in the world after Russia. Due to severe winters and arctic weather condition, the majority of its cities and towns are tipped on the South along the US border. US obsession is high, to the extent that Canadians know and have seen more of the US than the US citizens theirself. They plan their vacations and shopping mostly from border US cities. Canadians are so obedient that they are one of the top oil producers but their crude oil first travels to the US, the big brother refines it and sell us back the gasoline at a cost 30 percent more than what they charge from their own public. Canadian weather networks predict equally the forecast of US and Canadian cities but our Southern neighbour, actually we have only one neighbour beside Santa in the North, don’t care about us. Having said so, Canada and its neighbour is not my subject today. Today I am focusing on a special community among Canadians.

The community under consideration starts their Canadian journey with small French Vanilla and matures it with the medium double double at one of the popular coffee chain called Tim Hortons. At this point their kids touch adolescence pushing back nervous parents with Tetley brand of karak chai (tea) and sleepless nights. You have guessed it right I am alluding to, the Pakistani-Canadian immigrant community. By the way, the term Pakistani-Canadian is not a fair term, it is something like (4 x Pakistani)-Canadian.

A Pakistani-Canadian, becomes Canadian only to get the passport to travel freely around the world. And interestingly the big dreams tied with this passport; they use it only to travel between Pakistan and Canada, which they could have done even without it. Also, Desi, a term used for South Asians, would only travel to places where he/she has some friend or relative, so travel to exotic locations like Rome, Greece, France, Caribbean and Egypt is out of question, because unfortunately they seldom have any relatives there.

This community is the biggest patron of small grocery stores and construction industry here in Canada. We’ll analyze that in a moment. But first, the members of this community get polished in terms of their dressing, eating and language. But here a caution must be observed. Please never be fooled with their English language mastery or branded clothing, the head they carry remains as pure; as untouched, as it was brought here from Pakistan. It only further gets enriched with a plethora of conspiracy theories about 9/11 and a thought process coupled with unique intellect level that never takes any cultural buoyancy than their fellow homosapiens living in Gujranwala or Lala Musa has.

Among culturally very diverse society they still stand out by the display of their religious fervor. Just for instance among all the communities, i.e., Christians’ Christmas, Hindus’ Divali and Holi, Jewish Sabbath and Yom Kippur, Buddhist Vesak never heard of having any issue with the day of celebration but Pakistani community’s intensity of religious respect stretches beyond one single consensus day; two Eids, almost always, and even three Eids is also not uncommon in one city. During this course they never worry about the fact that our neighbours, the US, launched their first man on moon in 1969, which this community struggles every year just to get a glimpse of it!

The religiosity is never confined to the celebration only, rather this community for the enrichment and purification of their soul keeps calling holy Islamic men and women by providing them first class plane tickets and then on their arrival mutual showering starts. The holy men and women from Pakistan shower their hosts with blessings only to be showered back with Canadian goodies and dollars. So both parties get what they lack! After the holy guys depart and under the spell that they casted upon them, the lesser mortal’s change of heart procedure starts taking place. Do they become good human beings? May be, as good is a relative terms. But they definitely become more attentive to the ‘nasty designs’ of the New World Order, pull new threads out of the existing conspiracy theories about 9/11 and attributing Tsunami disaster to the mischief of under ocean US nuclear tests. They start paying even more attention to one of its kind, the Aamir Liaqat Hussain’s program Alam-Online and become avid follower of Zahid Hamid’s Ghazwa-e-Hind scheme. I am not sure, under the teachings of the imported holy men, they ever become better with neighbours or colleagues but for sure their progeny ( kids ) never like the holy guys pilgrimage to Canada. Specially girls, as this would only add one more layer to their hijab and for boys one more nimaz, specially nimaz-e-fajar.

Talking of kids upbringing, the parents of growing age children spend their life in a perpetual struggle to keep their kids away from the harmful effects of ‘mother-pidar azad’ society. They devise many techniques in this regard. Some of them, specially for girls, before they touch adolescence send/take them to Pakistan; only add to the confusion of an already confused kid who spent their entire childhood living and observing with the contradictions of all sort. To ward off the cultural invasion, others start praying more regularly and swap Indian music tracks in their cars and homes with the religous sermons of Farhat Hashmi or Maulana Tariq Jamil which the intended audience, their kids, finds more soothing to catch up their sleep which they lost during the night long mobile phone conversation with their respective boy/girl friends. Parents try to infuse a religious-culture in their homes for teen age kids which they theirself hardly could comprehend after the age of 50 years and through this they expect that kids would stay immune from the impact of the society outside. An unsuccessful fight against human nature and instincts ensues. Or more appropriately living in a bubble phenomenon starts. The character building phase focuses a close watch on the physical activities because that is how character is defined back home. One is a person of impeccable character if pray, holds no promiscuous behviour but no worries about fibbing, dishonesty and lack of integrity. The young lads, fully follow this character syndrome. They do what is needed and then don’t accept it. Parents get relieved that their hard work payed off. After all, they came here for the sake of their children, at least most of them want you to believe that. Nobody would say, that they came here to kill the inherited hunger and poverty, which the great state of Pakistan offered them back-home.

( Continued … )

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