I am from the land of five waters. Five waters run in my veins, course through my blood. Where rice fields and Chitrali topis coexist, where melodic voices and metaphorical phrases flow through the tongue, where garments are long and loose and colorful.
I am from a land of voices multiple. From a land where different tongues harmonize and produce languages of unity. Our skin is painted with a brush of strength and tenacity; thick-skinned, strong-willed, loud, loving, proud, gracious, hospitable, rough people. People whose courage has been tried through and through, yet prevailing is in our blood. Ancestors who rode through deserts and plateaus and mountains and across rivers on the backs of rugged horses. The blood of adventure runs through me. The blood of revolutionaries runs through me. The blood of whose who submitted.
And those ancestors, those forefathers, the history of my people have been erased. The history of Islam in Pakistan is long and winded and confusing. Through corrupting leaders and people who have encased the deen into a box of confusion, bida’, and secularism, Islam in Pakistan is all but in its name. History of Islam in Pakistan is furthermore lost. There is no pride from being descendants of great Muslim rulers; there is no gheerah of the deen; there is no love left. The erasure of Muslim history has been great, and it has served to orientalize the Muslims themselves, perpetually increasing internalized hatred, and created generation after generation of more secularized and unaware people. Pakistan is a country of regionalism; the nation is divided into four official provinces, and two semi-autonomous regions. Each province is based around an ethnolinguistic group of people; the diversity is immense. The advent of Pakistan as a nation-state, however, has disseminated these differences and created a nation that is “united” somewhat under the name “Pakistan.” In so many ways, Pakistanis do not know the history of the land, the history of the peoples, the history of atrocities, the history of successes, and so on. I am lost. Lost in how to engage with lost history, lost in creating links to this history, lost within my own people.
I am from the land of the mighty Indus, where the Indus lends its life to others, from the land of rice fields and Chitrali topis, from the land where tea is most important, from the land where truck stops are the soul, from the land of lost tongues, from the land of distilled opportunity, I am from the land of metaphors, from the land of migration, from the land of deserts and plateaus and rivers than run through mountains. I am from the land of those who have been lost, from the land of those who have been painted with a brush of impurity, from the land where people live in mud houses and cemented walls, from the land where food is a love affair, from the land where we wear loose and long and colorful garments, garments that weave our soul through the threads. I am from the land of motifs. I am from the land of sitar and rubab and dholak. I am from the land of khattak and bhangra and nur sur, from the land of date trees that don’t ripen, monsoon seasons that don’t end, blazing suns that shine evermore, and moons with light that captivates even the least romantic. I am from the land of lost empires and lost peoples, from a land where purpose is secondary to duty, where minds break through chains. I am from the land of shrines and Mast Qalandar, from the land of Sufism and spirituality, I am from the land of gulab jamun and falooda. I am from the land of embroidery and charpays, from the land of dupattas and mehndi. I am from the land where leaves are wide and plants are strong, from the land of walnut trees and apricot pits, from the land of dusty skies and clear gazes. I am from the land of jasmine flowers and green tea, from the land of figs and crowded gulleys, from the land where sublimity rests in every corner. I am from the land of abandoned railroads, tracks that aren’t tread, and roads that lead to everywhere. I am from the land of a thousand tongues, from the land of a thousand tribes, from the land of enunciating sounds and wistful melodies. I am from the land of tailors on every street, where love and wisdom and knowledge are communal. I am from a land of poetry, of hard hearts, of creativity. I am from a land where love is a language taught through haya, from a land where souls run free through waves of courage, I am from a land where people are trusted, where corner shops run the streets, I am from a land where people live. I am from a land of people who have submitted. I am from a land of purity.