Utopia For Me.. Pieces Of My Heart

Posted on March 12, 2008
Filed Under >Raza Rumi, Disasters, Politics, Religion, Society
34 Comments
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Raza Rumi

Karta hun jama phir jigare lakht lakht ko
(I seek to gather the scattered pieces of my heart)

PakistanNot long ago, say two decades ago, we the Zia’s children yearned for a country that treaded the Malaysian path for prosperity; and somehow were to transform a tolerant, inclusive society. Such were the dizzying dreams. We wanted the Hudood laws to vanish, the witch-hunt under the blasphemy laws to end and sectarian-ethnic monsters buried. We were inspired by the likes of Mohtarama, for some the charitable cricketer appeared the redeemer. The road to utopia also emerged when a bus took off from the other side of the border and landed in Lahore. The brothers Sharifov became new faces of a moderate, booming Pakistan. Mr. Vajpayee’s chant on the ancient roads of Lahore,

“ab jang nahee ho gi”

was enough to willingly suspend our disbelief. For many a precious day, we forgot the corruption stories, the political squabbles and incompetence all around.

And then the utopia signs dwindled as the battles on the white peaks of Kargil turned red, a VVIP plane hijacked re-invoking the sorry state of martial rule. We could not live without the dream however. So the new goals — accountability, devolution and economic miracles — weaved a new chador of delusions. Like that mythical chador, this new age of globalised Pakistan made reality invisible. We had technocratic solutions spun once again and the opening up of imperial coffers gave us a false sense of moving towards the dream-path.

Yet again, the ideal was snatched and smashed as the myriad myths of unequal development started exploding with imported and local bombs.

This time my utopia seems painfully distant, blurred. I have forgotten what it was. It slipped from the vision when the suicide bombers started visiting the idyllic Islamabad. I now suffer from a mild amnesia. I don’t know what I hoped for in those naive, uninformed days when Faiz’s Hum dekhain ge outlined its contours; and the daagh daagh ujala was destined to transform into sheer resplendence of a vibrant society future.

How do I gather the slipping grains of what was the cherished utopia. I had heard that human memory vistas theoretically are seamless and clear. But that vision of those vast green fields is now blood-stained. Suicide bombers are omnipresent and my dear friend in Waziristan tells me that the queue is long and restive. The streets of Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi are potted with excess blood choking the civilization arteries. The vacant Liaquat Bagh a haunting shrine where many come to share the loss of a vision. A vision, tainted by cynicism, slander and murder, not once but twice over.

The floating limbs of ticket-holders to heaven have created a temporal hell. First, it was the mosque, then the eid-gah and now a janazah prayer. It used to be the army post, then a bazaar and now it’s under the banyan tree where Gautama and his followers found peace; and Khanqahs thrived on its lasting shade. The paths with Ashoka’s footprints are infested with land-mines. Indus, the mighty nourisher, is mixed with suffering. Urban life has turned into a quest for personal security — the ‘ideal’ existence where one is simply not dead!

But this fear of death does not bother me. What haunts me is the deeper decay of a polity that started with a high note. The old has crumbled and the new is not there. But then pessimism is useless and nihilism is nothing but the ultimate denial of being.

The recent awakening of urban Pakistan now provides the silver lining. It points towards a long road towards my utopia that will comprise a country with enough oxygen, expression and free of scary little gods. It would also mean that poverty will have to be eliminated, not just reduced, alleviated or targeted. Here inequality would be unacceptable and not a way of life (as I have grown up with it).

In this world, heritage would not be dismissed or reduced to food streets. In this Utopia, citizenry would be at the forefront and will lead the country into a new era where the bitterness of the past would be nothing more than lessons for the days to come.

And I want to walk freely. Pray in a mosque when I am required to without the fear that someone would enter with dreaming of the other-world. I want my children to grow up in an environment that is not plagued by the toxicity of consumerism and emptiness of a historical world. I don”t want those old trees to disappear taking along the music of koels and calls of enlightenment. I want my utopia to be free of de-humanisation, devoid of nuclear balances and imbalances and cacophony of jingoism.

Above all, my utopia is where the centuries of mystical thought, bhakti and love for fellow human beings are paramount. Only such a world can be free of greed, revenge and terror. This is a utopia where Mohammad’s egalitarianism backed by the hama-oost of the Sufis shall reclaim the footsteps of Gautama, Nanak and Bulleh Shah.

Is it possible to dream again when the memory has to be rediscovered and dreams re-scripted. When will those pieces of my heart gather together?

A version of this article earlier appeared in The Daily News

Photos for this article are taken from flickr.com

34 responses to “Utopia For Me.. Pieces Of My Heart”

  1. Aamir says:

    Arjun:

    Muslims kings in India defeated Hindu kings and established kingdoms. It took the British to liberate the Hindus and eventually bring them back to power, however the Hindus have never gotten over their defeat and domination of the Muslim period. That is how we see it, of course you have your “Hindu” point of view.

    Pervez the Indian Muslim:

    Your claims about killing of 30 lakh Bengalis is false propaganda by India. It is true that Pakistan is a struggling state, it is also true that Indian Muslims are third class citizens of India, one example can be the re-election of Mr Narendra Genocidal Modi.

    The gloating of the Indians on Pakistan’s predicament is evident, and expected.

  2. Arjun says:

    “Arjun: You are right. In relative terms Pakistan could and should do better than India. Also an absence of Indian hegemony towards Pakistan would help. We have to look into the past one hundred years of Indian hostilities to explain all. When did Indians agree to the political and economic rights of Muslims of British India? At what point India stopped being a military threat to Pakistan? When did India stop its relentless efforts to isolate Pakistan politically and economically in the international arena? For you the success is to be economically, politically and militarily strong. For us the measure of success is to be able to survive in spite of insermountable threats from across the border.”

    Pervaiz, I’ve already said what I wanted to say in my comment. If you enjoy tilting against windmills, please yourself – and keep paying your army to run your country.

    If you ever see history and experiences from an Indian point of view, you will see that Islam has always been trying to conquer us and convert us for the last thousand years. And we have resisted. If you read history from the Indian point of view, you will read that all aggression has always been from the Muslim/West Asia or from China, that Pakistan wants Kashmir, Pakistan wants Islam spread over India, Pakistan wants India broken up into a thousand pieces (these are all actual quotes from your leaders by the way). Now you tell me what I should believe. And it’s a fact that religious minorities are mistreated in Islamic societies (try being a HIndu and praying in Saudi Arabia – it’s punishable by death). So let’s not pretend that Pakistan and its “brother” countries are innocent lambs and India which is standing alone against a thousand years of aggression and constant attempts even today is an aggressor.

  3. pervez says:

    As an Indian Muslim, here are my 2 cents on what I think about the situation in Pakistan.

    I think Pakistan failed to live up to the true spirit of Islam. I am relatively quite young and don’t know history quite that much, but whatever I have read online about Pakistani history, according to me two incidents stand out:

    1. Killing of 3 million (30 lacks) Bengali Muslims in the Bangladesh war by Pakistani Army.
    2. Pakistani Hindu population statistics (15% in 1947 to 0.5% in 2007)

    I think that these two incidents sum up how Pakistan has gone against the true message of Islam. Mind you I am not qualified enough to say that Pakistan has all the blame in both these points, maybe the circumstances in the Bangladesh war were too much compulsive or maybe Pakistani Hindus voluntarily changed their religion in massive amounts, I dont know. All I know is that I just cannot reconcile with the fact that Allah has not blessed an Islamic nation that was formed specially for Islam. And when I try to think why Allah is displeased, my limited intellect and information lead me to the above two points. I think the burden of these is too heavy to bear for a nation.

    I apologize in advance if I hurt someone. I pray to Allah for forgiveness for the entire Ummah.

  4. Atif Sheikh says:

    Beautiful poetic prose, and full of pathos.
    I share your dream.

  5. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:

    Arjun: You are right. In relative terms Pakistan could and should do better than India. Also an absence of Indian hegemony towards Pakistan would help. We have to look into the past one hundred years of Indian hostilities to explain all. When did Indians agree to the political and economic rights of Muslims of British India? At what point India stopped being a military threat to Pakistan? When did India stop its relentless efforts to isolate Pakistan politically and economically in the international arena? For you the success is to be economically, politically and militarily strong. For us the measure of success is to be able to survive in spite of insermountable threats from across the border.

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