Because I am a Pakistani
By Sajeer Shaikh
March 26, 2015
One day, I will end up six feet under the ground, just like everyone else. If I die of natural causes, my spirit will depart with no regrets or complaints. But I will not, because I am a Pakistani.
Only the old die of natural causes here. Some day, I will be gunned down or be ripped apart in an explosion. I might be kidnapped, tortured or left to die. I might have my body bathed in acid. I might be the unintentional victim in a crossfire or the celebratory firing that takes place after a cricket match. I might die of starvation, or of eating food unfit for human consumption. I might be drugged, poisoned or cut into pieces and stored in a sack. I might be drowned. Why? Because I am a Pakistani.
I no longer find it safe to set foot outside my house after 11pm. I am afraid to travel long distances in buses. I fear for my life if I am carrying too much money. I feel uncomfortable wearing jeans with a T-shirt. I cannot decide if it is wiser to be a Muslim or a Christian in this country, because places of worship are blown apart either way. I look at every man wearing a helmet on a motorcycle with suspicion and check for a gun. I fear going to my university because educational establishments are now seen as potential targets. I visit my Christian grandfather’s grave with caution because the graveyard has broken walls and angry men surrounding it. I visit my Muslim grandfather’s grave with trembling feet because it is in a solitary graveyard that has become a hub for burglars and drug addicts.
One of these days, I might fall prey to the attacks in my country. I will be buried in the graveyard I fear visiting. I will be gone and soon, I will be forgotten. However, I will not forget. I will not forget if I had to stare down the barrel of a gun and beg for my life. I will not forget if I had to lie curled up in a foetal position, having my life trickle out of my body in the form of blood. I will not forget the burn of the acid, the taste of the poison and the piercing of the knife. I will not forget the heat during the explosion and the bloodcurdling screams. I will not forget and I will not forgive.
Every religion preaches forgiveness, but there comes a time when forgiveness is no longer the answer. There is no room for forgiveness, as far as justice is concerned. The finger that pulls the trigger and the hand that throws the acid or grips the knife must be cut. There is no other way. I, too, have heard that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. However, the world we live in is blind enough as it is. There is a fine line between justice and revenge. A murderer being hanged for his actions is justice. A burglar being burned alive is revenge, bordering on insanity. If I did die due to unnatural causes, I would not be at rest till justice was served. I fear, however, that I would never be at rest. Why? Because I am a Pakistani.
Sajeer Shaikh is a 19-year-old medical student dedicated to creative writing and poetry