Memories are ephemeral –
I just finished a reading for class tomorrow titled “Pakistan – Democracy After Islamisation”. It presented its own summary of Pakistan’s history, a timeline that was slightly amusing but interesting at certain places. Events kept unfurling, events that I recalled from the pages of my Nigel Kelly textbook for Pakistan Studies, events once scribbled down so that I could regurgitate in seven or fourteen mark answers, but then came events that have some vivid memories associated with them.
It was just another academic reading – until it reached 2007. For some reason, 2007 is the year from where I recall a sense of having ‘felt’ Pakistan’s ‘political’ landscape. Benazir Bhutto’s return, those whispers – “isse maar dein ge, kyun aayi hai” (they’ll kill her, why has she come), Lal Masjid, Musharraf’s resignation, all a mess in my head. Those neat summaries were irritating as I struggled to stop and recollect, stop and recollect, stop and recollect.
Then came the most vivid recollection of all – a painful shriek. This is the memory I have from 27th December, 2007 – the day Benazir Bhutto was assassinated – that day when a fear became reality.
I remember when she had landed in Karachi some days before that – had been attacked through a bomb blast – 18th October, 2007. I’d woken up in the middle of the night on 18th October, 2007, had gone to my mother, snuggled up to her, when she told me that there would be no school tomorrow. Why? Benazir’s rally had been attacked. That feeling of relief that there was no school – washed away only partially by a feeling of fear for her.
And 27.12.2007 – that painful shriek of a mother who came rushing to the stairs of our apartment block – mera beta, mera beta! – my father opening the door, going out in a frenzy, her frantic cry – Benazir ko maar diya hai!
Benazir, killed in Rawalpindi. Her son, on his way home from office in Karachi. Her worry – he would get killed in the violence on this city’s streets that had already begun raging. Violence that brought fear that we could sense, that I had begun to hate. Fear that crept into my heart just by watching those angry mobs on a television screen, thrashing people, burning tyres, attacking anything and everything. Fear that led us to close all the doors, lock all the windows, switch off all the lights, draw all the curtains – our apartments were under siege.
Outside, my parents whispered, was anger threatening to come in. Or it had come in. It did come in, had removed some tyres of some cars, had been requested to leave – no other damage, but it was anger that was still hungry, anger on the search for more and more.
But these are memories, and memories come with their distinct tinge of feelings that can never be captured by mere summaries in academic texts.