My Trip to Pakistan 2020 pt. 1
The last time I visited Pakistan was the same year as the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. God, I’m old.
Just give me a second to breathe… *looks in the mirror with dread*
Anyways, now that my little existential crisis is over (probably comes back tonight) I can tell you how much I missed me homeland.
Before our plane arrived at Allama Iqbal International Airport, in Lahore, we were at Abu Dhabi as our layover. It wasn’t that bad, a three-hour wait, and getting to our gate took a lot of time, especially going through security, we waited for about 10 minutes in the waiting area.
Once we officially landed in Pakistan, we had another 4-hour car ride to get to our village, which is located in Sialkot. So, once my cousins picked me and my father up, we started another journey back home. Because I did not sleep in a total of 23 hours, in a very uncomfortable seat with no leg room, or arm room, or any space for myself; I did not sleep for another 4 hours. So that is 27 hours of no sleep. Now, I don’t know about you, but back when I was a teen I could stay up for an entire day with no prior sleep. Now, I need to sleep! I don’t know how I use to do it, but I guess I’m old.
*Looks in the mirror once more.*
As true desi, we had to stop by for not only the bathroom, but a good cup of hot tea, in the freezing weather at 5 A.M while sleep-deprived, CHAI is life!
After the long saafir (journey), we arrived in our small village, and I missed it so much. The dirt road, the mile-long fields down the hill, the houses that are now built by cement instead of mud. The wild dogs (Don’t Touch!), Buffalos mooing, donkeys crying, and of course the beautiful birds cooing in the misty morning. I arrived around 8 A.M, it was cloudy and chilly too. My village that I once knew changed, it felt strangely different yet similar.
We entered the house and were immediately greeted by all my weeping relatives, my Bhari Ami (paternal aunt) hugged me tightly while scolding me for not visiting in 9 years while my Bharai Abu (paternal uncle) hugged me tightly as he lifted me off the ground. For an old man, he was strong, maybe that’s why he was a Captain in the Pakistani Army, retired now. After hugging everyone especially my Nani ma(maternal grandmother), who currently has breast cancer, I had the chance to sleep for a few hours. Home sweet home.
Once I woke up I walked around, with my cousin, he took me to meet other relatives that I haven’t met yet, which is basically 75% of the village. If I’m correct I believed my Dada (paternal grandfather) had 4 other brothers, and he himself had 4 kids, my father being the youngest. Another reason for the long-overdue visit was because of the passing of my uncle (my father’s oldest brother), and a recent cousin of mine, passing away. The sad news of multiple people passing away, and visiting some elders broke my heart. My Dada’s youngest brother is now going senile. He can understand what’s happening but he was always quoting things before the Great Migration. My Dada and Dadi (paternal grandmother) both grew up in Azad Kashmir. They migrated to a small village in Sialkot in 1947 when Pakistan gained independence from India.
I’ve never seen anyone going through something like that, seeing my the brother of my dada talking “nonsense” towards a simple yes or no questions while trying to convince him it’s time for his medicine; broke my heart honestly. If I’m correct he didn’t recognize me either (not surprised). Azhar, the cousin who took me to see my relatives (also I have tons of cousins, try to keep up), and an uncle both were trying to get him to drink his medicine and get him comfy in his bed, so he doesn’t feel cold. They tried to talk to him saying that I’m Master Muhammad Din’s grandson, he looked at me. I smiled but he continued talking about either the migration or prior to the migration. However, regardless of him speaking he looked at me very hard trying to recognize me but failed. I tried talking to him as loudly as I could, but it was pointless. Later the same day I’ve met my Nana Abu (maternal grandfather) and from what my mom told me he had a stroke a few months back, so his left part of the body is paralyzed (currently in therapy as of this writing). A lot of sadness in one day. It broke my heart to see relatives like this, it wasn’t easy to manage but I had to go on. I only had a month to see the places I wanted to see, so everywhere we went we had to quickly go and quickly move on.
When the sun was going down, Safdar (Azhar’s older brother), took a big pot, some woods, and some ghee to pour onto the wood to start a fire. The sky turned from light blue to a darker blue, eventually, the sky became black and we were greeted with the presence of red flames. It was nice. The fire warmed us as the cold tackled us from all sides; the kids were especially enjoying my company, so much so they wouldn’t leave me alone. Where ever I go the little devils want to be next to me. It was nice listening to stories near a fireplace, never had that experience before.
The same night the phone rang and it was my oldest Khala (maternal aunt), she informed me to come and visit them in Rawalpindi, the twin city of Islamabad. We agreed and our next stop on my trip was Rawalpindi!