I have never been politically inclined before. Not conversationally, not even in terms of keeping up. As far as I was concerned, this was a bad period that didn’t merit more than the most superficial of thoughts and one day, when things would change, become cleaner and more fair (heard of utopia, anyone?) I would be more interested to delve into its depths.
Hope is a funny bird. It really does sing to your soul and what not. And as the May 11 date inches closer earlier this month, a wave (i will NOT say tsunami) swept through so many of us. I have never read so many articles in my life and neither have I broken my own Facebook rules an indulged in insistent arguments and been unnecessarily rankled. Obviously, something was at stake here.
Mind you I have always voted. Lesser evil. Idealistic hoping, mere exercise of civil right, I have done it all, used every excuse. But this time was different. The vote felt heavy, like it counted for something, even if it was something as abstract as hope. Friends from abroad were constantly messaging saying how sad they were to be missing out on these historic elections, how much they prayed for a better Pakistan. I realized yet again how lucky at that point I felt, to be here, to be somewhat part of this infinitesimal change that we initiated. I don’t know if we will live to see this shift in our lifetime, but perhaps it is enough for the hoping soul to know you tried.
Standing in line that morning was so empowering. Making new friends who were so similar in their earnest belief that because we lived here, we had to be the ones who kept trying and hoping. Even updating Facebook took on an urgency- that the world was watching. That if you could somehow keep that energy up and pass on a message, report an unfairness, you had done your job as a citizen of Pakistan. We get such few chances to actually feel that- it was a proud moment.
Perhaps all morning afters are an anti climax. Post a great party. Post the fun. Post the hope. As the tiger roar echoed the next morning and a new bout of articles started pouring in and the rigging dharnas started. Till earlier this year, I had not even heard of the word dharna and now it is the protest du jour. They called ours the burger awakening. The elite are finally waking up, one article mocked, because the bombs are going off in their neighbourhood. Not true really. The bombs came this side a long time ago. I think the awakening happened because we finally found someone who may not have been saying exactly what we wanted him to, but he was definitely speaking our dialect.
The post election detox has been hard. I find myself literally stamping down the urge to fire off a response to an update or conversation that I happen to catch. We all have such invested, important views on everything. I wish I could bottle this fervour because we need regular doses of it. This feeling of being completely swept away by whats happening around you is an important one, because it consumes you and when you finally resurface for a breather, you realize that whether you wanted it or not, whether you needed it or not, something already changed.