My political leanings may have changed, but I still love you BB
I remember a woman who tried to make Pakistan better, was mostly sincere, but maybe did not succeed.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that she was a woman. She was a flame snuffed out much before it’s time….an everlasting Shakespearean tragedy. Perhaps, the candle in the wind. Maybe it is because I am a Sindhi, and somewhere it is in my blood and bones to have a soft corner for the Bhuttos (please leave the Zardari clan out of that allegiance).
Maybe it was her grace and eloquence. Maybe she was the rebel against forces of oppression that I wanted to be when I grew up.
She was my hero when I was an emotional little school girl with a scrap book of photographs that had cut-outs of BB’s pictures from various newspapers. Benazir Bhutto was a thin, frail, lone crusader who was fighting a battle against the formidable Zia. She won over the hearts and minds of people by the millions. That is when I fell in love with BB.
That love has not fizzled out. Today, it is five years since that horrific day when we lost her at the hands of a shocking act of cowardice. And it still slows down my inner pace and I have inward moments of silence when I think of her. Benazir Bhutto is still important to me. In my heart, I have a maternal sense of protection when her children are criticised. A voice inside me thinks of her children who do not have a normal life, they did not choose to be the children of their parents, and did not choose to be placed on alters either.
Just like BB once wrote:
"….This is not the life I chose; it chose me.”
While my love for BB has not changed, my political leanings have. In her life and times, before she actually came into power in particular, I, as a childish and myopic idealist, believed that everything should be painted red.
I thought that PPP’s brand of politics was the answer to the woes of the Pakistanis.
I thought that BB’s coming into power would mean everything restrictive this nation had suffered at the hands of dictatorship would be washed away. A new tomorrow. As a school girl, I knew too little and dreamt too much.
BB, beauty and grace in a female form with a signature white scarf covering her head, as she was sworn in. I won’t forget that day. I don’t wish to. But I wish to God I could forget the many disappointments that followed; the corruption, the scandals, and her inability to live up to the dreams of those who were responsible for bringing her into power. The disillusionment that our BB, an emblem of courage, would cave into forces that pressured her -- forces known but not named.
I watched out hawkishly at her political graph throughout those years, wishing I could be apathetic, but was unable to be so. The first tenure, power snatched away; the second tenure, her time away from home.
What about her growing children?
BB in the UK, BB in Dubai.
Like millions of those who loved her, I waited and watched, breath abated, hoping one day she would fight all forces of evil and be the answer to our prayers once again. That if she got another chance, she would have learnt her lesson. That she was still a better option compared to the others. For no matter what, BB stood for democracy. Her tenures, despite the disappointments, had shown considerable improvements in certain areas that were close to her heart – health, education, and more women-friendly legislations and development work.
Through it all, BB remains BB for me. I cringe when her name is taken disrespectfully. The day of her death is a slow and sad day for me.
When I look back at the last three months of 2007, I remember her return to Karachi with Imam Zamin tied to her arm on one side and her tear-filled eyes on the other. Her hands were raised towards the skies, in what I believe was a genuine, earnest dua (prayer) thanking God for her return home. When I reminisce, my heart becomes sore, as grief overcomes and a sort of sadness completes me.
A resplendent looking BB, a bit heavy-set, ready to take on the mantle again, in a purple dress, garlanded, climbing the rickety stairs leading to the stage, shouting hoarsely, snuffed out moments later.
Killed...BB becoming yet another name in the list of unfortunate young dynastic politicians gone too soon.
I still believe in democracy, though I may not have blind faith in her party anymore. And when I speak in the first person, I speak for many Pakistanis who I know have gone through the same metamorphosis. Allegiances and loyalties can be diehard but only up to a point. After that, sensibility and the inherent human mechanism of self-defence take over.
BB has gone. My love for her has not. For even though now I will vote not for the arrow but will vote for “change” as they are calling it, I know that when we lost her, we lost one of Pakistan’s most beautiful minds. She meant well. For me, she is not the saint they are making out of her at Garhi Khuda Bukhsh.
For me, it is a woman who tried to make this country better, and was sincere for the most part, but maybe did not succeed too well. For me, she is forever loved, forever missed.
Read more by Farahnaz here or follow her on Twitter @FarahnazZahidi