2011: A new start on the dark streets
Maybe someday we will learn to be happy too and light up our skies – one can only hope...
It’s hard to leave the past behind and start the new year with renewed hope when it ends on a nationwide strike and begins on dark streets that depict nothing less than fear and gloom. It’s a struggle to be happy here, even when the day demands so.
I had much sympathy for myself and this country on New Year’s Eve as I tried to find my way home amid containers that had blocked the roads.
The street lights had been switched off, all restaurants were closed, and every motorcyclist that passed instilled a sense of fear, as the news of 30 people being injured by ‘celebratory’ firing had come – it was almost as if we were mourning something.
Maybe it is a day to mourn, when a country is shut down in favour of executing people over a law that is so often misused.
It is sadder still, when a strike is made successful not because most people believe in a certain cause, but out of fear of emotionally-charged religious groups.
The fear is understandable. Given how helpless the government sounds when faced with religious conservatives and the number of their almost apologetic statements, which promise that the blasphemy law will not change, leaves much to be worried about.
It’s strange that some of us in Pakistan have to fight for people to live.
That was the beginning of my new year – contemplating where I stand in this country and fearing that religious extremism was closing in our world.
For the rest of the night I watched the world celebrate with a feeling of both happiness and envy as country after country started its countdown to the New Year and lit up their skies with fireworks.
There seemed to be no fear, as hundreds of thousands of people came together to share their collective joy.
Maybe someday we will learn to be happy too and light up our skies – one can only hope.