Of goats and Imran Khan
I think of Eid in terms of samosas and overbearing relatives. I like to think of politics in terms of apples/bananas.
This article is not about Eid and neither is it about Imran Khan. Life is not characterized by events, but by people’s reactions to events.
Reaction No. 1: Two men on motorcycles, with goats in tow, were stopped by policemen on the road. The motorcycles were checked, the men were checked and the goats were checked too. That’s the scene that a friend Ahmed was witness to as his own goat-free car whizzed by somewhere in DHA.
“They were goats, for god’s sake! Just goats!”
Reaction No. 2: Another friend, Amna, ‘likes’ the Facebook group “I was alive when Pakistan was waking up”, and changes her profile picture to a picture with the caption “This Facebook user is a voter for Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI).” Wasn’t it just yesterday when she was harping about how ‘cute’ Bilawal Bhutto looked? “No dude, Imran Khan for the win,” she messages back.
I like to think of Eid in terms of samosas and overbearing relatives. I like to think of Pakistani politics in terms of apples and bananas - amusement, rather than concrete pursuits. This is not strictly true. And it is a consequence of growing up.
Growing up means suddenly noticing these strange peculiarities in festivities. It means that you stop admiring the wonderfully decorated cow/goat/camel, and start taking an interest in the men who bring these animals - usually in a Suzuki dabba (box)... The men who stay for days on end, as you watch your neighbour’s house taking care of the goats, and later, sacrificing them. Eid becomes less about laughing while trying to feed the goat, but worrying about blood in the house and wasted meat that no one eats. Eid is a sense of powerlessness, as a time-honoured tradition reminds of one life given up as a symbol. Kids ... actually the youth - the word much abused by the media, talk about these things, just not loudly enough or boldly enough. Eid-ul Azha is an example of quietly upholding the norm.
And the second example of growing up has to do with anything but upholding the norm. Imran Khan shows up in Minaar-e-Pakistan, and that’s it. Everyone under the age of 18 years who thought Imran Khan was cool now have a televised crowd of 50,000 to back them up. Imran Khan’s articles are linked on Facebook, he is quoted on Twitter and his face is blown up on the television. Imran Khan, it seems, is spilling out on to the streets. Suddenly people point their fingers to their youth and say, “Well done son, it’s up to you now.” Even if a sizeable chunk of this youth is like Amna, prone to peer pressure and completely clueless about PTI’s policies, there is still hope. Imran Khan is an example of people looking forward, thinking, ‘This may be the real deal’.
Events aren’t events until people react to them. Reactions can be powerful or inconsequential. Today, for better or for worse, people will be talking about events. And for those of a certain age, growing up now, this is the time for reactions.