What happens when one brother belongs to JI and the other, PTI
When asked 'who will you vote for', we answer 'it's between me and my God' or 'I will vote for Pakistan'!
My youngest brother, Fahad* arrived from the US, having pulled his originally planned trip forward, to attend PTI's May 1 Karachi rally. Much to the amusement of some other members of my family, his political fervour this time was unrewarded as he arrived a bit too early for the rally which had already been cancelled.
Under most circumstances, we would be excited about Fahad visiting us but this time, the news of his arrival was met with hushed anxiety. It brought back memories of his last visit when he and his wife went whizzing to the PTI headquarters with their five-month-old daughter at any chance they got.
This was pitting them up directly against my other brother, Abbas* who was rushing to his party's area "markaz" every evening, making us family member’s direct recipients of intense vote canvassing and significant awkward moments.
The other brother, you see, is a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). The party mostly brings images of nutty fundamentalists in the heads of most of us, thanks to biased writing by contemporary opinion-makers. Articles by the latter are shared quite often on our family-group email address created for the larger family to "discuss" politics. I believe in the "conspiracy theory" that they are emailed to get Abbas to retaliate and show his political leanings which he pretends to keep low profiled.
Torn between the low-profile JI marketing and unabashed PTI campaigning, us family members have turned out to be quite the spectacle.
There are schemes being created on what to tell when asked "who did you vote for?" on May 11, 2013 - no joke. Ranging from replies like "it's between me and my God" to "I voted for Pakistan," we are even contemplating on setting ground rules dictating "no forcing answers against our will."
Even my seven-year-old niece who until a day before Fahad's arrival claimed PTI to be a "dance party" finds herself treading the fine line with her confession,
"I do know Imran Khan neverrrr lies!!"
When each news of bomb blast fatalities and targeted killings by terrorists (the all-encompassing word for political party militants, intelligence, hooligans, mobs and the real terrorists) sinks our emotions and we share the fear 'they-want-to-delay-elections', our energies are renewed with each brother bringing stories from his area headquarters or party markaz, rallies and jalsas.
Abbas shares social media strategies he recommended to JI, while Fahad shows PTI videos being shared on Facebook. While one is sharing instructions on finding out the polling stations we are registered with online, the other is bringing home printed cards for door to door canvassing. Abbas tells us JI is educating more than 500,000 Pakistani children while Fahad believes PTI will bring change to Pakistan.
It's truly a mad house!
Yet, it's a thriving political environment which fills me with optimism. I am proud of my 10-year-old nephew helping with power point presentations for PTI, while his little sister looks at an unknown flag and asks if it is an ANP flag. She picks up on the stories of candidates and tells me stories of the corruption in other parties.
The other day a helping woman in our house on listening to these conversations asked me how she could find out about her voting registration while our driver updates on what he is hearing people in his neighbourhood say about whom they will vote for.
There is a reflection in all of this of a nation thriving on politics and faith. Despite the saddening news on television daily, the reverberating enthusiasm - even amongst children - shows that there is hope in the future.
There is unsaid faith in the power of vote changing the future. With a party participating in elections for the first time since 1971 and the other demonstrating unprecedented high levels of support, there is reason for a nation to be proud of this faith. It's the same faith which is leading many to fly into the country specifically to cast their vote. It should be the faith with which we leave our homes with on the 11th to cast our votes and demonstrate our power to change Pakistan.
May our country prosper; may we prosper.
*Names have been changed in order to protect identity.
Follow Fiza on Twitter @FizaUK