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Everybody is independent

August 17, 2012

-Illustration by Abro.

Independence – something which we have been hearing about since childhood – was achieved after a great many sacrifices. And to date, we are giving sacrifices for it. Even after 65 years, everyday somebody has to be sacrificed in the name of the independence devi so that she is safeguarded. Whoever comes in to power and goes out of it demands sacrifices from the public.

When two twin brothers were born on the night of 15th August, their birthday too should have been together. However, our elders decided that we would celebrate our birth on 14th August, a day before our actual birth. Since 14th August was also the 27th fast of Ramazan and the last Friday of the month, we decided to celebrate our independence that day. Even though, we came into existence on the 15th of August, and the 28th fast of Ramazan. But those in power decided that indeed independence celebrations will be on the 14th of August and so for the past 65 years we have been celebrating our independence a day earlier.

Maybe our elders wanted to associate independence with Islam or celebrate our independence separately from our twin brother, either way we labeled the brother as an enemy from day one and those in power still have the need of having an enemy so that they can rule in peace and spend the money – intended for our progress, education and health – on buying arms and ammunition. Now it’s a different story that they are ever increasing the number of our enemies, so that those associated in the defense business may prosper.

That night when the announcement of independence was made on the radio, only a few people had a radio. The majority was asleep as they had to wake up for Sehri. They would have never imagined that a day would come when their descendents would celebrate independence and display their happiness by using weapons. Now, when the clock strikes 12, the city rings with the sound of shotguns – the smell of gunpowder persists.

Youngsters remove the silencers from their bikes and parade around the city, the whole night. The city vibrates with noise. If a patient or a person in an emergency situation comes out on the street, he/she is unable to reach their destination. It sometimes feels as if we are sitting on a stockpile of gunpowder, such aerial firing and bombings were even unheard of in the few wars we fought.

We don’t know why our happiness lies in gunshots and bombings. Whether it is the sighting of the Eid moon, New Year, wedding, birth of a son or even winning a match; our display of happiness lies in gunshots and the next day’s newspaper carrying the figures of the dead and injured shows just how much we celebrated the night before.

Bothersome flag-borne cars whiz by dangerously, nobody knows how much money they waste or how much money they are out to make. But God bless independence because of which even we can parade the flag in our car. A donkey cart, rickshaw or motorcycle – whatever it is, must have the flag affixed. Even though its pitch black in our houses due to load shedding, our government buildings are bathed in light – all to celebrate our independence.

And then once the independence phase is over and we don’t take off our flags, the government helplessly requests us to take off our flags else, there won’t be any distinction between their governors and the common public. Our judges too are carrying around flags these days, receiving the same protocol as our other leaders. They too have started considering themselves a leader of the people. They too make us wait endlessly on the roads when they are leaving or arriving; just like there was a time when generals claimed to be the people’s voice – now the judges too claim the same.

As for politicians, they give sacrifices, invest their money, get your vote and are then liable to ride in a flag affixed car. Although our TV anchors also consider themselves as the country’s real leaders, with the authority to topple the government they’ve made diligent followers out of the public.

So yes, everybody is independent – from politicians to generals to judges, officers and clerks, TV, newspapers clerics, journalists, businessmen, supervisors, thieves, extremists and lawyers – everybody is proud of their independence. They use all the might they have to take advantage of this independence. If there is somebody who is not independent, it is this county which with open eyes watches all but does not have the freedom to say a word.

 


The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.