The Nation’s Call Me Column
March 14, 2014
If some people found out who I really am, they’d kill me. Others would settle for feelings of resentment and hate. But, that is fine since I almost always reciprocate. I am a man who hides in plain sight. I don’t want to, but I must. The instinct of self-preservation is embedded in all kinds of beings, even the likes of me. When circumstances present an imminent threat, it enables us to survive. There are two simple ways to go by it: fight or walk away to fight another day. I chose the latter. But lately, I’ve been finding it ever more difficult to live with this choice. Yes, it is a choice. The kind of choice a man falling from the sky has between deploying his parachute and embracing the ground with arms wide open. It was supposed to become easier with time and age. It hasn’t. Then again, I can’t act surprised knowing well that not all lies we tell ourselves become true.
What makes me unique from your average Pakistani is that I don’t have an eternal master. I don’t cherish the idea of permanent enslavement or constant surveillance. I’m no slave. Those who wish to be in chains are free to do so. As long as they can overcome the obsession to see everyone else around them do the same. I think for myself. I don’t blindly follow what my parents follow because their parents followed it. Being born into an ideology holds no meaning for me. It is a mere coincidence, sheer chance, and a thinking human being cannot base his life on a roll of dice.
I realise I do not exactly know why I’m here, in this world. But, I’m also aware that not every question is a reasonable one and thus worthy of an answer. Why are we here? I don’t know. Why do we think that we are entitled to a satisfactory answer anyway? It’s worse when someone claims they know it all when they obviously don’t. I’m as much a wolf as I am a sheep. I don’t devour but I don’t fall in line either. I see right through the façade of sacredness and divinity, and find ignorance and manipulation. I don’t need a higher purpose, or the promise of an afterlife, to overcome the fear of death. When I die, I die. No heaven, no hell. Just plain death, as it is for ants and elephants alike. I’m not arrogant enough to think that this magnificent universe, of which we know so little, was intelligently created with the supreme focus on my species.
What is right and what is wrong? What is pure and what is evil? What is a truth and what is a lie? I decide. Not the people around me. Not a book. My moral code is defined through my experiences. I rely on the evolution of our human civilization for guidance, instead of rejecting it in favour of a stagnant set of flawed principles and inherently contradictory beliefs. It can be hard. Thinking for yourself. Not having the luxury to adopt and accept. To not have everything served on a platter, and deprives oneself of the bliss that comes with it. To constantly question each and everything even if it leads to further confusion. But never will I accept or condone bigotry and fairytales in exchange for the comfort of presumed certainty. A compromise I will never make come what may. To me beard is hair, and a “Dupatta” is a piece of cloth, unless it is made to appear as something more. I chose reason and rationale over unsubstantiated claims and elaborate rhetoric. I’m glad I did.
But, that’s me. What about you? You can’t even stand me, can you? How dare I tell you that you don’t really matter in the great scheme of things? That I loathe and despise all you stand for. Fine, I will stay quiet. That’s all you ask for, isn’t it? My silence if not compliance? But, you should know it’s difficult for me. Especially when all I wish to do is speak. Loud and without fear or any restraint. I don’t ask for acceptance, but tolerance. Simply put, I wish to live in a society where I’m not forced to pretend to be someone I’m not. Oh, how nice would that be! Sounds too good to be true, if you ask me. If you can have your paradise, why can’t I have my nothingness? Use logical arguments to challenge me, not violence like animals.
The Nation’s Call Me column is an anonymous piece of writing, where writers can relate deeply personal stories.