Islamabad, Pakistan: A Land Sustained By Family Love

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Islamabad, Pakistan: A Land Sustained By Family Love

As the gentle rays of the rising sun kissed the soil of my school’s assembly ground, I, along with my classmates, would line up quickly while listening to the soothing recitation of Quran, the holy book of Muslims. After a few short performances from our fellow students, the morning assembly would conclude with the singing of Pakistan’s national anthem (ranked among the 15 best national anthems), which would fill me with patriotism for the entire day. Returning to the classroom from the assembly, I would often look at the late-comers standing in a corner, and just the thought of “standing out” was enough to make me feel embarrassed (although I did stand there once myself). As the teacher entered the classroom, all of us would stand and greet him by “singing” synchronously. This was the morning routine I grew up with while living in Islamabad, the green capital of Pakistan.

After several long classes, I would stand near the school gate and wait for my van to show up. I still wonder why I was the first to be picked up in the morning and the last to be dropped off in the afternoon (maybe so I could see the residence of everyone who travelled with me).

Once I reached my home, the first thing I would do was put my shoes under the sofa right in front of the main door, throw my school bag on the same sofa and run straight to the kitchen to see what was for lunch. That was another thing that we all waited for, everyone from my father to my youngest sister –  lunch and non-stop talk of our day. And yes, we often had biryani every Friday! To this day, I admire my father for spending those lunch breaks at home in order to make my formative years special.

Other than this ritual of eating together, there was something more important that reinforced my family values and shaped my overall character. Here in Islamabad, and Pakistan as a whole, we usually have mothers at home devoted to the family, while fathers spend more than half of their lives in the workplace working tirelessly to fulfill their financial responsibilities. These gender roles are a part of our typical “desi” culture. I was indeed blessed to have my mother teach me and my siblings as a home-tutor, and serve as our dearest friend. Listening to her while she recited the Holy Quran and narrated the stories of the Prophets, or told us the experiences of our forefathers during the partition of the subcontinent, was my favorite part of the day. With such attention and quality time, I grew up with a strong sense of personal identity, which I still take pride in today.

I invite you to witness for yourself the lively and colorful traditions of Islamabad and Pakistan, and look beyond the generalizations and stereotypes out there.

TN

As I recall those golden school days, I can’t help but realize that the values of our family-based culture flow in our Pakistani blood like nothing else. My parents moved to Islamabad way before my birth while my first cousins and relatives still resided in the twin city, Rawalpindi. Nevertheless, we had get-togethers and unplanned hangouts at least four days a week. In fact, it was an unsaid rule that my paternal uncle would visit my home along with his family every Friday, and we were again like a single unit for the rest of the weekend. So it was not a surprise when my younger sister mentioned, “We are two sisters and four brothers” (while her one sister and two brothers were cousins!). From staying up all night playing board games to playing cricket on the porch with a plastic bat and ball, such memories are literally embossed on my childhood.

I remember once visiting my aunt in a village somewhere near Lahore and asking my parents the innocent question, “Hum wapis Pakistan kab jaein gaye?” (When will we go back to Pakistan?). As the lush green gardens and well-developed landscapes of Islamabad had a significant impact on my childhood, my perception of Pakistan was limited. Nevertheless, that trip was a worthwhile experience.

Amidst these typical school memories, we Pakistanis also live with some of the most unusual and hilarious ideas. If you wish to have a great professional career, don’t you dare think about being anything other than a doctor or an engineer. Your A grade on an exam won’t be good enough if your cousins or neighbors score an A*. And the moment you enter your 20s, there will be a line of potential “rishtas” (marriage proposals) for you – whether you like it or not.

If you haven’t already seen the recent comedy of Jeremy McLallen or Zaid Ali, go through their Facebook pages – you’ll realize how fun life can be despite our country’s sometimes negative portrayal in the outside world. I invite you to witness for yourself the lively and colorful traditions of Islamabad and Pakistan, and look beyond the generalizations and stereotypes  out there. Who knows? You may also fall in love with these seemingly annoying ideas and become a part of our large, family-based society.

Also check out Talha’s trip to Makkah.

Talha Naveed

Talha Naveed

An aspiring chemical engineer who loves to read Urdu literature and write about things that really matter.

1 Comment

  • Erika
    Erika

    Thank you for sharing your story, Talha.

    September 12, 2017 at 8:44 pm
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