By Muatasim Qazi
A shroud of snow drapes over slopes of hills surrounding Hanna Lake near Quetta.
You are bleeding again—this time, like never before. We can only imagine the pain you must be going through. Losing a single son is hard, and you have lost 95 brave ones in an instant with exploding of some morons.
Quetta, you’re grieving; you are in mourning. But let us tell you that you’re not all alone in this. We are with you. So is every one who knows you or the ones that you knew—the ones who called you home.
You are not a mere city; you are flesh and blood. You are resilient, just like your residents. Now let not mourn and throw away this white shroud like the one that in winter you wear on.
You’re a city of hopes to which flock young women from far-off coasts of Mekran and ambitious men from hot sizzling deserts of Kharan, traversing through the rugged terrain of your mother Balochistan. On stuffed buses and in dwarfed Bolans, they come to you to quench their thirst of higher learning and to fulfill their yearnings of a better dawn. Like a welcoming tent of a Baloch in Kahan you welcome them all with open arms, like those of your hospitable Pashtun Khans.
You are a city bustling with people whose towering turbans may shame your Koh-e-Murdar and whose beards measure longer than the shawls and shalwars. And then there are those whose ‘tiny noses’ and ‘slanted flat eyelids’ unfortunately make them soft targets of fanatic morons. Yet they stand up against all odds and become productive sons that you can count on.
They all make you proud and make up your unique identity that you can boast upon.
An identity that now seems a bit tarnished. But let us tell you that it is wholly yet not. For some outsiders who may not know your history and your olden and golden days of serenity, you may be a place where some ‘RAW’ hatches its ‘pawns’ and a certain ‘Shura‘ make their hatemongering spawn. But we know what you are, with the mentioned being dead darkness before a prosperous dawn.
For now, you may present look of a violent boxing ring where people punch you and one another and you groan. Some of them may gloat over the other’s miseries but assuredly there are others who equally mourn. Baloch, Pashtuns, Hazaras and settlers once lived in you like brothers. And we know they still do. An ordinary Mehrab from Sariab may still be mending shoes for a Kakar from Kuchlak, while a Husnain from Alamdar still makes a pair of shoes for a man whose parents lived in Multan.
Quetta, we know these are hard times. And we know you never ever went through such a bad time before. But let us remind you that you will heal again like a fractured bone of a jawan. You were and you will be a place where a Kakar or Kurd will not loathe a Husnain because of his divergent religious views. You will again be a place where Parsee women and English ma’ams would roam in your Liaqat bazaar with skirts on. These burqas of today will ultimately shred somewhere in Jeddah or in Isfahan.
Reflect back and don’t bemoan. Mother nature didn’t break your resolve to live again when it jolted you in 1935 and wanted to crush you in between Koh-e-Murdar, Zarghun and Koh-e-Chitlan. You lost more than 40,000 sons and daughters. You were in pain then. You mourned the best of your bests but you never seized to go on.
So now these Jhangvi goons won’t shatter your will to thrive back to what you were. Nor will those Taliban. They may threaten you, maim you, hurt you as they please, but they won’t be able to kill you. You will bounce back, laughing just like a baby who had been crying after a nightmare but starts cracking up right when she sees her mom. Trust us, again you will never mourn.
Originally published in The Baloch Hal.